Tag Archives: subscription billing

How To Determine What Your Subscription Pricing Should Be

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You went into business because you wanted to make a profit. Achieving that goal relies on a couple of key elements. Firstly, that you provide a high quality service your customers will want to use continuously. Secondly, that your subscription service is priced so you are able to make a profit.

Profit is very important because it allows you to enjoy your lifestyle as you like and fuels growth within your business. If you do not charge enough, then you may not have enough income to cover your costs. On the other hand, if you charge too much, your customers may not see the value in your product and leave your business. It will therefore be harder to maintain your income and profits.

So what can you use to help determine your pricing strategy?

1. Your Business Model

The number of clients you are hoping to have at any one time is an important factor. If you plan for a significant number, then you can charge less per customer but you will be limiting the amount of time you can afford each for troubleshooting, customer service, etc.

In contrast, if you want to have a more exclusive club and have few customers, you need to increase your prices but can afford more time per customer. This may be the best option if you have a very niche product or want to create an elite group of clients where you have very close relationships.

2. The Cost-Plus Method

This is a standard way to price services. The first step is to determine the cost of delivering the service to your market. This should include the fixed costs and the variable costs. The fixed costs should be spread out over the number of customers that you are looking to attract and manage in your subscription business.

The most common mistake to make with this method is that while you may pay someone $12 per hour, the costs are more than that. For instance, you may have rent, utilities, insurance, website, taxes, etc to consider.

3. How Much Your Competitors Are Charging

You might also want to look at how much your competitors are charging. There are various ways in which you can determine if their prices are related to yours, and we have covered this previously.

To find out their costs, have a look on their website, speak to their sales team and talk to associates who have dealt with them. This will give you an indication of how the market is reacting to pricing, especially if you have a significant amount of competition whose prices are very similar.

However, you shouldn’t base your prices on just your competitor’s price points. Your product may have a greater value or you could have different costs.

4. The Perceived Value Of Your Service To The Customer

Your customers aren’t going to pay for a service they don’t think is value for money. Therefore, you should ask your customers what they believe the value for your subscription service is. It is likely they will slightly underestimate what you could charge, but it can be a good starting point.

An alternative way of achieving this is to A/B test several price points and see which has the higher conversion rate. At the same time you should look at the customer lifespan; if you find that a higher price has a lower customer conversion rate but higher customer lifetime value – it is obviously the better choice.

Conclusion

Pricing your subscription correctly is an important factor in running your business. Charging too high or too low may cause your business to fail as you will not make enough profit to run your business effectively. Ensure you are charging the right amount to earn enough profit to live comfortably, grow your business and provide a high quality service.

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.

Common Customer Questions About Subscription Programs

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The use of the subscription business model is growing. Many businesses see this as a way to offer cost effective, but high quality, services to their customers. As with any business model, there will be some frequently asked questions you customers will want to know the answers for before committing to any of your packages. If you answer these well; then you can increase the sign up for your services.

So what are the common questions and how can you answer them?

How Much Is The Cost Of The Subscription?

This is probably one of the most common questions customers will want to know. Don’t be tempted to send them to your subscription page. Instead, detail the costs of each of your packages, the period (i.e. weekly, monthly, annually) and how payments can be made.

What If I Want To Upgrade / Downgrade My Subscription?

There are a number of different reasons why someone might want to change their package with your business. For instance, they might have an increase in the traffic to their website and need a larger package or they might be downsizing their staff and require less licenses for your software.

Whatever the reason, they are going to want assurances that they can change their package easily and with no heavy costs. Detail carefully how long it takes to make a switch and when new charges will apply from. At the end include a link to making the request for upgrading / downgrading a package.

What If I Want To Cancel My Subscription?

Although many of your customers aren’t going to cancel their subscription in the near future, they are likely to want to know the details encase they want to later on. The information they want will include:

  • What notice do they have to give you?
  • What are the costs for cancellation?
  • When will their access be removed?
  • What happens to any outstanding balance?
  • How do they notify you of their wish to cancel the subscription?

By answering these questions you can demonstrate you are a legitimate company and assure them of your professionalism.

How Are Extra Fees Collected?

This is one of the most important questions if you offer add-on services that can be bought at any time. Customer will want to know whether they are provided an invoice for them to pay separately or whether the funds are taken directly from their account immediately or on the next subscription payment date.

What Does My Subscription Include?

Every customer will want to know what each package gives them access to. However, if you operate a number of different packages, this could become a long answer which many people would not read. Therefore, it is probably best if you describe the basic subscription for your readers and then direct them to your packages page for further information on other packages.

How Can I Contact You?

If you don’t provide this information to your customers they are unlikely to think they cannot contact you if there is a problem with their service. This can potentially deter them from using your services. On every page, and especially the FAQ page, you should include a telephone number and an email address.

What Is The Minimum Contract Length?

Customers want to know they won’t be tied into a long term contract that doesn’t give them flexibility. Therefore, let them know about the minimum term and what will happen if they wish to leave your service before that period has ended.

Conclusion

Your FAQ section on your website is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism. Use our guide above to start creating your FAQ list and what to say to your potential customers.

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 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.