Personalize The Subscriber Customer Portal For Long Term Retention and Increased LTV

Retain profile

Chase Alderton (01:29):

I will kick this off. My name is chase Alderton. I'm the marketing manager for recharge payments. We are the leading subscription payments platform for Shopify. I will let Rob and Jay from Te Shanley introduce themselves.

Rob (02:25):

Sure. I'm a co founder of Tiece Shanley. We're a men's skincare company. We pride ourselves on being uncomplicated. We provide uncomplicated skincare for men and we’re really excited to talk, talk with you guys. I can give you, give you a little insight on how we go around, go about,, retention and so forth.

Jay Evans (02:46):

Cool. My name is Jay Evans. E-commerce manager here at Tiece Shanley. I’m responsible for keeping the site up working well as well as optimizing, and I’m so excited to be here and talk retention.

Chase Alderton (03:03):

Responsible for keeping the site up. It's a big job and you're the same on my side. It's often overlooked. So we'll kick this off. Today's retention talk is going to be mostly focused on subscription products as recharge is the subscription billing platform Tiece is a subscription first company. So hopefully you guys learn a little bit something unique about subscriptions and how retention plays into that. I want to start with something really unique. That's not necessarily retention focused, in most people's brains, but to me, a marketing person brand or something that's always really interesting. So,, Rob, I know the story, but why don't you guys start out with what's the story behind the brain and how that plays into retention?

Rob (03:42):

Sure. In terms of the, we talked a lot about the brand colors and so forth, right. So one you asked me why, why is the site dark? That's really cool. You know, was it that before Apple did that or that kind of stuff. So one of our co founders is a big YouTube influencer. Aaron Merino goes by alpha M and when we formed the company, Kelly, Aaron and myself, you know, put it out there that, you know, he'd like to, when we first started, started the company, he'd like to blog about the making of the company. Right. And so Kelly and I were, we're a little bit squeamish on that, or like really gonna tell them what we're doing and show them all the mistakes from redoing making and so forth.

And he said, yeah, that's exactly what we're going to do. And so for, I don't remember Jay, maybe about 32 to 35 weeks of, of the making, of the company. He was blogging every, every weekend. And we built this community, you know, through some of his subscribers on YouTube and so forth, really have a big community. And we started, you know, we relied on them for opinions on all kinds of things, right. They tested our products and et cetera, et cetera. And one of the things we did was we put packaging in front of them and they literally voted for the packaging. It was, and it was, we had like, a white and green and a dark and green, and then that's where the dark came out. And so we went with that and when we revisited our website probably about two years ago, it was just a natural thing to continue that dark, dark, dark, and black and green theme.

Chase Alderton (05:37):

Awesome. I love that. So kicking this off, got my branding stuff, my marketing stuff out of the way, let's jp into a very generic question. What is the overall retention strategy? How does that play into what you guys think about day to day?

Rob (05:49):

We want to keep them as long as possible. So I think there's a, there's a few things that we think about and talk about a lot, at T, you know, one of the things in terms of retention is you know, giving guys more value to stay with us. We also want to, you know, we want to give guys what they want when they want it, right. And so that encompasses things like customization and add ons and things and new things that we're doing around that area. And we've learned from some of our add on programs, which I know we're going to talk about. It really retains the more they're involved in customizing and engaged with the brand and our products, the longer they stay at. It's just clear. And so those are the things that we were focused on. But it's an ongoing battle, you know, what retention looks like today is going to look much different in six months and 12 months from now. So it's an ongoing journey,

Jay Evans (07:02):

And it really does hit all points in the journey. Right? A lot of our retention efforts start before they're even customers by essentially training these guys differently with different pieces of functionality on the website, whether that's the ability to add and customize onto their upcoming order or the way we talk to them and message to them. So really it starts at the time of acquisition sometimes before. Yeah.


So Joe, you touched on what I want to jump into next, which is adding things onto your order. So for subscription products, everybody who subscribes to something get with it what's called a customer portal where the actual subscriber gets to log in, manage their own subscription, however they want. So whether that's changing the product out, whether that's updating shipping, frequency, address, billing details, all that stuff is in there. So the customer portal is a big point of focus for a lot of subscription brands.. Jay, why don't you dig a little bit more into that? How does the customer portal kind of factor into things, whether you're talking about customizing your subscription or anything?


