Cloud Topics

Subscription Fatigue: What It Is and How to Prevent It

By Nicole Lim / April 20, 2020

Subscription Fatigue What It Is and How to Prevent It with icons circling the AppDirect logo

In recent years, subscription commerce has seen notable growth, as both consumers and businesses enjoy the benefits of using subscription services. As subscriptions proliferate, it's important for B2B providers to ensure their customers avoid subscription fatigue. The Digital Media Trends Survey from Deloitte discovered 24% of respondents feel overwhelmed by their subscriptions, while 28% plan or wish to reduce the number of subscriptions they maintain.

Businesses should work to get ahead of this potential issue. With the productization of business services, more businesses than ever before are embracing subscription models. 90% of companies offer at least one subscription-based product — some, on the other hand, believe that every business will be subscription-based in the near future.
This certainly comes with benefits for both businesses and their customers, but it also leaves them susceptible to the dangers of subscription fatigue.

What Is Subscription Fatigue?

Subscription fatigue refers to the idea that customers may grow bored, annoyed, or weary of signing up for subscription services. It’s thought that as more services become available, more customers will be overwhelmed or frustrated by the sheer number of subscriptions they need to have to access the content and products they desire. Not only is this costly, managing many different subscriptions can be difficult and result in a diminished user experience.

Of course, everyday consumers aren’t the only ones impacted by subscription fatigue — it may negatively impact businesses that rely on digital services to power their operations. A lack of integrations or reliance on too many different tech support and customer support systems can lead to fractured workplaces or general subscriber burnout.

Subscription fatigue can also harm businesses that employ a subscription model or offer subscriptions in conjunction with their regular services. Many businesses rely on the consistent and predictable revenue earned from subscriptions to make investments, grow their organization, or maintain day-to-day operations. While losing subscribers does not automatically mean a business will fail, subscription fatigue presents challenges for organizations that are looking for ways to stabilize their cash flow while creating a high-quality product and experience for users.

Digital services subscription businesses include all “as a service” businesses, including both B2B and B2C organizations. An overwhelming member of subscriptions could be a problem for business users, and that it can be combatted by having a single access point for all of them, as well as consolidating those subscriptions through a single vendor. Rather, they may encounter issues with their business operations and finances that arise from managing multiple subscriptions, changes to their subscription services or switching to a different service.

Challenges of B2B Subscription Fatigue

Much attention has been given to consumer-facing companies, as they are more vulnerable to subscription fatigue than B2B organizations. However, subscription fatigue can still be a major issue for many subscription-based B2B organizations. While there are many benefits of software-as-a-service (SaaS) for businesses, it’s difficult to fully integrate many different services. This can result in siloed work and issues with shadow IT, as well as general inefficiencies and greater costs.

Avoiding Subscription Fatigue

Because subscription fatigue can create problems for both businesses and customers, it’s crucial to know what you, as a business leader, can do to prevent it from plaguing your organization:

Ease the Onboarding Process

Make the onboarding process for your products as simple as possible. With so many options available, customers may choose one of your competitors if they believe there are any barriers to entry. If it’s easy to sign up and start using your services, potential customers may be more likely to become long-term subscribers.

For SaaS products, it may also help to provide information about how customers can integrate your services with their existing systems or migrate their data to your service — both of which can be major pain points for consumers. By making an effort to address these concerns and showcase your solutions to those issues upfront, you can help customers build trust in your organization while highlighting how easy your product is to use.

Only Sell What Is Necessary

Try to sell necessities to your customers. If customers believe they “need” a product or you are selling something customers need to purchase regularly, they will be more likely to choose and stay with your business. If customers believe they don’t “need” your services, they are more likely to stop subscribing — even if they want, enjoy, or otherwise benefit from them. Sellers of subscriptions should ensure they understand their customers' needs and pain points.

Similarly, make it easier for customers to choose and stay with your business. Offer different packages, a variety of price points, or flexible options so they are able to make your services work well for their needs. For instance, if you sell SaaS services, it may be helpful to create packages based on business size, as small businesses have vastly different needs and resources than larger organizations do.

Additionally, pay attention to the steps your competitors are taking so you are able to match them. You can also benefit from analyzing customer data to learn more about their interactions with your business, and then using those insights to your advantage.

Prioritize Retention

In addition to growing your overall customer base, focus on retaining your existing subscribers. Because these individuals already understand the value of your services, you don’t have to try to sway them away from your competitors or demonstrate why your products are the best.

You can still work to grow your business while maintaining ongoing customer relationships. For instance, they may be willing to upgrade to a different package or occasionally buy an add-on to their existing subscription. Using analytics insight and customer feedback, consider the best way to reward your customers for their loyalty and convince them to stick with your business.

Innovate and Adapt

Finally, look for new ways to improve your products, services, and organization. With such a dynamic and saturated market, you can’t get complacent or assume your customers will stay with your services. Customers want the best for themselves and their own businesses; if your competitors offer that instead of you, they may leave your organization in an effort to secure the latest and greatest product instead.

Pay attention to your competitors, as well as any updates or additions they make to their own services. If they debut a new product or feature, try to follow suit so you don’t fall behind or offer an inferior product. Further, by trying to stay ahead of new industry trends or updates, you may be able to persuade your competitors’ customers to try your products instead.

Between changes in market trends, your competitors’ innovations, and changing customer attitudes, subscription fatigue can be difficult to avoid entirely. However, by taking an active approach to combating subscription fatigue, you can work to minimize it and reduce its impacts on your organization.