Tag Archives: subscription billing

Should You Offer Discounts For Long Term Agreements?

advertise-766823_1280When it comes to subscription based business models, many question whether or not discounts should be offered to those committing to long term agreements. For some, it makes sense to offer a reward for those willing to agree to a long term contract. Others believe that these offers shouldn’t be available.

So what are the key points to these arguments and should you be offering discounts when customers are willing to sign up for the long term?

Key Point Number One: It Encourages Commitment

Those who sign up for a long term contract are demonstrating that they are willing to invest their time, and money, in your brand’s services. This commitment is therefore a golden opportunity for your subscription service to demonstrate exactly what you have to offer and how you can improve their lives. This commitment can then become a lifetime association with your brand.

Key Point Number Two: It Entices Bargain Hunters

Many people are looking to save money yet receive the same great products. By offering customers a way to save money by committing to one payment for a longer time period, you are enticing those that look for offers to select your services.

A simple offer, like saving 10% for a year’s subscription, could be enough to attract some of the pickiest customers.

Key Point Number Three: It Is Less Work

When you have one payment to cover a long period, your administrative team have less work to do on a month-to-month basis. This reduced workload will help you reduce costs and improve profit margins across your business.

The better the profit you generate the happier your investors will be and you will achieve greater growth.

Key Point Number Four: It Will Guarantee Customer Acquisition Costs

When you have a customer on a rolling contract, they can cancel your services at any time. This means that you have to keep a good eye on your monthly subscribers and ensure that the number is continuously growing. If you let it fall too low you’ll end up with limited incoming revenue that will result in a loss if you don’t reclaim your customer acquisition costs.

Alternatively, by getting them to commit, you are assured of a large fee that will cover their acquisition costs.

Key Point Number Five: It Can Lower Costs

Every time a payment is made to your account it is likely to cost you a small transaction fee. By having customers pay once for a longer period you can reduce transaction costs and therefore allow for a higher profit margin over the longer term.

Key Point Number Six: It Removes Flexibility

One reason why consumers like subscription services is that they offer flexibility, increasing or reducing their plan as required. If you set them on a long term payment package it reduces their ability to adjust their package. This may infuriate customers if they realise they need a different plan and they have to pay more money to receive extra benefits.

Key Point Number Seven: It Makes Charging For Upgrading And Downgrading Difficult

When you have numerous options and your customer wants to swap plans, you’ll have to calculate what the customer has to pay. This can get complicated as the customer may not agree with the extra payment upfront and taking it a small bit at a time might be too costly for your business.

Conclusion

Offering your customers a discount for long term contracts, is one way to ensure your business can attract and retain customers more effectively, while covering customer acquisition costs. However, some businesses might find there are difficulties with offering this. You should consider your business and make an informed decision based on your consumers’ behaviours.

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 Alert Clients About Price Increases When You Use Auto-Renew

ID-100243363The auto-renew billing model is a time saver when it comes to generating revenue from your subscription business. However, when it comes to increasing the price of your subscription service, there are several issues that can arise.

Normally customers are resistant to changes in price, especially when the price increase is high and they don’t see value for money. Alternatively, the perceived value of your service could lessen and this could impact the customer churn rate of your business.

Therefore you need to alert your clients about the price increase and do so in a way that allows you to retain as many of them as possible. So here is our advice on how you can alert your clients about the price increase for your subscription services.

Step One: Identify Those Affected

You could be offering numerous different services to customers and the price increase might not impact all your customers. Some of your customers could be on special deals that have a guarantee in their contract that the price will not increase during a certain period. By identifying who is going to feel the impact of your higher prices, you can concentrate your efforts on those clients and achieve a better, more in-depth conversation.

Step Two: Analyse The Reasons Why

Your clients might not mind so much about a price increase if you can provide them with a good reason why they need to take on the costs. For instance, do you have a supplier who has increased their costs too much that it is financially unsustainable to maintain your current pricing? Or have you added on additional services that are driving up the cost to deliver your service?

If you can find out how the price increase will benefit your clients, they’ll be less resistant to the change.

