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Episodes > Season 3 Episode 22

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Learning from top subscription brands with Underwaterpistol

What's in this episode?

In this episode, we talk to Head of Growth, Nathan Abbott and CRO & UX specialist Lilliana Miller from Underwaterpistol, a Shopify Plus agency based in the UK specializing in designing, building, and growing best in class ecommerce brands.

First up, Nathan pulls back the curtain and showcases 10 brands who are crushing it with subscriptions and why each example is doing something unique that your brand could take advantage of. His insight into subscription brands is second to none, and the examples he details range from leveraging testing and creative onboarding flows, to psychology and human behavior logic.

Then, Lilliana digs into some amazing examples of landing pages that crush the conversion rate optimization test. Her experience in the world of CRO allows her to highlight some of the best ways to get customers to not only take the action you want them to take on your landing pages, but also stick around as long time subscribers.

Finally, we wrap with some advice from this dynamic duo on how to kick off a new subscription brand or continue scaling an already established brand.

So let’s hop in!

Connect with Nathan on LinkedIn and Lilliana on LinkedIn. Check out Underwaterpistol.

Episode transcript

Chase Alderton: In this episode, we talked to head of growth, Nathan Abbott, and CRO and UX specialist, Lilliana Miller, from Underwaterpistol, a Shopify Plus agency based in the UK, specialized in designing, building, and growing best-in-class e-commerce brands. First up, Nathan pulls back the curtain and showcases 10 brands who are crushing it with subscriptions and why each example is doing something unique that your brand could take advantage of. His insight into subscription brands is second to none and the examples he details range from leveraging testing creative onboarding flows to psychology and human behavior logic.

Chase Alderton: Then Lilliana digs into some amazing examples of landing pages that crush the conversion rate optimization test. Her experience in the world of CRO allows her to highlight some of the best ways to get customers to not only take the action you want them to take on your landing pages, but also to stick around as long-time subscribers. Finally, we wrap up with some advice from this dynamic duo on how to kick off a new subscription brand or continue scaling and already established brain. So, let's hop in.

Chase Alderton: So, Nathan and Lilliana, thank you both for joining us.

Nathan Abbot: Great to be here.

Lilliana Miller: Great to be here.

Chase Alderton: Let's do a quick intro for both of you and then a little bit about Underwaterpistol. Nathan, you want to go first?

Nathan Abbot: Yeah, absolutely. So, I'm Nathan. I'm the head of growth at Underwaterpistol. My job really focuses on the growth of our channels, our products, our clients, and obviously the agency itself. My background is mainly in digital marketing strategy and I've been with the business for just under a year. I'll hand over to Lilliana.

Lilliana Miller: Thank you. So, I'm Lilliana. I look after CRO and UX at Underwaterpistol. My role is essentially to use data analysis to identify and test opportunities to increase website conversions whilst ensuring that the site is extremely easy to use and also navigate.

Chase Alderton: Amazing. So, today's episode is going to be a bit different than what we're usually used to. Talking with Nathan and Lilliana, we're going to kind of split this up and go half and half. So Nathan is going to cover subscription brands who are killing it. Obviously, Underwaterpistol has worked with a lot of brands, so we want to highlight a few brands, talk through why they're killing it, what are a couple things that we can point out, hopefully that you can pull for your own store. Nathan, I will turn this over to you.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah, brilliant. I wanted to pick out five brands that ultimately are doing different things, but I think given the subscription space is so broad now in terms of vertical, there's different methods of success as different industries become quite saturated. You've got to try different things, but ultimately some people are having a bit more success by keeping things fairly simple, but also keeping it quite fun. So the first brand is smol, who are a detergent-based brand from the UK. They launched, I think, about four years ago. Two of the founders were ex-Unilever staff, so coming from that background, obviously, launching into the CPG, but very sustainable focus. Their aim is obviously to limit the amount of waste that is going in these products, which in the detergent, the cleaning space is very, very high. There's been a lot said about that in the past. That is front and center of a lot of their messaging.

Nathan Abbot: But focusing really on the subscription side of it, I mentioned to Lilliana before the call how I love these guys because they almost gamify the subscription experience. The quiz element, which many subscription brands will have and figuring out how much you need, how often you need it, it seems almost informal as they ask it. They're asking about the number of loads that you do during the week or the amount of washing that you tend to do, or the type of detergent that you react to and things like that. It doesn't feel like you are filling out some sort of form and it flows quite nicely. I think that's a great way to welcome people into what can often be a fairly dry sell in terms of detergents and things that you know you have to buy and not necessarily fun to buy, but it spices things up a little bit. Throughout that whole-

Chase Alderton: This is-

Nathan Abbot: Sorry. Yeah, go on.

Chase Alderton: This is such a good example for the first one to kick us off. It's actually one of my favorite pieces to reference because they do a non-traditional subscription duration. So when you actually subscribe, it doesn't need to be one week, two weeks, one month, whatever it is. They'll suggest based on that onboarding quiz. Like you said, it may be 16 days. It may be 24 days. It may be this weird, random timeline based on how much you do laundry, but that's the greatest way to gamify it and customize that subscription.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah, absolutely. One thing I found fascinating and I would need to know far more on the tech that sits behind it, but it seems like they have a lot of the judgment on the replenishment requirements based on their actual reviews. So they're using customer data as a way to consistently inform what their business needs to be doing to keep customers happy. They're feeding off each other and its almost peer to peer in that mentality, that they're showcasing reviews front and center for you to either make that call or for them to inform their own data. So I find that really, really interesting. They're really staying on top of what subscriptions can achieve for them. It means that, yeah, it's very personalized and ultimately creates a better experience for something that you want to subscribe to and almost forget about. It comes every month. You don't overuse it. You don't end up with a massive pile of tablets and stuff that you haven't used. If it's more accurate as a result of that, then than fair play.

