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The Elements of a Successful Subscription Upcoming Shipment Notification

Learn how top subscription brands build upcoming shipment notifications that increase AOV and LTV.
July 5, 2022

Upcoming shipment notifications go by many aliases. You might know them as shipping soon emails or upcoming charge notifications. They're relatively new to subscription ecommerce, and brands are still learning how to optimize these messages.

In a recent episode of Subscription Ecommerce Live, Ashley Guttuso broke down the elements that make up a successful upcoming shipment notification. She also showed examples of what ARPU’s top performers are doing with their messages and the benchmarks merchants should use to guide their success KPIs. We’ve recapped the highlights below.

What is an Upcoming Shipment Notification?

Upcoming shipment notifications serve a simple purpose: Subscription brands use them primarily to inform customers about order status, expected shipping date, and the upcoming charge they’ll see. Average open rates for these notifications are naturally much higher than other messages (60%+) because they include information about upcoming charges and shipments.

Merchants focused on increasing AOV and LTV add the options to delay, cancel, or add items to their next shipment. These additions support the concept of offering flexible subscriptions, which diverts cancellations and retains subscribers.

After subscribers have been acquired, upcoming shipment / upcoming charge notifications do the work of keeping them subscribed, and possibly buying more.

6 Things Every Successful Shipping Soon Email Should Do

  1. Deliver critical information first. Ensure your emails include the information customers are looking for when they open them. What's in the upcoming order? What will the charge be? When does it ship? What is the deadline for making changes? Prioritizing this information will help keep your open rates high because they will consistently serve your customers.
  2. Be well-timed. Brands should send shipping soon emails with enough time for the subscriber to take action if they'd like. At ARPU, we default to 3 days before the charges and the shipments go out, but you may want to adjust that number depending on your specific needs.
  3. Offer subscriber flexibility. You’ll optimize your upcoming charge emails when you give the subscriber options. Make it clear that they can delay their shipment, add items, swap, or make other changes.
  4. Keep messages highly relevant for the subscriber. This email doesn't need to be the same with each renewal. Think about including thoughtful upsells, renewal-count-based messages, and other perks that make the subscriber feel like you created the message specifically for them at this particular moment in their subscription journey.
  5. Reduce transactional friction. The fewer clicks between opening the email and completing an action, the better. ARPU enables a 2-click solution for upsells. The process of adding items, delaying, or swapping should take minimal effort from subscribers, who are often taking these actions on a phone and easily distracted.
  6. Provide a way to contact support. Even if your email covers all the bases, customers may still have additional questions or concerns. Providing quick access to support will show that you care about solving any issues.

How Optimizing Your Upcoming Charge Notifications Can Help Your Brand

It's important to remember that these messages are first and foremost transactional emails that offer best-in-class customer experiences. Any marketing material should come secondary to that. But you can still get notable returns.

ARPU’s core offering is built specifically to increase AOV through upsells and increase LTV by offering subscription flexibility. Our top merchants have seen stellar results by optimizing their upcoming shipment notifications in a variety of areas, including:

  • 27X ROI
  • 8.12% conversion rates
  • 80.52% delay retention rates (successful charges after delays)

What Top ARPU Performers Do to Optimize Their Upcoming Shipping Notifications

Our research made it clear that upcoming shipment notifications have the potential for subscription brands to bring in big returns (averaging 10X ROI on software spend), but we wanted to dig deeper.

It's important to remember that these messages are first and foremost transactional emails that offer best-in-class customer experiences. Any marketing material should come secondary to that. But you can still get notable returns.

What made the best shipping soon emails so powerful? What consistencies stood out from the top performers? How could other brands implement the best practices and make them work? We found that the top performers fell into 2 categories: driving retention and hitting high upsell ROIs. What are they doing to get these results?

5 Things ARPU's Top Performers Do to Drive Retention with Upcoming Shipment Notifications

Make the Option to Delay Prominent

Giving customers a choice to delay shipments has become a powerful way to reduce churn and increase delay retention rates (the percentage of subscribers who delay a shipment then have a successful charge). But you have to make that choice obvious to the consumer. Otherwise, they might miss it. So how do you do it? We saw two common trends from our top performers:

  1. 70% placed the option to delay above the upsell products.
  2. Others created CTA buttons and placed the delay content in a colored box to set it apart from the rest of the design.

Use Empathetic Language

Brands have had better results reducing “too much product” churn by encouraging delays, which put the subscriber in control and offered copy that empathized with the subscriber’s experience.

Emails that performed particularly well had lines like:

  • "Need to delay? That's OK."
  • "Still got enough at home? Or going on a holiday? No worries."
  • "Not ready? No problem! You can change the date your subscription is shipped. Click here within the next 48 hours."

