Tag Archives: recurring billing

How Often Should You Update Your Subscription Pricing?

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are often times that you will need to update your subscription service prices. The reason for these adjustments might include changes in costs or attempting to reduce / increase demand for your services.

Most clients expect prices to increase over the longer term. This is often due to costs such as new government legislation which has forced you to implement new controls. These costs should be passed on to your customers.

However, there are times when fees can decrease. For example, you might introduce a new sales process or technology within your company that significantly reduces your customer acquisition cost.

In either of the above cases, the costs would change significantly and quickly. It would be fairly easy to know that these are good times to update your pricing strategy. Changing the prices at these times though might make new customers unhappy, especially if they have missed a saving. You might also have unhappy existing customers, who would need to be told carefully about any price change.

Slow Changes In Cost

In most cases, prices changes happen very slowly. You might struggle to know when to update your subscription prices in this case.

There are also logistical problems with changing your prices. The first problem is failing to change your fees quickly enough. Waiting too long can significantly impact your profits.

Likewise, when changing your fees, you might have significant marketing materials advertising old prices. These would need to be changed; which will be expensive.

So how often should you change the prices for your subscription business?

Weekly

This is an extreme frequency to change prices. However, this would allow your business to maintain a good profit margin and suffer limited losses.

If you were to implement a weekly change in the prices, then you would have expensive weekly changes to your physical marketing materials and likely other processes in order to implement the changes.

There could also be issues with your subscription management and customer services. Unless you change all existing customer’s fees at the same time, numerous clients on different payment plans will make it harder for your customer service team. If you did change everyone’s fees, you could anger clients very quickly and lower your retention rate.

Monthly

Monthly might be an option if your suppliers have regular fluctuations in their prices.

Changes at this level are easier to manage but customers may feel unhappy if they cannot rely on a regular monthly price for your services.

Quarterly

Many big brands do reviews based on their previous quarterly results. Changes every three months are easy to implement and limit profit loss.

However, quarterly changes might again prove to be too much for your customers who might complain about your frequent changes. If you wanted to implement quarterly changes, it might be best to consider how you are going to communicate the changes with your clients before you commit to this frequency.

Annual

Annual is often used by small to medium businesses that have a limited new customer generation and rely on the long retention of current clients. Annual is a good way to manage your price strategy and if you inform customers in advance of when you do price reviews, they will be ready for any changes.

Annual changes also allow you to better prepare your customer service team, marketing materials and other requirements needed to implement the changes.

Conclusion

Changing the price for your subscription service is not a decision to be taken lightly. How often you make those changes can have a significant impact on your business and its clients. Ensure you are doing it right by considering the costs of changing your subscription fees.

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 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.

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.

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.

How To Turn Your One-Time Fee Business Into A Subscribe-Based Model

"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

A subscription based business model has many advantages over a one-time fee model. It offers a stable income allowing you to pre-plan what resources you need on a monthly basis. A subscription based business can also offer your business a larger customer lifetime value while at the same time giving a perception of a lower cost for the product by your customers.

Subscription based businesses can afford to bring in fewer new customers per month and afford to dedicate more time to customer retention activities.

Changing your business from a one-time fee model to that of a subscription based model can seem difficult. However, Adobe has recently done this with their creative suite and while it has had some criticism, many pundits are seeing it as necessary for the company and consumer.

The main issue with this is how your business designs and implements the change. Here is our quick guide how you can switch.

1. Design Your Subscription Product

The first step you need to take is to design your product. If you run a software business this would be an easy decision. Other industries may have to be inventive but usually the subscriptions could allow customers access to resources, tools, guides, advice from your team, etc.

With your decision you should consider how much access to the product the consumer has. You might want to offer different access for different subscription levels. For example, if you have a digital art creator your lowest subscription model could offer 300 stock images to use, while a higher priced option offers 1,000.

If you want to start with one level of subscriber, remember to include some room for improvement later on. You may find customers want more features/access and would be willing to pay extra for it.

2. Choose Your Pricing Level and Billing Method

The price of your subscriptions is very important. You want to create a price point which gives you good revenue while being perceived by the consumer as a bargain. The monthly price should never be the same as a one-off fee, but instead that fee should be collected over the expected life-time of the customer.

For instance, if you sell a product now for $120 and you believe that the lifespan of the customer is 6 months you will want to charge at least $20 per month. You will also want to add a small margin, so the customers who are with your business less than you expected are still paying a significant amount towards that one-time fee valuation.