Chase Alderton: Is there any better way really to do it, to have your customer data and form your own product, going back and forth? That seems like an absolute gold mine. That's the way absolutely way to do it.

Nathan Abbot: Exactly. It keeps things very consistent. As you add in more products and stuff, you can continually use your... You can have a core group of customers almost that are the best informants for what your products are going to be doing. You can almost beta test them and say like, "Well, we're going to advise that people have it every fortnight or once a month," or whatever, really. So it ties in with the messaging around the sustainability point because while the product can be as sustainable as it's meant to be, it is still unsustainable to be over-ordering and to be having things stack up and stuff. So they're fine tuning that balance really, really well, I think. I think it's a really cool product and it looks good as well. I think sometimes with, like I mentioned, more dry ones, I think the website and everything around it and on the UI side of things, I think it's fairly soft and, yeah, good sell.

Chase Alderton: It's a great point is that there are some of these products that are sold on subscription that aren't necessarily super sexy products and laundry pods is probably one of them. So having this creative way to do an onboarding quiz and garner some attention based on customer data is a great way to get customers onboard in the first place.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah, absolutely. Another point that I was going to raise as well is that I like that there is an immediate impact in terms of... I think I've seen it a lot of times where if you've subscribed to something for a long time, then they'll say like, "Oh, over the last six months, you have done this, this, this, and this." It's very common in the charity space, I guess, showing the impact of what your money has done.

Nathan Abbot: Ultimately, what smol are doing is showing the tons of plastic that you've saved, the amount of water that's been shipped that you've saved on, basically the amount of chemicals, carbon, animal fats and things like that and showing that instant impact, I think, is quite gratifying for a consumer, but it also puts their message front and center and reminds the consumer why they're doing it as a brand, because it is key to put that, but it's got to be authentic. If that is part of their messaging, then having it almost at the initial purchase is huge really. It's all over the site as well. So, it's a great thing.

Chase Alderton: It's one thing to be putting that over the website and do massive giant numbers that people can't relate to where it's, "We've taken 100 million pounds of trash out of the ocean," whatever it is. If you're showing that directly to the consumer and saying, "Based on your last six orders, these are the exact metrics that we've done for the environment," that's a really cool, really powerful piece.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah. That's human behavior, isn't it? It's the same thing like if you're in a restaurant, you want to know that if you're tipping, that it goes to the servers and stuff like that. You don't want it to be spread around and things. I think knowing what your instant impact has had, I think that gratification point, it can be used positively and I think it is in this instance.

Chase Alderton: Love it. Awesome first example. What's up number two?

Nathan Abbot: Number two is a brand which I hadn't come across till I traveled out to ChargeX back in May, which was a very, very enjoyable week in Santa Monica. It was Bumpin Blends sat by Lisa Mastela. She actually spoke on the first day. I think the overwhelming message and what I found so positive, it was a really great panel, where there was a real story behind each of these brands that she sat alongside. Bumpin Blends specifically, she, herself, is from a health background as a dietician and it just feels like the entire brand is built around demystifying what health can be, what it can be for you specifically, and how to understand that better and fit things into your diet.

Nathan Abbot: I think people get really spooked sometimes by either the super food mentality or the jargon side of health and they sometimes get scared off. Whereas what I think Bumpin Blends does so well if you land on the site is who they are, what they're all about. Ultimately, they've got to educate on what it is, which is a frozen smoothie packaging that you get and you get an individual blend. I think it's like seven is their smallest amount that you can subscribe to. You throw these in a blender and it gives you the kind of either a 16-ounce or an eight ounce, two eight ounce smoothies. It's not necessarily the most obvious at play in terms of something to sell. I wouldn't say it's a hugely saturated market. I know that there are players in that space, but there is an education piece that happens, but what comes with that is putting the health messaging, I think, really, really front and center.

Nathan Abbot: There's so much consumer-focused content built around their subscription offering. It's not about, "Here's our product. Here are the different flavors and here's how you order it." It's very much like, "Here are the benefits for you. Here's how to understand better about where to fit a smoothie or a health-based smoothie into your lifestyle and to understand the diet aspect of it better," rather than doing things in a way that can be... Because health, you're playing with people's lives here and their livelihood, so I think you're in a real point of responsibility. I do think that the explanatory aspect of Bumpin Blends is what makes it such a good thing, really. Yeah. There's an element of trust, I think. Having a founder that as a dietician, there's obviously that you can put that faith in someone. Using her voice and the content that surrounds that on the website is a really, really a positive aspect of it too.

Chase Alderton: Education is another piece that's absolutely left off in the subscription experience. A lot of people think, "Oh, I just flipped my product and I just sell it on subscription instead of one time and it'll just start to sell and people will subscribe." But the education piece, if it's a weird product, like a smoothie, or like a laundry pod, it requires education. Even though people know how to use it, in theory, you have to say, "Here's why you're doing this. This is why this makes sense. Here's how you use it. This is easier because," or it includes nutrition for this reason, X, Y, Z, whatever it is. Education is absolutely underused. I think this is a, another phenomenal example of that.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah, really nice. Again, they use the quiz, I think, really effectively. I think ultimately, they capture the email straight away at the start of the quiz, which I think while sneaky is a great way of locking people in. There's a lot of very nice-looking visual content. Even if you get their emails as well, it mirrors that. So it keeps you front of mind, even if you maybe don't go into it straight away. I can imagine if I was a person living in the U.S., it sadly doesn't sell to the UK just yet, but I'd probably be quite easily convinced. It looks good and I imagine it tastes the same as well.