It won't take lots of copy to show lots of empathy. A few words can tell subscribers that you care about their situation and will make adjustments accordingly.

Align Delays with Typical Product Consumption

One big reason customers delay is that they already have too much of the product. By strategically aligning your delays with average consumption times, you can help get your customers the next order right when they need it.

Remind subscribers they get exclusive perks

Upcoming shipment notifications can be a great place to reinforce the advantages your customers get with their subscription.

Copy that performed well include:

  • “...as a subscriber, you get exclusive savings, reserved inventory, free shipping, and much more!”
  • “Take advantage of this exclusive 15% savings...”
  • “Special deal, just for you. Get an amazing deal on add-ons for your next box.”
  • “In case you forgot, as a [Brand name for subscriber], you get exclusive member’s pricing, reserved stock, exclusive extra flavors (flavor names) - and more!"

Perks like these remind your customers that you value their commitment to your brand and help you foster ongoing relationships with your subscribers.

7 Ways APRU's Top Performers Achieve High ROIs

Make "What's in Your Next Order" Prominent

70% of the top merchants included this block just above their upsells.

Doing this communicates to subscribers precisely what they‘re about to receive, so they clearly understand what to expect. Buyers love it, and it often brings returns to the merchants who offer it.

Use Strong Headings that Draw Attention to the Upsells Section

Upsells are the best way to increase your ROI, but you need to draw attention to those options so customers don't skim over them.

Here are some of the most successful headings:

  • "Did you forget something?"
  • "WANT MORE?"
  • "ADD MORE; IT'S NOT TOO LATE!"
  • "SPOIL YOUR PUP."

Okay, maybe that last one isn't universal, but we liked it because of its creative way of appealing to the target audience. You may not be able to copy and paste it if you run, say, a supplement store, but you can find an equally playful way of speaking to your specific customers.

Give TRULY Exclusive Discounts Subscribers Love

We talked about the value of exclusive perks above, but there's one piece that came out even more with our top ROI performers. They offered discounts and deals that only applied to subscribers. Repackaging a standard deal that anyone visiting your website can get won't give your subscribers that sense of belonging and value you want to instill. The deals you send in your shipping soon emails should be only accessible to those who have subscribed.

Provide Options that Complement a Subscriber's Interests

Think of this email less as a storefront and more like an opportunity to suggest a few products that they’ll enjoy trying in addition to the subscription product. We advise sticking to 4-6 items to keep the email short and make it easy to add on an item. Offer a chance to try different varieties without overwhelming them.

Offer a Free Item

One high-performing client offers a free item to redeem alongside an upsell product in the first renewal upcoming charge email. The result? Higher engagement with the ARPU emails they send. After getting something for free, customers will be excited to see what other cool things they can find in these messages, so they open the emails more often and click on the upsell and subscription management options.

Offer the Option to Delay

This option proved effective on both lists. 8 of our top 10 upsell ROI merchants offered an opportunity to delay somewhere in their email. Most used a text link in a copy block above or below the upsell section. One seller, who made the above list, also created a CTA button above the upsell section to make delays even easier.

Clearly Communicate 1-Time Add-Ons

Some top performers emphasize that adding an order in the upsell section will only add it one time. Doing this ensures subscribers are not confused about whether it will add the product permanently to their subscription.

You only need a clarifying line of copy to communicate this:

  • “This product will only be included in this upcoming shipment”
  • “Add other (one-time) goodies to your next shipment.”

Adding something simple like this can ease the subscriber's mind as they consider the add-on.

5 Bonus Tips From Top Performers

  1. If you send other emails to subscribers, make your shipping soon emails drastically different from your marketing emails.
  2. Add a block to refer a friend for a store credit.
  3. Include a link to manage subscriptions.
  4. Ask for feedback with a text or survey link.
  5. Remind them you'll email them when it ships (if you do that!).

Simplify Your Sending with ARPU

The power of ARPU shipping soon emails is that they are primarily transactional notifications and secondarily marketing. This type of marketing feels like customer service rather than a push to buy more at the last minute.

Recharge Payments merchants using ARPU see an average of 10X ROI, and we offer a 5X guarantee. Our platform enables 2-click upsells and delays (2-3 clicks, depending on how you set them up) with no login required. We also offer the ability to set up campaigns to send unique messages and upsell products to subscribers based on products in the subscription, renewal count, or both. Plus, we just launched a Shopify Tags trigger (Summer 2022)!

See these features in action here.

Start creating a more flexible (and profitable) subscriber experience using ARPU’s upcoming charge notifications with a 14-day free trial.

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