Author Archives: fusebill

How To Build And Maintain Your Subscriber List In 2015

sylvester-534233_1280If your subscription business is going to be a success in 2015, it will need to grow and maintain a healthy subscriber list. There are many routes your business can take to achieve this. Some of these are rather simple to undertake and require limited effort; others require greater input but can yield better returns.

So here is the definitive list on how you can build and maintain a subscriber list that will grow your business in 2015.

1. Incorporate A Strong Digital Sales Funnel

During 2014, the amount of goods and services being bought online grew 13.8% in the US and 18.4% worldwide. This makes the potential value in developing a digital marketing strategy highly valuable. Digital marketing channels are not about developing one strong point of contact but about building a process which attracts an audience and then develops a relationship with them from first contact right through to after sales.

The advantages of a digital sales funnel is that not only does it attract new customers but it also allows you to use the power of referral marketing; to spread news of your services to friends and family of current users. The contacts of your best customers are also likely to be highly interested in your services and therefore more liable to become customers.

There are many elements to a strong digital sales funnel, including blogging, social media, email marketing and landing pages.

2. Keep In Contact With Your Subscribers

When you are selling to your target audience you are looking to build trust with your clients. Once you’ve gained their trust and they’ve converted you shouldn’t end your contact there. Email marketing is one of the best options for maintaining contact, but at the same time there are other options. Regular phone calls or dropping into their office (if they are local) are excellent ways to keep those bonds of trust strong.

Try to keep your relationship going with regular meetings but you have to be careful not to overload yourself. So get your diary out and plan time every week to connect with your audience. One of these times might be going to networking events in your local area or signing up to a trade show.

3. Keep Developing Your Product

Businesses throughout the world have failed in the recent decade due to one very specific cause: a lack of adapting their business to new environments.

One of the best examples is the collapse of Blockbusters. The video rental store was once a staple for families in many countries for their Friday and Saturday night entertainment. However, other companies such as Netflix began to offer consumers easier ways to receive rentals, starting with home delivery before moving onto video streaming and then blockbuster’s market share dropped. Eventually they got their business model right and started operating a video streaming service, but it was far too late to break into the market with those who had already established a presence – some of them like Netflix with a subscription model.

Part of the reason for this failure on Blockbuster’s account was to not adopt new digital practices their competitors were using. You can avoid the same, by looking at new ways to deliver your product and ensure you have the market advantage, to attract the customers who are the first adopters.

Conclusion

Your business in 2015 could be one of the best on the subscription market. All you have to do is ensure that you are communicating with your audience and deliver your products to the market in new and innovative ways.

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.

How To Identify Your Target Customer In A Subscription Based Business

ID-100144308If you want any business to be successful, you have to ensure you reach out to the correct audience. If you aren’t, then you could have a lower rate of return and poor customer retention rates. This could lower your profits and possibly mean your subscription based business is running at a loss.

Learning who your target customer is and how to engage with them through whatever marketing tactics you plan to use is an important step. Identifying your target audience isn’t as easy as stating it’s a certain group of individuals. Instead you have to ask yourself a set of questions to define your target audience.

So what questions must you ask and how do these help your business from identifying your ideal subscription customers?

1. What Solutions Do You Offer?

The first step in the process is to identify what the problem is that your subscription business solves. When you have discovered what you are offering, then you can start to work out who is going to benefit the most from your product.

2. Who Is Your Customer?

This is the part where you describe in detail who your customer is. This doesn’t need to be a real person, but it helps to create someone for your marketing team to imagine they are talking to. To help in this process, start by listing all the different types of customers that experience problems your product solves. Then group these customers by certain criteria (i.e. location, income, reading habits, etc).

Once finished you should start to see patterns. This is how you construct your average customer. Give them a name, age and a family to help bring this customer to life.

3. What Is To Gain From Your Offer?

You need to ask yourself two main questions:

  • Who suffers the most from these problems?
  • Who will lose the most by not dealing with these issues?

Then you need to demonstrate that the cost of not dealing with the issues will be greater than the cost of buying your product to solve them. If you can prove this, your sales pitch will be very compelling.

It is important to consider aspects like emotional upheaval, stress and reputation when answering this question. Research has often found that customers don’t mind paying a higher price for good service as it is the total value that they consider more important.

4. What Is Your Market Like?

Today’s global market is niche. There are almost unlimited choices for us when it comes to products and services. The web is a perfect platform for this. Now you can be ultra niche to deliver more personalised packages to a select group of online customers.

Therefore, now is the time to segment your market further and build on your customer profile. For instance:

  • Define the exact profession of the target market.
  • Where are they based?
  • What type of person are they? Risk taker, friendly…?