Step Three: Strategically Plan When To Implement The Change

As part of your strategy you need to clearly identify when you want to implement your price increase. This should be done at least two or three payments ahead to give your customer service team a chance to contact and inform all those clients who will be affected by the change; you should never just increase the price.

Step Four: Communicate With Your Clients Via Email

Almost everyone who is a subscriber will have an email address and you should have that as part of your customer database. Send an email to your customers detailing the price increase, why it has to happen and when it will occur. This will give your clients a chance to make the necessary funds available when the price increase comes into effect or allow them to consider their options.

Step Five: Send A Letter Detailing The Price Increase

Sometimes emails don’t work, therefore, it is always best to send a letter about the price increase to your clients as well.

Step Five: Make Available A Specialist Customer Care Team

Customers care about their experiences rather than prices. If you create a specialist customer service contact team that can speak to your clients about the price increase, you might be able to increase the retention rate of your clients. If they feel they have had the best customer support, they will be happy and this may lead to more brand advocates, giving you greater marketing power even when you increase the price.

Step Six: Implement The Price Increase

On the agreed date, increase the price. Be prepared to receive calls from clients who have not read their email notifications or letters. There will always be one or two. They may be angry, but if you can advise them of when you informed them – you can often calm them down.

Conclusion

Increasing your subscription charge is bound to happen at some point. This could annoy your customers if you don’t have the right processes in place to reaffirm your commitment to their happiness. Therefore, follow the process above to create contented customers when you increase prices.

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 hywards at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How To Setup Auto-Renew So Clients Don’t Get Upset

wallet-669458_1280Running a subscription business means that you need to set up an auto-renew payment system at some point. This is by far the most cost effective way to generate a long term income from your customer base. However, setting people up on an auto-renew system can be difficult and you should ensure that you are as transparent as possible so you don’t upset them.

If you do upset your customers you can be sure that you will hear about it. If you don’t receive complaints, you’ll notice the significant number of individuals leaving your subscription service and finding another supplier.

Therefore, you need a process that will allow you to properly set-up the auto-renew process. Here are several tips for you to setup auto-renew for your customers that will keep them happy and improve their retention.

1. Be Transparent

It is essential to be transparent about your charges. This means that you need to say to your clients that they will be placed on an auto-renew system, which gives them an opportunity to either turn down the service or be prepared for it.

If you aren’t informing your clients in the first place they will become annoyed when they see your charges on their bank statements.

2. Specify Dates

When you are setting up an auto-renew, ensure that the customer knows exactly when the auto-renew will come into effect. If they don’t know when the payment is going to be collected from your business then they will be unable to budget for it. By giving them a specific date they can prepare for the payment and ensure enough funds are in the bank.

If you take payments on any days that could become bank holidays, as banks are often unable to take payments on these days, you should ensure that your clients know what the alternative payment details are.

3. Specify Amounts

Sometimes, there are times when the auto-renew might be a different price than what they initially paid. This might be because you have offered a discount on their first subscription payment or a free trial. Alternatively they could have changed their order in the interim. Whatever the reason, you need to ensure that you carefully detail the charges to the customer.

This should be communicated clearly, along with the other information that is applicable to the payment.

4. Communicate Changes

Sometimes there are changes which need to be made when it comes to the auto-renew charges or dates. This could be because you’ve had to increase the price or changed the date for accounting reasons. Whatever the reason, you need to inform your customers immediately of any changes.

At the same time as informing clients of changes, you need to communicate immediately when you set up the auto-renew.

5. Give Them The Option To Back Out

Finally you need to make sure that your clients have the chance to back out of the auto-renew. This could mean that they have an option on the signup sheet or that you have a simple cancel button on your website / through their account.

Be sure to inform them that cancelling the automation puts their subscription, and access to your services, at risk and that they should think twice before doing this.

Conclusion

You need to make sure that your customers are happy before putting them on auto-renew. If they aren’t happy, they will soon let you know by complaining or walking away from your service. Ensure that you are considering the above when it comes to your auto-renew process to keep your clients happy.

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.

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.