Author Archives: fusebill

Traditional Cable Companies Switching To On-Demand Subscriptions

children-403582_1280There has been a revolution when it comes what traditional cable companies are offering their regular viewers. Many television channels are now offering an on-demand subscription service where customers have to pay to gain access to TV episodes online.

While some of these channels are offering only catch-up, where recent episodes are available, others are offering exclusive content for their audiences. One such example of this is Nickelodeon. The children’s channel recently announced their Noggin app. This will be a monthly subscription service allowing children to watch old shows that are no longer shown on the main cable channel and feature new content.

It isn’t just children channels that are going that way. HBO Now is a new service with similar ideals. On this channel, programs become available to subscribers as soon as the episode starts to air on the standard channel.

In addition to this, the UK has seen a move by traditional companies to move towards a subscription service. ITV, one of the main UK television companies that offer 4 free channels, has just launched two new channels: ITV Be and ITV Encore. Both of these are subscription channels.

The Advantages Of This Model

The main force behind the move is purely financial. While TV shows are popular, watching television live is in decline. This is mainly due to the improvements in technology that have led to online catch-up and other online media.

This has created a problem for broadcasters as revenue from advertising has declined. Instead, there is more money to be made by advertising on digital media. At the same time, television companies can collect significant revenue from subscribers.

The Challenges

The biggest challenge for those channels that aren’t using adverts is will they generate enough income. A television show is very expensive. Games of Thrones costs $6 million per episode to produce. While this is significantly higher than other successful shows, Breaking Bad cost $3 million per episode and The Big Bang Theory cost just $2 million when it started out, it demonstrates how much, a subscription channel must generate.

It isn’t just about one of these episodes per week. It is a combination of several new episodes over a month. With HBO Now, it would take over 400,000 subscribers to pay for just one episode of Game of Thrones. While it is not subscribers alone who will be the main revenue stream for these companies, they will be part of the plans for these companies.

Yet, Nickelodeon has a good plan. By using old content that has long been paid off and made a profit, it can reduce the costs for the service over the week and therefore it will take fewer subscribers to make a profit.

Will These Channels Be A Success?

While it cannot be guaranteed that these channels will be a commercial success, there are signs that it is likely. Netflix and Amazon have demonstrated to the world how an online streaming subscription service can be an effective business model. Netflix earned $4.37 billion in 2013 and made $228 million operating profit. That is nearly enough to fund the first four seasons of Game of Thrones!

In fact, Netflix has shown that an online streaming service can produce original works with their highly acclaimed: Orange is the New Black.

But the greatest challenge will be whether these new digital channels will be able to demonstrate to viewers why they need to pay for one channel, when they could gain access to more content via the big streaming companies. If they can’t, they will need to rethink their strategy. If they can: we will probably see numerous more channels like this.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

3 Businesses Using Subscription Models You Might Not Expect

ID-100252383The subscription business model is now one of the most popular for start-ups and existing companies. It offers organisations various advantages, including flexibility and deeper customer relationships. They also allow businesses in traditional pay per use or pay once use forever industries to distinguish themselves from the competition and attract attention to their brand.

Consumers are also seeing the benefits of using subscription services in place of pay-per-use services with many consumers flocking to clothing subscription businesses.

In most cases, subscription businesses are able to offer an affordable monthly payment for products that would otherwise need a large upfront payment. However, some subscription businesses offer services without any fees. Hootsuite and Box of Awesome are two businesses which use this model. This helps to sell their products and encourages consumers to buy other services or premium memberships.

With the success of various businesses moving from traditional business models to the subscription business model and the benefits they’ve found, there have been a lot of innovative business ideas. Here are three businesses using the subscription model that you would not expect.

1. Art In A Box

You wouldn’t expect that art could be so readily provided by mail, but in the US, Art In A Box is one that is moving into the art business environment.

The idea behind the service is fairly simple. A subscriber signs up to their services and goes to a members’ area where they complete an online form. The form includes three adjectives to describe the taste of the member, what media they prefer and how frequently they would like to receive art.

Then art is selected by the company and sent out at the times specified by the subscriber. This art is for them to keep forever.

Art In A Box delivers across the world and has numerous artists who provide them with work.

2. MilkMade Ice Cream

When you think of food subscription services you might believe in organic fruit and vegetable deliveries, healthy foods and even meat. These are all the common ideas. However, I bet you wouldn’t have thought of ice cream by post. The thought of melted deliveries probably plague this subscription service regularly.

However MilkMade Ice Cream is offering craft ice cream that is home made and delivered to their customers.

The company is rather unique. Each month they craft two unique flavours and ensure they are styles similar to those from a top restaurant. These are then hand delivered to their customers through a network of trusted individuals.