Chase Alderton: That email at the front is an interesting piece. Maybe we'll talk through that in the conversion section here a little bit later, Lilliana, but there's always 50/50 on do you want to do the email first or do you want to do email last? Because if it's first, you may have people drop off, but if you can actually get the email, you have people who are a lot more likely to stick around and get the follow-up from what they submit to that questionnaire. So, interesting debate there.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I'm sort of in two minds. Lilliana, I don't know if you have specific views on the email point.

Lilliana Miller: Well, I would usually go for perhaps putting it at the ends because it's kind of like similar to having a coupon code at the start of a checkout. So a lot of people will drop off at that point, like Chase said, just purely because it's either not good enough or perhaps the email, we haven't provided enough value yet, so people are thinking, "Well, my email is extremely precious to me these days. I don't want to get spammed. I don't want to get a load of junk in my inbox." But then again, it does come down to testing because it might be their particular audience don't care about that and they're just like, "Okay. Fine. Have my email. That's cool." So yeah, I would say it definitely has to come down to testing just to see what your audience would want.

Chase Alderton: Interesting point. I love it.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah. So I'll drift seamlessly into my third brand now, which I picked another attendant and speaker at ChargeX, which is Who Gives A Crap, which have got a fairly good presence across the pond as well. I think it was launched by Australians. I may be making that up, but it's around 10 years.

Chase Alderton: Correct. Based on Australia as the first launch.

Nathan Abbot: 10 years old. What I love, I saw Jenna Tanenbaum speak at ChargeX and she's their head of growth marketing. Obviously, she came in just before the pandemic, so a great time to be involved in growth and at a toilet roll brand. But I think what was really fascinating was the idea that this brand was generated so organically and almost instantly. In the talk, it was like the idea instantly came to the founders and they had this idea that there were so many shocking statistics between behind the global access to sanitation and safe toilets that why not create a sustainable toilet roll brand that you can give some of the proceeds to those causes, which sounds insane as an idea that would ever just come to your head all at once, but the fact that it did I think is great.

Nathan Abbot: It ties in nicely with the Bumpin Blends point and also what we've mentioned already around education. These guys have ultimately have had to build a brand because they didn't enter into what I believe was an existing market in the sustainable sanitation product space, but specifically toilet roll. The way in which they've done that hasn't really... Obviously, we know that their intentions is behind promoting access to safe toilets, but what I think the brand also does, it's obviously quirky, the branding is, the messaging is and I think that really permeates throughout the subscription experience as well.

Nathan Abbot: One thing that really, really stood out to me during the talk and having used the product before is that it's incredibly easy to cancel the subscription. I know that as Recharge advocates on our side and then obviously running an e-commerce agency, we don't love that idea that people would leave, but I actually now, as someone that has subscribed to different things, I can't explain the power in being able to give people the ability to cancel very, very easily. It definitely and it has in the past allowed me to come back to a brand because they haven't made it teething. I haven't had to call anyone. I haven't had to email anyone. They make the cancellation process very upfront and center. That continues in a lot of other aspect of their branding as well, sorry, not their branding, in of how the service works essentially.

Nathan Abbot: Their FAQs, if you will, do confront the controversial, which I think it just means that there is a complete transparency with what the product is going to be and what it's going to be like as a subscription experience. So for example, the FAQs, they talk about that it's a bit more expensive. They say that quite upfront that it is more expensive for these reasons, "We can justify it because of this and this is why it is," which I think is an incredible thing to do really upfront and almost puts you at ease and reminds you why you're there in the first place, the sustainability point, the sanitation point and everything like that, and why they wrap roles individually and why that might be considered not sustainable for some, but the fact that it actually is, their different recycling techniques.

Nathan Abbot: They're almost confronting head on this idea now where I think people are so interested in everything being as sustainable as it possibly can be, that they themselves can pick apart very quickly what the flaws of a brand might be if they are claiming to be sustainable when they're actually not. You see this a lot on the likes of Shark Tank and Dragons' Den, where there will be someone that says it's sustainable, but it can be everything. It can be the ink, the glue, the packaging, and you can really be torn down by it. So confronting that head on, it answers the questions and it almost leaves a naysayer with nowhere to go. I think that's a really, really strong thing to have in your brand because it creates transparency and as a result creates trust. It means that people would be more likely to not only purchase, but stick around.

Chase Alderton: Transparency and visibility almost feel like the opposite of a classic marketing, maybe like a 10 years ago marketing, where you're not trying to sell your product anymore. You're just coming to the public and saying, "This is who we are. This is what we're trying to do. It's very clearly all over our site. It's very clearly all over our packaging. If you want to be a part of this community, we would love to have you. And if not, we're not going to restrict you, we're not going to keep you," which is exactly your first point, they don't make it difficult to cancel. So it feels kind of backwards of what traditional subscription brands and traditional marketing does, but I think that's how you get really valuable subscribers, really long-term subscribers is the people who stay subscribed really, truly care about your mission and about why they're doing what they're doing. I think that maintains subscribers even better than forcing you to phone in to cancel your subscription.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah. I think with subscribing to actual products, they've changed the game against when you think about digital subscriptions or things that are non-product base essentially, where you have this free trial entity that I don't think exists as much in the product space, because people almost want you to commit. I'm seeing a lot less of the free 30 days or even seven days things because the brands don't want the consumers to think that you're out there to catch them out. This rollover mentality that going straight onto direct debit thing, it frightens people. It can really catch people out. It puts people out of pocket and it's a frustrating experience to be a part of.

