Category Archives: Recurring Billing

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.

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

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

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

7 Common Challenges With Subscription Model Businesses

Having a subscription business is one of the best to run. They offer you a significant number of advantages and are a great way for consumers to gain access to software, information or products that might usually be out of their price range.

Yet there are a numerous challenges that businesses operating under the subscription model face. Here are seven of those challenges.

1. Customer Management

Subscription businesses tend to have a significant number of users at any one time. This can be hard for the business to manage with all the customer records that are needed. An inaccurate customer management database can damage relations because mistakes are made. These mistakes can be down to staff not knowing what level of service customers have, whether they are on a trial or when their subscription period ends.

To avoid this, you need to utilise an effective customer database that can categorise where in the sales process an individual is and previous interactions they have had with your company. It should also track the current status for a customer’s membership.

2. Automatic Invoicing

With numerous customers signed up to the services of a subscription based business, manual invoicing becomes troublesome. Invoicing becomes an even bigger problem if you have customers on different payment options, subscription levels or with add-ons.

One of the best ways to solve this is to use an automatic invoicing system that can use your customer database to automatically generate and distribute your invoices. This can also be implemented when your customer purchases a subscription for the first time and for when customers cancel their subscription.

3. Secure Payments

One of the biggest challenges subscription businesses face is the security of their customers’ payments. If subscription businesses cannot offer guarantees that their payment system is secure, customers are unlikely to sign-up for membership.

4. Pricing Plan Management

Most subscription businesses have different levels of service. Dollar Shave Club for instance have three different types of subscription and some SaaS companies have many more. Different subscription levels are a great business strategy and likely to grow your business as it offers more affordability or choice to the consumer.

This can make recurring billing difficult to manage. To combat this complexity, you need to utilise an effective recurring billing software program that will manage pricing changes with ease.

5. Failed Transactions Management

With so many customers subscribed to the business, it can be difficult to notice when a failed transaction has taken place. It is an ineffective use of your time to go through the list of transactions manually to check everyone. This task is almost impossible if you have hundreds or thousands of customers.

Therefore, businesses need a way to automatically highlight when transactions have not been processed and to inform customers of failure. From there, the payment system can automatically resolve the issue by finding a solution for payment to be made or to cut off the customer so they don’t get access to the products / services until the payment has been made.

6. Discounts And Promotions Management

To grow, subscription businesses may require special promotions and discounts to entice target audiences to sign-up. This can be tough to manage manually and would require significant work that can make implementation financially ineffective. By using an effective subscription billing model, businesses can track the number of discounts redeemed and the effectiveness of the marketing efforts as well as seamlessly manage the billing.

7. Multi-Currency and Language Support

While some subscription businesses only offer their products to customers in one country, those offering subscription or content services can often be global. This can cause numerous problems with billing customers, whose charges may fluctuate with exchange rates or can’t read the bill because of language problems.

A good subscription billing system should be able to manage the invoicing no matter what country the customer is located.

Conclusion

There are numerous challenges that subscription businesses face while setting up their services and maintaining their customer relations. One of the only ways that businesses can overcome this is by using an effective recurring payment system that can address these issues.

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