They have supplied various unique flavours in the past; including Pop Tarts Ice Cream, Key Lime Pie, Maple Pancake, Salted Watermelon, Strawberry Shortcake, Spiced Apple Cider Donut and White Russian Chip.

3. H Bloom

Making your office or home more attractive with flowers can be difficult. Sometimes you are faced with problems such as poor quality or wrong colours when you are at the gas station.

H Bloom is trying to change that. Founded in 2010 by Bryan Burkhart and Sonu Panda, H Bloom has quickly become the world’s fastest growing floral and plant service. Their expert designers craft high-quality bouquets that are delivered by hand to the customer, whether they are for an individual or a business.

Deliveries can be set up at a frequency that is suitable for the customer. Weddings and gifts can also be catered for by the organisation.

Conclusion

There are numerous new industries that are taking advantage of the subscription business model. We’ve listed just three interesting and unique subscription businesses and perhaps next time your business could be one of the three.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

Image courtesy of 2nix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Advantages Of Subscription Based Pricing

coins-431537_1280Subscription based businesses are on the rise. There are numerous organisations that having previously used the pay once, use forever model, have now switched over to the subscription business model. This is because there are a lot of advantages of the system.

By taking these advantages, your business could see substantial and sustained growth as well as higher revenues and customer lifetime values. This all helps you to move your business on to the next level.

So what are the advantages of subscription based pricing?

1. It Can Attract More Customers

Charging customers $25 per month is going to be more attractive to them than charging $500 once. This is because the higher price is a barrier to entry for your products; the more expensive your product – the fewer customers that will be able to make a purchase.

Subscription payments lower the barrier and allow more potential customers to purchase your product. So while they may pay more over the long term, at least they will able to take advantage of the benefits you can provide them.

For you, it allows you to have greater monthly revenue and more customers to service.

2. It Offers A Reliable Income On A Regular Basis

When you are operating a pay once model you have to constantly draw in customers in order to earn revenue. This can be troublesome, one poor month and you can make a loss and it can be harder for you to make payments yourself which can incur additional charges.

With a subscription based business model, the customers are paying you a regular income. This allows you to determine how much you will get each month and ensures that you aren’t ordering more supplies than you need.

3. It Increases The Return On Customer Acquisition Costs

When you have a pay once model there is a set rate of return you receive on your customer acquisition cost. With the subscription model there is no standard return on the customer acquisition cost. That is because while the customer acquisition cost will remain similar (depending on marketing and conversion route), the lifetime customer value will increase depending on how long they are with your organisation.

The length of time they remain with your business can vary, but many subscription based businesses find that customers stay with them longer.

4. You Can Earn More Through Up And Cross Selling

Because you have continuous contact with your client base, you are building a strong bond of trust. This makes it easier to market additional and complimentary services as you have an audience that will be fairly receptive to them. Also, because they are only paying a small subscription fee, they have more disposal income and are better positioned to take you up on the offer.

5. Easy To Offer A Proof Of Concept

When you run a pay once business concept you are rarely able to offer a trial period or taster session. With subscription services it becomes easier to offer this and it can allow you to also offer free versions in the hope to lure the clients into subscribing to the full package.

This may require a lot more work, but it can be beneficial in a number of ways. Even if the customer doesn’t sign up straight away, they are likely to have provided you with their contact details which can be used for keeping in contact and selling to them your premium subscriptions services.

Conclusion

A subscription based model is one of the best available to business owners. It allows them to have highly successful companies that offer affordable but high quality products. One of the best aspects of a subscription business is its pricing, which presents advantages to both your business and your clients, such as those labelled above.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

Why You Need To Build Your Email List As A Subscription Business

Building a good email marketing list can support the growth of your subscription business

Building a good email marketing list can support the growth of your subscription business

Are you looking to be a successful subscription business in 2015? Then you’ll need an email list to develop leads, sell your subscription business and upsell to your current subscribers. In fact, the commercial success of your business could rely on your ability to grow and maintain an email marketing list.

Why Is Email Marketing So Important?

Many businesses believe that email lists are an expensive and time consuming endeavour. Yet in truth they can save time and cut the customer acquisition costs for your subscribers. This will give you more long term funds for you to grow your business and invest in technology and other customer service needs required.

One of the principle benefits of email marketing is that it is permissible. That means that customers actually want to receive your content and are actively looking at your promotions. This is backed up by research. Merckle found in a customer survey, that 74% of consumers prefer promotional material to be sent to an email address than any other customer interaction point (telephone, door, mail, etc).

Therefore, you can gain a significant advantage in gaining new customers and selling products to your existing customers.

At the same time, email users are more active than users on Facebook or Twitter. Statistics show that 91% of email accounts are checked every day for new messages. Social media performs particularly badly. Only 11% of accounts are active every day and while Facebook performs significantly better; only 66% of registered users check their status daily.

Therefore, you have a higher chance of getting your message to a targeted audience who are interested in your marketing message and the services you offer through email marketing.

