Subscriber loyalty (what it is, why it matters, how to build - and keep! - it)

In a digital world, subscriber loyalty is gold dust. It may be a coveted and invaluable asset but, unfortunately, there’s no surefire formula to gaining (or keeping) the loyalty of your subscribers. This is because building loyalty is more than just clever marketing, it’s about tapping into your audience’s values and behaviours to nurture a long-term relationship with them.
If you’ve built out a subscriber base already, you’re already half-way there. Since subscriber loyalty is cultivated over the long-term, it’s more a matter of big-picture thinking for all the subscription journey stages than quick isolated wins. In this article, we look at why loyalty is so important to your business, and how you can start building (and keeping) your subscribers loyal and coming back for more.

What is subscriber loyalty?

It’s difficult to pin down an exact definition of “subscriber loyalty”. This is because “subscriber loyalty” is about much more than a simple marketing formula or metric. If you wanted to, you could bluntly equate subscriber loyalty to the number of returning customers you have. However, this doesn’t capture the human and personal element that is so essential to building (and keeping) subscriber loyalty.
Instead, it’s more accurate to see subscriber loyalty as referring to a positive brand relationship, a deep level of engagement, underscored by habitual behaviour, as well as personal motivations and interests.
A loyal subscriber will typically have a deep sense of engagement and interest in your product, a positive association and relationship with your brand, and for these reasons, they will continue to come back for more.

Why is subscriber loyalty important?

It goes without saying that subscriber loyalty is a highly valuable asset, here’s why:

Lock in your business’ long term success

Your loyal subscribers will directly influence the long-term success of your business. If you succeed in building out a loyal subscriber base, you will benefit from returning customers who are genuinely interested in and engage deeply with your content.
In addition, loyal subscribers are gold mines for data. Through their interactions with your content, you can collect information about your products, user-behaviours, and more. In the long run, this will help you to refine and develop your services and ensure you’re offering products that your subscribers (old and new) will keep coming back for.

Maximize CLV & your ‘Share-of-Wallet’

Subscriber loyalty is critical to maximizing CLV (customer lifetime value). Their lifetime value consists not only of increased conversions, but also of invaluable data insights and advertising revenue. Plus, when you’ve worked hard to cultivate a relationship with your customer, you’re also protecting your share of their wallet. Essentially, they’re less likely to spend money with one of your competitors because of their commitment to you and your brand.

Thrive in a competitive market

In the same vein, building subscriber loyalty is critical to ensuring customers don’t divest from your content in favour of competitors. If you want to turn transitory customers into long-term, returning ones, it’s vital to understand the importance of building subscriber loyalty.

Turn customers into brand advocates

Loyal subscribers also tend to be outstanding brand advocates. With a positive, long-term brand relationship comes powerful word-of-mouth recommendation. This third-party affirmation is invaluable marketing that is incredibly powerful for reaching new audiences.

How to build & maintain subscriber loyalty

Once you’ve captured a reader’s attention, you don’t want to lose it. To reduce customer churn, it’s critical to implement long-term loyalty-building strategies. Here’s how:

Understand your audience

First and foremost, you need to know your audience. An understanding of their behaviour, motivations, and interests will make it far easier to build subscriber loyalty because you will be able to offer products and services that actually align with what they’re looking for. This is essential for building effective data capture strategies.
Another element of understanding your readers is to acknowledge that there are different types of loyalty. This means that some subscribers will avidly engage with all your content whilst others may prefer only a particular segment. Neither level is more or less valuable, just different. Understanding this fact will help you to nurture every degree of loyalty effectively.

Build habitual behavior

Another important aspect of subscriber loyalty is habit. If you’re able to make consuming your content a regular habit, this is an effective way of converting a casual readership into a committed subscriber base.
You can encourage habit-building by integrating consistency into your content output. For example, sending out a regular newsletter or uploading to a strict schedule.

Offer real value

Offering value-rich content is the only way to tempt your audience into subscribing and consistently coming back for more. This means creating engagement funnels that actually attract your audience, and building in a rewards system that makes the user feel they’re gaining exclusive access or content for subscribing. A diverse offering of perks is the only way to make a long-term subscription seem worthwhile.

Build a community

Another effective way of offering value is by creating a community for your subscribers. Encouraging organic engagement between loyal subscribers based around your content is a great way to create buzz and enhance brand interactions, thus adding value to your content. This can be as simple as encouraging comments beneath your published content or the promotion of a content related social media challenge using a unique hashtag. Anything that makes your subscribers feel they’re part of your community. 

Be agile & dynamic

Avoid becoming a one-trick-pony. Listen to what your loyal subscribers tell you through their behaviors and interactions to keep your content agile. Developing your offering in line with what your subscribers are enjoying is essential to keeping their interest. Being open to creating subscriber-specific bundles and packages is essential in a climate where individualised customer experiences are becoming the norm. 

Personalize the experience

It’s not difficult to see the correlation between a positive user experience and a long-term loyal subscription. Offering a personalized experience with your brand is essential to building (and keeping) subscriber loyalty.
Create content that is particular to your specific, niche-subscriber audience, offer personalized subscription journeys that target your subscribers with products they have a demonstrable interest in. Doing so will show your subscribers that you listen to them, care about their experience with your brand, and in turn, build loyalty.
Plus, it’s not hard to identify ways to improve your subscribers’ experience with your brand.

Loyalty for the long-term

Loyalty means long-term allegiance and support. For this reason, it’s extremely important to approach subscriber loyalty as a big-picture and long-term asset to your business, rather than a short-term commodity. Loyal subscribers are the cornerstone of durable and high-valuable customers that will ultimately support your business time and time again. But that doesn’t mean loyalty is gained instantly. Ensure your content output and development consistently keeps your audience satisfied and coming back for more, and you’ll eventually benefit from an abundance of subscriber loyalty.

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