Nathan Abbot: I think products are leading the way and a lot of these brands that I've mentioned by not offering them at all, because you don't enter into that realm, whereas I'm not going to name names, but a lot of digital subscriptions, news publications, whatever, it will be this like, "Oh, we'll give you six months at £1 a month," and then you completely forget. And then a direct debit comes in, it's like £100 and it's the whole year. There's a number that do that. I just don't think it's a positive experience for anyone. So the free trial element of it, removing that means that it's all trust and like you said, it's all mission based from the get-go, so I think that's really a great aspect to it.

Chase Alderton: Absolutely. We blend the lines in the CRO here as well, where you're talking it may be really easy to convert someone at £1 or $1 a month for your first six months, but then how terrible is that customer experience on month three or month six, whatever it is when it flips to a full purchased subscription. You're locked into that over the course of time. So, totally agreed. I love how open and how clear they are. That's another great example.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah. Well, I'm going to blend my final two before I hand over to Lilliana really because they sit in very similar spaces and I think their successes are largely down to fairly similar things. So there's Grind, first of all, London-based coffee brand, omnichannel as well, so they've got some bricks and mortar, but they obviously do the bulk of what they sell is online and over subscription and stuff, and Brew Tea, who we're actually very lucky to work with. We helped with their subscription portal last year and it's one of many great success stories we've had alongside Recharge, so really big fans of them.

Nathan Abbot: First of all, off the bat, they're both really nice-looking brands, I think very clean, very clinical. Their ethos and everything they're trying to go after, great coffee or tea, the refillability, refillable aspect of it and the sustainability side is front and center of everything they do. With Grind specifically, I think what they do well with... And it's more so in the coffee space than I'd say the burgeoning force of the tea space alongside, it seems quite apt after 4th of July, but focusing on coffee, there is this bridge gap between who are the experts, who are the people that really want to get into it and want to know so much about the different components of the coffee they get and also the mass market appeal of usually pod-based coffee.

Nathan Abbot: Grind wanted to sweep up that space clearly because their quiz is very simple. They relate it to a consumer and their actual drinking habits rather than really flavor profiles. There's some really cool brands that still do that, but if you want to go toe to toe with them, you have to really commit. I think Grind know where they sit across the board. They do have different coffees and things, but they're not overdoing it. If you are going mass market and you are trying to get people on subscription, which is a tricky enough thing as it is, you don't want to overcomplicate the subscription user journey and I don't think they do.

Nathan Abbot: I think they keep reviews visible, which is a really, really strong point when you're coming up against a lot of other people in the space. You want to be affirmed by the fact that people have enjoyed the coffee that they've received, that it has come regularly. It has arrived quickly. It's been all been very painless. They remind you of that as you go through the journey. The final point really is that the coffee is great. It's actually really, really good. I have subscribed before and would recommend.

Chase Alderton: We should have started with that. The product always has to be fantastic for it to work.

Nathan Abbot: Exactly. Exactly.

Chase Alderton: This falls apart if it's not great.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah. No, no, completely for me. Yeah. It plays into to Brew Tea, which again, starting, I think, is a great product. I've not only bought it myself, but it's something that you gift very well. I think that's where a lot of their success has been, is that entering into subscriptions in coffee is it seems like it goes hand in hand. For tea, it naturally does as well. It's been a great success for Brew Tea, but I feel like tea in e-commerce previously would've mainly felt like a gifting space. I don't think a lot of people would've seen it in the same way the refillable aspect of it as much as coffee and I don't think their fans of would necessarily have done the same thing. Brew Tea and there's brands like Good & Proper Tea as well, the gifting space, they do very well. It's a perfect thing for different occasions, Christmas, Mother's Days, whatever. But I think getting people on the subscription side of things, you've got to make it quite clinical and obviously get people through that user journey fairly quickly, so they can understand it better.

Nathan Abbot: It's ultimately a very simple thing, you want the tea or you don't. Do you want loose leaf or do you want teabags? That's kind of what it is. What we did when we put the portal together was it's all a one-pager. Everything is in a few clicks. It's all a bit of a bundle builder, if you will. You've got loyalty and discounts well in view if you need them. Likewise, to Who Gives A Crap, you can also cancel in a couple of clicks as well. So the whole thing is built around simplicity and I think they do it incredibly well. Again, to borrow our own trumpet, we increased average order value. We increased conversion rates and things as a result of this new portal that they're working on. I think that they're set for bigger things now as they've got their subscription messaging on point, and they know who they're going after. I think that's what both of those beverage brands really do well.

Chase Alderton: Both Grind and Brew Tea feel like an awesome way to round out your section here, because it feels like they're a combination of really the three that you've talked about prior. So smol has the really awesome onboarding quiz. They really put you in a spot to be successful from the get-go. Bumpin Blends, great brand, awesome way to really provide education and say like, "Hey, we're selling coffee. We're selling tea. Here's exactly what we're trying to get at." There's no crazy fluff or anything. And then Who Gives A Crap is everything's brand first. The product is fantastic. "We're not going to hard cancel you. You can cancel whenever you want." Make sure there's education around every piece of this and that just naturally increases your revenue, increases your average order value. Like you said, lifetime value goes up. So, awesome way to pull everything all together.

Nathan Abbot: Brilliant. I will now hand over to Lilliana.

