Category Archives: Recurring Billing

Getting Your Customers To Understand The Convenience Of Subscriptions

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Subscription businesses are a great model because they offer businesses a significant amount of benefits while also providing a high degree of customer satisfaction and affordability to customers. There is a problem however; many customers do not see the benefits of a subscription business and this can hold them back from joining your business.

The biggest benefit of course to customers is convenience, and customers respond well to businesses that offer this. Therefore, to attract more of your target audience to convert to subscribers, you need to make them understand the convenience of your subscription.

This can be more difficult than selling the benefits of your service, which might be obvious. So here are a few points you can highlight to your potential customers on why a subscription is beneficial.

1. Customers Know When The Payment Is Due / Being Processed

All your subscribers are likely to have a set date in which they pay for their subscription. This date is set each month and does not change. This is one of the most convenient aspects of a subscription service because it allows customers to plan their finances better and ensure they have enough money in their accounts when it is needed.

Another benefit gained from this convenience is that customers need not worry when they are going to receive their bill and panic when it arrives. By knowing well in advance when payments will be due, customers are more relaxed and have a happier customer experience.

2. Customer Know How Much Each Payment Is Going To Be

As your subscription payments are all going to be the same, unless they purchase one time add-ons, then the customer is always going to know what the price is going to be for the products they have bought.

This can be a great convenience as it further supports their financial planning and again stops the panic when the bill comes in. Also, because the payments are regular, there isn’t any negativity when the bill comes. Customers will often try to reduce bills if they are issued periodically and are not set, partly because they want a good deal, but also because they are often surprised about the amount being charged.

Therefore, you can save yourself time and improve opinion of your business by highlighting the set price charged per month.

3. It Saves Time

Receiving and paying an invoice periodically, uses up the customers’ spare time and if it is a business client, they are likely to want to spend more time being productive than completing administrative tasks that are unnecessary.

The same can be said with customers. Most people today live a very busy life and it is important that you highlight to them that an automatic payment for a subscription service will save them time.

4. It Costs Less

Most subscription businesses offer reduced rates for those customers that pay a subscription automatically. This is because it costs less to process these payments and therefore, the business can afford to take a small cut to entice customers.

You need to highlight this to your customers who are likely looking for a good deal and will probably assume you are still charging them for payment processing costs.

Conclusion

Your customers might not understand the convenience of a subscription based service. Therefore, you need to explain to them how it can save them time, stress and money while being good value for money and excellent service. Use the above four points to help you create strong arguments why your business’ subscription service is good for your customers and see the number of subscribers increase.

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 Innovative Subscription Business Models

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are many different business models available for entrepreneurs who want to earn money by selling a service or product. The subscription business model is one of those models. Most subscription business models work by the business taking a regular payment from the customer and then giving them access to resources or a computer program for a set period of time.

However, these aren’t the only subscription business models that are available. There are numerous other subscription models that entrepreneurs can use to deliver their services and products. Here are four of the most innovative subscriptions available and what makes them unique.

Personal Styling

Today everyone leads busy lives and time for shopping and self-styling is getting harder to find. For some this can be an excuse for not going shopping too often and this is why the personal stylist has gone online.

Stitch Fix combines e-commerce with the in-store experience of retail shopping and personal styling. They send the customer five items they’ve handpicked for them based on their answers to a lifestyle and fashion questionnaire at the beginning of the subscription.

The customer can then try on the clothes sent and keep only what fits and what they like. Feedback is also passed back to the stylist, so the next box can be tailored to be more in tune with what the customer likes.

Shaving Gear

One of the most popular and recognised subscription services, which is slightly unorthodox, is the Dollar Shave Club. The service promises to deliver blades to the customer’s door for just one dollar a month. There are other options available; but, the service is pretty much the same.

In addition to the blades, each customer gets a free handle and has the option to purchase add-ons such as shaving cream and moisturiser.

The brand entered the market with an incredible advert that broke with tradition and went viral online. Since then, the subscription service has gone from strength to strength and has started new lines and improved customer options.

Kids’ Toys

Box of OMG is probably one of the more unusual subscriptions services available online. Not only do customers not have to pay a subscription to receive anything, but their contents are not guaranteed.

The service works like this: a customer subscribes to the site via email or a social media account and every quarter, the company sends out a limited number of boxes randomly to those on the list (you aren’t guaranteed a box each quarter). Subscribers can increase the chance that they will receive a box by signing up friends, advertising the brand on social media and competing in other activities on the site.

The boxes are full of toys, comics, snacks and other items to keep your children happy.