In all honesty, it's probably one of the most important parts of our business. We talk portal every day. We talk about how we can optimize it, change it, it evolves on a regular basis. We're constantly introducing and dripping out new features, reiterating on those features to make sure that we're solving customer pain points. So that comes down to studying the data. It comes down to listening to customers and making sure that we're hitting on things that are making their lives easier. Right. At the end of the day, we have to be able to communicate effectively, and that comes down to really good user experience. That's taken in multiple forms through UI, through good design patterns, making things easy to use. So Rob, you wanna add anything?

Rob (08:50):

No, but I think we want to talk about the customization when we started doing ad-ons. We learned really quickly that they're different. They're gonna stay longer and that's what kind of really inspired us to, for a lot of things that we're doing right now. To induce more of the engagement, to induce, going to the customer portal, and making that a part of their routine. We sell skincare routines. We want them to also, you know, have a routine of coming to our portal and checking out other things that they can add to their subscription. A way that they can customize the subscription and so forth. And so this, we called that in the beginning, we called that level. You, you know, it's about you. So we have a skincare routines level, one level, two level, three, that kind of thing builds up in products. But we call it this level, you, which is, you know, adding what you want to that next order, and it really just took off immediately. We can see that those that customize versus an ad, there it's like 50% uplift in retention, which is a game changer.,

Chase Alderton (10:08):

I was going to ask about numbers. It seems pretty obvious that if you allow a customer to customize their inbox and purchase exactly what they want, they're more likely to come back and continue doing that. That 50% number is absolutely massive. Jay, do you have anything to add onto that? Or is that pretty clear?

Jay Evans(10:27):

Yeah, it was just amazing. We soft launched it. We just want to see how many people found this organically and just study natural behaviors. And within the first day we were getting emails saying, thank you for this. It's what we've been waiting for. It felt really good to be able to solve a huge problem in just, you know, introduce a piece of functionality that was able to help retain these guys that may have turned out otherwise.

Rob (10:49):

Yeah, I think another aspect to it is that, you know, so we started four years ago, and you know, we’re a very ethical company in that, you know, we tell them that we're going to be charging and recharging them. Right, and that's not the greatest message to get in your inbox.. You know, Hey, we're going to charge you, you know, and of course it's also, you know, in some ways it can be a recipe for cancellation, like maybe I'm not using it. So another aspect and why, you know, add ons and customization is a game changer is all of a sudden that message becomes incredibly positive. It's Hey, you've got three days to add XYZ. We just introduced a new body wash. You know, so that it really is a game changer. It changes the conversation. It changes the mindset of getting those kinds of emails.

Jay Evans (11:54):

Yeah. It really feels like we help create a sense of urgency to get these guys to log in and manage their accounts. You know, sometimes that could remind them to cancel, like Rob said, but we find that a lot of times that has them logging in to add on to their product, or maybe pushing out their frequency by a couple of days, just to make sure that, you know, there's not too much overlap. So it's promoted a lot of, you know, good behaviors, really healthy things.

Chase Alderton (12:25)

That's awesome. It plays into one of the things that I've been obsessed with kind of personally recently is this whole idea of customer touch points. So where does your brand interact with your customers in ways that you don't traditionally think are good? Sell points are good value, add points. Robert, you mentioned, we actually see one of the biggest drop offs across most of our brands is as soon as you send that email and you say, Hey, we're going to charge you in three days.

A lot of people kind of click and they go, Oh, actually I don't really use this anymore. I'm going to cancel. But if you take that opportunity to say, Hey, upcoming charge in three days, we can add this to your product. We can add this to your box. You know, here's a new way. You can get that experience. It's a value add to people, and it actually helps with retention rather than having people canceled upfront. You hit it, you hit it on the nail. Some of those untraditional things that people don't necessarily think about how to contact your customers. So actually that's a great segue of getting into the next point that I wanted to make. loyalty is something that a lot of brains do a lot of subscription brands do naturally you guys kind of take things in a bit of a different direction with kind of your like homegrown journey. So talk a little bit about how that journey mapping plays into retention.

