How to Manage (and Maximize) Recurring Revenue

June 27, 2019


If you run a subscription business, you know that subscription merchants face some unique challenges when it comes to analytics and reporting.

Not only do you need to understand your customers, products, orders and revenue - you also need to understand subscription-specific KPIs like monthly recurring revenue, churn rate, and retention and more.

The good news? Simplifying complex analytics is what we do best.

The even better news? We're releasing a huge update to our subscription analytics platform, designed to help merchants like you understand your performance, maximize profitability and drive growth.

In this webinar, VP of Sales and resident subscriptions expert Lindsay Brush goes over:

  • What makes subscription analytics so unique - and so challenging
  • The most important KPIs for subscription growth
  • How to find the most actionable insights in your subscription data
  • An exclusive look at our brand-new subscription analytics platform

Plus, see Lindsay's slides


Lindsay Brush: Hi everybody.

Lindsay: Hey, hey, I can see we've got some people joining and oh hey Chase. Cool. We'll give everybody a minute to dial in. I think it's 11:30, right on the right on the dot. So thanks for joining though. Those of you that are prompt, my name's Lindsay Brush. I'm one of our VPs of sales here at Glew. I am super pumped to talk about our subscription analytics update. One of my personal favorite integrations that we have is Recharge right now. I've worked with a ton of our clients personally and I think you guys are really going to like what you see, but I'm going to give a people a couple minutes.

Lindsay: All right, I can get started. So this entire webinar should be about 30, maybe 45 minutes. If we get some awesome questions. If you do have to pop out, don't worry about it. We're going to record the whole thing and send it out to everybody. It's not currently released quite yet. Um, so what I'm showing you is just about to be released. So we'll be sure that when we send out the webinar recording, we'll also be following up with details about when to expect this to go live.

Lindsay: And feel free, if you have questions throughout the call, you're welcome to fire them away at us. I might not stop to answer them right then. We'll probably hold and wait for the end to get to those. But we're also compiling the list of those for FAQs for this update. So anything you ask would be greatly appreciated. Just take it easy on me. This is new to me too. I think we're good. Alright, so I'm going to jump in and actually start with a presentation we put together for this.

Lindsay: We are in. Alright guys. So I figured before we jump in everything I could kind of provide an outline of what to expect. This is obviously going to be focused on subscription analytics. So I hope you signed up for the right webinar. I thought not only are we going to be talking about the new update, but also kind of coaching you through how you can maximize and manage your recurring revenue in general. So we'll start by talking about a couple of challenges that we've seen our existing customers face. And talk about some of the main KPIs that we think are great to focus on for growth, and then where you can find all of this amazing data and the insights within your own Glew application. And then I'll show you exactly how to find some really cool things within all the updates that we've made.

Lindsay: So, I do want to first stop and personally think our dev team, this is a massive update, it may be our biggest release yet depending on who you ask from our team. But I just wanted to again, take the time while I am the one presenting, there's a ton of people that have worked really hard on this. So y'all are rock star wizards. I'm pumped that I get to debut this on your back. And another thing too about Glew is that, as an analytics company, we're constantly thinking about how we can be proactive, with not only the calculations and insights that our customers could benefit from, but maybe even in the future what we think could come up with or could be helpful down the road whenever we are building updates or new feature releases. So we've not only taken feedback from our amazing customers but some prospects, even people that might not have signed up with Glew, but more importantly directly with Recharge.

Lindsay: They've been great. We've been on many calls with them ironing out the details for this. So I hope that you can see that we've put a lot of effort and hard work, sweat and tears to make sure that this is the best subscription analytics tool on the market for you. And this update, like I said, is currently about to be available just for Recharge. But we definitely have plans to release this out for additional subscription platforms. So to kick it off into our first slide, I figured it would help explain kind of why we focused on making this update for subscription based companies. And the main thing is that it's just tough. The analytics are different for subscription heavy businesses. One part is recurring revenue. Not only is it just recurring but there are different frequencies so maybe you have some plans that are weekly, quarterly, annual prepaid, whatever it is that just makes it a lot tougher for you to manage.