Chase Alderton: All right. So changing gears over here to Lilliana. Now, we're hopping into the conversion rate space. So, talk through brands who are doing really well. We want to almost take a step backwards now and try to figure out what is everybody doing on landing pages to actually convert them well. So again, I will turn the floor over to you and let's see what you got.

Lilliana Miller: Thank you so much. So, tip number one for me would be to think like your ideal customer. So this might seem like a bit of a given and while the majority of marketers and business owners are aware of this, not many people actually put it into practice. So it can be so easy to get caught up and go straight to the optimization part, but this is a really crucial step for subscription brands and also other brands. So the easiest way to get into your ideal customer's mindset is to ask yourself why are they looking for a subscription service and does your service match up with their expectations?

Lilliana Miller: For example, a pet food brand based in the UK called Lily's Kitchen does a fantastic job of showcasing the benefits of their service, as well as adding value and emotion at the same time. So they out outlay the three main benefits, which are less screen time, more play time, and also saving money. Then they go into more details stating things like, "Spend less time shopping online. Just set up your subscription and we'll take care of the rest. Updating, pausing, or canceling is a doddle." So this instantly makes the user feel more relaxed and like a small weight has been lifted from their busy shoulders.

Lilliana Miller: Additionally, Lily's has overcome some major potential objections by stating how easy it is to update, pause, or cancel the subscription. After that, they then state how less screen time effectively means more quality time to spend with your pets. So whether this is more time playing with toys or tummy tickles, or just chilling on the sofa, and this is a major one. All of us at some point or another have wondered how we can get more time. Our lives are generally so busy and Lily's is effectively giving us some time back by saying, "Don't worry about it. We'll take care of this for you. Go spend some time with your pets."

Lilliana Miller: Lastly, we have the save money section. So if you subscribe to Lilly's, not only do you have more time for all the more important things in life, but you also get a further 5% off and free delivery on all future orders. Additionally, any promotions that they have on their site will automatically get applied to your order without you having to do a thing. So this is huge because everyone's attracted to a deal, no matter what the size is, but from a business standpoint, offering discounts reduces the possibility of users shopping around elsewhere and it also creates sense, sense of urgency. So the urgency is created partly because of the idea of scarcity, but also because of something called anticipatory regrets, which is regret of missing out on a deal. So this is a huge urgency driver when it comes to users accepting a discount.

Lilliana Miller: Lastly, Lily's is overcoming the potential objection of shipping costs by offering free delivery on every order. For consumers, shipping costs reduce order frequency with 79% of consumers saying that free shipping makes them more likely to shop with a brand. This is largely due to convenience, because convenience shapes shopper's behavior. To potential customers, shipping costs are an inconvenience which leads to the majority of them abandoning their purchase. So if you can promote convenience on your landing page, then it's more likely that users will complete the process.

Chase Alderton: I feel like we could do a whole entire episode deep diving into Lily's Kitchen here. There was so much on there. That's fantastic.

Lilliana Miller: I know. That's so great. I've subscribed to them for my three cats before. So I've had them for three years now, so I've been subscribed that long. I think I have canceled a couple of times before and it is super, super easy to do, but also if there's any problems, their customer service team are absolutely amazing as well.

Chase Alderton: So there's a ton in there. What I really want to dig into is the fact that you didn't talk about the product at all on that landing page, which is really, really interesting. So it shows that they're confident enough in their product, but they're not selling the product. They're selling more time with your pet. Like you said, tummy tickles, hanging on the couch, whatever it is, that's the product that they're actually selling on their landing page. So they're trying to convert based on spend more time with your pets rather than, "Here's where our pet food's awesome," because that's what everyone else does. That's a really, really interesting way to sell that.

Lilliana Miller: Yeah. So selling more on the emotional side of things. I mean, that is certainly something that got me, because I was just like, "Oh my God, working in nine-to-five, being really busy." A lot of people, especially for young families, they're busy. They need to take their kids to school. They've got pets. They've got jobs. So this is like a really good way of selling it on an emotional value.

Chase Alderton: I love that. I absolutely love that. We got to dig into that a little bit more. We'll provide some links here to make sure the landing pages get shown to the actual podcast links so we can circle back in and take a look at those later, but that's an awesome first step. Let's see what's up next.

Lilliana Miller: Thank you. So, tip number two is to utilize social proof. If you're not utilizing social proof on your subscription landing page, then you really need to consider it. Social proof is a really effective CRO tactic for a number of reasons, mainly because it builds trust and credibility for users because they can see that others have interacted with your brand and they've had a fantastic experience, which is obviously priceless for any business. So the main motivating factor for social proof is something called the bandwagon effect. Now, this is like a cognitive bias that essentially states that most people are more likely to take an action if other people are doing it.

Lilliana Miller: So for example, the subscription pasta service, Pasta Evangelists, they utilize social proof extremely well. So on their subscription landing page, one of the first things that you see is that trust pilot rating above the fold. Immediately, you can see that they've got a massive, like 3,626 reviews, which gives them a trust score of 4.5% with a rating of excellent. So right away, even if you've never heard of these people before, you know that this is a brand that you can trust and you are more likely to have a fantastic experience.

Lilliana Miller: In addition to this, they've also got an endorsement from celebrity chef ‎Prue Leith‎. So this is extremely clever, just because most people in the UK know who ‎Prue Leith‎is because of The Great British Bake Off. Obviously, she's had quite a great career as well, but she also has a lot of credibility. Because she's personally endorsed them with the "Love it, unashamedly top end," she passes some of her credibility onto the brands and plus the fact any ‎Prue Leith‎ fans will also almost certainly sign up for a pass plan because subconsciously they want to emulate their hero.