Rob (13:27):

Sure. So, you know, we, we have a points program. I think a lot of, a lot of, a lot of subscription companies and eCommerce companies of course have a points program. And it's got a referral, a refer, a friend type of piece, but honestly, you know, it hadn't moved the needle for us. And when we really started focusing probably about nine months ago, where started feeling like we really got to start focusing more on, on retention. I think, you know, that as a subscription company from the very, very beginning, you're acquiring, And sometimes you, you know, you're just enjoying that and you forget that at some point, you know, the honeymoon is gonna be over. And, you know, we're going to have to start, start really focusing on this.

And so that's what we did about a year ago. And what we wanted to do is look at learnings from our level, like you said on the idea of adding things, being, being a real retention boon. We said, let's try to do some of that behavior. And let's build a rewards program that takes care of our guys, but also, you know, there's an ulterior motive that gets them more involved and engaged in our portal and so forth. So our team got together and just mapped out, it is really a journey mapping, right? It's like, box one, two, three, four, five, and we have different things going on in each of those boxes. So for example, I don't know if you're able to bring up the portal, maybe we could show him at some point, but, you know, so the first box you get, you get a card in there saying, Hey, you know, go to your, your account with the URL and give us your T shirt size so that you can get, you know, one of these fabulous uncomplicated t-shirts when you hit your sixth box.

And along the journey goes, you know, the second box you get to choose, you know, a free item at one of our new, one of our new free products that, you know, for free, and you can choose which one. So you go to the portal and choose that, and along it goes. So it's just been, it's been amazing. And we've seen, you know, from that program, 33% plus, in retention, , for those that went through, you know, started that, that journey, with us, versus prior to that. So, Jay, if you want to add anything more than that,

Jay Evans (15:58):

Sure, it really comes down to just really listening to the data, identifying potentially pain points in that customer journey and figuring out what's going to get customers through that hump into the next stages. And then it's also about listening to that data. So once you create a solution for these things, it comes down to really understanding what happens to the journey afterwards and constantly evolving your program to make sure that you're meeting customer needs, right? Cause we solve certain things. And then we find out that there's other things down the road. So it's about the entire journey from start to finish and just making sure that we're providing the tools to get them through, you know, just get them to stick.

Chase Alderton (16:50):

That's a phenomenal point. Actually, we see a lot of companies who come through recharge, whether you're your subscription or not. But we see a lot of companies who think that they are one brand or think that they sell one thing or think that they do something really well only to find out that their customers want something else or wanting to tweak a little bit. So that's one of the biggest lessons you can learn is take the advice from your customers if that's what they want, give them what they want, as opposed to fitting a square peg into a round hole. That's awesome. Before we move on, I wanted to mention, I forgot to mention up front. I think we'll have a couple minutes at the very end to take a couple questions. I see one or two already rolling in. So add a few questions. We'll try to take one or two at the very end. So moving on, customers do eventually cancel, it's unrealistic to think that they're gonna stick around for forever and ever.

So what is the win back campaign strategy? Like how does that factor into your retention?

Jay Evans (17:34)

So we do quite a few different things. We have win-back initiatives. So we have these complex email drips that are communicating to try to solve those customer pain points. To let them know that they have the ability to downgrade or upgrade from their levels, add on, to kind of have the system that fits their use case best. And then we also have our cancel flow, which I believe you could just use by default through recharge. We have a custom take on it. We play around and test with it a lot. So one thing we do is we begin or cancel flow with a skip same strategy, which means that we allow them to have the ability to skip a ship and very easily with a click of a button, if they don't want to do that, they could continue to cancel.

What we present next is a special, low cost, low entry item. I don't it's level zero, which is slightly cheaper than some of our other levels to try to save them and let them know like, Hey, switched to this lower cost skew. And you could, you know, have teachers still be a part of the community, add products on and you know, less financial burden to yourself. And then at the end they still don't want the offer. We have an evolving list of exit questions. So at first we asked every single thing we could, there were about eight questions, very specific. We found that we really don't need to know the exact reason, but we need to know the intent. So we have high intent and low intent reasons. So we could talk to the different cohorts of guides, substantially different guys who have more intent to come back.

We could, you know, take it easier approach guys who have less than 10 coming back. We have different strategy for that. And of course we have the traditional other fields where they could leave comments and let us know their feelings, things we could've done better, or just their thoughts in general.

Chase Alderton (19:29):

Super, super important when they answer exit questions. So whether or not you think that people will cancel or won't cancel it always, always beneficial to have those reasons come back to you, understanding why people are canceled. It helps you customize, it's not only your customer portal, but also all the way through with your checkout to your product pages, to how you're communicating to what's in the box. Like Rob said earlier, all of those things play a play part. Rob, do you wanna add something?

