How to Turn Repeat Customers into Subscribers

Many people mix up re-occurring and recurring revenue, but one is much more valuable than the other.


Re-occurring Revenue

Re-occurring revenue comes from customers that have a re-occurring need for whatever you sell and buy from you on an unpredictable yet regular basis.


Imagine a health food store. Customers come in to replenish their supply of vitamins when they run out. The owner is never quite sure when a customer will be back, but she’s pretty sure they will return when they run low on a critical supplement.


Recurring Revenue

Recurring revenue comes from sales to customers that buy from you on a predictable, automatic cadence, for example, a subscription or service contract. The music industry is a great example of this. The way people access music has changed dramatically with the introduction of subscription services such as Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, etc.


Let’s go back to the example of the health food store owner. She recognizes her customer comes in every month or so to buy Vitamin C. She decides to offer a subscription for Vitamin C capsules, where she ships a new bottle to her subscribers each month automatically. The customer doesn’t need to make a dedicated trip to her store and the owner automatically gets repeat sales.


Compared to one-off transaction revenue, both re-occurring and recurring revenue contribute positively to your company’s value, but one is much more valuable than the other.


To convert re-occurring revenue into recurring revenue:

  1. Start by segmenting your customers that buy on a re-occurring basis.

  2. Look for a segment whose purchase cadence is relatively predictable.

  3. Design an offer for your regular, re-occurring customers that makes it more convenient for them to buy on a subscription or service contract rather than on a transactional business model.

  4. Aim to give re-occurring customers three compelling reasons to subscribe.


For example, in the case of the vitamin store owner, she could make the case that subscribing to a regular shipment of vitamins is 1) more convenient for the customer because there is no need to drive to the store, 2) more reliable because subscribers would be given priority on available stock, and 3) safer because vitamin subscribers would be given a newsletter describing new clinical trial results of emerging vitamin therapies.


Re-occurring and recurring revenue may sound similar, but when it comes to your company’s value, recurring revenue is far better. Consider converting your re-occurring customers into subscribers, and you’ll build a more predictable—and valuable—business.

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One of the tools The Resultants uses is the Value Builder System™, a methodology consisting of eight key levers of company value you can push and pull to significantly increase the value of your company. A great way to get started on building (or re-building) your company's value is to find out where your company sits. Take 20 minutes to complete the Value Builder Questionnaire and join over 55,000 business owners who have used this score to move their companies further, faster.


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