Travel Clubs

Netjets is probably the most unique business models on this list. For a hefty subscription fee, customers can choose how many hours they wish to fly per month and then reserve that time as a share of the private fleet maintained by the company.

This can be an effective way to reduce travel costs for businesses that travel regularly. The same can be said for public figures.

There are also similar options for cars.

Conclusion

There are a number of options for those looking to start a subscription business. The only barriers to entry are legality and your imagination. Consider how you can convert your business into a subscription business or what new business you would like to start. As recent years have shown, there is a growing demand by customers for this model.

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.

Common Customer Questions About Subscription Programs

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The use of the subscription business model is growing. Many businesses see this as a way to offer cost effective, but high quality, services to their customers. As with any business model, there will be some frequently asked questions you customers will want to know the answers for before committing to any of your packages. If you answer these well; then you can increase the sign up for your services.

So what are the common questions and how can you answer them?

How Much Is The Cost Of The Subscription?

This is probably one of the most common questions customers will want to know. Don’t be tempted to send them to your subscription page. Instead, detail the costs of each of your packages, the period (i.e. weekly, monthly, annually) and how payments can be made.

What If I Want To Upgrade / Downgrade My Subscription?

There are a number of different reasons why someone might want to change their package with your business. For instance, they might have an increase in the traffic to their website and need a larger package or they might be downsizing their staff and require less licenses for your software.

Whatever the reason, they are going to want assurances that they can change their package easily and with no heavy costs. Detail carefully how long it takes to make a switch and when new charges will apply from. At the end include a link to making the request for upgrading / downgrading a package.

What If I Want To Cancel My Subscription?

Although many of your customers aren’t going to cancel their subscription in the near future, they are likely to want to know the details encase they want to later on. The information they want will include:

  • What notice do they have to give you?
  • What are the costs for cancellation?
  • When will their access be removed?
  • What happens to any outstanding balance?
  • How do they notify you of their wish to cancel the subscription?

By answering these questions you can demonstrate you are a legitimate company and assure them of your professionalism.

How Are Extra Fees Collected?

This is one of the most important questions if you offer add-on services that can be bought at any time. Customer will want to know whether they are provided an invoice for them to pay separately or whether the funds are taken directly from their account immediately or on the next subscription payment date.

What Does My Subscription Include?

Every customer will want to know what each package gives them access to. However, if you operate a number of different packages, this could become a long answer which many people would not read. Therefore, it is probably best if you describe the basic subscription for your readers and then direct them to your packages page for further information on other packages.

How Can I Contact You?

If you don’t provide this information to your customers they are unlikely to think they cannot contact you if there is a problem with their service. This can potentially deter them from using your services. On every page, and especially the FAQ page, you should include a telephone number and an email address.

What Is The Minimum Contract Length?

Customers want to know they won’t be tied into a long term contract that doesn’t give them flexibility. Therefore, let them know about the minimum term and what will happen if they wish to leave your service before that period has ended.

Conclusion

Your FAQ section on your website is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism. Use our guide above to start creating your FAQ list and what to say to your potential 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.

Should You Increase The Price For Existing Customers?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At some point, your subscription business is likely to have to increase prices. Whether you apply these higher prices to your existing customers, in addition to new customers, can be a difficult decision for you and your management team. Some businesses (like Amazon Prime) do change the subscription charges for their existing customers. Others, do not unless the customer is coming up to a renewable period.

Whether you increase the charges for your current subscribers is a decision that is very specific to your business. There are several different factors that can impact your decision, here are three of them:

1. Why Are You Increasing The Price?

The first consideration should always be to identify why you are increasing your subscription prices. If it is because you are finding demand extremely high and you would like to increase your revenue, then there is no necessary reason why you need to increase prices for your existing customers. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t – just you should have another rationale.

On the other hand, if you are increasing prices because the costs to deliver your service have risen, you might need to. You first need to look at your profit margin on providing your service. In your cost analysis, include the customer acquisition cost as well as the expense to maintain and deliver your service.

If the profit margin is too small you’ll need to increase your subscription prices.

2. Have You Added New Features / Changed Package Deals

Sometimes you have to increase prices because you have made changes to your packages. If you’ve added new features to existing packages, and you’ll be offering those same features to your existing customers, you should increase the price for your current customers. Otherwise new customers might be upset that your current customers are getting the same deal for less money.

Therefore, you need to consider either raising the price or keeping them the same for new and old customers the same.

If you’ve changed the package deals so that they are completely new, rather than attached a new feature to current packages, then you have a different scenario. You could keep your current subscribers on their old pricing plans while moving new customers to the new pricing plan. Then as renewals come up or customers want to upgrade / downgrade their plans, you can move them onto the new pricing structure.

