Category Archives: Subscription Billing

Traditional Businesses That Can Move To A Subscription Model

Image courtesy of patpitchaya at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patpitchaya at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Businesses across numerous industries are starting to realise the benefits of a subscription model and are making the switch. A recent example of this would be Adobe who recently changed their products from a ‘pay once – use forever’ model to a subscription based service. This transition has allowed numerous customers to use the product who before couldn’t afford the initial outlay of the software.

Another industry moving from a pay-per-use to subscription model is the UK grocery delivery sector. Some of their big name brands like Asda, Tesco, etc have moved to allow customers to book in their favourite spot during the week for a set monthly fee.

These industries aren’t the only ones who can switch their pricing models to gain the benefits of the subscription model. Here are some traditional businesses that can make such a move.

Food Service

It isn’t just the deliveries which can be paid for on a subscription basis. There are numerous businesses which provide boxes of food on a subscription model. This can include raw ingredients for cooking pre-planned meals or just items for the customer to create their own meal plans.

There are some good benefits to this model; for instance, you only need to acquire enough of your products to meet the demand of your subscribers. Therefore you are limiting product waste which can be very costly to your business.

Photo Printing

Photo printing is often done on a pay-per-order basis. However, with the rise of digital photos, online ordering and other technologies, this is one industry which could make the switch.

A service could be established where customers pay a monthly fee to upload photos for printing and delivering. The number of photos offered to the customer could be different depending on the price of the package.

Bank Services

There has already been a move by some financial institutions to move their account holding services from free to a pay monthly scheme. In some cases, the subscription fee can be reclaimed when a minimum amount is deposited.

Financial services are perfect for the subscription model. For one, businesses cannot tell how often a customer will need to use the bank’s services and it is likely any use of the bank’s time will be concentrated in a few interactions across the year rather than evenly spread out. It is even possible some consumers will not need the majority of services for years then use them heavily in a short period of time.

Leisure Services

There are a number of leisure services which already offer their customers the opportunity to use their facilities for a regular fixed sum. Some of the traditional models include gyms and health clubs. However, other leisure services could provide their entertainment on a subscription basis.

For example cinema, swimming pools and local attractions could offer customers a subscription to gain access to their services. This is particular good for those attractions that have fixed costs and need to know how much their monthly income is going to be.

Copywriting

Copywriting is not a business many would think could use the subscription model. Yet a subscription model could work very well in this industry. For example, a copywriting professional could offer clients a set number of articles or words per month for a set fee. This could help stabilise the income of the copywriter and offer the client a chance to become one of the higher value customers.

Conclusion

There are a number of businesses who are capable of changing their traditional pricing structures to become subscription based. All it requires is the right pricing points and the tools to implement the changes.

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 Sell The Convenience Of Auto-Renewal

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When you have a subscription business you need a method to collect the membership fees from your community. You could attempt to do this by sending out a manual invoice at the start of every billing period. This can be expensive and a waste of time that can be put to better use.

Instead, you could use an auto-renewal system to collect payments automatically from your customers. There are several benefits for your business when usin

g an auto-renewal payment scheme. For example:

  • It reduces the amount of administration you and your team have to do.
  • There is a higher retention of subscribers for your business.
  • You know exactly when payments are going to be made by your customers.
  • Reports can be auto-generated to inform you when payments have failed or been cancelled.

While these benefits are a good reason for your business to use an auto-renewal subscription model, your customers will need to be sold as to why they should auto-renew their subscriptions.

The Convenience For Your Customers

The major benefit for your customers is the convenience an auto-renewal subscription model offers. It takes time for your customers to receive, check and pay a manually issued invoice. Having the process automatically completed each period allows them not to be disrupted in their daily lives.

In addition, the process can have financial benefits. As you will not have to process the payments manually you might be able to offer a discount. Energy companies commonly sign up customers to an auto-renewal system by offering a small discount, often between 5 and 10%.

These benefits are especially good if your members are paying a standard flat fee for membership. It allows them to confidently know exactly when and how much the payment will be. This can support their financial planning and management.

Calming The Concerns

One of the major concerns customers may have is cancelling their subscription. It is likely that at some point some of your customer will want to leave the business. They may feel they have to go through significant processes to cancel their subscription including speaking to your customer service team or sending emails to your cancellation team. This may worry them.