Lilliana Miller: Lastly, this landing page utilizes a trust bar. So trust bars are super important for building trust and credibility. The one on their page has endorsements from the BBC, Harrods and ITB, and they also show that they're featured on Dragon's Den. And then, again, they also have a multitude of reviews from newspapers and magazines. My only complaint is that their celebrity endorsement and their trust bars are at the bottom of the page. So this could mean that not many potential customers are seeing it, which is a shame. So my advice would be to make sure any social proof or any trust bars, it move to above the fold to ensure that as many users are seeing it as soon as they land on the page.

Chase Alderton: Another super interesting one. So, now, we're blending the lines again, going backwards to what Nathan was talking about. This feels like the Who Gives A Crap play, where they're putting everything in their community and they're saying, "Our community loves us. We're not going to restrict you. So check us out and hear are all the people who enjoy us already. Here are all the people who are already talking positively about us." So you said there's already over 3,000 reviews above the fold right as soon as you hit the landing page, right?

Lilliana Miller: Yeah, some little trust pilot widget.

Chase Alderton: So you're already showing not only are we a great brand, but again, we don't have to sell ourselves because everyone else is going to sell us. So now you're talking, "Let's build a community. Let's build a significant number of people who will talk positively about us." We don't have to do the hard sell on our side.

Lilliana Miller: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this is another one that I've tried before. They don't really talk about how long it takes to cook the product. I mean, it's literally something stupid, like five to 10 minutes. So I can be at work and on my lunch break, it doesn't take me an hour to cook some lunch. It will take me like 10 minutes. It tastes great too, which is always a plus

Chase Alderton: That's amazing. Celebrity endorsements are always interesting because sometimes people will see through them and sometimes people say, "Okay. This is just some random person who's getting paid to do this." But if it actually makes sense, if it's in your vertical, like you said, I don't actually know the chef, I don't watch Great British Bake Off, I apologize, but if it makes sense and if that's your target market, then that's exactly what you should be doing. It seems like that's a great way to entice new subscribers.

Lilliana Miller: Absolutely.

Chase Alderton: Cool.

Nathan Abbot: Sacrilege there, Chase, not watching Great British Bake Off.

Chase Alderton: I live in California. It's a little bit too far away from me, but maybe I'll go and hop in that tonight.

Nathan Abbot: If you ever need any of that-

Lilliana Miller: I'm pretty sure you [inaudible00:32:23] a lot.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah. It'll be on Netflix, I'm sure.

Chase Alderton: All right. We'll do a tear down. We'll do a second episode where we can dig into Great British Bake Off piece. That'll be my second podcast. We'll launch in a bit.

Lilliana Miller: Right. We're giving you so many ideas though. It's brilliant.

Chase Alderton: I love it. I can't wait.

Lilliana Miller: Okay. So, tip number three is to replicate the in-person buying experience. So this is essential for any online business. So if you've got a bricks and mortar store, it's considerably easier to sell stock. So potential customers can go in, physically interact with the coat, the shoes, the pops, the pants, whatever it may be, and they can make an informed decision as to whether this product is right for them. With e-commerce, it's a little bit harder. So your landing page needs to give your users enough information so that they can make an informed decision, but not so much that they feel overwhelmed. So balance is really key here.

Lilliana Miller: So The Hut Group are major players in the e-commerce space and for good reason. One of the brands under their umbrella is a beauty brand called lookfantastic. They have a beauty subscription box. So their landing page replicates the in-person buying experience perfectly. To replicate the in-person buying experience, your potential customers need to be able to see what they're getting. Shopping online can be a major risk. If users are unsure in any way, then they won't be making a purchase on your site. One way to overcome this is with clear product imagery. lookfantastic showcases all of the products that you will receive in your beauty box altogether, as well as separately, so you can have a clear idea of what it is you're actually ordering. Additionally, they're using uniform images, which in turn makes the product look a lot more appealing to the user. So we're talking uniform backgrounds here.

Lilliana Miller: They also utilize video content with a high quality 15-second video. So they're basically showing the contents of the box and handling the products just as a user would in a physical store. This is great not only for showing sizing, but for showing things such as the color and the texture of cosmetic products, as well as getting you to imagine owning these and using them. In addition to this, they also have a detail what's in the box section, which describes the function of the individual products and also states their cost. This shows users how much they can save by subscribing. So there are six products in the box with the majority costing between five and £10 each. Well, the box itself is only £13 making the saving potential very clear.

Chase Alderton: That's awesome. So I think there's a couple things here and I think that this one now brings in the idea of verticals. So there's for something like a beauty box, people have their specific shades of things that they like, whether it's lipstick, any kind of things like that. There are other verticals where maybe a surprise and delight approach works better, maybe like a snack food kind of thing might work a little bit better of like, "Hey, you're subscribing. We're going to send you a handful of random snacks from a different country," whatever it is. But being clear about a product that needs to be used and needs to be tested where you really understand what's going on has to be perfectly clear. So I think things like unboxing videos go a long way. Things like showing what's in the box, doing videos handling so you can see how big this thing is, that's a great way to really have the subscribers understand what they're getting so they're not confused or they're not surprised by what comes next.

Lilliana Miller: Yeah, absolutely.

Chase Alderton: Do you think that certain verticals, or let me ask directly, what verticals do you think would work better that are very clear to be shown in what's in the box versus maybe keeping things a surprise for the customers to unbox?