The next step is to decide how you will collect payments. The best option is to use a product, service or company which allows you to automatically collect membership fees. Many products available will automatically adjust your subscribers’ access should they upgrade, cancel or default on a payment. Ensure you check with your provider whether they offer this.

You’ll need to decide what to do with previous customers. Are you going to leave them with full access, offer them a discount or a subscription for free for a period of time? If they don’t take up your offer on the subscription will you remove access?

You could increase the uptake of the subscription with these clients by offering extra benefits in the subscription model than they currently have with the one-time fee product.

3. Communications And Testing

Create the website and all the online and offline systems to help run your subscription business. This can take minutes or days to implement depending on the software you are using. Bring in all the technical people you can to help ensure the system works flawlessly.

Then you need to create the marketing materials to announce the changes. Remember to sell the benefits of the change rather than the features. There are some generic benefits all subscription based customers can experience:

  • Lower initial and short term costs to gain access to product.
  • Better customer service and support.
  • Instant access to updates and fixes.

At the same time you want to identify a launch date and create a very specific marketing plan to create anticipation to your target audience through email, social media and other advertising channels.

4. Launch

On the launch day remove your one-time product and switch to the subscription based business. Don’t offer your clients any access to your old product to limit confusion.

Conclusion

Although it seems like a difficult proposition, changing from a one-time fee into a subscription based business is a simple and straight forward exercise. The benefits you gain from moving from one model to another can support the sustained growth of your business and offer your customers a great customer experience for a fraction of the cost per month.

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 Use Comparative Selling To Sell Your Subscription Software

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Before making a purchase, many decision makers like to have a firm grasp of what they are buying. Normally this can involve some kind of interaction with the product. With subscription software this can be difficult. A free trial may be a good way to attract customers, but it might not be the best way to convert those who take up your offer.

Therefore, other methods have to be utilised to encourage your target market to purchase a subscription. Another method is to compare your software. Comparative selling can happen on a subconscious and conscious level for the customer and there are several methods to exploit this effective selling tool.

1. Comparing Price To Everyday Purchases

Your pricing may be very reasonable, but without a tangible product for the customer to see, they may find it hard to value the offer. Comparing the product’s price to common purchases creates an impression of product value in the mind of the customer. A common comparison for a subscription is coffee.

Be careful in your choice and the frequency. Four cups of coffee a month is ideal because many people consume more than that.

2. Original Price Compared To Sale Price

To achieve great sales, stating an original price for a product and then offering a reduced price will entice visitors to convert. Often these new customers are ‘bargain hunters’ who want to find a good deal online. This works so effectively it even outperforms the rule of 9 – that is any price which ends with 9 has a higher conversion rate than that of a price point which is rounded up or down.

Therefore it is important to consider demonstrating a higher starting price and then showing a discounted price, preferably ending with a 9 for double effect.

3. Comparing To Useless Price Point

How you price different subscription plans will greatly affect your customer’s perceived value of your product. This in turn will change how they convince themselves of which plan to purchase. Research by Dan Ariely on the pricing strategy of The Economist shows this to great effect.

In the Economist’s subscription options they had three price points.

Subscription Offer One: A web only subscription at $59

Subscription Offer Two: A print only subscription at $125

Subscription Offer Three: A web and print subscription at $125.

Subscription offers two and three don’t make sense being the same but option three offers more. In the consumer’s mind, the second option becomes a ‘useless’ price point and they would be better off selecting offer three. In the study, option three had a high uptake even though there was a cheaper option available. This is because when faced with this type of scenario, consumers become value seekers rather than bargain hunters and will always seek the most value for their money.

This was further demonstrated in further research. The Economist tested what would happen if they took away option two. In this scenario consumers were more likely to purchase option one as they convinced themselves they didn’t need the upgrade.

Therefore having three options with the second option at the same price point as the most expensive option may increase your revenue.

4. Comparing Compared To Competitors

If you are in a highly competitive market you may be tempted to highlight your services or prices against that of your major rivals. This could work in theory, yet research has shown that at times, lower cost products do not always perform well against higher priced branded products.

This is because there is a consumer perception of value on the branded product. Instead you should concentrate on comparing your product’s features and benefits to that of your competitors. Consumers are more likely to buy a product which has favourable benefits rather than a favourable price.

Conclusion

There are several options when you want to use comparative marketing to convert your customers. The above four options are used regularly by many organisations to sell products and subscriptions. Consider what methods you can exploit in your sales process to increase conversions, income and profits of your subscription based 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.