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.

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How Agile Billing Can Work For Your Business

How can agile billing help your business

How can agile billing help your business

One of the biggest problems with pay per use, or pay per project business models is that they don’t give you, the business owner, a guarantee of payment. You might be generous and ask for all of your payments to be made on delivery or you could ask for a deposit up front and payment as the work completes.

Either of these options can sound great, but one of the biggest problems is the client. Sometimes you will rely on them to provide certain information or to complete tasks and then the information will simply not materialise; even if they’ve paid a deposit. They might cancel the project and feel they deserve some of the money back – even though you’ve spent a significant amount of time completing part of the work and chasing them for their information.

This can create a customer relations nightmare and a cash flow problem. Without the steady progress of the project, the next instalment will be delayed and this could cause you financial worry. However, you can solve these problems using Agile Billing.

Agile Billing Cycles

Instead of wondering whether your business will be able to progress a project as you see fit to secure future funds, ensure there is a periodic payment made regardless of the situation. The regular payments could be based on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis and during each of these periods a specific amount of work is completed.

This is the same sort of strategy as a subscription business model but instead of being for access to software or content – this can be applied to the delivery of unique products.

The Benefits

Agile billing benefits both clients and your business. With the fixed cost spread over the long term, the cost of the project or product won’t seem too expensive. Instead it will look highly reasonable – which will increase the number of sales you’ll make and the positive feeling about your product that customers have.

At the same time, because the periods are pre-programmed into a payment scheme you are guaranteed the income for the period making management of your cash flow easier. It also allows you to better assign your resources and therefore be more efficient, limiting your business waste.

For your client, when a regular payment and agreement is in place, they can be sure they have access to you for a certain amount of time during a specific period. This guarantee can be crucial in your customer relationship and allows you to plan your workload better – limiting the stress in your work life and preventing last minute marathons.

What If They Cancel?

There may be times when the client will still want to cancel. This should be expected, but agile billing does account for this. If they cancel just before the next payment date, then they keep the project up to that point, don’t pay any money but can’t expect the project to be taken any further.

If they cancel during the middle of a billing period, you could offer a certain amount back on that payment period. For instance, considering a weekly period, if they cancel with 4 days notice, return 50% of the period payment, for 2 days, return 25% of the period’s payment. At no point should the entire project cost be refunded as you have completed work and they should respect that.

Conclusion

Agile business billing is one of the best ways you can guarantee your income and increase the confidence that your customers will have in your business. In many ways it is similar to how subscription businesses work; however, agile billing is often used for short term contracts or one off projects.

To start agile billing you need to determine how much you will charge per period, how long the periods will be and what needs to be delivered within each period. With this system in place you can expect to have a better quality of working life, customer relationships and an easier to manager cash flow system.

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 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.

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Subscription Model Business Best Practices

Subscription businesses are highly profitable and can offer you and customers several benefits and rewarding experiences. However, to achieve the most with your subscription business; you need to follow a set of best practices. Without following these guidelines, you may find your business will stagnate which is frustrating and can limit the lifespan of your business.

Here are some of the best practices for you to consider.

Know Your Statistics To Price Your Subscription Services Sensibly

If you want to make a decent profit while operating your subscription business you need to determine your pricing strategy. Many businesses believe this process can be very easy; however, there are several considerations which are often forgotten when setting prices.

The first consideration is the customer acquisition cost. This is essential because you need to know how much it will cost you to acquire customers to ensure that together with your delivery costs; that you will be making a profit.

The second is the delivery costs. This is the cost to your business for the production and delivery of your product or service. This must also include all customer service costs that may occur from troubleshooting or queries.

The third element to consider is customer retention. This is essential as you can use this to determine how you can spread the costs of the acquisition and delivery costs over the lifetime of the consumer. Therefore, while in the first couple of months the consumer may be a cost to your business; over the longer period they will generate a profit.

Once you have all of these figures you can calculate the correct pricing that will give you a strong consumer lifetime value. To calculate the lifetime value, consider reading this article.

Add New Features Constantly

A subscription business is always about adding value to your customers’ lives. Therefore, you need to constantly be looking at ways at improving your business’ offerings with improved or new products, additional personalisation, new content and more options to subscribe to your business. By offering new features, you can generate a fresh feeling every time your customers use your products and they will always see the continued improvement and value your service adds to their lives.

Automate Your Payments

Make your business’ revenue generation easy by ensuring all your payments are done automatically. Setting up automatic payments for your subscription business has several benefits for you and your customers. The main benefits for you are it is cheaper to process the invoices and easier to monitor your income for missed payments.

Gain Insights Into Your Consumers’ Needs And Purchasing Habits

To ensure your services are attractive to your target audience you have to know what their buying habits are and what they are looking for. This can be done through asking your current customers or completing some market research tasks such as consumer surveys, focus groups, etc.

This will allow you to create marketing materials that will target them and return good results. This will lower the conversion rate and acquisition costs. Therefore, you can improve your profits or lower your prices to be more appealing to your target audience.

Have A Professional Looking Website

One of the most important aspects is to ensure that your business’ website, and other marketing outlets, to look highly professional. This will increase the perceived value of your services with consumers and visitors. A higher perception in value will allow you to charge more for your services and improve conversion rates.

Conclusion

There are many different best practices for your business to consider when you want to operate a subscription service. Consider the options above to ensure your organisation maximises it revenue while minimising costs and improving profits.