Lindsay: The other thing is that churn and retention are a huge focus for you. Not that it's not a big focus for regular ecommerce or multichannel merchants, but it just weighs a bit heavier for subscription based companies. And then there are sometimes technical things that just happen with the way that you might create your boxes or your plans or your products. There could be, I don't know if Martin from Short Part 4 is on this, but you could have seven products that go into one box. It makes it really hard to get down to the nitty gritty details of those plans. And how well they're performing. And the final piece is that, sometimes they could then change the way that your data looks inside of Shopify. So I know for some of my clients on Glew, because Recharge is an app or add on that can filter the data back into Shopify, we think it's really nice that you do have a place inside of Glew to see that data split out on it's own. And then finally we're super profit focused here at Glew. Everywhere throughout the app you can see it. But one of the biggest updates that makes me the most excited is that we help you now see true profitability, what's impacting your bottom line. With some of the integrations, the way that we've made two data sources talk together, one being Shopify, pulling your costs directly from Shopify products and then blending that with your ReCharge plans. It's pretty crazy what we've been able to do, so I'm excited to show it to you. So now I'm actually gonna flip off my video and dive into just some of the more specific details and there's quite a bit that I've got to share with you guys. I want to make sure I do it as efficiently as possible.

Abby Healy: Hey guys, this is Abby with Glew. While Lindsey is switching over. I'm just going to jump in quickly and remind you that if you have questions throughout, we're about to get into some of the more granular stuff. So if you do have questions, feel free to pop them in the question box in the bottom of your screen or in the chat. I'll be monitoring both of them throughout this whole time. And just wanted to reiterate too, Lindsay just mentioned this, and I know Chase from ReCharge is on here. We're so thankful for Recharge and how they have worked with us to make improvements to our subscription analytics platform. They've been great partners and we love working with them so much and we're so happy to have you on the webinar with us today.

Lindsay: All right. Can you guys see my screen again?

Lindsay: Alright, cool. So we compiled some of the main things that we recommend our customers should look at when I mentioned like best KPIs for growth. So to start off simple and we'll kind of get to where I was just mentioning, MRR is showing you the monthly recurring revenue, but even adding some color to that, not just regular MRR, we actually have five different MRR calculations, new MRR churned, MRR, your net MRR, and then even an average MRR calculation for, I think it's an average per subscription. So that'll be really cool for you guys to take a look at. Churn rate, regular churn rate, but then we've actually even gone a step further to offer a normalized view of your churn. Just to kind of average out anything, any outliers that might kind of be skewing your rates depending on what date range you're looking at.

Lindsay: Plan performance, Gosh, grouping your plans in a way that makes sense for your specific business. If you want to say, Hey, okay, I'm a nutritional supplements company and I would love to analyze only the prepaid plan options that have protein products within them. Pretty challenging, made simple in Glew. Getting to lifetime value. Again for our current customers, you know, lifetime value is everywhere in the app. If you've watched any of Mark's webinars before me, lifetime value was the main focus. So you'll see that in this update as well. Not only for subscribers but plans. You can see these individually, you can see the prebuilt segments that our team has created and then even custom segments that you create and seeing subscribers and plans split out any way that you'd like. And then the final one, as I mentioned, profit and margin reporting, how we're able to blend together your COGS, your cost of goods from your ecommerce cart into the subscription plans.

Lindsay: So what questions should you be asking yourself? I'm sure most of you are already trying to get to this data on your own, but I just pulled out about six or so that I think are great to get us started today. So what are my most profitable subscriptions? And again, there's ways to look at this, whether you want to see it at a subscriber level, which would be like Lindsay Brush, but I could be two or three subscriptions. So it's really up to you which way you'd want to see your most profitable performance. How I can segment my one time charges and customers, which I know comes up quite a bit. Which products or plans have the highest lifetime value or the lowest, which products have the highest churn rate? Or the opposite of that would obviously be which products are you able to retain the most customers with?

Lindsay: What is my trending monthly recurring revenue? I get that all the time. And then how can I measure my retention on my own, without having to try to do this manually with some exports? So if you guys can remember these six questions, I'll try to bring them up as I go through the demo. But now the moment that you've all been waiting for, the debut of our second version and the update to our subscription analytics piece of the app. So I'm gonna let this load. And then on the left hand side of the nav, you'll see that there are a couple of changes that we've made for existing customers using Glew. Um, you'll notice that these have new names, subscriptions and charges, subscribers, plans and the retention cohort. So significant updates made to these three, retention cohort should still look the same, but we do have plans to make updates to this as well in the near future.