Rob (19:51)

No, I was just saying that we've evolved to understand the intent, which is more important.

It is also good to, as you were just saying, chase, to understand a little more granularity and we were able to do that through, through post post-purchase surveys and things like that, and still get a really good picture of what's going on.

Jay Evans (20:15)

So yeah, and we wouldn't have gotten to the point we were, we are right here now with the intent based questions, if we didn't ask those other questions first, and we still do a lot of, you know, post cancellation and just surveying in general to really learn more about customer means. Why they're happy, why they may not necessarily be the most robust certain things. So there is a ton of value in asking those questions. It's just, you know, part of the evolution and I'm sure in six months our exit surveys are going to look a little bit different. So it's constantly evolving. It's a sign of progression. It's good that you guys are keeping, keeping it up to anything. So it's not the same thing year after year. ,

Chase Alderton (20:55)

Cool. So we've, we've hit on a lot of these big retention topics. Again, kind of drilling home. Everybody will cancel at some point. So what are the next steps? What's the next iteration of a retention strategy for you guys? How do you combat what you may not know?

Rob (21:11):

Well, I mean, it's, as Jay said, you know, you follow the data, you know, and we're getting a lot of data right now on, on what we've done with our current journey, map, rewards program, for instance. And we're actually in the middle of, of looking at iterating it already, you know, extending it, and then also, do we segment it more, so to two different types of customers or maybe what different level boxes we have, things like that. So there's a lot of different directions we can go.

Jay Evans (22:25):

Yeah. I just think it's about not getting too comfortable. For instance, like in dashboard, we have the ability to add onto your upcoming order. You know, it's about just evolving that and making sure we're solving more pain points and listening to customers with watching the data, watching, you know, heat maps, and screen recordings and making sure that we're making things constantly better. In the way users use the website, their needs are always changing. So we can't get comfortable. You always have to be ready to switch up something and just pay attention to what's happening in your ecosystem.

Rob (23:04):

Yeah. And another thing I was going to mention is that, you know, there's another component that, you know, that we experiment with, and sometimes it comes at just like an opportune moment, and that is like, you know, kind of cool. Like, you know, when the COVID started, our CEO, Kelly, got in touch with our co manufacturer, and wanted to find out if we could, if we can produce, you know, change the lines a bit and produce say hand sanitizer. And we were able to do that. And, you know, one of the reasons was because we wanted to see if we can get that to our guys. Right. We knew that the supplies were low and so forth and so we were able to do that.

Our manufacturer gave us like these one eight ounce bottles of it. And we were able to actually provide like 36,000 gallons of this to the Chicago fire department, you know, in our hometown. So it was really amazing, but we also use the travel size bottles and just literally a surprise and delight, you know, the next 10,000 customers got it. Got a hand sanitizer, never asked for it. And we just, we got a lot of great feedback obviously, and, you know, of course social media posting and all that, but it felt great. It was just an opportune thing to do. And I think you'll see more of that from us as well.

Chase Alderton (24:42):

Very cool. So closing, I have a feeling Rob, I know what your answer is going to be for this last one, but if you had one piece of retention advice to give and let me preface this, that you're not allowed to say a customer journey. What is this one last piece before we get to QA questions?

Rob (24:59):

Oh, man. I guess my, my one piece is to think about retention right from the beginning. I mean, you're really better off, I mean, you know, say as I do not, as I say, not as I too, unfortunately. , but, , it really is true. I, you know, I think we all at teach, you know, wish we maybe started a little bit earlier on this, but, , luckily, , I think, you know, we we've turned the corner. I know we've turned, turned the corner and, , and you know, you can, you can do it at any point, but the early I do it, you know, you have to do it, you know, so just do it. Right. , and, , that would be my advice

Jay Evans (25:48):

Just piggybacking off of Rob, what he said is a hundred percent correct. And just to add a little bit too, is when you're trying to solve an issue or a pain point, pick that issue, solve it, and then move on to the next, don't try to take everything on at one time, just stay focused and hone in on these individual tasks and solve them one by one and listen to the data. Data tells you absolutely everything.

