Almost everyone subscribes to something. From gym memberships and mobile phones, to music streaming and car insurance, it’s not uncommon to pay for multiple subscriptions every month.

The subscription model is a dream for businesses. Subscriptions guarantee income and loyal custom for a set period. The only downside is that some people leave them to expire without renewing. (They may have forgotten why they signed up or have found a better deal somewhere else.)

This is where renewal email campaigns come in. Renewal email campaigns remind people their membership or subscription is about to expire and ask them to take action.

Simple, huh? You’d have thought so, but all too often brands get renewal emails wrong. Some send a single email at the very last minute, with a half-hearted invite to sign up again. It’s no wonder that long-standing customers receiving these requests walk.

In this blog post, we take a look at how businesses can do better with renewal email campaigns. Learn how you can increase renewal, subscription, and upgrade rates with great emails that get customers to commit again.

Start early

Generally the sooner you send a renewal reminder the better. If you ask customers to renew once a year we recommend starting your renewal campaign at about eight months.

This gives you another four months to check they’re happy and fix things if they’re not. Most importantly it gives you time to warm them up before you ask them to pay again.

And if they’re happy then there’s nothing wrong with asking them to renew early. An early renewal is cash in the bank, without having to wait until the last minute! Some people will happily resubscribe early if the email lands at a convenient time.

We like this email by Experian because it gets us thinking about the year ahead. It starts the ball rolling and might trigger us to sign up when we’re off during the Christmas break.

Start early renewal email example

Build a campaign not an email

Don’t just send one reminder shortly before their subscription expires. No one likes pressure or an immediate deadline. Especially a long-standing customer.

Instead, keep the relationship going with an ongoing conversation about renewal.

Creating a drip campaign is a great way of doing this. A drip campaign is several emails spread out over time.

Each message gently nudges the recipient towards renewing. A complete series of emails like this can be automatically targeted, sent, and managed as the time to renew approaches.

BusinessWeek’s drip campaign shows how to encourage people to renew with some eye-catching emails that build a campaign.

The publisher sends these four distinctive messages during the run up to the end of a customer’s subscription. The messages alternate between reminding them when it expires, how simple it is to renew and incentivising them with offers.

Bloomberg renewal email campaign example

Make sure they’re using you now

People are unlikely to renew a membership or subscription they haven’t used recently. So, make sure they’re getting full value from their existing contract now.

Send them useful tips on how they can make the most of your service or product. Share case studies, ideas, and prompt them to try something they haven’t before.

By inspiring to make the most of their subscription, the experience and benefits you offer will be fresh in their mind. The more positive and inspirational the experience the more chance they have of renewing.

Indiegogo isn’t shy when it comes to telling people how great it is. The brands uses social proof to demonstrate its popularity and encourage people to re-engage.

Reengage before renewal email

Celebrate your relationship

Renewals don’t just mark the end of a relationship: they’re also likely to be an anniversary. When it comes to relationships, anniversaries are always something to celebrate. So get out the party poppers, say thank you, and mark that milestone!

Show your subscribers you value their custom by giving them some appreciation. A little love goes a long way when it comes to considering the future of a relationship!

If you’ve got some data on their usage, use it to demonstrate how useful you’ve been. It’s time to celebrate every login, visit, delivery, or download they’ve made.

We really like the way Birchbox asks subscribers to renew by combining an anniversary message with a renewal request. The email even gives the subscriber a sneak preview of what they’ve got to look forward to (it would certainly tempt us!).

Birchbox renewal email

Offer an incentive

It’s often the annual cost of a subscription that makes customers balk. They tot it up in their heads then stop and think twice about renewing.

You can allay these fears by offering them a discount or added extra. It will feel like an offer that’s too good to miss and demonstrates the value you’re offering. (And you can afford to. Just think of time and money you’ll save on remarketing if you can secure their renewal quickly.)

These types of bonuses are also a nice way of saying thank you for their custom in the past year. Remember brands that value their customers always reward loyalty.

We like the way this publisher offers its subscribers an additional subscription if they renew. It’s a smart way to secure renewal and encourages them to engage others with the brand.

Incentive renewal email

Add a sense of urgency

As you approach the deadline for renewal, it’s time to get serious. Send subscribers an email that tells them exactly when their subscription or membership expires. Make them feel a sense of urgency by delivering a countdown.

At this point don’t be afraid of being upfront and to-the-point when it comes getting them to renew. This is especially the case when it’s less than 24 hours until the expiry of their membership or subscription.

Just remember, people may feel a sense of panic when they receive this alert. So, when they click through make sure the online renewal process is quick and simple to complete.

There is a good chance they’ll be reading the message on their smartphone so make sure it’s super slick on all devices. You don’t want them to get frustrated and give up!

Quote Me Happy really made us sit up and pay attention when we received this email. It provides all the essential information and a clear and urgent deadline.

Renewal email countdown

Give them more time

If you can’t convince them to renew before the expiry date, offer them more time. Life is busy and people appreciate a brand that’s flexible. It might be that they just forgot or got distracted.

If they still don’t renew then ask them why. It could be a problem you could easily fix.

For example, if they’re price sensitive you might want to send them a promotion. If they felt they didn’t use the subscription enough, you offer them a lower value plan. If they weren’t impressed the first-time round, recommend an alternative product or service.

Failure to renew is a common problem after a free trial. Website provider SquareSpace tackles this by giving people a bit of flexibility when it comes to using their free trial. The series of three emails does a good job of capturing both late sign ups and feedback.

Give more time renewal email

Create brand ambassadors

Once they’ve renewed, you know you’ve got a happy customer: someone who likes your brand and gets value from its products.

But the work doesn’t stop there. Once someone renews, you have a great opportunity to gain referrals by asking them to promote you to their friends, family, and colleagues.

You can incentivise them or just ask them to share the good news. This way, you can use your renewals to attract new subscribers and memberships too!

Brand ambassadors renewal email


We hope this blog post has inspired you to send a renewal campaign that makes sure people are engaged and ready to sign up again. You can use all of these suggestions to create a series of emails that entice people to renew.

There’s no reason renewal email campaigns need to be complicated. With automations you can trigger the messages without having to manually manage each email. Throw in a few smart additions, and you might even be able to get them to upgrade or refer others.

Renewal email campaigns are about nurturing your customer base when the time is right. And with our software it’s easy to do.

We take the hard work out of email renewals by letting you automate and manage your campaigns. Click the button below to see our marketing automation technology in action.

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