Lindsay: So if I go back to that first question, what are my most profitable subscriptions? Again, couple of ways to get there, but I'm going to kick us off inside of the subscriptions tab and actually scroll down. You can apply a page level filter for everything. Um, if you wanted to update this entire page. But one of the main things I wanted to show you was that you actually have profit as an insight that you could click into and visualize over time for this one particular segment of all of your subscriptions and charges or again, isolating those one particular plan or subscription types that you would like to see profit over time. So far this year broken out by month and you can also change this to like a bar chart, horizontal bar chart for any of the numbers or I'd say like the rates, you're probably gonna want to keep it to a line chart, but if it's ever just like, hey, the total number of subscriptions, that might look good also as a bar chart. So you do have the flexibility there to update it. What's cool about these page level filters is if you're following along close enough, you're also able to do this for any custom segments that you have created. So Martin from Short Part 4 if you're on here, I know that I've worked with you on creating a very similar segment. If we wanted to see the RF Tour Experience subscriptions and then analyze what's going on with that one plan, now you have the ability to do so and there are tons of insights to pick from.

Lindsay: Going to the second question, how can I isolate and segment my one time charges and customers, so I'm actually gonna stay on this page while we're here. You could do it at this subscriber level as well, but if you saw one of the dropdown options was actually one time and this will automatically apply the filter with the whole page where you can see the segment will have filters in it. Once this loads, there's a couple of different ways to do it. Like I said at the top page level view, you can isolate all of them for the entire page. If I wanted to do this at a subscriber level, I could look um, at the table down below and actually see a filter that I've created for status is one time. So there's tons of different ways to get to this data, but I think just how easy it is to split it out or create your own custom grouping will save a ton of our clients a lot of time and give you insights that you're not not used to currently getting.

Lindsay: Next up is talking about which products have the highest lifetime value. Um, again, probably one of my more favorite parts of this is that not only do you have the top page level of dropdown, but within the insights, I'll let this slow to catch up to me right down here. We now actually have a way to visualize lifetime value as it's trending over time for particular items. If you're a current Glew user, I know you all know and love that just general store LTV curve that we show, but giving you the flexibility to keep those insights consistent with the way that you're reporting for the rest of the store. Now, for specific plans or all of your plans in general just for Recharge, a cool idea I would have, if you're on Recharge, I'd click these three dots, add it to a report, and then also take your general store LTV curve from up in Glew where it's pulling from the cart data and have that on one report where you can see those side by side.

Lindsay: I think that'd be a really awesome idea. The other thing I'd want to point out here is that if I come down to this table, if you wanted to see the actual plans ranked by lifetime value, that's a field within the table. Some of my clients like to actually do it by MRR. So whichever one you prefer, you can see, oh hey, our tea bundle set is the top MRR product, but maybe another product has a higher lifetime value, the espresso or the smooth coffee roast. What's cool about this is when you do find those plans that are over or underperforming, you can go and look for the actual subscriptions for that plan. So I could come in here just like I showed you what the RF Tour Experience example. If I knew that that was my top lifetime value plan or product, then I could come back to this subscriptions page. Find the people that have a new subscription plan name contains this RF Tour Experience, and then down at the bottom you would obviously be able to edit that filter, save your segment, rename it and update it at any time. But just having a quick way to pull the actual people that are buying the plans that have the highest lifetime value.

Lindsay: So I actually did this on a report I want to spin around, but I think it's really cool to see this. I did this based off of a couple different frequencies. I think I did it for your top KPIs for plans and I did this for annual subscriptions, your monthly and then your quarterly. So just to get an idea of how you could use this data. Yes, you can click around in the actual tab, but here inside of reports, once this loads you'll see the exact same table, but it's for your annual monthly and quarterly subscriptions. But you can do this for any of your custom ones too. Um, I'll give this a second and then I'll jump to our fourth question.