5. What Skills Does Your Company Have?

Within your organisation, whether large or small, you will have employees with certain skills and knowledge that will be highly valuable. This could be someone who has worked with your ideal customer, is great on social media or possesses expert knowledge of a certain location.

Whatever your knowledge and skills, you should use these to create a focus on those potential customers who share similar skills and knowledge. These people are more likely to speak to someone who has similarities and therefore, they could be your greatest asset.

6. Your Competition

Then you need to look at your market and see what else is available and who they are targeting. For instance, is there a similar accountancy market designed for small recruitment businesses? If so, then you might want to avoid going up against those who have already established a reputation as it can be difficult.

Alternatively, if they don’t offer a good service, then perhaps you can snatch the market from them by learning what they are doing wrong.

Conclusion

Target your customers correctly and you’ll have an easier time attracting subscribers to your business. Use the list of questions above to refine your understanding of your target audience and achieve a better rate of conversions, ROI and profit.

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 A Digital Subscription Model Differs From A Physical One

On balance, what is the difference between physical and digital subscription businesses?

On balance, what is the difference between physical and digital subscription businesses?

One of the most common misconceptions about digital subscription businesses is that their models are very similar to those of physical subscription business. While there are many similarities, there are also significant differences. It is important to understand these differences as it can support you in building your own digital subscription business.

Difference One: Costs

The most obvious difference between the two types of model is cost. A physical product will cost every time it is sent out. In contrast, a digital product only costs when in development. For some online subscription businesses this may mean that the majority of the costs arise before they have a single subscriber. However, if the digital product is continually being improved, costs could be incurred continuously.

This does have several benefits. While cost is not a major factor in the purchasing decision of customers, it does play a small part in grabbing the attention of the target audience. If you consider the example of a sports magazine, the physical subscription model would have to be priced higher because the business would have to consider the costs of producing the magazine and delivering it. However, the digital magazine wouldn’t have the production costs and therefore could offer exactly the same content for far less.

Difference Two: Set-up Time

A physical subscription model has a much lower set up time compared to a digital model. A digital product needs time for the development of the software.

Although there are some set-up processes with a physical model, a physical subscription business could, theoretically, be setup much quicker. This has significant benefits as you would not be losing as much money developing a product without being able to charge for it.

Difference Three: Troubleshooting Is Quicker

When you have physical business and something goes wrong, there is a huge delay in getting it better for your customer. You will need to receive the item back (if it arrived in the first place), then replace the item which could take an entire subscription period and this could be frustrating for your subscribers.

Alternatively, you could forgo the process of replacing the problem item and just return the subscribers money. However, this will still annoy the customer.

With a digital product, your troubleshooting can almost be instant. The customer can phone you up, report the problem and then your technical team can fix the error. This would please your customers and they may publically praise your quick action – gaining you extra brand exposure online.

Difference Four: Instant Access

When a consumer is paying for a physical subscription they often have to wait until the business is in a position to send out the product. Most subscription businesses would have set days and times when the items are to be ready. This could mean that the customer may have to wait a little less than a month before they receive the first item.

In contrast, digital products can be delivered within seconds of the customer paying the first subscription instalment. This instant gratification is very rewarding for the customer and they appreciate it more than having to wait a significant amount of time to receive something they have paid for.

Conclusion

There are many differences between a digital subscription and physical one. While both can be used as learning opportunities for each other, there is a clear benefit to being digitally based rather than physically. Digital subscriptions are more cost effective to start up and offer customer service opportunities that physical models can’t compete with. So when you are starting a subscription business model, think carefully which model is better for you.

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 renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Tips For Starting A Subscription Program In 2015

Are you looking to achieve a regular and consistent income from your customers? A subscription based business is one of the best ways you can accomplish this.

Running a subscription based business is easy if you set your program up correctly in the first place. So here are five of the best tips to support the start of your subscription business.

1. Start Before You Believe You Are Ready

One of the biggest barriers for businesses and entrepreneurs entering the subscription market is that they don’t believe they have enough content or functions to start. This can be very deflating and can further block you from starting your successful business.

But, you don’t need to have a fully developed product or set of content to start accepting subscription payments. You should look for a minimum viable product instead and offer your ideal customer base an introductory offer. As long as you let them know you are using them as test subjects and will want their feedback, suggestions and criticisms, you should be able to retain key customers and grow your business.

As your product develops or your content grows you can increase your fees and by this point you should have a lot of direction on what your target audience needs.

2. Engage With Your Subscribers

If you really want to succeed with your membership site then you need to grow. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure you are attracting subscribers by word of mouth. This can be achieved more easily when you are interacting with your audience and members on a regular basis.

Interaction can be done through several channels, firstly by email and then perhaps over the telephone, depending on the number of members you have. Another good option is to have conversations over social media, where you can gain more attention for your business because the conversation can be seen by their followers as well as yours.

