6 Ways To Optimize Your Site for Subscriptions

You’ve decided to incorporate auto-refills onto your website — or perhaps you’ve always had a subscription product — but do you know how to optimize your site for subscriptions? To help, we’ve put together 6 of our top recommendations from our usability experts.

1. Feature “subscriptions” in your main navigation

Whether subscription products are all you do — or whether you have both a regular online store and a monthly subscription option — make sure that this is featured prominently in your main navigation. You always want the option to become a recurring customer to be easy to find. If you can put this into a “sticky navigation” (one that always sticks to the top of the browser) — even better.
Darn Good Yarn, for example, has both an online store and a subscription option, both of which are easy to spot in their top navigation:

And on the Hubble Contacts website, once you scroll down any page, the main navigation turns into a simple sticky bar with one clear call-to-action — “FIRST BOX FREE” — which is a great way to prompt visitors to take action.

2. Make the subscription discount prominent and clear
If you offer both a one-time purchase option and a subscription option, always highlight how much a potential customer can save by subscribing. Don’t hide this option behind a radio button, or in gray text, or in the small print. Trust us, it’s not overkill to make it bright red and place it in three places on the page.
For example, Dr. Axe does a great job featuring the percentage discount you’d get with the auto-shop option, as well as your potential total cost savings front and center.

BeautyRX is a little more subtle in its color use, but still prominently features a subscribe option with a 10% discount — as well as the added bonus of free shipping:

3. Create an intuitive user flow
Make sure that you’re asking your website visitors (and potential customers) to do things in an order that makes sense to them. If in doubt, test. Recruit someone who has never used your website to go through a purchasing process and watch them. Do they get confused by anything? Caught up on any step?
We’ve illustrated one common misstep below. If you have an “autoship” option that shows the user a “frequency” drop-down when selected (see the highlighted elements below) — make sure you consider where you place that frequency drop-down. It may look cleaner to group the full-width elements together and the radio buttons together, but if you’re placing the frequency option before the “autoship” button, visitors might not notice it and get confused when they click “add to cart” and get an error.
Essentially, don’t let design considerations get in the way of usability.

4. Provide options and recommendations for shipping frequency
Depending on the product(s) you sell, you may want to provide more than one option for how often someone can receive a shipment. For a simple $12 monthly box of wacky socks, like Foot Cardigan, one option works just fine. However, an expensive shipment of wine may be too much for someone on a monthly basis. How about a quarterly option? Or a delivery every 6 months?
And, for more complicated timing considerations that may depend on a variety of factors, you may even want to provide a chart. Humankind Pet Food does this by dog size, for example.

5. Be clear and open about skipping and cancellation options
Don’t try to hide information about skipping or cancellation in the “fine print.” Let your potential subscribers know that it’s easy to skip a delivery for any reason — or to cancel if they’re unhappy. If customers love your product, they’ll stick around — but if they’re unhappy, making it difficult to skip or cancel will not make them happier.
Recharge offers built-in capability to easily highlight how subscriptions work and inform potential subscribers of the ease of cancellation.

6. Show examples of what’s been included in previous boxes
If you offer a monthly box subscription, you always want to include examples of the types of items that come in these boxes. People are visual. They love to see photos of what your deliveries will look like. The more expensive your subscription, the more convincing you need to be — which may mean showing the exact contents of the last few monthly boxes you sent out.

What other tactics have you tried? Let us know what you’ve done on your site to help boost subscription sales!