Tips for Launching a Successful Subscription Business

There’s a reason why more companies than ever are interested in launching subscription-based business models: recurring revenue rather than one-time revenue from a now-and-again purchase.

“Recurring revenue — the main benefit of the subscription business model — will help improve the value of your business, provide a steady cash flow, and make your business a lot more predictable,” wrote John Warrillow for Inc. magazine.

But launching a subscription business is harder than just waving a magic wand. For starters, you need to figure out how to translate your offerings to a subscription model and find a way to serve the greatest number of customers possible. You also need to support them adequately. Following are some issues to consider before launching your subscription-based business.

Remember that Subscription Billing Is Time-Consuming

If you’re still billing and invoicing by hand, moving to a subscription business is going to be tricky. Customers will need to be billed monthly (or quarterly), and they may be subscribing to different tiers of service, so things are going to get complex. It’s recommended that you put an automated subscription billing solution in place that bills automatically and securely, but also allows customers to make single one-time payments. It’s important that you’re able to accept multiple payment methods and rebill automatically if a payment fails the first time. (It might save you some administrative headaches later!)

Ensure That You Are Flexible

One of the challenges to launching a subscription business today is convincing customers to lock into a contract. Customers today don’t like to sign on the bottom line if they’re not sure that a company is going to deliver, so be sure to have options such as free trials, lower tiers of service and easy cancellation. Trouble-shoot their problems before they have to ask for help with proactive customer outreach.

Proper Subscription Management Helps Ensure Success

Once you’ve launched your new subscription business, you’ll need to manage it, and engage in careful customer support and retention. You’ll need to be able to work with subscribers from multiple perspectives so you can answer their questions, show them the benefit of upgrades to greater tiers of service (if that’s part of your business) and reach out to them when appropriate. You’ll also need a method of gathering data for the purpose of analysis and reporting to measure the health of your business.

Ensure You Have the Right Subscription Management Solution

Subscription DNA provides a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that creatively integrates subscription billing, subscription management, paywalls and authentication. We provide customized front-end options, so you can ensure that it’s easy for your customers to log in and manage their own accounts.

Subscription DNA gives you everything you need to automate recurring invoicing, analyze and report, communicate with targeted user groups, engage in email marketing, process transactions, generate payment requests, track member login statistics and more.

Get started today!

Customer Support is Critical to Subscription Success

When we hear the word “subscription,” we tend to think of magazines. Pay your fee once a year, and a new copy of “National Geographic” arrives in your mailbox each month. But the business model of subscriptions is an increasingly popular one, and now can be applied to everything from cars to wine to clothing to Legos. Younger generations of Americans are not as keen on ownership as older Americans: they like the idea of paying for only what they use, read, watch, drive and wear. They like the variety subscriptions offer. More companies are offering “box” subscription services in which items are shipped, tried out and used or returned for more things.

Customer Support in the Subscription Economy

Because the subscription business model is often more complex and has more moving parts than a purchase model, customer support becomes more challenging, according to Brad Birnbaum writing for Forbes. Companies need to be more careful about “listening” to customers, so this means social media monitoring and dedicated customer support agents.

“Subscription brands need to know what their customers are saying on social to find out if they’re connecting,” wrote Birnbaum. “They need to know if a customer has downgraded their service, and work to find out why.”

Each Interaction Is an Opportunity to Build Loyalty

When you build your customer support infrastructure, remember that subscriptions customers will need to communicate with you more frequently, and they’ll also expect your customer support agents to be experts, according to Birnbaum.

“With great knowledge of your customers comes great responsibility, and that responsibility falls to your agents,” wrote Birnbaum. “Instead of simply solving problems and answering tickets, they need to become makeup stylists, fashion advisors, and pet experts. In other words, agents have to become consultants. Only with that level of deep engagement can they connect with customers and anticipate potential pain points while surprising and delighting them when it counts most.”

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To achieve this, you may have to change your hiring practices and engage in more in-depth training on both hard “product” skills and soft skills like deescalating the ire of an angry customer.

You Need a Solid Platform to Build a Subscription Business

Customers like subscriptions because they offer them options, so be sure you’re doing just that and not boxing your customers in, forcing them to shop and pay for things the way you want them to.

A good subscription management platform like Subscription DNA, a software-as-a-service solution that provides subscription billing and membership management, is essential. Using the suite, organizations offering subscriptions can have a single administrative console to manage accounts, automate recurring invoices, analyze reports, communicate with targeted user groups, engage in email marketing, process transactions, generate payment requests, and track member login statistics.

Communicating with your subscription customers – and making it easy for them to communicate with you – will help you improve the quality of customers support you provide. By becoming proactive rather than reactive, you’re better positioned to give your customers what they want when they ask…or even before they ask.

Contact Subscription DNA for more information on our subscription management features.