Lindsay: All right. Jumping back in which products have the highest churn or lowest retention, whichever way you want to look at it. If I come back into the plans and down to that table, you can see where I was filtering and sorting by either MRR or lifetime value. On the far right hand side. Some of these columns you can obviously pin to bring forward or hide. If you don't necessarily care about the base plan name, you could come in and hide that. Um, right now I've got a few things pinned and hidden, but if I scroll over you can see here either sorting by the number of turn subscriptions that you have that one particular plan in the date range that you have selected or I can get to the churn rate if I pin that, I'm just going to see that come over as well. So depending on if you want to rank it by the products have turned the most as a rate or I think I did it as the, yeah, this way, pretend you are a coffee and tea companies since that's the example I have in my demo account here today. Maybe you wanted to create a filter for your products that were any of our plans that contain the word coffee. Save it as a segment. Like you do the same thing for tea products. Okay.

Lindsay: Then what this allows you to do is not only see which products had the highest churn rate, but actually segment. Okay. Out of all of our products or plans that contain tea and coffee, what are those specifically performing like? Because you can isolate one subset of all plans if you've got a ton. Um, it's different variants. It just should make it a lot easier for you to not just look at all total plans and ranked them by churn rate but set up your own segments that then can be visualized up top. So these are prebuilt segments, but if I had created that tea segment a custom one, it would appear right here and then you'd be able to visualize all of the data for that particular plan.

Lindsay: Fifth question, what is my trending monthly or yeah, recurring revenue. And so this is where I'm actually going to go back to subscriptions for this one and show you the one time charges tab as this loads inside of the one time charges. I like the fact that you can actually look at the insights for them. Let's see.

Lindsay: Well down here, you remembered at the beginning of this call I showed you that there are not just one, there's not just one option for MRR. There's actually like five. So I'll just slowly show you these. If everybody can see, I think I just pause. You see MRR, new MRR, net MRR, churn MRR. And if I did a search for MRR, you'd see the average MRR per subscription. So they're all pulled up right there. And if you squint with me, since it is smaller, you can see that everywhere throughout the app. Whenever there's a calculation in that little eye, you can hover to see what we are calling new MRR. What's net MRR? Pretty cool thing about new MRR is that this will obviously change if you were to adjust this date picker. Um, it would only show you people with a subscription start date within the date range that you've selected, pretty straight forward.

Lindsay: But then that would explain what the churn MRR is, your net, your total. So being able to click into churned MRR and see that trending over time and whatever format you'd like, grouping it by day, by week, by month, all crazy. I did that. And seeing the insights trend over time.

Lindsay: Now the sixth question, everybody loves to ask about retention, things like cohorts. Um, a few different ways to track retention. To start off simply, you could come back into your plan table and instead of looking at the plans that have churned the most or at the highest rate, you could flip it to do the least number of churned subscriptions within that plan or the smallest value as a percentage of the churn rate. If I just flip that in the opposite direction, but to make it even better, we've kept our famous retention cohort graph where you actually have the option to see this as I zoom out and the actual number of subscribers or as a percentage.

Lindsay: So what this is telling me is that in June of 2018 you had what, 1400ish start in that month. And this actually excludes your one-time purchases too. And then column zero is still that first month. It's just now that we have had time pass, it's been a year. We can see that within that first month we actually churned or kept 69% of the 1,410 that we started with. So as you watch this cohort trend moving forward each month, I just wanted to point out that this is the total that started a subscription within this subscription date window that you've given it. And then this is still that first month. This would be their second month. So if I started in June, this is then your calculations for July. Um, and again, everything that I'm showing you can be added to report. So simple as clicking these three dots, adding to a report, you can actually flip this to a pdf.

Lindsay: So it's in a nice clean format with your cohort. And then these can also be scheduled to go out. They don't even have to be users on your account. It can be a onetime forward to an agency, an investor friend showing off your retention. Or you can schedule it to go out, however often you want it to go, whatever day the week and recurring out whatever date range we've slapped in. That is everything, at least that I had for you guys today. I wanted to give us five, 10 minutes to open it up for questions. So I'll take it back over to you guys and maybe Abby, if you want to read out some of them, I don't think I can see them.

