Tag Archives: subscription billing

The Power Of A Subscription Model For Online Publications

glasses-219734_1280The subscription business model is growing in popularity. Almost every industry sector is now represented by at least one subscription model whether it is men’s fashion, executive travel or organic food.

Yet there are also those industries that have been using the subscription model for a long time. These industries, like online publication websites, can teach those looking to utilise the subscription model some best practices.

In fact, online publication is a rather powerful business model.

Why Are Online Publications Perfect For the Subscription Model

There are two types of online publications: one which creates content for paying customers and one which creates content for advertising / marketing purposes. While the latter can also contain some premium content that can only be seen by paid customers – they are not always the same.

For example, companies that run blogs utilise the second version as these are free for visitors to read and are used to market the organisation’s credentials and expertise. However, newspapers, where you have to pay a monthly fee to gain access to the news, would be an example of a subscription model.

One of the reasons why online publications are so perfect for the subscription model is that they are easy to control. There are plenty of software options available for businesses that can restrict access to content online unless the individual has paid. Some software is clever enough to offer free trials to one piece of content based on IP addresses. This content does not need to be specified by the organisation but as soon as the visitor tries to move to another page they are prompted to a purchasing screen.

Why Do Customers Like Online Publications

A growing amount of our time is spent online. 20% of our time is spent reading content online, whether that is blog posts, news or articles. But one of the more interesting aspects of our behaviour online is that we like to read exclusive content – i.e. content that others haven’t had yet.

This is nothing new, exclusivity has been used as a marketing term for generations – but online publications can use this to sell subscriptions. By marketing their content as unique and that only a select few will ever get to read it – online publications can create hype about what they are selling and increase the value of the content. In some cases the content is nothing new and there are other free sources on the web where consumers can get the information. However, because of the terms being used and through clever marketing – the perceived value of the content is increased in the mind of the target user.

What Other Benefits Can Online Publications Generate

As well as appearing more valuable to customers, online publications automatically generate trust between the customer and content provider. This makes them particularly powerful influencers in the consumers’ lives. The content producer could therefore make a suggestion on the next best buy, perfect Christmas present or on other products and services that they sell and these will have a high chance of being accepted by the audience.

This makes up selling and cross selling very simple for online publications – which increases revenues and profits without having to take the expense of finding new customers in different markets. Finding new customers is more expensive than selling to existing ones, so this also increases the profits and can help cement the relationship between consumer and business.

How Much Content Is Needed For Online Publications?

Remarkably very little is needed for online publications. What is more important is that what you publish is of a high standard and branded. The better the quality of the content, the greater the retention you will have.

Conclusion

Subscription businesses offer you the chance to connect with an audience and open up opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling, which in turn are made easier because you are generally more trusted. If you are looking to start a subscription business, then consider your expertise and how you could turn that into an online publication.

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 Cable Companies Switching To On-Demand Subscriptions

children-403582_1280There has been a revolution when it comes what traditional cable companies are offering their regular viewers. Many television channels are now offering an on-demand subscription service where customers have to pay to gain access to TV episodes online.

While some of these channels are offering only catch-up, where recent episodes are available, others are offering exclusive content for their audiences. One such example of this is Nickelodeon. The children’s channel recently announced their Noggin app. This will be a monthly subscription service allowing children to watch old shows that are no longer shown on the main cable channel and feature new content.

It isn’t just children channels that are going that way. HBO Now is a new service with similar ideals. On this channel, programs become available to subscribers as soon as the episode starts to air on the standard channel.

In addition to this, the UK has seen a move by traditional companies to move towards a subscription service. ITV, one of the main UK television companies that offer 4 free channels, has just launched two new channels: ITV Be and ITV Encore. Both of these are subscription channels.

The Advantages Of This Model

The main force behind the move is purely financial. While TV shows are popular, watching television live is in decline. This is mainly due to the improvements in technology that have led to online catch-up and other online media.

This has created a problem for broadcasters as revenue from advertising has declined. Instead, there is more money to be made by advertising on digital media. At the same time, television companies can collect significant revenue from subscribers.

The Challenges

The biggest challenge for those channels that aren’t using adverts is will they generate enough income. A television show is very expensive. Games of Thrones costs $6 million per episode to produce. While this is significantly higher than other successful shows, Breaking Bad cost $3 million per episode and The Big Bang Theory cost just $2 million when it started out, it demonstrates how much, a subscription channel must generate.

It isn’t just about one of these episodes per week. It is a combination of several new episodes over a month. With HBO Now, it would take over 400,000 subscribers to pay for just one episode of Game of Thrones. While it is not subscribers alone who will be the main revenue stream for these companies, they will be part of the plans for these companies.

