Category Archives: Recurring Billing

How Apps Are Using Subscription Models To Increase Profit

iphone-410311_1280We normally think of the subscription model being connected to a business that offers software or content for a set monthly fee. Another common subscription model is the provision of goods for a set fee per month, for example, Dollar Shave Club. However, it is not just desktop websites or product deliveries that can make a profit from the subscription model and apps are now becoming a good source of subscription income.

The Growing Trend Of Apps

Apps are an effective medium for communicating with audiences because of their very nature, sitting on a mobile device, ready to be interacted with. This is why so many brands are now releasing apps to allow their target audience to be in continuous contact with them.

While many apps are free, there are numerous apps which have to be paid for to be used. There are also other apps which are free to download but require extra payment if the user wants to maximise their use.

Then there is the growing number of businesses who are seeing apps as a way to grow their profits by offering subscription services. One example is the New York Times that offers their crossword puzzle to subscribers for a nominal fee of $40 per year.

There are also game companies who require a monthly subscription to play their game.

Advantages

One of the biggest advantages of this model is that it provides another revenue stream for organisations and little effort is required to market the app. Anyone who regularly uses the product from the main business can be contacted and informed about the app and how they can gain access. And because they already use the brand, and are presumably happy with their service, they are more likely to make the purchase.

It also allows the business to market more of their products to subscribers by including responsive adverts in their app. For instance, the New York Times could advertise the latest news items that are available on their website or in their publications as the app is being opened. They could also include a ‘buy now’ link that will automatically charge the customer when they go to buy an electronic copy via their mobile device.

Finally, these apps can be used to acquire more information on users, which can be used in marketing campaigns. This can improve results and generate more revenue on other products / services.

Disadvantages

There is one major disadvantage to the development of an app and publication – cost. Apps can be very expensive to produce with some costing more than $5000 to develop before anyone can download it for use. In organisations with small margins, this might be too expensive. Then there is the new content that needs to be generated constantly for these apps (i.e. creating new crosswords). This can be expensive and lengthens the return on investment time.

There are also other costs such as upkeep for the app’s server to keep it running and constant updating of the app to ensure it works on the latest devices.

The Final Word

What businesses need to do when they are looking at developing an app is consider whether or not they can afford to make the app and keep it running. This can only be done by engaging with your main customer base and seeing whether or not they will be willing to pay a subscription for your app.

If you don’t do this, you could end up paying for an app and diminishing your business’ profits. Yet get it right and you could end up with a good ‘cash cow’ product that will propel your business to the next stage.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.