Abby: Cool. Yeah. Thank you guys. You've already got a bunch of great questions. Um, we'll be hanging around for a little bit. So if you have questions that you haven't written in already, feel free to do so in the chat or in the Q and A box. We'll go through right now. I've also responded to several via text in there, so if you have a question that I don't get to, or that Lindsay doesn't get to live in a second, see if I responded to it in the chat. And keep in mind that some of them we may be following up with you offline about, we don't really have the time here to dig into specific calculations and that kind of thing. So if it's super nitty gritty, we may just say we'll follow up offline.

Lindsay: Some of them are like a paragraph or two responses. So I'm happy to sit here and tell you guys a story with the answers, but I think it's easier to, if we answer some of the more complex ones offline, that way you don't have to rewatch the webinar. If you need a refresher on the answer, you can have it in an email or in a chat that you can go back to whenever you need it.

Abby: Someone asked, and this is probably the question that's on everyone's mind, when is this going live? I'll answer that really quickly. We're hoping that we're going to be able to start rolling this out gradually early next week. I really can't overstate how huge of a project this has been for our dev team, not only the visual improvements and the updated graphs and everything that you're seeing in the app, we have rewritten every single query and calculation that goes into it. So it's just been an absolutely enormous project. So I know that everyone is super eager to see this in their Glew app when they log in and we're so close to having that happen. So we're hoping early next week we're gonna start rolling it out. So you guys should be able to see it very soon and we're super, super excited. And we'll let you know, we'll have tons of additional content.There'll be FAQs and tons of resources when that happens. We did get another good question from Mike, which I think is really interesting. Will our subscription analytics products be useful for a subscription model that isn't a box or a physical product.

Abby: For example, a membership subscription program that grants benefits during membership. Um, I'm going to take a stab at that and then let Lindsay follow up. My gut feeling is that if you have a subscription model and you are Striping or charging someone on a recurring basis, this could work for you. Um, I'll let Lindsay follow up on that though.

Lindsay: Yeah, I've had people use this for like different executive trips or um, like mission trips. I know that those are things that they're charged a membership for as long as it's some sort of recurring model. Um, I would probably want to know like what, what platform they're using to keep track of those subscriptions, like memberships. But yeah, I don't see that being an issue at all. Cool.

Abby: I'm scrolling down here, we have a bunch of really good questions. Katie asks, is retention calculated by customer or subscription for us? A customer can have multiple active subscriptions at the same time. Linds, do you want to take that one?

Lindsay: Yeah. So if she or he is talking about this page here, the retention cohort, is that a subscription level? Because we want to show you the actual subscriptions that are churning or not. Um, so I do have some people that ask like, okay, I don't really care if one of their subscriptions is churned. I just want to see if at least one of the three that they've subscribed to are still on. So at a subscriber level you can do it. I think too, it's just not going to be in that cohort. Um, the rainbow cohort retention graph that I just showed you.

Abby: Yeah. Yup. And I think we are going to have churn on a subscription level and a subscriber level, I think for the exact reason that Katie's talking about, great question though.

Abby: I'm scrolling through some additional questions here. Um, maybe one that we want to follow up with offline, but I think it's a really good question. Is any segmentation possible with retention. I want to see how churn is different for different products, plans, customers, et cetera.

Lindsay: Oh yeah. Yeah. That's one of the things that I went through. So I'm happy to do that again. Um, inside of plans we can do all of that. So at the top, I think where it probably will make more sense is when you are able to get in here yourself and play around and create your own custom segments for the plans. Because right now at the top page level view, while I was demoing this, you're only seeing the pre built or predefined segments that our team, um, wanted to start us with. But now you can see if you remember, I did the tea example. So if I wanted to just view all of these calculations for any plan that contains the word tea, you absolutely can. So whether it's, I know it's stuck on lifetime value right now while it's loading, but I can definitely flip that over into churn, churn rate, all those KPIs if you want it to be visualized or if you just want to see the actual percentages of those plans or the segment of plans that you've created, you can do so right here.

Abby: Um, there are a couple other ones in here that we're gonna follow up on offline. We'll give it a minute or two more if you have any questions.

Lindsay: I think someone just asked about, like we do have base plan. There's a few things that might be hidden. I think I saw one of the questions is about like multiple products within a plan, however you guys have them set up. Um, sometimes I hide things. So once you're in here, you'll be able to see every single option that you have to filter and create your segments with.

