Subscription Ingredients for Picture-Perfect Personalization

When was the last time you bought the perfect product? It doesn’t happen very often, but it feels good when you find a product that meets your exact need from a brand that resonates with your values. With so many products crowding the market today, that search is becoming even tougher.

Enter the curated subscription box.

With a physical subscription, customers don’t have to pick their products. Instead, the company asks questions and gets to know customers before curating items that meet their needs and fit their tastes.

McKinsey & Co. research suggests that the subscription box market grew more than 100% each year between 2011 and 2016, from $57 million to $2.6 billion. That doesn’t mean selling a subscription box is easy, however. Personalization is vital for winning over customers, and it can be complicated.

If your company has a subscription offering and you want to learn how to truly personalize it, be sure to follow these 12 steps.


1. Learn your customer’s name.

When was the last time you got an email addressed to “Valued Customer?” It has probably been a while. These days, customers expect companies to know their names and to demonstrate that level of personalization in every interaction. Whether you’re contacting someone via email for shipping confirmation or sending him a thank-you letter with his subscription, personalizing a note with a name is an expected detail that you don’t want to forgo.


2. Infer information from ZIP codes.

A ZIP code tells you more than where to send your customers’ mail. It tells you about the weather in their area and whether winters are mild or bitterly cold, so if your subscription box delivers apparel, include especially warm items for your customers up north. ZIP codes can also be used for inferring income, as some ZIP codes are more affluent than others. In these cases, look for opportunities to upsell or cross-sell.


3. Provide multiple payment options.

Customers want to use their preferred payment options, oftentimes because they’re looking to maximize rewards with a particular credit card company. Having the flexibility to accept a wide variety of payment types ensures that you never miss out on customers because their preferred methods weren’t accepted.


4. Offer the convenience of delivery customization.

Amazon has increased demand for fast, free shipping. But not every product needs to arrive the same day it’s ordered. If your physical subscription offering is about replenishment, simply send each box shortly before your customers would run out of the contents of the previous one. For a personal touch, let customers weigh in on delivery timing on the basis of their preferences. If the cadence is right on, your subscribers will more likely view your offer as a long-term solution.


5. Convey a sense of curation.

If your customers wanted to pick out their own products, they would go to Amazon. The e-commerce giant does offer just about everything, but that can quickly make the selection process overwhelming. Take the opposite approach and offer a limited selection of products that are carefully curated. As you learn more about individual customers, you can tailor your offering even further to ensure they love the products they receive.


6. Express environmental concerns.

Customers don’t want to receive a product with massive amounts of disposable, single-use packaging. If you can swing it, allow customers to opt for more sustainable packaging when they sign up for your subscription. If not, then take steps to make your packaging, marketing materials, and any other goods included in your deliveries as sustainable as you can. It’s not as expensive as it once was, and customers will appreciate it.


7. Avoid animal testing.

Many products, from shampoos to creams, are tested on animals before being used on humans. To certain people, this step is unnecessary and inhumane, and they won’t purchase products from any company that supports it. And while 51% of people approve of animal testing, that doesn’t mean they think it’s essential. Avoid selling products tested on animals, and you’ll avoid alienating any members of your target audience.


8. Give customers a way to give back.

About 86% of U.S. customers expect companies they like to take action in regard to environmental and societal issues. Use any customer data you’ve got to determine which issues matter most to your subscribers, and consider donating to related groups or charities. If you want to take an extra step, you could build in a way for customers to choose which of a few charities they’d like proceeds from their individual purchases to benefit.


9. Satisfy customer curiosity.

Some customers want to know how your products are made every step of the way. Provide information on your website or even in your boxes to show how your offerings are selected, sourced, and shipped. People crave information, and giving them what they want can turn into an opportunity to form lucrative long-term relationships.


10. Segment your databases.

The larger your customer base, the more difficult it is to manually personalize each order. Instead, create “like” audience customer segments and market to them accordingly. This process will help you deliver a personalized experience on a larger scale, and it’s effective from product creation to delivery to communication.


11. Create cost-effective pick-pack and distribution.

Your personalized products and messages are only beneficial if they end up in the same box. You need an efficient system that assembles packages without allowing your personalization efforts to get lost in the shuffle. Maintain an accurate inventory so you always know what you have in stock and make any additional personalization, like including a handwritten note, the last step before a shipment goes out the door.


12. Inspire and inform subscribers.

Storytelling can inspire customers, whether you’re encouraging them to achieve their goals or get outside their comfort zones. When done right, you can lead subscribers to try new products by putting them and their emotions at the center of the conversation. Explain how a product will make them feel and how it will solve a problem they’ve had.

Personalizing a subscription service at scale is a tall order, but it’s the foundation of a meaningful experience and successful business model. Follow this advice to make your subscribers feel like they’re receiving shipments from a trusted friend, and you’ll enjoy their patronage for the long haul.

If you’re not confident you’ll be able to implement these steps on your own, reach out to us to see how OceanX can help.