3. How Will Your Customers React

Another consideration is whether your customers will abandon your product if you raise the price. This might be the case if you have done several price increases in recent months or you have made promises not to increase the price.

However, there is limited evidence to suggest that rising prices will force long term customers to find alternatives. In fact, many long term customers often retain their membership because they know the benefits and value of the service you provide.

You should also be careful as to whether new customers will be annoyed that old customers are getting the same deal but with lower prices. If they found out, perhaps because they were referred by a friend, they might abandon their subscription.

Conclusion

When you need to increase the price of your subscription service you need to think very carefully as to whether you need to raise the charge for your current customers. There are some factors to consider such as why are you increasing the price, what is your profit margin and how will they react. The answer to these questions will tell you if increasing the price is right for your 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.

How To Create A Website Pricing Graphic

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Creating the perfect website pricing graphic is a way for your website to achieve a better rate of conversions. A good pricing table is perfect for businesses offering subscription services as it allows potential customers to easily compare the packages you offer.

However, creating a pricing table is not easy. There are several design elements to consider so you effectively communicate information about your packages. So what are those design elements you need?

Limit The Information

You might assume that the more information you place within your table the more impressive and convincing it would be for potential customers. However, the more information within the pricing table, the larger the amounts the prospect needs to read and process.

If your customers can’t scan the information easily, they aren’t going to be able to compare subscription options. Also, too much information means that visitors are less likely to remember which plan the features represent.

To avoid this use simple 3-5 word sentences in each row or a tick system.

Demonstrate Differences

When a customer is viewing your different subscription options, they are looking for what sets each plan apart. Therefore, communicate how each plan is different to the others. If there are similar elements to your various pricing points, include those at the bottom of the pricing table while leaving distinctly different elements towards the top.

Ensure Your Pricing Stands Out

Potential customers want to see the price of your products when they visit your services page. Many businesses leave out the price when designing their pricing tables. To make your price stand out better you need to choose a different font and perhaps use a different colour. Orange works well as a way to attract the attention of the visitor.

You should place the price at the top of the table so the customer knows what it is prior to reading the product descriptions. If you have a long list of elements to your products, you can always include the price at the bottom of the table again, as a way to remind the customer.

Limit Visual Aids And Colour

Many designers think using a variety of colours on their pricing table will attract visitors. Often this is wrong because too much colour is used and in the wrong places. This can confuse customers and lower the conversion rate of the pricing table.

The most common mistake is placing red crosses and green ticks upon the page. Although this design makes the product elements stick out, they also make the pricing table too crowded and distract from the main message.

Use Illustrations To Demonstrate Differences

Some of the best pricing tables have images to demonstrate the differences between plans. For instance, different size boxes to represent the various levels of service offered.

One of the things to be careful of with this is to make the illustrations too complicated. Keep them clean, simple and easy.

Consistent Design

Your entire website should have a consistent overall design. The same should apply for your pricing tables.

Highlighting

You want to highlight your best plan for your customers. The highlighted plan could be in a different colour, bolded or ‘pop out’ when the cursor hovers over the plan. The plan you want to highlight could simply be the one that the visitors’ cursor hovers over or a particular plan that you feel is the best because it is more popular or offers the highest savings.

The one thing to avoid is highlighting the most expensive or cheapest plan. This can seem biased to your visitors and lower the conversion rate.

Conclusion

Using the above best practices, you should be able to create an excellent pricing table that can communicate the differences for your products and be easy to understand for your visitors. Then, with this implemented so it matches the basic design of your website you can start to see an increase in your visitor conversions.

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 Often Should You Update Your Subscription Pricing?

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are often times that you will need to update your subscription service prices. The reason for these adjustments might include changes in costs or attempting to reduce / increase demand for your services.

Most clients expect prices to increase over the longer term. This is often due to costs such as new government legislation which has forced you to implement new controls. These costs should be passed on to your customers.

However, there are times when fees can decrease. For example, you might introduce a new sales process or technology within your company that significantly reduces your customer acquisition cost.

In either of the above cases, the costs would change significantly and quickly. It would be fairly easy to know that these are good times to update your pricing strategy. Changing the prices at these times though might make new customers unhappy, especially if they have missed a saving. You might also have unhappy existing customers, who would need to be told carefully about any price change.

Slow Changes In Cost

In most cases, prices changes happen very slowly. You might struggle to know when to update your subscription prices in this case.