Yet, Nickelodeon has a good plan. By using old content that has long been paid off and made a profit, it can reduce the costs for the service over the week and therefore it will take fewer subscribers to make a profit.

Will These Channels Be A Success?

While it cannot be guaranteed that these channels will be a commercial success, there are signs that it is likely. Netflix and Amazon have demonstrated to the world how an online streaming subscription service can be an effective business model. Netflix earned $4.37 billion in 2013 and made $228 million operating profit. That is nearly enough to fund the first four seasons of Game of Thrones!

In fact, Netflix has shown that an online streaming service can produce original works with their highly acclaimed: Orange is the New Black.

But the greatest challenge will be whether these new digital channels will be able to demonstrate to viewers why they need to pay for one channel, when they could gain access to more content via the big streaming companies. If they can’t, they will need to rethink their strategy. If they can: we will probably see numerous more channels like this.

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.

3 Businesses Using Subscription Models You Might Not Expect

ID-100252383The subscription business model is now one of the most popular for start-ups and existing companies. It offers organisations various advantages, including flexibility and deeper customer relationships. They also allow businesses in traditional pay per use or pay once use forever industries to distinguish themselves from the competition and attract attention to their brand.

Consumers are also seeing the benefits of using subscription services in place of pay-per-use services with many consumers flocking to clothing subscription businesses.

In most cases, subscription businesses are able to offer an affordable monthly payment for products that would otherwise need a large upfront payment. However, some subscription businesses offer services without any fees. Hootsuite and Box of Awesome are two businesses which use this model. This helps to sell their products and encourages consumers to buy other services or premium memberships.

With the success of various businesses moving from traditional business models to the subscription business model and the benefits they’ve found, there have been a lot of innovative business ideas. Here are three businesses using the subscription model that you would not expect.

1. Art In A Box

You wouldn’t expect that art could be so readily provided by mail, but in the US, Art In A Box is one that is moving into the art business environment.

The idea behind the service is fairly simple. A subscriber signs up to their services and goes to a members’ area where they complete an online form. The form includes three adjectives to describe the taste of the member, what media they prefer and how frequently they would like to receive art.

Then art is selected by the company and sent out at the times specified by the subscriber. This art is for them to keep forever.

Art In A Box delivers across the world and has numerous artists who provide them with work.

2. MilkMade Ice Cream

When you think of food subscription services you might believe in organic fruit and vegetable deliveries, healthy foods and even meat. These are all the common ideas. However, I bet you wouldn’t have thought of ice cream by post. The thought of melted deliveries probably plague this subscription service regularly.

However MilkMade Ice Cream is offering craft ice cream that is home made and delivered to their customers.

The company is rather unique. Each month they craft two unique flavours and ensure they are styles similar to those from a top restaurant. These are then hand delivered to their customers through a network of trusted individuals.

They have supplied various unique flavours in the past; including Pop Tarts Ice Cream, Key Lime Pie, Maple Pancake, Salted Watermelon, Strawberry Shortcake, Spiced Apple Cider Donut and White Russian Chip.

3. H Bloom

Making your office or home more attractive with flowers can be difficult. Sometimes you are faced with problems such as poor quality or wrong colours when you are at the gas station.

H Bloom is trying to change that. Founded in 2010 by Bryan Burkhart and Sonu Panda, H Bloom has quickly become the world’s fastest growing floral and plant service. Their expert designers craft high-quality bouquets that are delivered by hand to the customer, whether they are for an individual or a business.

Deliveries can be set up at a frequency that is suitable for the customer. Weddings and gifts can also be catered for by the organisation.

Conclusion

There are numerous new industries that are taking advantage of the subscription business model. We’ve listed just three interesting and unique subscription businesses and perhaps next time your business could be one of the three.

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 2nix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7 Ways To Promote Your Subscription Business On Social Media

How can you promote your business on social media?

How can you promote your business on social media?

Social media is one of the best ways to promote your business online. Any activity on social media can instantly be seen by thousands, if not tens of thousands of users, each one ready to consume more content and look up deals that are suitable for their needs.

However, social media is not an effective sales channel. Only approximately 1% of all online sales can be attributed to the marketing avenue. It is much better deployed as a relationship builder and the start of the sales funnel rather than the end.

That being said, there are still numerous ways you can use social media to attract your target market. Here are seven of the best ways to promote your subscription business online.

1. Direct Audiences To Offer Pages

Although social media is notoriously bad for selling, an offer is practically the only update that attracts attention. Therefore, every so often you should promote your subscription offers on social media. On Twitter this should be done about once every ten to twenty updates. On other social media channels only promote it once, when the deal starts.

2. Direct Audiences To Blog Content

81% of the US market trusts information that is published on a blog and if written correctly is not overtly promotional. When people read your blogs they will be interested in your expertise and should sign up to your emailing list, where people are more open to promotional content.