In reality the process is much easier. A customer only needs to cancel the payment instructions which exist between them and you. This can be done through their online banking dashboard. This means the payments can be stopped immediately, instead of waiting for your administration team to process the cancellation.

At the same time your online system can be informed immediately and access restricted at the next ‘end of period’. Or if you send out physical products, your distribution team can be informed of the change and they can remove them from the mailing list.

Another benefit for the auto-renewal is your customers will never miss out on a product or period because they have forgotten to make the next payment. This can be particularly useful for physical products such as magazines.

Conclusion

Auto-renewal is one of the most popular methods for subscription businesses to sign up customers. While they have significant benefits for the business, customers are sometimes unaware of the advantages they can gain from signing up to an auto-renewal system. By selling the benefits such as never missing out, the ease of payment and cancellation should they want to leave your business you can increase the uptake of auto-renewals.

This allows you to save costs in manually sending and processing invoices. This can lead you to invest the funds elsewhere in the business or offer your customers a more competitive price.

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.

Key Subscription Business Metrics To Monitor Each Month

"Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

To run the most effective operations in your business you need ensure you are monitoring your business’ metrics very carefully. Metrics are the indicators which demonstrate not only if there is a problem within your business, but where it is and how you might be able to solve it.

Here are some of the key metrics, what they mean and how you can improve the results:

1. Net Subscriber Change

This is where you are comparing the number of subscribers from the beginning of the month to the end. This metric is displayed as a percentage and can be positive or negative. It is worked out by dividing the number of subscribers at the end of month by the number at the start of the month and multiplying by 100.

You’ll always want this figure to be positive. A negative figure will state that your subscriber numbers are shrinking. If your figure is negative you have to look at several aspects of your business. Firstly is your promise before the customer’s signup matching the service you are offering? Not matching your promise can result in customers leaving quickly.

2. Customer Lifetime Value

One of the most important aspects of having a subscription business is to ensure your customer’s lifetime value is high. This allows you to offset the costs to bring in the customers and supply them with your product over a longer period, increasing the profit you make per month. To calculate this metric you need to take the average amount earned from the customers who have left during the month.

A low value can be a sign of a number of different problems including poor customer service, a mismatch of promise and delivery and your customers’ poor valuation of your product. Therefore addressing these issues is an essential task.

3. Customer Acquisition Cost

The main issue with a subscription business is that one month’s subscription does not usual cover what it costs to gain new customers. Knowing how much it costs to acquire the customer and their lifetime value, can help you determine if you are running an effective business.

A high customer acquisition cost specifically refers to your marketing tactics. Therefore you need to consider whether you are utilising the best avenues for your market. PPC and display advertisements cost a significant amount. You may not need to remove them from your marketing mix, but you should adjust them so that your audience is more targeted or the copy is more persuasive.

You should also consider your checkout process ensuring there are as few barriers to buying as possible and your landing pages are optimised. Consider running split testing to test different landing page designs and how effective they are at securing new customers and leads.

As another option you could consider increasing your marketing on other avenues such as blogging and social media, both of which help increase your search engine page rank and are inexpensive. Search engines can contribute up to 70% of your web traffic.

Having a good marketing mix which encourages good page rank can lower your customer acquisition cost.

4. Customer Conversion Time

Not all customers convert instantly upon learning about your brand. Sometimes it takes time for them to do further research or to look around the market for other options. They may subscribe to your mailing list which further down the line will support their conversion. The length of your conversion time is indicates how persuasive your marketing content is.

A long time from the first interaction to converting into a customer means you need to look at your brands’ messaging. Are you being persuasive enough, are you selling features rather than the benefits? These can make a significant difference and lower the time it takes for your audience to covert, the acquisition cost and increase lifetime value.

Conclusion

Getting the most from your marketing is all about understanding the statistics of your business. The above four are highly important if you want to maximise your customer acquisitions and their value. From there you can make adjustments to create a successful, high earning 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.

5 Ways To Close New Customers Without Offering An Introductory Discount

"Image courtesy of iosphere / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy of iosphere / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Part of bringing on new customers is about closing the deals with them. There are many ways around this and often offering an introductory discount is the most popular. But this strategy often lowers profits and doesn’t guarantee long term clientele as once the discount has gone, so might the customer.

