Subscription services for products have been popular for many decades, everything from Amway detergents to Wen shampoo to Stitch Fix clothing boxes — and often, businesses will seek to convert prospects using subscriptions.

The last few years, we’ve seen a proliferation of subscriptions for services.

In fact, a current trend in online courses is that course creators are opting to give students access to their entire libraries of content for a reasonably priced monthly subscription instead of a high priced single payment that gives lifetime access.

This experimentation with pricing models is in part an attempt to reach deeper into their target market, but the marketer must consider how to keep the subscription going.

They can’t rely on people subscribing and forgetting. The value must be so obvious that the user is happy to pay — and, maybe as a bonus, is also an ambassador bringing on new customers.

How to Convert Prospects Using Subscriptions

To capture a user’s attention for years and not just a few months, a service, much like a product, must become a part of the user’s routine systems and processes. For software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, this is easy.

If you stop your subscription to QuickBooks Online, you’ll lose your ability to access your financial information on the servers in the cloud.

This is more difficult when it comes to thought leadership services such as access to an online library of courses.

In order to capture the marketing message that will convert your ideal clients and keep them subscribed, you have to package it in a way that they will clearly see how it integrates into their day-to-day life, leaving them better off with it than without it.

Todd Herman, founder of the 90-Day Year, coaches his clients to build trademark-branded systems and communicate them to their clients through making sure they include words such as blueprint, formula, or method.

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Figure out the word that makes the most sense for your offer and pair it with the core benefit to come up with the branded system with which your ideal clients will immediately resonate.

Want a great example of how to do this? DigitalMarketer (DM) has done a phenomenal job creating a multitiered subscription services platform that enables the company to maintain loyal subscription customers who’ve been successfully converted from a 14-day trial.

The rest of this article will use DM as a case study on how the service has created playbooks, trainings, a toolbox, courses, workshops and more to implement these concepts by showing how they do it.

Know Your Customer’s Journey and Insert Yourself Along the Way 

If you’re serious about converting ideal prospects to paying clients, an important step is to map out your customer’s journey to best understand all the places your subscription offer can show up along the way. 

The target market for DM is anyone who does online marketing of any kind. DM targets small businesses who are conducting DIY digital marketing as well as marketing agencies who have full-time digital marketers working on behalf of clients.

All these marketers execute projects such as making marketing videos, analyzing the competitive landscape, and creating Facebook ads. 

DM knows that anyone doing any of these tasks wants to do them as quickly and professionally as possible, so the company has created playbooks on the 40 most popular digital marketing tactics that every marketer would want to follow in order to make them easy and effective.

This enables DM to be in lockstep with its clients as it can find a playbook for every digital marketing activity it could possibly seek to execute. DM is on each customer’s digital marketing journey.

Using Subscription Services to Convert Prospects to Subscribers has 40 playbooks that provide step-by-step support on digital marketing tactics. By having 40, DM is able to insert itself along the entire marketing implementation client journey.

Put This Into Action:

What problem does your service solve and are there playbooks or workshops you can develop to make it easy for your client? 

Is there a way to package this further into a subscription?

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Grow With Your Customer

Anytime you’re developing a product or a service, part of the pricing strategy will include an analysis of the lifetime value of a customer.

In this case, how long can you hold on to the subscriber? One year? Three? Ten? 

DM offers three levels of service Lab, Lab+ and Elite Lab at three distinct price points, which enable the services to grow with the customers and their digital marketing needs.

Once entry-level marketers are ready to accelerate their expertise and move up to more sophisticated levels of digital marketing, users can move to Lab+.

DM even created its own certification program through which professional marketers can gain mastery in certain strategies and use this to market their digital marketing services.

Using Subscription Services to Convert Prospects to Subscribers certification programs allow subscribers to move to the next level once they have completed the playbooks and are ready to take their skills to the next level.

Elite Lab comes with live marketing coaching, customized reviews of your marketing plans, and more, effectively starting out with new businesses and effectively becoming their outsourced Chief Marketing Officer when they grow to the point of needing this level of support. 

Put This Into Action:

What are your subscription levels and are they priced effectively to meet your client where they are? 

Combine Your Online Service With Live Engagement

Offering a service that has both online and live human interaction components have advantages over services that are 100 percent online only with no human contact.

This human interaction can be delivered in a variety of ways, including holding regular scheduled live virtual office hours, creating a private community for subscribers or members to communicate with one another using a tool such as, holding annual conferences that members are allowed to attend (for free or a fee), or providing periodic trainings for subscribers. 

DM hosts and facilitates a virtual community of digital marketers, offers insider trainings on popular topics taught by some of the industry’s most accomplished experts, and holds half-day and day-long virtual workshops teaching marketing strategies such as Ryan Deiss’ Napkin Challenge. 

Start out with a manageable option for your business and grow this component with your subscriptions

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Put This Into Action:

Describe the live human component of your online subscription service? Does it make customers feel a part of something big?

Add Value and Make It Obvious

When your subscribers and members use your service as a part of their normal routines, your value is being delivered and this is acknowledged through clients’ use.

You can measure their log-ins, community engagement, and in the case of DM, their certifications. 

This information is valuable for your efforts to get their feedback on how to make improvements and keep them subscribed. 

Put This Into Action:

Is your service designed to add value at critical points within the customer’s journey so that they know how much value you’re adding?

Keep Building Out Your Service Adding New Features Every Year

I’ve been a member of DM for the past couple of years and the platform has continued to add new useful tools each year; DM’s interactive community is now 4,000 members strong.

This community has proven quite helpful from time to time when I’ve needed other opinions, and it’s felt good to help others when I had something to share. 

Whatever the features of your service subscription, continue to innovate and improve upon them to keep your subscribers interested in your offer and using them routinely.

Put This Into Action:

What are the next features of your subscription offering that you plan to add? 

Did these ideas come from your subscribers? 

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The Bottom Line

If you decide to include a subscription model to convert your prospects, ratchet up your success by packaging your services in a way that makes it easy and effective for your clients to solve problems with your offer as a part of their regular routine. Keep it fresh, and your new customers will stick around for the long term.

Belinda DiGiambattista is a serial entrepreneur, business coach, and outsourced financial controller, and can be found at

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