You can even create blog posts on sites like LinkedIn that can act as a proof of your industry expertise.

3. Offer Advice

Short snippets of information can provide evidence of your expertise which can persuade them to find out more information about what you offer. The snippets can be very short (on Twitter) or longer (on LinkedIn / Facebook / Google+).

4. Communicate With Your Audience

You should also consider speaking to your audience about events, news and subjects that interest them. Communication is one of the best strategies because users like to interact with brands that have a personality. By regularly communicating you can build trust and develop a relationship that will lead to an eventual sell.

5. Sign People Up to Your Mailing List

Email marketing is much more successful at selling to your target audience because it is a permissible marketing avenue; i.e. the receiver has given authorisation for the company to send marketing materials. If they like your conversations online, they will be highly interested in receiving content from you via email.

6. Advertise Premium Content

If you are offering a subscription service that is based on providing content to those who have paid, then you can advertise new premium content you have created and added to your site. This is highly effective as it demonstrates that you are constantly adding value to your subscription site. This will persuade people to join up when they see you are actively developing your subscription packages.

If you are a software provider, constantly noting when you have made changes to your software such as new features, fixed bugs, etc. will have a similar impact.

7. Advertise Others

By sharing content that has been produced by others who are not direct competitors, you can develop friendships across social media. The more you share, the more that will be shared by other brands that will reach new audiences and attract potential customers to your social media profiles and website.

Conclusion

Social media is one of the best ways to communicate with your audience. However, it is not always best to sell your subscription packages directly. It is more effective to demonstrate your expertise and move your audiences through a carefully planned sales funnel. Then you can grow your subscription business and offer more features and content.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

How To Build And Maintain Your Subscriber List In 2015

sylvester-534233_1280If your subscription business is going to be a success in 2015, it will need to grow and maintain a healthy subscriber list. There are many routes your business can take to achieve this. Some of these are rather simple to undertake and require limited effort; others require greater input but can yield better returns.

So here is the definitive list on how you can build and maintain a subscriber list that will grow your business in 2015.

1. Incorporate A Strong Digital Sales Funnel

During 2014, the amount of goods and services being bought online grew 13.8% in the US and 18.4% worldwide. This makes the potential value in developing a digital marketing strategy highly valuable. Digital marketing channels are not about developing one strong point of contact but about building a process which attracts an audience and then develops a relationship with them from first contact right through to after sales.

The advantages of a digital sales funnel is that not only does it attract new customers but it also allows you to use the power of referral marketing; to spread news of your services to friends and family of current users. The contacts of your best customers are also likely to be highly interested in your services and therefore more liable to become customers.

There are many elements to a strong digital sales funnel, including blogging, social media, email marketing and landing pages.

2. Keep In Contact With Your Subscribers

When you are selling to your target audience you are looking to build trust with your clients. Once you’ve gained their trust and they’ve converted you shouldn’t end your contact there. Email marketing is one of the best options for maintaining contact, but at the same time there are other options. Regular phone calls or dropping into their office (if they are local) are excellent ways to keep those bonds of trust strong.

Try to keep your relationship going with regular meetings but you have to be careful not to overload yourself. So get your diary out and plan time every week to connect with your audience. One of these times might be going to networking events in your local area or signing up to a trade show.

3. Keep Developing Your Product

Businesses throughout the world have failed in the recent decade due to one very specific cause: a lack of adapting their business to new environments.

One of the best examples is the collapse of Blockbusters. The video rental store was once a staple for families in many countries for their Friday and Saturday night entertainment. However, other companies such as Netflix began to offer consumers easier ways to receive rentals, starting with home delivery before moving onto video streaming and then blockbuster’s market share dropped. Eventually they got their business model right and started operating a video streaming service, but it was far too late to break into the market with those who had already established a presence – some of them like Netflix with a subscription model.

Part of the reason for this failure on Blockbuster’s account was to not adopt new digital practices their competitors were using. You can avoid the same, by looking at new ways to deliver your product and ensure you have the market advantage, to attract the customers who are the first adopters.

Conclusion

Your business in 2015 could be one of the best on the subscription market. All you have to do is ensure that you are communicating with your audience and deliver your products to the market in new and innovative ways.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

How A Digital Subscription Model Differs From A Physical One

On balance, what is the difference between physical and digital subscription businesses?

On balance, what is the difference between physical and digital subscription businesses?

One of the most common misconceptions about digital subscription businesses is that their models are very similar to those of physical subscription business. While there are many similarities, there are also significant differences. It is important to understand these differences as it can support you in building your own digital subscription business.

