Escape Collective: How a startup launched customer memberships in just two months
How the Escape Collective leveraged Piano Activation Suite to build up their membership base to 5,000 subscribers in the first five days after launch and generated 1 million page views within a month.
Escape Collective was founded in March 2023 with the goal of being the “best bike website on the internet.” Entirely community-funded, their approach is built around meaning everything to someone, not something to everyone. This results in cultivating the most passionate membership-base of cycling enthusiasts and keeping that community at the center of all that they do. This also means that offering value to their community of cyclist enthusiasts is a number one priority for them.
In order to capture and convert engaged audiences into loyal customers, Escape Collective wanted to improve their membership experience and communicate collective value across their community, with a tight timeline and limited resources to launch.
Launch membership in a tight timeline
Initially a community funded startup, Escape Collective was looking to implement strategies and tools to support their business growth. Being nimble and quick to move was important as they focused on diversifying revenue paths that were in lockstep with their mission. Moreover, with a small group of employees wearing multiple hats in their daily work, they had to harness all team contributions with efficiency and clarity.
Focus on membership
Unlike other cycling publications that depend on both advertising and subscription revenue to monetize, Escape Collective fully relies on membership income. The distinction highlights the importance for infusing value into the membership tiers. That is to say, Escape Collective needs to develop deep insights of their audience and then capture intent to develop and display highly customized, and relevant, content in front of their potential members.
The challenge that Escape Collective was looking to solve, also included a priority on scalability. They were not only looking for a partner platform that could help improve their business performance at launch, but also a partner that would be able to contribute to ongoing innovation and scale their membership growth in the future.
Out-of-the-box capabilities for a fast launch
Escape Collective launched their membership model with core Piano Activation products (Composer,VX and ID) in just over two months. Piano kicked off with the Escape Collective onboarding team so they were equipped to execute the platform setup, spanning from template
development to building a checkout flow. Piano offered detailed documentation and fast support resources to ensure the implementation was flexible and smooth. The initial beta version was up and running in one and a half months, and expanded to a full launch in just three more weeks.
Customized content for each audience
Escape Collective leveraged Piano to build up their membership base to 5,000 subscribers in the first five days of their two-week campaign. From this early success, their focus turned into customizing offers for various audience types with propensity modeling, a key benefit of choosing Piano. By leveraging Piano’s Likely-to-Subscribe (LtS) propensity model, Escape Collective created onsite messaging to focus on converting the customers that are more likely to subscribe, based on various indicators. Then they implemented different out-of-the-box templates to test and present the offers that generated the best conversion results. In general, the flexible and customizable approach of Piano’s products allowed them to leverage tools that aligned with their brand value and audience needs.
Non-stop growth and innovation
Building up the first membership model makes it possible for Escape Collective to access the resources they need to keep moving forward, so their editors can focus on creating content that engages their cycling community. They are not stopping here – they are also looking down the road at leveraging A/B testing around different payment terms as a way to meet different audience needs. Furthermore, they are planning to launch content recommendation modules to further enhance their audience engagement and continuously personalize their customer experience.
By partnering with Piano as the foundation of their membership business, Escape Collective successfully achieved the following:
● Gained 5,000 paying members in the first five days of their two-week campaign and reached 50% of their goal on the first day.
● Generated 1 million page views within one month after launch.
“This business doesn't work without a solid understanding of what various parts of our audience want and an ability to deliver it to them at the right time. We deliver that content and then lean on careful targeting and smooth onboarding to get people over the line. That's what Piano has provided since day one, and what sets it apart from platforms we've used in the past.”
CALEY FRETZ - Editor in Chief, Escape Collective