Subscription services cover a wide range of offerings from entertainment to office productivity software, but merchants still have to attract users to their platforms. Services can offer a faster sign-up process, for example, to help facilitate conversions.
Overall, subscription sites made headway on making sign-ups faster this quarter: The average time it takes to navigate a site — and set up a subscription to an online service — dropped by 7.4 seconds this quarter. But subscription services still have a ways to go: The average score on the PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Conversion Index was 63.2, of the best possible score of 100, for the first quarter of 2018.
The secret to the most effective subscription services? The Top 20 performers in the index implemented several features to drive subscription conversions such as messaging, passwords and plan options. Here is how merchants implemented these features — among others.
- Merchants focused on implementing messaging over rewards. Merchants upped their implementation rates for messaging from 84.3 percent to 94.8 percent. But merchants weren’t as enthusiastic about rewards: Implementation rates for rewards dropped from 33.9 percent last quarter to 13.9 percent this quarter.
- Average time to subscribe decreased over the quarter for B2Cs. The average time to navigate a website — and set up a subscription to an online service — fell by 7.4 seconds, or 4.8 percent, since last quarter. The improvement was most profound for B2Cs, which saw a saw their times drop by 12.5 seconds. By comparison, B2Bs saw their times go up by five seconds.
- Top performing sites implement passwords. B2Cs implement passwords at a slightly higher rate than B2Bs. Top performers in the index caught onto the importance of passwords fairly early, and all of them started implementing them during the first quarter of last year.
- Top merchants offer a variety of plan options, but not all merchants offer this feature. SaaS/cloud computing did a better job of offering plan options over the quarter, and consulting & financial services brings up the rear. Implementation rates of this feature is almost the same between B2B and B2C services: B2Bs implement it at a 69 percent rate, while B2Cs do so at a 68 percent rate.
- Free cancellation is a popular feature. All the top 20 Performers offered this feature, as did 66 percent of the middle and only 10 percent of the bottom. Additionally, there was also a large difference in implementation of this feature between B2Cs and B2Bs: Seventy two percent of B2Cs offered it compared to 57 percent of B2Bs.
To reach the top, merchants introduce these features — and implement faster navigation times. And those merchants that slip have decreased feature implementation. But how often do merchants move in and out of their rankings?
The top 20 change at a rate of 40 percent, with a re-entry rate of 20 percent. In contrast, bottom performers change at a 30 percent rate, but 30 percent of them re-enter the bottom 20 rankings. Will this pattern change in the future? Only time will tell.