Difference One: Costs

The most obvious difference between the two types of model is cost. A physical product will cost every time it is sent out. In contrast, a digital product only costs when in development. For some online subscription businesses this may mean that the majority of the costs arise before they have a single subscriber. However, if the digital product is continually being improved, costs could be incurred continuously.

This does have several benefits. While cost is not a major factor in the purchasing decision of customers, it does play a small part in grabbing the attention of the target audience. If you consider the example of a sports magazine, the physical subscription model would have to be priced higher because the business would have to consider the costs of producing the magazine and delivering it. However, the digital magazine wouldn’t have the production costs and therefore could offer exactly the same content for far less.

Difference Two: Set-up Time

A physical subscription model has a much lower set up time compared to a digital model. A digital product needs time for the development of the software.

Although there are some set-up processes with a physical model, a physical subscription business could, theoretically, be setup much quicker. This has significant benefits as you would not be losing as much money developing a product without being able to charge for it.

Difference Three: Troubleshooting Is Quicker

When you have physical business and something goes wrong, there is a huge delay in getting it better for your customer. You will need to receive the item back (if it arrived in the first place), then replace the item which could take an entire subscription period and this could be frustrating for your subscribers.

Alternatively, you could forgo the process of replacing the problem item and just return the subscribers money. However, this will still annoy the customer.

With a digital product, your troubleshooting can almost be instant. The customer can phone you up, report the problem and then your technical team can fix the error. This would please your customers and they may publically praise your quick action – gaining you extra brand exposure online.

Difference Four: Instant Access

When a consumer is paying for a physical subscription they often have to wait until the business is in a position to send out the product. Most subscription businesses would have set days and times when the items are to be ready. This could mean that the customer may have to wait a little less than a month before they receive the first item.

In contrast, digital products can be delivered within seconds of the customer paying the first subscription instalment. This instant gratification is very rewarding for the customer and they appreciate it more than having to wait a significant amount of time to receive something they have paid for.

Conclusion

There are many differences between a digital subscription and physical one. While both can be used as learning opportunities for each other, there is a clear benefit to being digitally based rather than physically. Digital subscriptions are more cost effective to start up and offer customer service opportunities that physical models can’t compete with. So when you are starting a subscription business model, think carefully which model is better for you.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Tips For Starting A Subscription Program In 2015

Are you looking to achieve a regular and consistent income from your customers? A subscription based business is one of the best ways you can accomplish this.

Running a subscription based business is easy if you set your program up correctly in the first place. So here are five of the best tips to support the start of your subscription business.

1. Start Before You Believe You Are Ready

One of the biggest barriers for businesses and entrepreneurs entering the subscription market is that they don’t believe they have enough content or functions to start. This can be very deflating and can further block you from starting your successful business.

But, you don’t need to have a fully developed product or set of content to start accepting subscription payments. You should look for a minimum viable product instead and offer your ideal customer base an introductory offer. As long as you let them know you are using them as test subjects and will want their feedback, suggestions and criticisms, you should be able to retain key customers and grow your business.

As your product develops or your content grows you can increase your fees and by this point you should have a lot of direction on what your target audience needs.

2. Engage With Your Subscribers

If you really want to succeed with your membership site then you need to grow. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure you are attracting subscribers by word of mouth. This can be achieved more easily when you are interacting with your audience and members on a regular basis.

Interaction can be done through several channels, firstly by email and then perhaps over the telephone, depending on the number of members you have. Another good option is to have conversations over social media, where you can gain more attention for your business because the conversation can be seen by their followers as well as yours.

3. Run Group Events And Challenges

Sometimes it can be hard to gain momentum for your business and while many people would just try to increase their promotional content and perhaps hope for a big break, there is another option for your business: holding a contest / competition.

Competitions are an excellent tool for growing the awareness of your business as people love free stuff. The prize doesn’t need to be expensive as long as it has value to your target audience you will gain some interest in your competition.

Also, don’t stop at just one competition, run another as soon as one has finished.

4. Give Free Subscriptions Out

As previously mentioned, word of mouth is one of the best marketing avenues you can use. There is no better way to generate positive reviews for your product and word of mouth for your brand than giving away subscriptions for free, at least for a trial period.

As like with competitions, the word ‘free’ is very attractive to consumers whether they are individuals or businesses.

5. Don’t Be Too Rigid

Being too stuck on a certain plan isn’t going to do you any good in the long term. You need to be flexible in the look and model that you use to deliver your product. The changes to your business should be user orientated and the alterations can be initiated from conversations you’ve had with your customers.

As you make changes help your customers to navigate around the new product so that they don’t feel alienated by your shift.

Conclusion

Your subscription business can get off to a great start if you strategise it right from the beginning. Use the tips above to help you cut costs, attract customers and grow.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net