Therefore you have to think of other routes which you can take to ensure you are able to close the sale. Here are five high performing methods you could implement today.

1. The Balance Sheet Technique

Whether a business client or individual, a buying decision is an emotional decision based on a list of the pros and cons of the purchase. The balance sheet technique is about influencing the list by offering arguments on both sides.

A good sales person will always have pros which outnumber and outweigh the cons and it is always important to ensure you end the spiel on a positive. You should also ask your potential customer of their thoughts before you make the list. That way you can tailor your pros to combat their negatives.

2. Negative Assumptions

‘Negative assumptions’ is about having the potential client confirm their interest or intent to buy the product by giving a negative response to a question. Asking the client: “Is there anything which is stopping you from buying this product today?” or “Are there any concerns you have about the service?” are great examples of this approach.

This way you are making the customer reject their barriers to purchasing.

Though there is a problem that if they do come back with a negative reason you need to be prepared with a response.

3. Time Sensitive Issue

Nothing works better at closing a deal than giving the impression that what is on offer will only be available for a limited time. This works really well with products but can also be used with services. You can always tell potential customers you are only signing up a certain number of clients to your products, or that with demand as it is, prices may increase in the near future.

The fear of losing out because they have not completed the deal on time might backfire should your reasons for the limited time never occur. For example, if you say prices may increase and they never do, consumers may feel cheated and leave your service.

4. Provide Life Changing Advice

If you want to go for the long term consider signing up your potential customers for your emailing list. Then send them articles and useful tips which can help solve their problems. This is the best method to establish your business as an authority in the industry. The more knowledgeable and the more influence you have in their lives the higher the chance your audience is going to come and buy from you.

This is a rather long route approach and it could cost you in the short term. But email marketing is the third best sales performer after organic and direct searches.

5. The Workflow Option

If you have a potential customer who has a c

ertain deadline but they are not favourable to the deal you can use a workflow system to close the deal. This is when you get them to confirm the date at which they would like the work to be completed and then demonstrate how your product / service can help them achieve this.

You need to make clear that your timeframe only works because you have started the process at that moment (also using the time sensitive approach) and you should ask what will happen if they don’t meet those deadlines.

Closing a sale needn’t mean that you are offering lower cost prices. There are many options for closing a sale, many of which will not cost you anything. But whatever the outcome you must always consider the impression you leave on the customer. After all they might not buy today, but they could do in the future.

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 Increase Renewals For Your Subscription Business

"Image courtesy Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Recurring subscribers and renewals could account for 40% or more of your revenue. Ensuring you have a process in place to improve your retention is vital for the financial stability of your business. To do this you must put in place a set of procedures which actively engage and encourage current subscribers to stay with you.

It is estimated that only 21% of all businesses have a sales team whose sole job is to retain clients. Yet this team could be the most cost effective in your entire business. It is far easier to sell to a current or previous customer than it is to sell to a new one.

Therefore, you need to come up with ways to increase the number of current customers who stick with your business. Here are several tips to help you get started.

1. Ensure You Build A Relationship With Your Clients

When you are in the initial stages of selling your product with new customers, you are unlikely to know anything about your prospects. This means that you are often taking guesses at their requirements and desires in order to sell the benefits of your product.

Once they are a customer you can start to learn more about them what they want. This means when it comes to renewals you can heavily focus on your clients’ requirements and therefore improve the retention rate.

Of course one of the biggest ways to build a solid relationship with your customers is to deliver on your original sales promise. By doing this you will find your customers will learn to trust your business.

2. You Are Better Than Your Competitors

At the end of a contract very few customers are unlikely not to need the service or product you are offering, yet they may look for another provider. To avoid losing valuable customers to your competition you need to concentrate on what your competitors are doing and how they are performing.

By keeping an eye on how your competitors are performing you can demonstrate to your customers why it has been a wise choice to be with your business. It also supports why your clients should renew their subscriptions and contracts with your business.

3. Give Special Offers Based On Usage

Every one of your customers is unique. They are likely to use your services or products differently than that of your other customers. If you are able to monitor this you can determine what is really interesting your client and then re-sell them your package based on those observations.

You can take this process up a level and offer a special deal which is tailored around their usage. For instance, phone operators may notice that a customer’s calls make up 82% of their bill whereas SMS messages are worth 10%, with internet usage at 8%. The service provider could therefore offer a deal where their calls are cheaper but the SMS and internet usage are the same or slightly more.