There are also logistical problems with changing your prices. The first problem is failing to change your fees quickly enough. Waiting too long can significantly impact your profits.

Likewise, when changing your fees, you might have significant marketing materials advertising old prices. These would need to be changed; which will be expensive.

So how often should you change the prices for your subscription business?

Weekly

This is an extreme frequency to change prices. However, this would allow your business to maintain a good profit margin and suffer limited losses.

If you were to implement a weekly change in the prices, then you would have expensive weekly changes to your physical marketing materials and likely other processes in order to implement the changes.

There could also be issues with your subscription management and customer services. Unless you change all existing customer’s fees at the same time, numerous clients on different payment plans will make it harder for your customer service team. If you did change everyone’s fees, you could anger clients very quickly and lower your retention rate.

Monthly

Monthly might be an option if your suppliers have regular fluctuations in their prices.

Changes at this level are easier to manage but customers may feel unhappy if they cannot rely on a regular monthly price for your services.

Quarterly

Many big brands do reviews based on their previous quarterly results. Changes every three months are easy to implement and limit profit loss.

However, quarterly changes might again prove to be too much for your customers who might complain about your frequent changes. If you wanted to implement quarterly changes, it might be best to consider how you are going to communicate the changes with your clients before you commit to this frequency.

Annual

Annual is often used by small to medium businesses that have a limited new customer generation and rely on the long retention of current clients. Annual is a good way to manage your price strategy and if you inform customers in advance of when you do price reviews, they will be ready for any changes.

Annual changes also allow you to better prepare your customer service team, marketing materials and other requirements needed to implement the changes.

Conclusion

Changing the price for your subscription service is not a decision to be taken lightly. How often you make those changes can have a significant impact on your business and its clients. Ensure you are doing it right by considering the costs of changing your subscription fees.

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 Ways To Encourage Clients To Use Auto-Billing

Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Auto-billing is one of the best ways to ensure you are continuously receiving subscription fees from your clients. It allows you to cut costs on your billing system which can be funnelled into other areas of the business to improve products and services.

There is evidence to suggest that a good auto-billing process will increase the trust between you and your clients in the long term. As the trust grows, your client may buy additional products or services from your business or become a powerful marketing tool to sign up their friends and family.

For the client, there are also significant benefits. Firstly they will know exactly when their payments are due and how much their invoice will be. Secondly, it saves time for them to be able to trust their credit card company or bank and your business to automatically process the payment. Thirdly, auto-billed clients can receive better customer service as these clients are classed as high priority by many businesses and are therefore are given preferential treatment.

Despite these advantages, there is sometimes resistance by clients to being placed on an auto-billing system. Some don’t initially trust companies, believing that once they are on an auto-billing contract the prices will increase without warning.

So how do you confront this resistance and encourage your clients to use your auto-billing system? Here are five ways:

Offer A Discount

Many energy companies use this as a way to encourage their clients to pay for fuel consumption on a monthly auto-bill process. Normally, the average savings clients make for signing up to the auto-billing system is about 5%. Savings are a particularly powerful tool for clients who are always looking to cut down on expenses and this way is great if you have a system that has a regular cost.

Offer A Fixed Term – Fixed Cost Deal

One of the major concerns for clients is a change in price just after they have signed on to an auto-billing system. You can alleviate these worries by offering a contract that states you will not raise the price of your services for 6 or 12 months. This is very good if you offer a service like telecommunications, software, etc.

During this term you are building trust because you are keeping to the contract. This will increase the chances you will retain that client for the long term.

Offer A Free Gift

Everyone loves receiving a free gift. If you offer them a token gift when clients sign up for auto-billing, they will become more interested in the option. The token gift doesn’t have to be expensive but it does have to be something highly useful and unique to gain any interest from the client.

Classic examples of gifts can be mugs, t-shirts and vouchers. Some of these can be branded so there is a constant reminder of who provided them with the service and can also act as subtle marketing messages to their peers.

Offer An Unique Feature

Sometimes it is good to entice your clients to the auto-billing system to offer them something that those on a pay-per-use system will not get. This makes them think they are getting a better deal for the same price – increasing the likelihood they will sign-up for your services.

Only Offer Auto-Billing

For some businesses, it is preferential to only offer their clients auto-billing as a method to make payments. In this case your clients have no choice and although it can sometimes have a negative impact at the beginning of the relationship, with good customer service you can turn create a positive relationship by the end of the first contract term.

Conclusion

There is sometimes resistance from your clients to sign up to an auto-billing system. However, there are significant benefits for both your business and customers in using an auto-billing system. You can encourage sign-up using one of the five tactics from the list 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.