3. Run Group Events And Challenges

Sometimes it can be hard to gain momentum for your business and while many people would just try to increase their promotional content and perhaps hope for a big break, there is another option for your business: holding a contest / competition.

Competitions are an excellent tool for growing the awareness of your business as people love free stuff. The prize doesn’t need to be expensive as long as it has value to your target audience you will gain some interest in your competition.

Also, don’t stop at just one competition, run another as soon as one has finished.

4. Give Free Subscriptions Out

As previously mentioned, word of mouth is one of the best marketing avenues you can use. There is no better way to generate positive reviews for your product and word of mouth for your brand than giving away subscriptions for free, at least for a trial period.

As like with competitions, the word ‘free’ is very attractive to consumers whether they are individuals or businesses.

5. Don’t Be Too Rigid

Being too stuck on a certain plan isn’t going to do you any good in the long term. You need to be flexible in the look and model that you use to deliver your product. The changes to your business should be user orientated and the alterations can be initiated from conversations you’ve had with your customers.

As you make changes help your customers to navigate around the new product so that they don’t feel alienated by your shift.

Conclusion

Your subscription business can get off to a great start if you strategise it right from the beginning. Use the tips above to help you cut costs, attract customers and grow.

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 digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Agile Billing Can Work For Your Business

How can agile billing help your business

How can agile billing help your business

One of the biggest problems with pay per use, or pay per project business models is that they don’t give you, the business owner, a guarantee of payment. You might be generous and ask for all of your payments to be made on delivery or you could ask for a deposit up front and payment as the work completes.

Either of these options can sound great, but one of the biggest problems is the client. Sometimes you will rely on them to provide certain information or to complete tasks and then the information will simply not materialise; even if they’ve paid a deposit. They might cancel the project and feel they deserve some of the money back – even though you’ve spent a significant amount of time completing part of the work and chasing them for their information.

This can create a customer relations nightmare and a cash flow problem. Without the steady progress of the project, the next instalment will be delayed and this could cause you financial worry. However, you can solve these problems using Agile Billing.

Agile Billing Cycles

Instead of wondering whether your business will be able to progress a project as you see fit to secure future funds, ensure there is a periodic payment made regardless of the situation. The regular payments could be based on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis and during each of these periods a specific amount of work is completed.

This is the same sort of strategy as a subscription business model but instead of being for access to software or content – this can be applied to the delivery of unique products.

The Benefits

Agile billing benefits both clients and your business. With the fixed cost spread over the long term, the cost of the project or product won’t seem too expensive. Instead it will look highly reasonable – which will increase the number of sales you’ll make and the positive feeling about your product that customers have.

At the same time, because the periods are pre-programmed into a payment scheme you are guaranteed the income for the period making management of your cash flow easier. It also allows you to better assign your resources and therefore be more efficient, limiting your business waste.

For your client, when a regular payment and agreement is in place, they can be sure they have access to you for a certain amount of time during a specific period. This guarantee can be crucial in your customer relationship and allows you to plan your workload better – limiting the stress in your work life and preventing last minute marathons.

What If They Cancel?

There may be times when the client will still want to cancel. This should be expected, but agile billing does account for this. If they cancel just before the next payment date, then they keep the project up to that point, don’t pay any money but can’t expect the project to be taken any further.

If they cancel during the middle of a billing period, you could offer a certain amount back on that payment period. For instance, considering a weekly period, if they cancel with 4 days notice, return 50% of the period payment, for 2 days, return 25% of the period’s payment. At no point should the entire project cost be refunded as you have completed work and they should respect that.

Conclusion

Agile business billing is one of the best ways you can guarantee your income and increase the confidence that your customers will have in your business. In many ways it is similar to how subscription businesses work; however, agile billing is often used for short term contracts or one off projects.

To start agile billing you need to determine how much you will charge per period, how long the periods will be and what needs to be delivered within each period. With this system in place you can expect to have a better quality of working life, customer relationships and an easier to manager cash flow system.

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.

5 Noteworthy Examples Of Subscription Business Models

There are many excellent examples of good subscription businesses trading on the market. Some of these are notable because of the uniqueness of their products or because of their financial performance. By learning about successful businesses, you can determine trends and apply those aspects within your own subscription business’ strategy.

Here are five of the most noteworthy examples of subscription businesses and what you can implement from their strategy to make your business a success.

1. Food4Thought

Healthy eating is one of the growing trends when it comes to the consumer market. It has long been established as a way to improve productivity and lower stress. One of the worst areas for bad eating habits has often been found to be at the office desk or other workplace.

Therefore, there are a number of businesses out there that are offering healthy eating options to consumers to replace fast food lunches and quick snack options. One of these is the Toronto based company, Food4Thought. Unlike with other food delivery companies, this supplier concentrates on the business market, offering offices a fresh delivery of healthy snacks. This ensures that they have large value orders that can better absorb the costs.

