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.

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.

5 Surprising Industries That Use Subscription Business Models

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are a number of industries, like software and publishing, where a subscription business can be expected. These industries suit the model well as there is a definite demand for their products on a regular and consistent basis.

Yet a subscription model is not just limited to these industries and innovative business leaders across the world have found ways to provide their products on a subscription model.

Examining these industries can be a great inspiration for your own business ventures. Look at these five surprising industries that use a subscription business model and see what ideas you can think of.

Shaving Products

Shaving products are one of the classic examples of how a traditionally over the counter product can be turned into a successful online subscription business. One of the best known subscription shaving businesses is the Dollar Shave Club. They launched their business with the premise of giving customers new blades every month for just one dollar; the handle for the blades is sent when the customer begins their subscription. Since they started they have added on two more levels of subscription for different models.

Dollar Shave Club isn’t the only subscription shaving business; there is also King of Shaves (UK) and Razwar (Europe).

Kids Entertainment

Normally kids’ entertainment on a subscription is thought of as being magazines or television subscriptions. However, across the world there are several businesses that provide entertainment boxes, toys, arts and crafts and other products on subscription.

Box of Awesome in the UK is one such example. They send out boxes to their subscribers containing books, sweets and toys. Many of the products are yet to be released in the stores. The interesting aspect of this business is that they have a free subscription service where those signed up on this plan are placed in a lottery to receive a box. Alternatively, buyers can pay £4.99 ($7.50) for each box.

Little Pnuts in the US is another example. This company sends out non-battery toys for young children. The deliveries of toys are made every three months and customers are charged either on an annual or monthly basis.

Food

There is a huge variety of food subscription services. They can be as small as chocolate being delivered once a month to daily snack boxes delivered to a customer’s door or office. Some services even deliver the ingredients for a week’s worth of meals.

Food can be a very expensive but but there are a lot of options to differentiate your business from your competitors. For instance, you could provide local organic food or food from across the globe at an affordable price.

Household products

For those who like to have the hassle of purchasing household products taken away, there are many options. Amazon is one of the biggest suppliers in this market with everything from toilet paper to washing liquid available on subscription. Amazon makes it easy to set up shipments with users selecting the product and the frequency of deliveries. They even offer a 15% discount, the option to skip some deliveries and cancellation at any time.

Men’s Clothes

Men are notorious for being bad at shopping for clothes. That is why there are several businesses established to make the process easier for them. One of the most well known is TrunkShop. This is not just clothes sent to the customer; it includes a personal stylist who will interview customers, look through their Facebook photos and then select clothes likely to suit their style and look.

Customers will receive a trunk of options and only pay for what they like, sending the rest back. There is no charge on shipping either for this service.

Conclusion

When it comes to creating a subscription business there are few industries that can’t convert with imagination and careful planning.

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.

What Frequency Works Best For Subscription Business Billing?

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When you are building your subscription business or looking to see if your model is as effective as it could be; you need to check your billing frequency is optimal. There are many different considerations to make when you are looking at the frequency. Here are some of your options with the advantages and disadvantages.

Daily

This is probably one of the extreme options you have for frequency billing. However, it can also be one of the best if you are in a market with a short customer lifespan.

The advantages of this frequency is you have a regular daily income that you can clearly manage and you can see on a day to day basis the net effect of your marketing efforts based just on the income.

The disadvantages of this model could be very serious. For instance, daily invoicing requires significant management of the subscriptions and most auto-billing platforms charge per transaction and sometimes a percentage of the transactions (N.B. Fusebill charges on subscriber per month basis). If you don’t have a significantly high subscription charge, you could find that profit margins are too low for this to be financially feasible.

Weekly

This model is probably still for those who have a short customer lifespan or have regular deliveries of their product (i.e. food, magazines / newspapers). This is more feasible than daily payments but the cost of managing the subscriptions can still be expensive. Also, the regularity of these payments can make the payments seem high to the customer, even if the same rate could be offered on a monthly or yearly basis (i.e $1 a week would be $52 per year). Therefore weekly payments have a higher chance of being cancelled.

On a positive note, customers can often manage weekly payments very effectively so you are likely to have few subscribers default on their payments. Although, the end of the month can be a tricky financial time and this would be when you are likely to have higher defaults.

Fortnightly

Having your billing set so your payments go out every two weeks is an unusual method to set your billing schedule to. One of the biggest problems with this is that not every month would have the same number of payment dates. This can make planning difficult for customers who manage their finances monthly. It can also be hard for you to justify the billing schedule if you have an evenly distributed product (i.e. software) as payments on a month to month basis would be uneven.

A big advantage of this however is that you can distribute your bill processing across a wider range of dates making billing management easier.

Monthly

Probably one of the most commonly used frequencies. Monthly billing is very easy to manage both from your business’ point of view and your subscribers’. There is also the added bonus that you could separate your billing dates into different groups to spread out your workload. For instance you could split your subscribers into four groups; each pay on a different date i.e. 1st of the month, the 10th of the month, the 15th of the month and the last day of the month.

This is a great model for those who are providing a consistent service over the longer periods, like software, publications and membership sites. However, if the size of the payments per month is too high, some customers may be dissuaded from buying your product whereas a weekly schedule would have suited them much better.

Annually

Once a year payments are an extreme case and are often used by businesses that are confident their customer lifespan is significantly long. There are some advantages such as less management is necessary for the payments. This means businesses can offer discounts to tempt new customers into signing up for annual plans.

The problem with this model is your subscribers may forget about renewal and therefore not have the funds available when the time comes. This can lead to you having poor retention. To combat this, ensure you are informing your customer in advance of when their renewal is due.

