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Difference Between Subscription Management and Subscription Experience

Mark Whistler | 10 August 2021 | Read time: 8 minutes

What is Subscription Management?

As the Subscription Economy continues to grow in double digits, businesses converting to the recurring revenue model have to learn new ways of managing and tracking their customers which traditional transaction-based companies may never have dealt with. This new kind of customer management focuses on things like subscriber retention strategies, monitoring usage, accounting for recurring revenue, and ongoing billing.

Subscription Management Software

Enter subscription management. Subscription management software, including Zuora, Chargify, MPPGlobal, Recurly, Chargebee and others provide subscription-based businesses with the toolset needed to administer their customers subscription lifecycle from start to finish.

Crucially, subscription management software focuses on the administration of the customer lifecycle post-acquisition. Once a business has acquired a customer, these tools are great at all those requirements we mentioned - monitoring usage, repeated billing, keeping track of customer detail changes and so on. They give a great experience to the business trying to manage so many recurring subscribers. 

Where Subscription Management Platforms Fall Short  

The pre-acquisition strategies within the subscription journey aren’t the objective of subscription management platforms. First-party data strategies, profile enrichment, guiding users through the journey to the subscriber state are left to businesses to manage with traditional marketing methods. Which, fail to provide personalised on-site user experiences to drive conversion and prove the benefit of their product.  

If little attention is paid to how customers get value from a product or their experience through the subscription journey, then it’s no surprise that conversion rates along that journey will stay low, and churn will remain high - the subscription economy sees an average of 25% churn, and in some industries like education or media, it can be as high as 40%! 

Subscription businesses need to focus on the customer experience if they want to beat their competition. This is where a Subscription Experience Platform can really help!


What is Subscription Experience? 

The Subscription Experience is the end-to-end engagement each customer has with a subscription product, from the first anonymous visit, through to becoming a subscriber, and then re-subscription and even upsell. For a business, focusing on the Subscription Experience means focusing on that journey, actively leading customers towards (and through!) those points of conversion (instead of managing them once they are already paying subscribers). 

What is a Subscription Experience Platform?

Subscription Experience Platforms allow businesses to connect what they know about their users, and then change the actual experience those customers have with the product, based on that data. Tools in the Subscription Experience Armory includes things like personalising sign-up and registration journeys, personalised email marketing, progressive profiling, managing trials, gated access and even bespoke price-offering promotions. 

They sit at the heart of a subscription technology stack, connected to marketing systems, customer management and billing systems, aiming to increase the rate at which customers convert, through personalisation, experimentation and optimisation. By doing so, users get better experiences - and more value from the product. The result? Faster and better conversion rates to paying subscribers, lower churn from existing customers and better life-time-value. 

How Subscription Experience complements Subscription Management

Subscription Management is all about effective tracking and data collection on your subscribers to ensure that they are billed at the right time, and that they have the right access to the right products. 

Subscription Experience takes first-party data (and from elsewhere) and then transforms the experience of the user to either push them towards subscription in the way that is right for them, or ensure that the customer gets the most relevant value from the product itself. The more relevant value you can show, the greater the conversion chance to customer and the lower the chance of churn! 

Let’s take a simple example. Imagine you read an online newspaper every day. It has a trial of 5 free articles per week, but as you only read the financial section, you never go over the limit. But you still have to scroll past all the sport and domestic news to get to the content that is relevant for you. 

A subscription management tool is likely tracking that you visit every day, and knows that you only visit one section of the website. But that’s the limit of its abilities. It can’t do anything with that data. It can only keep tracking, and hope you subscribe later. 

A subscription experience platform can take that data and radically transform your experience. Now, the financial news is always at the top of the page when you log in. When you finish an article, another financial article is suggested, and then another. You get an email on Saturday (you usually read only during the week), written directly to you, recommending something from the weekend paper. Before long, you’re maxing out your free trial and getting a lot of value. And then poof, you subscribe. But the experience doesn’t stop there. Now you’re a subscriber - with your address and billing details, the Experience platform can then recommend local events, or make product offers centred around your interests, or even bundle other subscriptions...

Why You Need A Subscription Experience Platform

Put simply, Subscription Experience supercharges Subscription Management. It’s the ‘last mile delivery’ of the personalisation in the publisher’s toolbox that is now necessary to grow your subscriber base, improve conversion rates, and reduce churn. It maximises the value of your existing technology - from ESP to CDP and Subscription Management tooling, and adds more value on top. So - can you afford not to focus on the Subscription Experience?


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