Likewise, when you’ve reached that audience, it is going to return better results. Research has stated that only 1% of all online sales can be attributed to social media. In contrast, 13% of all online sales can be attributed to email marketing. Email marketing is actually the second best performer after organic searches.

LinkedIn is also a particularly poor seller as no users like to receive promotional material through the social media platform.

Not Just For New Customers

As well as selling your subscription service to potential customers, you can also use email marketing to sell add-on services, complimentary products or advertise affiliate products. This helps you to earn more money from your existing customers who are easier and cheaper to sell to.

It can also be used to bring back customers who have left your subscription business as it is unlikely that they have unsubscribed from your mailing list at the same time.

Some Rules

To be effective at email marketing you have to actually ensure that you are following several international laws. Here are some of those rules for you to consider:

  • Subscribers have to state they want to receive your marketing messages. Pre-ticked acceptance does not demonstrate this. It is therefore best to use a double opt-in process.
  • You must provide an unsubscribe link, physical address and a way to contact you via email.
  • You cannot cold email an individual.
  • Sole traders and partners count as individuals, even if you are selling something to their business.
  • If there are any personal details in the email address (e.g. doe@company.com) they cannot be cold emailed, even if they are part of a limited company.

Conclusion

Email marketing is an effective way to grow your online subscription business. It helps to reduce your costs, improve returns on investment and will be received better by your audience. Therefore, for little effort you can improve your subscription business.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

4 Subscription Billing Mistakes You Need To Avoid

ID-100146108When you are managing a subscription business you will face many challenges. Customer acquisition and retention are normally the prime concern for many. However, numerous SaaS start-ups believe billing to also be a major concern that confuses them and lowers margins.

Your SaaS business depends on the subscriptions from users to generate the majority of your revenue. Without an efficient system to collect the subscriptions, you can expect high cancelations and poor uptake of higher level or add on services.

Therefore, you need to establish steps so users understand the recurrent billing pricing and are encouraged to pay on time to maintain your business’ cash flow.

The problem is that many SaaS businesses make several mistakes in their attempts to regularly bill clients. Here are some of the common mistakes made:

1. Making No Reference To The Charges

Customers need to know the reason why they are being billed, the amount they need to pay and when it should be paid by. If the charges are related to a renewal, upgrade or special offer, you’ll also need to inform the customer and this is best done via email.

It is best practice not to send billing charges through a generic email informing the customer that their credit card will be debited a certain amount. Instead, put your customer at ease by providing as much information as possible about the billing.

2. Sending The Receipt After Processing The Charges

You should always attempt to make the client aware they are being billed, before the payment is due to be charged to their account. This means that you should be sending a friendly reminder and an invoice prior to the renewal date.

If you don’t do this, then you could end up wasting funds processing refunds for clients who don’t wish to continue with the subscription. Alternatively, you could be given a chargeback request. You’ll also suffer from a damaged reputation as people will find this dishonest.

3. Poor Customer Support

Customers aren’t as price sensitive as some businesses make out. Many consumers will prefer to buy from a company with a good reputation and excellent customer service even if the service is offered cheaper elsewhere.

You need to put as much effort and funds into your SaaS customer service team as you would in the development, distribution and marketing. The customer service team can be worth the investment by helping to retain clients for longer, increasing their life time value and a contributing factor in clients deciding to upgrade or buy additional services from your subscription business.

To help with customer service, create guides on how to troubleshoot most problems and have them available on your website. You should also employ 24/7 customer support through all communication mediums like email, phone, online chat and even social media.

4. No Marketing Copy In Your Invoice

Finally, you should also promote other services and deals that you are currently offering customers on your invoices. This is a great way to build sales of complimentary services. It is far easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to a new customer and therefore your business can grow faster by offering great deals to those already known to the business.

Conclusion

There are several mistakes that SaaS subscription businesses are making in their online invoicing process. One of the best ways to combat this is to use a system that can process the subscription billing for you. Therefore, you won’t make the same mistakes as other businesses and you’ll see an improvement in retention and customer lifetime value without much effort.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Content Marketing Can Help You Build Your Subscription Business

word-cloud-661058_1280Content marketing is one of the best solutions for generating traffic to your subscription business. It has the power to draw in traffic for the short term as well as for years to come. It also has the power to inform visitors to your site of your expertise and the power of the services that you offer.

This article explains how content marketing can benefit your subscription business and the best practices for your own campaign.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is any marketing that involves creating and sharing media and publishing content to acquire and retain customers. The majority of today’s marketers tend to consider blogging as one of the main aspects of content marketing. However, other content such as videos, podcasts and infographics can also be counted as types of content marketing.

Some individuals will also include content on social media as part of content marketing campaigns. This is because similar processes to create and share content are used in social media as blogging. Also, many content pieces are shared across social media.