Conclusion

Having the balance between your customers needs and desires and your own is important when it comes to deciding what frequency your business needs to bill your clients. You also need to consider your product and how often it is delivered when coming up with the billing model. With these thoughts in mind you should come to a conclusion of which billing frequency is best 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.

Can Subscription And Advertising Models Work Together?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Business models are one of the most fundamental aspects of setting up a business. It is also one of the least understood area of creating and running a company. There are many different types of business models available but many business founders don’t pay complete attention to the model they use.

This often leads to a business having elements of two or more models within their structure. Sometimes this can work for the benefit of the brand and its customers. Other times it can create a poor environment for the business to thrive. A common mix of models is the subscription and advertising.

What Are The Definitions Of The Two Models?

A subscription model is where a business provides a service or product to a customer for a set regular fee. Common subscription models include software, publications or associations. However, subscription services have been implemented for a number of different industries including men’s health, gaming and food.

An advertising business model is where content or a service is provided for the customer. While they are using the brands content / service they are presented with several adverts from third parties. The advert is likely to be the main earner for the business. Sometimes the income is earned from the user clicking on the advert, other times the advert only needs to be shown.

This is a popular business model online with blogs being one of the obvious implementations. However other publications, online games, mobile app games and other industries have implemented this strategy.

Merging The Two Business Models

There are times when the two business models are merged together. A good example of this would be Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games. Normally in this case the free users have adverts posted across their web browser or have to watch a video to complete an action. Those who subscribe might also be subjected to the adverts, but in most cases the user can turn them off.

This can be a good earner for the business. The adverts pay very little per view, but when the game is played by tens or hundreds of thousands of players the income per day can be significant. Added with the revenue from subscribers, MMO games are turning in good profits.

Likewise, your subscription site can use this same method. For instance, you could include banners or video adverts that automatically show on your blog posts or main pages of the website. At the same time you can have subscribers sign up to receive exclusive content or use of some software.

There are advantages to mixing the two models:

  • Gives two revenue generating avenues for your business to benefit from.
  • Can allow your business to earn income even when the website visitor does not subscribe.

There are also some disadvantages:

  • If used too often, can become annoying for your subscribers.
  • They can look unattractive on your website.
  • Advertisements can disrupt use of your product.

Best Practice?

If you want to implement both an advertising and subscription model you should ensure you implement some best practices to keep customers happy. The first option is to have your subscribers free from advertisements. You can even use this as a selling point on your website if you have a free use option.

Your website should also not be ‘advertisement heavy’. Keep the number of adverts limited to just two on a page. This could be a banner at the top of your page and perhaps a small one on the right hand side.

Finally, you should ensure advertisements on your site align with your business. For instance, if you run an accounting software package, the adverts should relate to other financial services or complimentary services.

Conclusion

Advertising and subscription business models can be very effective when they are combined together offering your business good returns. You have to ensure you limit the number of adverts displayed and only include ones which are aligned with your business’ activities. You should also allow your subscribers the option to remove advertisements from their view. However, if implemented right, mixing the two models can increase your revenue without increasing your workload significantly.

Why Don’t More Companies Use The Subscription Model?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A subscription model is very useful when it comes to running a business. It provides benefits for both your brand and your customers while being very easy to set up and manage. Yet there are a number of businesses out there who are perfect for this model but have not converted. What are the reasons for this?

They Think Subscription Models Aren’t Applicable To their Industry?

There are many products and services which suit a subscription model, yet businesses are unaware of the opportunity. This often forces them to stick with “pay once, use forever” models. However, as can be seen by businesses like Dollar Shave Club, every industry can use a subscription model.

Businesses who want to convert need to sit down and think carefully about their product. If it is a simple product which is delivered with regularity there is the opportunity to create a subscription service. They just need to consider the frequency of delivery and how much they are going to charge your customers.

They Believe Customers Aren’t Going To Like A Subscription Service!

There are many times when businesses might be convinced that their customers aren’t going to like a subscription service. This is often the case when it comes down to certain types of software like operating systems or when the product is required to operate another device / service.

For instance, an operating system on a Mac or PC is necessary to run the device. Consumers might feel they are being cheated if the product they buy is not fully operational without further purchases. This move has been seen with the recent changes Adobe has implemented where users now have to pay a subscription.

However, this sentiment is normally gained because an old – ‘buy once, use forever’ model was implemented. There are some flaws with this model with software and similar products. For instance, many software providers only allow the installation on a set number of machines, normally about three. This means that if the user has more devices or replaces devices on a regular basis, they have to buy the product several times over or buy more licenses – an expensive endeavour.

If the business moved to a subscription basis, the user can be offered a more cost effective method of having access to the software while allowing the product on as many devices as they own. Businesses just need to explain this benefit.

In addition, the cost of buying a product outright can be expensive for the user. Having a subscription gives customers a more cost effective method of gaining access and allows more of the target audience access to the product.

Business Want The Higher Purchase Amount From A One Off Payment!

While businesses may earn more money per transaction when it comes to a ‘buy once, use forever’ model, evidence has shown the lifetime value of the customer is significantly less. Research demonstrates users tend to not unsubscribe from subscription services if the regular payment is low enough and there is good service being provided. Therefore, customers can be with the business for a significant amount of time which will provide more revenue than if the customer was made to buy the product outright. This allows the company to focus less on new customer acquisition to maintain a healthy cash flow and more on customer service, which is less costly.

Conclusion

A subscription based business is one of the most profitable models. The reasons why businesses think the model is not suitable are usually misconceptions. For most industries there are significant opportunities for a subscription business 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.

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.