2. Blissmo

Low cost subscription options while providing high quality niche products is the strategy for this subscription based business. The service is for all sorts of responsibly developed products to be delivered regularly for $10 per month. The products being shipped differ from month to month and this creates a strong sense of mystery and a high appeal to customers.

This strategy has helped the brand to stand out from the crowd and offer it distinction within a highly competitive market, allowing it to grow quickly. There have been other businesses that have followed its example, although with some minor changes.

3. Hootsuite

This popular social media management tool has a strong subscription model. The basic package is free, like with many social media networks that offer premium packages. On this free level, there is limited data analysis and few profiles that can be attached to the profile. This can make the tool rather limiting for those who want to control everything from one screen.

On the other hand, their premium packages (named pro) are highly adaptive and contain significantly more features and data analysis. Also, because the technology is already in place and there are no physical goods – the paid membership offers a lot of potential profit to the organisation.

4. Hoseanna

Hoseanna was able to satisfy a customer through a novel approach when it created its stocking subscription service. The organisation, which provides women’s leg wear on a regular basis, was founded on the realisation that stockings and tights tend to have a fairly limited shelf life.

Their marketing is aimed at professional women, allowing them to never be without a high quality pair of tights when going to the office. The growth of the business was fuelled by the low economical committal required by consumers and the inexpensive product on offer.

5. Box of OMG

What is unique for this box? It is free for consumers. The revenue for this company is collected from marketing the unique products that are placed within each box and sent out. The box is marketed to adults as ways to entertain their children after school and during school holidays. Each box contains a variety of items including: books, magazines, toys and sweets.

The idea is that those who receive the box (each quarter there is a lottery to receive a box) will post reviews for the items inside or spread word about them through their social groups and create anticipation and attention for the brands.

Conclusion

There are many different businesses offering products and services through the subscription model. Not all of them charge the receiver any money and some have unique approaches to deliver or a highly defined market. Using these five unique and high performing businesses as examples, you can discover methods to create and promote 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.

Image courtesy of Mister GC / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Subscription Model Business Best Practices

Subscription businesses are highly profitable and can offer you and customers several benefits and rewarding experiences. However, to achieve the most with your subscription business; you need to follow a set of best practices. Without following these guidelines, you may find your business will stagnate which is frustrating and can limit the lifespan of your business.

Here are some of the best practices for you to consider.

Know Your Statistics To Price Your Subscription Services Sensibly

If you want to make a decent profit while operating your subscription business you need to determine your pricing strategy. Many businesses believe this process can be very easy; however, there are several considerations which are often forgotten when setting prices.

The first consideration is the customer acquisition cost. This is essential because you need to know how much it will cost you to acquire customers to ensure that together with your delivery costs; that you will be making a profit.

The second is the delivery costs. This is the cost to your business for the production and delivery of your product or service. This must also include all customer service costs that may occur from troubleshooting or queries.

The third element to consider is customer retention. This is essential as you can use this to determine how you can spread the costs of the acquisition and delivery costs over the lifetime of the consumer. Therefore, while in the first couple of months the consumer may be a cost to your business; over the longer period they will generate a profit.

Once you have all of these figures you can calculate the correct pricing that will give you a strong consumer lifetime value. To calculate the lifetime value, consider reading this article.

Add New Features Constantly

A subscription business is always about adding value to your customers’ lives. Therefore, you need to constantly be looking at ways at improving your business’ offerings with improved or new products, additional personalisation, new content and more options to subscribe to your business. By offering new features, you can generate a fresh feeling every time your customers use your products and they will always see the continued improvement and value your service adds to their lives.

Automate Your Payments

Make your business’ revenue generation easy by ensuring all your payments are done automatically. Setting up automatic payments for your subscription business has several benefits for you and your customers. The main benefits for you are it is cheaper to process the invoices and easier to monitor your income for missed payments.

Gain Insights Into Your Consumers’ Needs And Purchasing Habits

To ensure your services are attractive to your target audience you have to know what their buying habits are and what they are looking for. This can be done through asking your current customers or completing some market research tasks such as consumer surveys, focus groups, etc.

This will allow you to create marketing materials that will target them and return good results. This will lower the conversion rate and acquisition costs. Therefore, you can improve your profits or lower your prices to be more appealing to your target audience.

Have A Professional Looking Website

One of the most important aspects is to ensure that your business’ website, and other marketing outlets, to look highly professional. This will increase the perceived value of your services with consumers and visitors. A higher perception in value will allow you to charge more for your services and improve conversion rates.

Conclusion

There are many different best practices for your business to consider when you want to operate a subscription service. Consider the options above to ensure your organisation maximises it revenue while minimising costs and improving profits.

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 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net