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How to Put Your Subscription Business On Auto-Pilot With Facebook Ads

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You probably started your ecommerce subscription because when done right, it’s one of the easiest and simplest online business models out there.

The secret to running a well-oiled subscription business is to always be acquiring new customers (easier said than done, I know).

There is no industry standard to how long the average customer stays subscribed to an online subscription service, but from doing a little bit of research, 6-12 months seems to be about the average.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to use Facebook Ads to put your online subscription business acquisition process on auto-pilot.

Acquisition of Cold Leads

The acquisition of new customers starts by serving media to people who may be interested in your service.

You can use Audience Insights, lookalike audiences or general interest targeting to create this audience.

If you offer a nationwide service you probably want around 500k – 1.5 million people in your audience, 250-500k if you’re state-wide.

Note: these are just ballpark figures and the size of the state/city, niche and budget influence these numbers.

Objective with cold prospects: to generate brand recall and leave a positive impression in their brain.

You can achieve this using the following Facebook objectives:

  • Video Views – serving video content about your business or a pain point your service solves for the user.
  • Website clicks/Page post engagement – getting users to engage with your blog post or content, again to generate brand recall later on.
  • Brand Awareness – focusing on serving your content to users who are most likely to remember your brand in 2 days time (you can learn more here).

All three objectives are great ways to drive prospects into your funnel. I recommend using the brand awareness objective combined with a video as they are the most cost effective way to raise brand awareness on Facebook currently:

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Oh, and they have the ability to go viral:

Diversify the content you serve to prospects, you’ll be able to gather data on which content performs best to scale later.

Custom Audiences for Warm Leads

Facebook allows you to create audiences based on people who visited certain web pages (blog posts), or engaged with your content (videos views, canvas, lead ads):

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Objective with warm leads: to get the warm lead to either hand you their email address, sign-up to a free trial or subscribe to your service.

For example, let’s assume I run a food delivery business. The blog post I served to cold prospects focused on why unprocessed foods are so hard to find at grocery stores.

My ad copy to blog viewers (who I pixeled) would focus on how my food subscription service makes finding unprocessed foods easy, attached with a $20 off their first order offer.

The message in my video was that my food delivery service saves them time and effort, as we hand pick the best ingredients that are unprocessed, saving them the hassle of visiting the grocery. The offer in this ad would be 20% off on their first month.

Using conversion pixels I can test both messages and offers to see which one results in greater conversions to scale.

Pro-tip: Be sure to exclude these audiences from ads running at the top of your funnel to cold customers. Once they’ve viewed a video or blog content, they needn’t be shown it again for 7-10 days.

Note: depending on your subscription model, at this stage you may want to run a Lead Ads and obtain their email address to nurture prospects via email marketing, instead of pitching. If your subscription service is selling high-ticket subscriptions, it’s ideal to collect their emails instead of going in for the pitch, or offer  a free-trial with no commitments.

Your Customers

Next up are your customers.

They have already subscribed to your service and are paying on a recurring basis. You don’t want to rock the boat by serving them too much content and annoy them.

Objective with customers: to make their life as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Gather all customer emails and create a custom audience. Your customers should be excluded from every other campaign (ads shown to cold and warm leads).

If your product is tangible and sent out monthly, 5 or so days before it’s going to be mailed, run an ad to create buzz and the feel-good factor that they will be receiving their next product shortly.

A new product every month should feel like Christmas Day to your customers.

I’ve seen a rise in subscription models where the customer receives a new product each month but they don’t know what it is (see Craft Gin Club), running these types of ads further enhances excitement to ensure customers keep subscribing, and gives your business a unique selling point.

If you offer an SaaS service, serve them a bi-weekly or monthly blog posts that focus on a feature of your SaaS tool and how they can maximize from it, or case studies of how others benefited from your service.

Pro-tip: showing customers ads to refer a friend is always good way to win new customers. If you’ve branded your subscription model right (creating a mini community), customers will have no hesitation in directly tagging friends in your refer-a-friend ads, as they want share their enjoyment and let others know they are part of your service.

Lost Customers

Every online subscription model is going to have people leave every month. Remove their emails from your customer list and create a new audience containing only old customers.

Objective with lost customers – WIN THEM BACK!

Instead of reinserting them at the top of your funnel to see videos or blog posts, serve them an offer to come back and join. It could be a free month (and they are charged if they don’t auto-cancel) or a free gift.

They may have signed up to a package that wasn’t suited to their needs (was either too expensive or didn’t offer enough of what they wanted), serving ads for other packages and highlighting their benefits is another great way to bring them back full circle.

Summary

If you can create evergreen content at the upper level of your funnel and an amazing offer to serve your leads, asides from a little bit of tinkering at the ad set level, you won’t ever have to spend time managing ads at these two levels of your funnel.

The same applies for churned customers too.

It’s only your customers who you’ll have to serve new content to keep the idea of your model exciting, fresh and to keep providing value.

This is the fundamental structure to putting your subscription ecommerce store on autopilot using Facebook ads.  Once you draw out your sales funnel and pixel your audience at every step, you can put the bulk of your Facebook ads on autopilot with evergreen content and offers.

Image credit: The Cereal Club

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