Lilliana Miller: Well, I think obviously, like we just discussed, the cosmetic one's a really good idea. Also, like I spoke about earlier, pet food. So anything food related or cosmetic, it's really important to show people. But then again, to saying that, there is a brand called Degusta in the UK and it's essentially like a surprise. So, I subscribe to it as well. So it's every month, you get a box for 13 products that have only just come out and it is a complete surprise. It's brilliant. It's like Christmas. So I guess it just kind of depends, which is a really, really rubbish response so I'm really sorry.

Chase Alderton: The good answers for products usually ends up being, "Well, it depends on a lot of different things," but it goes back to your point early, you have to test these things. You can't just send a makeup box, a beauty box without having the customer understand what's in it, but maybe there are other avenues where you can send different things and say, "Hey, this is meant to be a surprise and you should enjoy the randomness that comes out of this box."

Lilliana Miller: Yeah, definitely.

Chase Alderton: Very cool.

Lilliana Miller: So, especially for cosmetics as well, obviously you've got to take in into account, I don't know, maybe a dark brown lipstick wouldn't look great on me because I'm really pale or maybe a bright red one won't look right either. So you've really got to think about that too.

Chase Alderton: Very interesting. Very interesting. I think you have one more, right, last up?

Lilliana Miller: Yes. Yes. I've got one more.

Chase Alderton: All right. Let's do it.

Lilliana Miller: Number four is to ensure that your conversion goal is clear. So in order to increase conversions, you've got to make sure that people understand what your goal is. So this comes down to three primary questions, what the goal of the page is, what do we want the users to do on that page, and are the users taking the correct action? A lot of landing page conversion goals are unclear and users won't be able to recognize the action that page wants them to take or what will happen next. We need to be proactive and guide our users towards conversion by making it plain what the next step is by utilizing the correct language in our calls to action. So if your learning page isn't using CTAs correctly, it always becomes like passive brochure with no real intent.

Lilliana Miller: So think about any time that you've ever signed up to anything. This could be like getting a Netflix subscription, signing up to New Yorker or even downloading Spotify. It's extremely likely that you've signed up for these services as a result of a compelling CTA. The best CTAs tell the user exactly what will happen next and nudge them into taking action. So we've all seen the obligatory learn more and click here, et cetera, but we need to move beyond that and encourage users to click through while removing any fear of the unknown. So if we take Spotify for an example, their CTA is try Spotify free, which is much more compelling than click here. They're also adding value and using active language.

Lilliana Miller: Netflix utilize a get started CTA after an email field. So you know that by clicking this button, you're going to go to the sign up stage. If this CTA will learn more and a user did click it, they would be confused to find a form on the page and would probably exit. So by using CTAs like try it for free, shop now, subscribe or give us a try, even, you are actively telling the user what to expect at the next stage, minimizing your exit rates and increasing your chances of subscriptions. Additionally, we should be harnessing the power of transitional CTAs where possible to ensure that we are catering to both types of buyers. So this would be the impulse buyer and the research buyer.

Chase Alderton: So there's, again, a ton there. You're throwing a lot at us, which I absolutely love.

Lilliana Miller: Right.

Chase Alderton: So CTAs need to be... They really truly need to be action oriented. Something like a learn more or something like a click here is my absolute least favorite of everything. Click here-

Lilliana Miller: Absolutely.

Chase Alderton: ... click here for what? What am I getting out of this? What's the value? What's the point here?

Lilliana Miller: Yeah, 100%.

Chase Alderton: So I think that being very clear needs to be obviously very clear, but then there's also different types of CTAs. So something like a learn more, maybe something like, "Learn more about our product," or "Here's why a subscription makes sense," something that's a bit clear, that's a bit more action oriented will always drive more clicks and more conversions than just a generic click here.

Lilliana Miller: Yeah, definitely because, I mean, it comes back as well to the in-person buying experience because if I'm not sure what's going to happen next, there's no one I can ask, unless, I mean, you've got live chat, which is great, but even that can only go so far, so having it clear straight away so you are not putting subconsciously in your customer's mind that this might be a confusing website, even it could be the easiest one in the world. But if it's very ambiguous, then people aren't going to trust you enough to open their wallets and then convert.

Chase Alderton: It's fantastic that you brought up the in-person buying experience one more time. I think this rounds everything out really nicely. Could you imagine walking into a store and picking up a shirt off of a rack and having something pop up that just says, "Click here."

Lilliana Miller: Yeah, exactly.

Chase Alderton: You say, "What's the point of that? What do I do with it? I'm holding my product. I know what I want to do with this. What is that button doing for me? What's the point here?" So being action oriented and driving customers towards your end goal is massively important.

Lilliana Miller: Definitely.

Chase Alderton: So we're going to get into a few closing questions here. I want to ask both of you actually an example of a subscription brand or advice to a subscription brand that's just getting off the ground here.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah, I don't mind starting. I think as a broader piece, something that we are coming up against with many of the brands that we're working with are either of a certain size and entering into the subscription space or they are literally starting fresh with a subscription-only offering, it very much links to what I say in is that look at who you are selling subscription to and really try to not overcomplicate it for those people. Most times, if you are introducing subscription to an existing product, you are selling it to people that know your brand. They know your product. They know your website. They're familiar with who you are. Introducing subscription as a concept alone is a complication in the experience with your site. So it's vital that the subscription experience, it isn't too in-depth.