Rob (26:16):

Yeah. , I would add one thing to that though, , in our defense, , that customer service is a huge retention tool, right. And, , and that I can tell you that the founders all, you know, are totally believe in that. And so we re that was one of the most, the most important things we put in place, , early on was really getting, , customer service up to, up to, and to, and to really, really having unbelievable, you know, world-class, , customer service and that will, and, and in, you know, in some ways maybe that's why we were, you know, it took us a little while to get to the, to the meat and potatoes of, of retention, , because, you know, we were doing so well on that front. So, so get, get your customer service, , straight, , as, , as quick as you can, , as well,

Chase Alderton (27:11):

It's a great way to wrap this up. We started with how brand plays a part in retention, and we're ending with how customer service plays a part in retention. So very, very clear that it's not cliche to say every little piece of your business plays into retention, plays into everything really, but as far as retention goes, it's obviously the topic at hand. Lets do a couple Q and a question, and we'll try to blow through these. How do you combat issues of churn related to having too much product and needing to take a break?

Rob (27:39):

Yeah, well, I mean, that's the idea of customization, right? So our products are the products and our routines are, , all, , you know, measured to be 30 day supplies. If you, if you follow our instructions, which we give our guys so that they know exactly how to use this stuff. , and, , but everyone's mileage varies. And, , you know, and so there is, there can be that buildup and that's part of the, , idea of, , beyond just, you know, changing your frequency and changing your next order, date, things like that. , that's where customization, , is coming in on where you can, , you know, if you go through your, your facewash too fast, now you can, in your next order, you can order two facewatches that kind of thing to help, help get you back in sync. , and we're, we're, we're adding to that. , you know, as we speak, , to really, , to, to, to have even a better, , , you know, more customization options, like, you know, getting, getting rid of one of the products, you know, the next month so that, you know, because you're, you've got too much that kind of stuff. So that's, that's where, how we're selling that

Chase Alderton (28:48):

We, something else we forgot to mention is we developed a program between our retention team and customer service called the routine consultation. And that's really too, it's kind of like a white glove service where we reach out to these guys and ask them, , how can we make your life easier? What do you need from us to be able to have a successful skincare routine? And that's been incredibly helpful to us as well, just for frequency, right? To make sure that they're getting it when they need it, when they want it and introduce them to the ecosystem that they knew a little bit more help. It's a great time to point out. I'm actually a teach subscriber. I didn't want to be too self serving early on in this, but I think I'm at month eight now. So I've experienced all these things that you guys have done. Totally.

Chase Alderton (29:39):

Okay. I've done the white glove approach. I've had the kind of surprise and delight gifts, all that kind of stuff. So that's great. , one of the questions in QA is from Frankie, any systems and recharge that allow you to accomplish those free items or using a different app. I don't quite understand the question. I'll put my email in this chat though. So feel free to email me directly and I can follow up with you. It sounds like it's a recharge a specific question. So last one here from Carlos is we got two minutes left. Should we reward our subscription? Subscripts enters subscribers. We are going to start a subscription program with recharge for one of our consable products. And I would like to know what would be some tips on a good start. So maybe touch a little bit more on a surprise and delight aspect. Robin Jay is our last question here.

Speaker 2 (30:15):


Jay (30:15):

Yeah, I think I'm surprising the way has been huge for us. It really fosters Goodwill just on social media home. When we surprise guys with, you know, it could be a little giveaway or, , t-shirts we used to do surprise in the way with it makes our customers very happy. , and then we have our rewards program obviously, and our home grown solution as well. But Rob may have more to add. No, I, I agree with you. I mean, I think that, you know, probably one of the keys to building a retention program and figuring this out is literally just putting your customer hat on. I know it sounds, you know, cliche, but how, you know, how you feel when you get, you know, a surprise in, in, in, in a box or, or, or, or so forth. So for, from a company, , so, you know, you try to try to recreate that and try to put yourself in their, in their shoes. , and, , and you know, and, and I think the, the ideas will, will fly. Awesome. Thank you everybody for attending. I put my email in the chat box right there, Rob and Jay, I don't know if you guys want to type yours out real quick. , but yeah. Thank you everybody for attending. Hope you got some value out of this. Feel free to email me specifically for any recharge questions. I know Jay and Robert opened to hearing some questions from the merchant side. So pass it back to Eddie. Thanks a lot.

Chase Alderton (31:38):

Thanks, Jason. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Looking good, chase. Thanks. The skin's looking good, right?