The Most Notable Subscriber Retention Plays
Even amidst economic uncertainty, 2022 became a year of risk-taking in the business world. Mergers and acquisitions dominated the headlines, new product launches dazzled customers, and a rush back to brick-and-mortar businesses reinvigorated the in-person shopping experience.
The year was also monumental for the subscription industry thanks to some of the most head-turning retention plays that helped a handful of businesses dominate their respective industries by locking in consumers’ commitments for the foreseeable future.
We’ve compiled some of our favorite stories from leading subscription apps over the past year, exploring their most inspiring to risky moves, and the reasons why these strategies make their customers love them. Let’s take a closer look.
The best retention plays of 2022 — and what they mean for apps
From each of the following examples, growing subscription apps can learn about how these big players compete at a ruthless pace to enhance their value and prove their worth to subscribers.
The streaming wars reached yet another heated peak as various brands saw both spikes and dips in subscribers over the past year. As these major platforms competed for valuable media and IPs to increase their value, industry newcomers had to get creative with their content in order to attract and retain fans.
That’s why Apple+ made the clever move to license MLB and Friday Night Baseball in 2022, bringing a sought-after asset to their streamer. With a new sports staple program on their roster, the platform’s already high retention rates continued to blossom even though they’d only been in existence for a few short years.
Whereas a brand like Disney+ can lean on the rights to Marvel and Star Wars properties, Apple+ found a new cornerstone to their lineup that secured subscribers and enticed them to check out other content as well.
What’s the takeaway?
The Apple+ and MLB play proves a simple but eternal lesson for services: always look to add value without adding to subscription fees by bringing on content that’s in high demand. By claiming content Americans love to watch — and watch for a longer season than, say, the NFL that’s streamed on Amazon’s Thursday Night Football — Apple+ will continue to be an essential expenditure for devoted sports fans.
Though the brand markets themselves as the app “designed to be deleted,” Hinge still wants to give subscribers across the world a reason to pick their platform and stick with them over the competition. To keep up with dating app trends, they launched “relationship goals” and “dating intentions” features that allow users to be more transparent about what they’re looking for in a potential match.
In doing so, users — especially young millennial and Gen Z subscribers — could rest assured that the app was attuned to their dating preferences. As a result, subscribers regained trust and became hopeful about the romantic possibilities of using the app.
What’s the takeaway?
Brands need to uphold their values and mission in order to retain their most loyal customers — simple as that. For Hinge, that meant restoring faith in their app’s ability to execute on their promise of creating relationships. By launching these new features, they drove more engagement and cut down on the potential of customers looking to switch to other options.
Some retention plays can seem superficially small but have major benefits for the brand. Peloton demonstrated this when they relaunched and revitalized their content delivery system to offer lower-tier options and entry products at different, more accessible price points.
This helped Peloton open themselves to new customer cohorts of different income brackets and paint themselves as more accessible to a mass audience. New subscribers can access their equipment and services with cheaper offerings, and existing customers can adjust to their pricing comfort level.
What’s the takeaway?
Pricing strategy can be a key to retention, allowing you to keep subscribers by providing low-cost, limited-access versions of your service for casual fans. But, in doing so, brands don’t have to sacrifice earning recurring revenue — in fact, casting a wider net helps you bring in new subscribers, and bolster yearly retention rates and overall returns.
Not all retention plays in 2022 were particularly brilliant, even if they were — as the title of this article indicates — “notable.” After Elon Musk purchased Twitter, he proposed a shortsighted subscription model called Twitter Blue that ended up gatekeeping a lot of the popular social media platform’s open accessibility. As a result, the ill-fated attempt to drive engagement on the platform led to a complicated rollout, negative press, and lost ad revenue.
What’s the takeaway? Instead of creating demand or adding value, Twitter Blue was an attempt to introduce a paid segmentation of existing functionality. This is the inverse of what prior examples on this list exemplified, and shows how subscription services that fail to demonstrate value will turn off new and existing users.
The long-term impact of strong retention performance
Aside from our final example, all of these brands demonstrated a deep understanding of what makes subscription services successful with innovative and exciting retention strategies. By adding value and expanding their reach, these apps have set themselves apart from the competition and likely locked in consistent revenue streams for the near future.
When it comes to your own subscription app, bolstering retention is essential for surviving and thriving. These metrics can also be used to show future potential financiers the long-term potential of your service. Strong retention indicates a business with an ability to sustainably grow and succeed, allowing you access to creative resources like Braavo.
With the right retention plays, you can achieve the same triumphs as these superstar companies, and use Braavo to fund your big-picture strategies along the way.