Nathan Abbot: I think the best thing I can say is that don't assume because you've spent a lot of time doing great competitor research, looking at all the other brands in your space that do it, that the consumers are doing the same thing. It's not what I do. If I'm looking for a new coffee brand to subscribe to, I'm not going to go on every one and judge the subscription experience and then buy. I will end up buying the first one I experience. If it's good enough, it will be that one. So I think if you're trying an app for the first time, then quite literally try it out, keep it fairly simple, work out what's worked well for you and how you've sold things and packaged things up and keep a relative amount of order on things, but don't overdo it and then see what works.

Nathan Abbot: Your V1 subscription offering is not going to be what exists in 12 months time. You can add to it. There can be a phased approach. You can add different things. It can be really exciting as your subscribers develop with you and they learn more. So, that would be things. Keep it simple.

Chase Alderton: Love keeping it simple. Lilliana, over to you.

Lilliana Miller: Thank you so much. So my advice would be to make sure that you outline the process so that it's extremely clear and easy to understand, so sharing the users how they can benefit from subscribing to your service, whether that's money off to start with, saving a time or the autonomy of not having to think about reordering. It's very unlikely that you'll have social proof to start with, so you need to make sure that you overcome as many objections as possible until you have social proof to then bolster your efforts. I would also recommend putting a review process in place. This could be something like sending customers an email and asking for a review. So the trick here is to wait long enough for the customer to get to use the product or your service, but not so long that they forget all about it. The usual rule of thumb is no less than two weeks here.

Chase Alderton: You do play off each other very well. It's almost like you work together on a day-to-day basis. Who would've thought [inaudible 00:43:49]?

Lilliana Miller: Oh, nice.

Chase Alderton: Both of your recommendations play off each other. That's awesome. Keep it simple, but have enough detail on there and ask for reviews so you can keep that loop going.

Lilliana Miller: Definitely.

Chase Alderton: So let's flip the script a bit. Let's assume now that there's a subscription brand who has their product market fit. They're already starting to scale. What is a piece of advice you'd give to get them over that 100,000 subscriber market and keep scaling up into the future?

Nathan Abbot: For me, it's all retention. It's long-term value. It's the fact that if you've scaled to 10K subscribers, you've done a lot of things right to get to that point AND you're going to keep acquiring people even just by word of mouth. So new customers probably won't be an issue for you. It will continue by and large. This isn't obviously the case to case, but focus on keeping people make them stick around. Churn is such a huge issue for subscribers. We are going into a very difficult time for a lot of people financially and understanding how you can make their life easier through subscription, how, if you can, make it cheaper than buying as one-off purchases, then look at those things. As people start to tighten their purse strings and really focus on what their weekly outgoings are, then keeping people, making them stick around is going to help you continue to scale it in a tricky environment.

Chase Alderton: I couldn't agree more. I think retention is so big as you start to scale. Acquisition will always come. There's always ways to acquire new customers. Retention is going to be the tough one, especially coming in the next, and I don't want to put a date on it, but-

Nathan Abbot: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Chase Alderton: ... in the near future and potentially long-term future, it's going to be a big deal. Lilliana, last out.

Lilliana Miller: Thank you. So I would recommend utilizing CRO within your marketing efforts. So reviewing all of the data that you've collected, identifying opportunities for improvement, and hypothesizing what the outcome could be, and deploying tests. So it's really important to remember that even a failed test can tell you a lot about your users and how that they're using your site. If your test fails, then go back to your hypothesis and tweak it and be sure to review your implementation methods before redeploying your variance.

Chase Alderton: Super smart, always be testing. I think you break that down, make sure you're testing everything because as you grow, it's not going to be the same product that you had six weeks, six months, six years ago, so it'll be interesting to see how everything evolves. Final question for both of you in the last minute here, what do both of you subscribe to? Nathan?

Nathan Abbot: So at the moment, I subscribe to like... It's a lot of food magazines actually. I'm a big eater of and cooker of food, either of those really words. So those two, and Harry's razors, it's another one that I'd subscribe to, but not tons, actually. I took measure of my whole life. When I read that question, I was like, "Maybe I need to look into it a bit more." But yeah, there's a few bits here and there.

Nathan Abbot: I do also subscribe to... And this is more what plays onto more of the membership side of Recharge and something that is very exciting and not that they are... I don't think they are Recharge, but Nuraphone headphones, I'm a subscriber of those guys. You pay a small amount every month. You get to use their incredible headphones that I could never afford, but I can convince myself that I can by paying a small amount each month, but I like the membership aspect of it because there's new launches. There's different things. There's perks of being a member and stuff. So I think that's something interesting to watch out for as well in the future for different things outside of just electronics.

Chase Alderton: That's great one.

Nathan Abbot: Yeah.

Chase Alderton: That's a great one.

Nathan Abbot: Lilliana?

Lilliana Miller: Thank you. So, basically, too many. I mainly subscribe to things that help me be a functioning human, so it'd be things like oat milk, cleaning products, laundry detergent. I subscribe to Who Gives A Crap as well, highly recommend. An ice coffee, that is like the most important one. Amazon turned up the other day with my subscription. It was a massive box and I've got nowhere to put it. So literally, in my kitchen, it's just like a sideboard full of iced coffee.

Chase Alderton: I don't see a problem with that. I don't see it a problem at all there.

Lilliana Miller: Well, no. I thought it was fine until my dad came over and started judging me for it.

Chase Alderton: Lilliana, Nathan, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate all your insight.

Lilliana Miller: Thank you so much for having us. [inaudible 00:47:49].

Nathan Abbot: Thank you. Cheers.

Chase Alderton: We want to thank Nathan and Lilliana once again for joining us. If you're interested in Underwaterpistol, you can head over to Underwaterpistol.com.

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