Abby: Just had another one from Katie. I'm pretty sure I know the answer to. Can you show retention by frequency segment - one month, two month frequency, et cetera. And you could do that with a custom segment, right?

Lindsay: Yep, yep.

Abby: Do you want to show them how to do that, maybe?

Lindsay: Yeah. Were they saying subscribers or subscriptions?

Abby: Um, frequency. So it's subscription frequency.

Lindsay: I'll jump back.

Lindsay: I think someone said to the current answer, but you cannot see the pretty monthly churn graph. Yeah. If you want it in that format, um, we can actually have our Glew Advisory Services team build out a custom cohort with that rainbow graph if you really like the look and feel of that. I would definitely reach out to Abby or you can email me directly, or chat into the chat feature and we can talk about how we can get that report built for you, with the same rainbow format. So to go back to the frequency one about retention one month and two months. Yeah. So up here you can see these are what we've created within the demo account, but they will pull whatever frequency options that you have set up. So if you've got one month, two months, this would be one month, two months. And then depending on what insight you wanted to look at, new MRR, revenue, churn, profit, turn rate, discounts, values, refunds, everything there. And then again, if I were you, I'd probably want to create a segment for like, these are all of my one month subscriptions or these are all my two months subscriptions. And then apply a filter on top of that. Maybe you could do like an MRR amount greater than a hundred bucks and that would show you that obviously they've been on for a few months now depending on what your products are priced at, or you could do that for, subscribers too. If you wanted to do that same exercise but look at subscribers, see what plan, see what frequency with your custom segments and then create some sort of threshold. Quantity of subscriptions is another thing that you can filter for. We've got a big sheet that we'll be sending out, each section has certain things on the table that you can then filter by.

Lindsay: I'm pretty sure like this one here, total number of subscriptions, the account sets date range. That would tell me if they have been on since, if they have like a subscription start date in January of this year. Maybe you're just looking at January through March, but they have high revenue over a certain amount, that would mean that they have been on for x amount of months. That would tell you the retention there. Do have any other ideas?

Abby: No, no, not specifically.

Lindsay: I think that's good. Kind of like the opposite of your churn rate for sure.

Abby: I just have two quick updates. One, if this gives you a sense of how literally in real time we work over here. I just got a Slack from someone on our dev team who said we just right now found out that filtering and segmenting would work on the retention graph. So that is not going to be available in the initial release but will be available down the line. So a couple people asked about filtering that pretty retention cohort. So the answer on that is eventually that will be available. And then I missed this a little bit earlier. This is not specifically relevant to subscriptions, but someone asked how we're monitoring some updates that Shopify is rolling out for Plus customers. We work really closely with the Shopify Plus team. And just wanted to assure you guys, we're keeping abreast of all the updates that they're making and having internal conversations about how, if at all, they're impacting what we do. So we're monitoring that stuff really closely and if anything changes on our end, which it hasn't looked like it is now, we'll definitely keep you guys posted. But we are definitely aware of all of the updates that they rolled out at Unite, which are super exciting and are definitely staying on top of that stuff.

Abby: Looks like we have one more question, which we may want to take offline. I'm not totally sure. Is it possible to see retention based on actual purchases instead of the customer's active/canceled status? I may need some clarification on that from you, Katie if you want to write back in?

Lindsay: Hey Katie, we can get on a call to go through that. I also meant to say that because this is such a big update, our client success team, they said it, I'm not making this up. They said they are more than happy to do one on one calls with each and every one of you if you want it. So Katie, I'm happy to set something up because I just want to make sure I know what you mean by actual purchases. Y

Abby: Cool. Unless anybody has any other burning questions, I think that looks like it is about it.

Lindsay: Awesome. Cool. We'll keep you posted as soon as we hear that we can let you guys all start to get access to it. Um, if you haven't already become a customer of Glew, you're welcome to sign up on a free trial. We're happy to show you what's currently available for subscription and then as soon as it's live, you'll be able to test that out in the trial as well. So thanks again for joining. I'm Lindsay, if you ever have questions. We look forward to seeing you guys on the next webinar.

Abby: Thank you guys so much. We'll talk to you soon.

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