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 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Most Profitable Subscription Businesses Online

Subscription businesses can be very profitable, if you select the right model. There are several types of highly effective versions of subscription websites. This article will look at what models are available and why they can be highly profitable.

1. Membership Subscription Website

This is a site where paying subscribers are provided with and share information on a specific (or narrow range) of topics. This style of subscription website creates a strong community of customers who are linked by a common interest. Therefore, there can be a lot of communication that takes place between members. This communication needs to be monitored by moderators and members of your staff.

To make this work you need a way to deny access to those who have not paid. You also need to have a significant amount of support and current activity to entice potential customers to subscribe.

This is one of the easiest and most profitable types of businesses as there are few costs other than maintaining the community and monitoring it for behaviour.

2. A Periodic Subscription Website

This model is very similar to that of the old magazine subscriptions. Members pay to have issues of a digital magazine or newsletter delivered regularly to their email address.

For this membership system to work, the website often has a free area where potential customers can sample articles or past issues (although never gain access to entire copies) and sign up for the service.

There doesn’t even need to be a paid members’ area; unless you are offering a HTML version of your newsletter / magazine through your website. This can save costs and lowers the requirements for your website. Although, digital magazines can be difficult to market and often businesses rely on word-of-mouth and great content to build interest.

3. Reference Subscription Website

This model offers paid subscribers access to a library of content. This content is often industry related and can offer training support, how-to guides, case studies or industry research.

The importance of this model is that new content is constantly being added. Without new content, paid subscribers will quickly use the data and then unsubscribe. They will also see little value in the services you provide and may leave negative reviews which can damage your growth opportunities.

This model can be financially effective as it costs little to create and distribute content and content can be delivered to customers over an extended period of time. It is also one of the easiest to draw attention to, as the premium content itself can be used to draw potential customers to the website.

One of the best ways to market the site is to have some free content or a blog that proves your expertise.

4. Application Subscription Website

This is one of the most common subscription models online. Many software and accounting companies use this type of business to deliver their services as it is easier and more cost effective. Essentially a customer pays for access to software that is available only from your company.

This requires a lot of technical work as you may want to offer a limited free version of your website or a trial service. However, the rewards can be high as consumers are often willing to pay a premium for access to software that can support them to achieve tasks that cannot be done without the software.

It is also very easy to promote, as there are plenty of options available to demonstrate your expertise and the use of your subscription service.

Conclusion

Subscription based businesses come in various forms. Your business could be community, content or application based and each one of these has its benefits and disadvantages. All you need to determine is what the best fit is for your skills and knowledge and implement it.

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.

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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.

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5 Reasons To Shift To A Subscription Model

The subscription model is one of the best options for your business. It offers you and your main target audience significant benefits while also being easy to set-up, establish, maintain and even exit if that is your long term goal.

Here are some of the main reasons why you will want to move your business to a subscription business.

1. You’ll Be Better At Planning Your Resource Allocation

Because you’ll know exactly how many subscribers and how much they will be paying each month, you’ll be better placed to know what your revenue will be. This will allow you to better judge what resources you’ll need to purchase and deploy to deliver services. This can be a vital component to your business’ success because it will reduce waste while improving resource efficiency.

With better predictions on your monthly requirements you’ll be able to reduce your outgoings and generate more profit from every customer. Eventually, this will mean your business can survive with fewer customers.

2. It Be Easier To Attract Your Potential Customers

Those businesses that aren’t using a subscription model suffer from one major problem: customer attraction. The major issue with their attraction is the amount of funds needed by the consumer prior to purchasing their product. However, most subscription businesses remove this barrier from the consumer by offering a lower more regular charge, which is much more affordable. Therefore, the number of potential customers that are available suddenly increases.

3. It Increases The Lifetime Value Of Customers

With a one off payment model, the lifetime value of the customer is the amount that the customer spends on that one transaction buying your product. With a subscription model, the value is the total amount they spend on subscriptions while they are with your business. Because subscribers are often with businesses for a long time and if you price your subscription right, then you can often find that your business can achieve more revenue from each customer.

To ensure this is occurring, consider how long your customers will remain with your business using the normal distribution. Then find the point where 25% of your customers leave your subscription business and spread the costs over this time. So for instance, if you have a product at $120 and you have 25% of your customer leave after 6 months, price your product at $20 per month. If your customers stay with your business on average 9 months, the lifetime value of them would have increase by $60.

4. It Is Easier To Retain Customers

To is naturally easier to retain customers within a subscription business. While there is the freedom to leave suppliers at any time, it can take a significant amount of work for the consumer and often they are more willing to put up with the higher charges than to cancel their subscription. Also because you know how much you are earning each period prior to its start and are allocating your resources more efficiently, you can assign more time to customer service. This will improve your customer’s experiences and their retention rates.

5. It Gives You A Platform To Sell More Add-ons

Selling to current or past customers is much easier than selling to new customers. Therefore, you can earn more money with a database of your customers by selling additional products that compliment your main product. For example, Dollar Shave Club sell creams and shaving foam to their customers who subscribe for the monthly shavers. This gives them higher revenues without the need for intense marketing.

Conclusion

Moving to a subscription model is highly beneficial for many businesses and yours could benefit from a significant increase in retention, profits and attraction by offering customers an easy to purchase subscription of your product.

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