4. Give Discounts Based On Their Length Of Custom

Similar to the above, customers who have been with your company for an extended period of time could be offered a discount for continuing on. Provided you have a sensible discount level the cost can be afforded because it is cheaper to maintain current customers than acquire new ones.

5. Ensure You Are Contacting The Customer Early

One of the biggest failings of businesses is not that they don’t offer the deals or the renewal, but that they don’t do it early enough. Therefore you should always attempt to contact the client at least one month in advance and talk honestly with the client about their renewal.

Catching them early enough will lessen the chance they have searched for an alternative supplier of your services or products.

Renewals are cost effective revenue streams. It costs far less to have an old client renew than acquiring a new client. This strategy does require you to invest the time and energy to create an efficient renewal system, customer service experience and to ensure you deliver on your original sale goals.

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 Increase Your Prices Without Upsetting Customers

Image courtesy of Kittisak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Kittisak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It is a simple fact of business life that as you continue to grow and expand – costs rise. This is a natural process that can occur from increases in numbers of employees, increases in wages and suppliers raising their prices to name a few reasons.

At some point you will have to consider whether or not to raise your own prices, yet this can be met with some resistance by your customers.

Some previously loyal customers may leave your business in order to find other service providers. Others could be speaking more to your customer services, taking up valuable employee time. This is probably why many businesses decide to absorb rising costs themselves rather than face the wrath of their customers.

Increasing your prices without upsetting all your customers is possible. However, it requires a significant amount of planning and skill to achieve. Here are some of the methods you can use in order to raise prices and still maintain the majority of your customer base.

1. Surprise And Delight Your Customers

The first trick starts long before you need to increase your prices. If you are able to satisfy the needs of your customers and excel their expectations they are likely to tolerate the odd price rise. On the other hand, should you only just be managing to support them and they are often finding mistakes or problems with your service, they are not going to want to pay more.

This doesn’t mean the odd mistake should prevent you from increasing your prices as long as you are quick at dealing with any problems to the customer’s satisfaction.

2. Communication

You need to ensure you are explaining when and why you are going to raise the price of your services. Customers like to know in advance for their own financial planning and providing a solid reason for the price increase can help them be more understanding.

Giving at least two months warning is probably the best time frame, enough time to plan for the increase yet close enough that it is not forgotten when the new price on the invoice comes in.
Avoid using the excuse of rising costs. This may be a primary reason, yet some businesses using this model come under heavy scrutiny. Some organisations have increased their prices, blamed on higher costs of resources, only weeks before they announce an even larger increase in profits.

As a business you have to make money but customers will not be kind if they see your wealth increase when you’ve told them you’re facing increased pricing.

Instead time your price increases to coincide with other positive changes to the company, perhaps new infrastructure, i.e. new technology being implemented or something else which will benefit your clients. If they see they will gain from the price increase then it will be received more favourably.

3. Add Extra Benefits

Follow the example of Amazon Prime or magazine subscriptions. When they increase the prices they offer customers more features. In Amazon’s case they add more content to their service, giving customers more choice. Magazines will often become larger or decrease the number of advertisements in their publication.

If you can find a way to add features to your service during your price increase you can be sure customers will not mind so much.

4. Do Smaller Amounts More Frequently

Probably one of the biggest mistakes is that companies do not raise their prices soon enough or do it in too big a jump. Customers are going to be more resistant should you increase your price by $5 every two or three years than if you do it $0.50-$0.75 every year.

Many companies do this because they are fearful of losing customers with a price increase. Yet with good communication and an excellent service, a smaller amount is more likely to be overlooked by customers.

5. Restructure / Redesign Your Products

One way of increasing prices is to restructure your products and hide the increase amongst the bigger changes. Sky TV and other satellite TV providers do this frequently by rebranding and renaming their channel bundles.

In these circumstances it can be tough for your clients to see the price increase. Instead they are likely to be studying the new features and structure and comparing it to the old. This may cause some customer service problems, but your agents could be trained to deflect concerns with explaining how the new structure improves the service.

Increasing your prices is a natural part of being in business. Ensure you inform your customers with a good reason and in a timely manner. Also remind them of the benefits of your service at this time and often the majority of your customers will stay with 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.