Optimizing Subscriptions for Flexibility and Engagement with Smartrr’s Gaby Yitzhaek Tegen

January 20, 2022
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DTC brands are making big bets on subscriptions as a growth lever. Cofounded by Gaby Yitzhaek Tegen, Smartrr is a no-code solution—used by Aura Bora, Unreal Snacks, and Remi—that allows merchants to offer curated subscriptions and memberships. We sat down with Gaby to chat about the most common pitfalls DTC brands make with subscriptions and how they can best optimize them for future growth.

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Optimizing Subscriptions for Flexibility and Engagement with Smartrr’s Gaby Yitzhaek Tegen

There’s a subscription for everything—frozen coffee, keto cereal, probiotic soda, bio-retinol night cream, and everything in between. 

DTC brands are making big bets on subscriptions as a growth lever. Cofounded by Gaby Yitzhaek Tegen, Smartrr is a no-code solution that allows merchants to offer curated subscriptions and memberships. Used by Spritz Society, Remi, Aura Bora, and Unreal Snacks, Smartrr makes subscriptions as easy and manageable as possible while ensuring that they’re a healthy part of every brand’s business. 

We sat down with Gaby to chat about the most common pitfalls DTC brands make with subscriptions and how they can best optimize them for future growth. 

“Brands are becoming more thoughtful about the execution of subscriptions. Overall, we’re seeing a healthier relationship between the brand and consumer moving forward.” 

Engaging Subscribers from Day One  

Compared to Smartrr, other subscription platforms are expensive, way too challenging to set up, and lack flexibility. 

Smartrr is a super light setup. The platform itself is extremely agile, allowing brands to easily change their promotions and subscription models. Plus, with Smartrr, brands can reduce the number of customer support tickets.

One Smartrr brand said that after switching over to Smartrr, their CS tickets went down by 70%. That’s 70% more time that their CS team can spend on managing larger projects and solving bigger problems. 

Smartrr helps brands answer key questions, such as: 
  1. How do we engage the subscriber throughout the entire customer lifecycle? 
  2. How do we incorporate rewards into subscriptions? 
  3. How do we encourage subscribers to gift and refer the product? 

Subscriptions aren’t just about the initial point of sale. They’re about building a strong level of engagement. 

Engagement could look like the customer receiving an email three days prior to an order arriving that says, “Hey, your order is coming in three days. Would you like to modify your subscription?” Or, it could look like providing the customer with the option to gift a subscription to a family member or friend or even skip the order completely.  

Smartrr enables all that. 

“The number one piece of feedback we hear from brands is that they’re frustrated by the number of customer support tickets their team receives.  With Smartrr, they are finding that number reduces significantly.” 

Smartrr Data, Smartrr Analytics 

In that initial conversation with brands, Gaby says time and time again, DTC brands emphasize their focus on CAC and conversion. Although Smartrr improves both, the Smartrr team believes that it’s way more interesting to look at the long-term success of the customer, specifically honing in on LTV. 

Using Smartrr's analytics, brands are able to better understand how their customers are engaging with their subscription business.

If there’s a significant drop in retention for subscriptions, Smartrr can pinpoint that drop to a specific product release, and from there, they can brainstorm solutions to either re-engage those customers or help the brand pivot. 

Smartrr’s focus on agility allows brands the flexibility to make changes to their subscription offering based on their consumers actions and responses. It’s important to see what products are successful from a subscription vs. one-time purchase standpoint.With Smartrr, brands can enable subscription portal add-ons and can easily select which products are available as subscriptions, one-time add-ons, or both. 

Not all products should be available for subscriptions. There should be a clear distinction. 

The final piece: There’s always going to be churn. Instead of avoiding it in conversations, Gaby suggests leaning into the data to make smarter decisions. 

With Smartrr insights (a new component of their platform where Smartrr makes recommendations), brands are no longer just aware of the numbers. Their numbers become actionable. 

“Our focus on analytics is all about helping brands measure the long-term success of their business.” 

Subscription Optimization 

To optimize subscriptions—and specifically subscription frequency—Smartrr looks at retention defined by cohorts. 

If retention is strongest at a month frequency rather than a two week frequency, that’s an objective way to make a decision about what frequency is best. But, brands should also factor in the agility component—the option to be even more custom with subscription offerings. 

Several Smartrr customers offer arbitrary delivery frequencies, but then on the backend (on the Smartrr Account Portal), consumers can go in and find a whole slew of additional offerings. Post-sale, they can change their subscription frequency—from weekly to quarterly for example. 

With this feature, brands can A/B test and gain insight into the consumers’ mindset. 

For example, a floral company might think that customers want bouquet deliveries on a monthly basis. But, it might turn out that they have big fans who want weekly subscriptions instead. Then, the brand can fix that on the backend in the Smartrr Vendor Portal. 

Consumers are more and more comfortable buying items online. Now, they might purchase a12-pack rather than Trader Joe’s sparkling water. 

Gaby says that subscriptions aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’ll continue to grow as the tools become smarter and smarter. 

“Smartrr’s flexibility allows brands to understand what’s working and what’s not working. Brands can be smarter, make better business decisions, and give their subscribers a better, more flexible experience.”

Common Pitfalls 

At this point, subscriptions are applied with the same stroke to every brand—a monthly subscription with 10% off. That’s the first mistake brands make. Beyond that, Gaby shared three common pitfalls she sees when brands set up subscriptions. 

Charging for Shipping 

Brands lean on higher discounting but then charge for shipping. Gaby suggests offering free shipping for subscriptions. “Giving too harsh of a discount actually devalues the product,” she says. 

Inconsistency  

Agility is important, but sometimes brands make way too many changes to their subscription offerings. In order to see results, brands have to maintain consistent pricing. 

Lack of Engagement 

There’s a misconception that brands turn on subscriptions and then get thousands of lifelong subscribers overnight. That’s not the case. 

Brands have to constantly engage their consumer. That requires communicating the value in subscriptions, sharing exciting product and company updates, and engaging the brand’s existing customer base. Plus, it includes providing additional perks for subscribers—exclusive drops, special gift bundles, and additional discounts. 

Most brands are afraid to interact with the consumer. They’re afraid consumers will unsubscribe from their product. In reality, someone who’s likely to unsubscribe probably isn’t the brand’s core customer. 

Gaby and her team ensure that brands don’t just sell subscriptions and then never interact with the consumer. They recommend reaching out to customers ahead of product releases and promotions, letting them know their shipment is upcoming and they have the opportunity to modify it. 

“The traditional model of handling subscriptions is subscribe and forget. That’s what Smartrr is trying to redefine.” 


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