What Are The Advantages Of Content Marketing?

There are numerous advantages to content marketing. Firstly, blogging and other mediums give you a form of rich data which allows you to demonstrate your expertise and develop a bond of trust between you and your target audience.

Large proportions of consumers and business people (46%) read blogs every day. Blog content is also highly trustworthy (81% of consumers trust blog content) and it sells well (61% of consumers would buy from blog content).

Content marketing can also be used to improve your standing on search engines. By using the right keywords and key phrases, those looking for terms that are business related can found by search engine users in their queries.

For instance, if you run a tax software company, your target market could use the search terms “tax returns” or “tax calculations” in their search queries. If you create content that contains those terms your audience will find links to your blog posts and other content. Research has shown that the more content you produce, the greater your rank will be on search engines and the more pages you will have indexed.

Finally content marketing activities have been proven to have a positive return on investment of 70%.

What Are The Best Practices?

As with any marketing campaign, there are several best practices for your business. Here’s a list of the best practices to implement:

  1. Create Content In Advance: 65% of blogs have been inactive for more than a year. The biggest problem is that the owners don’t create content in advance. Creating a schedule and content weeks before the intended release date can help maintain a steady flow of marketing content.
  2. Provide Valuable Information: Blog readers like to read content that they can use and share. Therefore, make sure the content on your site is not too promotion and contains valuable content.
  3. Use Images and Videos: They are excellent at keeping your content interesting for the reader. Insert images with every post and include videos when you have something relevant to display.
  4. Blog often: Research has shown that those who blog more often get better results. Ensure that you are producing at least one blog post a week; however, more than one every day is often cited as achieving sales regularly.
  5. Ensure quality: Nothing turns potential customers away as having a poorly written and edited blog post. Keep your content clean by making sure you have fully proofed your content so it reads well.

Conclusion

Content marketing is one of the best ways you can generate interest in your brand and start people down your sales path. By including valuable information you can draw people to your website and blog, from social media and through organic searching. These targeted individuals can then share the content you have provided or become leads and eventually customers.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

7 Ways To Promote Your Subscription Business On Social Media

How can you promote your business on social media?

How can you promote your business on social media?

Social media is one of the best ways to promote your business online. Any activity on social media can instantly be seen by thousands, if not tens of thousands of users, each one ready to consume more content and look up deals that are suitable for their needs.

However, social media is not an effective sales channel. Only approximately 1% of all online sales can be attributed to the marketing avenue. It is much better deployed as a relationship builder and the start of the sales funnel rather than the end.

That being said, there are still numerous ways you can use social media to attract your target market. Here are seven of the best ways to promote your subscription business online.

1. Direct Audiences To Offer Pages

Although social media is notoriously bad for selling, an offer is practically the only update that attracts attention. Therefore, every so often you should promote your subscription offers on social media. On Twitter this should be done about once every ten to twenty updates. On other social media channels only promote it once, when the deal starts.

2. Direct Audiences To Blog Content

81% of the US market trusts information that is published on a blog and if written correctly is not overtly promotional. When people read your blogs they will be interested in your expertise and should sign up to your emailing list, where people are more open to promotional content.

You can even create blog posts on sites like LinkedIn that can act as a proof of your industry expertise.

3. Offer Advice

Short snippets of information can provide evidence of your expertise which can persuade them to find out more information about what you offer. The snippets can be very short (on Twitter) or longer (on LinkedIn / Facebook / Google+).

4. Communicate With Your Audience

You should also consider speaking to your audience about events, news and subjects that interest them. Communication is one of the best strategies because users like to interact with brands that have a personality. By regularly communicating you can build trust and develop a relationship that will lead to an eventual sell.

5. Sign People Up to Your Mailing List

Email marketing is much more successful at selling to your target audience because it is a permissible marketing avenue; i.e. the receiver has given authorisation for the company to send marketing materials. If they like your conversations online, they will be highly interested in receiving content from you via email.

6. Advertise Premium Content

If you are offering a subscription service that is based on providing content to those who have paid, then you can advertise new premium content you have created and added to your site. This is highly effective as it demonstrates that you are constantly adding value to your subscription site. This will persuade people to join up when they see you are actively developing your subscription packages.

If you are a software provider, constantly noting when you have made changes to your software such as new features, fixed bugs, etc. will have a similar impact.

7. Advertise Others

By sharing content that has been produced by others who are not direct competitors, you can develop friendships across social media. The more you share, the more that will be shared by other brands that will reach new audiences and attract potential customers to your social media profiles and website.

Conclusion

Social media is one of the best ways to communicate with your audience. However, it is not always best to sell your subscription packages directly. It is more effective to demonstrate your expertise and move your audiences through a carefully planned sales funnel. Then you can grow your subscription business and offer more features and content.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.