Rethinking Free Content Supported by Ads in Favor of Paywalls

There’s a reason standard network and non-premium cable television broadcasters are in trouble today: a lack of content. Networks, delighted with how much money reality television saved them, became a repository for mediocre filler. Cable channels once prized for entertainment, art and history became placeholders for commercials. Americans, annoyed at the poor content and frequent commercials, have moved to Amazon Prime, Netflix and individual channel subscriptions such as HBONow. As the latter have demonstrated, people are willing to pay for premium content without advertising.

Paywalls are working well for some Web content providers. It’s important, however, to be sure you’re offering value behind the paywall. TechCrunch’s Danny Crichton (and many others) are criticizing Bloomberg this week for its decision to add a comprehensive paywall to its popular news articles. Essentially, subscribers will have to pony up $35 a month for content they previously got for free.

“Subscriptions should be seen as an upgrade, not a tax,” wrote Crichton.  “A subscription should provide new features, content, and capabilities that didn’t exist before while maintaining the former product that consumers have enjoyed for years.”

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To make money off content, providers need to walk a fine line. Free content supported by ad revenue is inconstant, unreliable and nerve-wracking. It also annoys the daylights out of people who don’t want their personal information tracked insidiously or pop-ups ads exploding in their faces while they’re trying to read the news. In some cases, however, it’s necessary where consumers perceive that content “ought to be” free.

Making Paywalls Work

The paywall model – which is steady, predictable revenue – works well when a company has content that adds value and that customers are willing to pay for.

“Subscriptions align incentives in a way that advertising can never do, while also avoiding the morass of privacy and ethics that plague ad targeting,” wrote Crichton. “Subscription revenues are also more reliable than ad dollars, making it easier to budget and improve operational efficiency for an organization.”

So how do you induce consumers to pay for content? For starters, you need professionally produced content – daily, in many cases – that readers perceive to be of value. Secondly, you need to understand that customers are more likely to pay for subscriptions in small bites, or in value packages. For the latter, Crichton recommends subscription bundling.

“One way we could fix [the] situation would be to allow subscriptions to combine together more cheaply,” he wrote. “We are starting to see this too: Spotify, Hulu, and Scribd appear to be investigating a deal in which consumers can get a joint subscription from these services for a lower rate. Setapp is a set of more than one hundred OS X apps that come bundled for about $10 a month.”

Use Subscription Management

Whatever approach you choose, be sure you have a professional subscription management platform in place. SubscriptionDNA is as SaaS platform that creatively integrates subscription billing, subscription management, paywalls and authentication that you can use to customize your customer’s experience. Whether you’re looking to monetize a blog, provide privileged content access to members, or anything else, Subscription DNA is an easy and affordable way to do it.

Get in touch today to find out more!

Using a Paywall to Monetize Content for Today’s Digital Subscribers

When newspapers and magazines saw the future – and that it was digital – they realized they would need a new way to earn money to survive. Customers were quickly becoming used to free content online, and fewer of them were willing to pay for physical copies. A few bold players tried to get out in front of the issue. They tried to go large, and assured themselves readers would pay large sums up front for unlimited access to their digital publications.

In most cases, they were wrong.

We Pay for What We Want

While premier publications like the New York Times has (finally) been successful in digital subscriptions, it’s important to note what people are paying for. The New York Times added 139,000 paid subscribers in the first quarter of 2018 – a 25.8 percent jump from the same time last year. Fully 40,000 of these people – or 28 percent — subscribed to the New York Times crossword feature. Yes, just the crossword. (And despite the growth in digital subscribers, it’s also important to note that the NYT’s digital ad revenue declined six percent in the same period.)

There’s Only One New York Times

Most companies aren’t the New York Times (or the Washington Post, or the London Times), so what hope do they have of making money off digital subscriptions? In reality, there’s a viable business model there, as long as it’s done properly and subscriptions are offered in the way readers want them.

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People Will Pay for What They Value

If you’re hoping that subscribers will pony up for a large fee to access everything you publish digitally, you’re in trouble. Customers will, however, pay small, piecemeal amounts for what they value, whether it’s a crossword puzzle, a specific article, one-day access for a project or a column by a writer they love. It used to be difficult to build a paywall in a way that allowed subscribers to pay for only what they want. It’s not anymore.

Protect and Monetize Your Content

Subscription DNA paywall software and premium content management features support a variety of paywall models that you can use to customize your customer’s experience, and give them access to exactly what they’re willing to pay for. Whether you’re looking to monetize a blog, provide privileged content access to members, or anything else, Subscription DNA is the way to go.

Our software-as-a-service platform supports free or paid package selection, multiple service ordering, promotional codes, gift subscriptions, special campaigns and much more.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you protect your Web site, your business and your subscribers.

Subscription Economy Showing Promising Growth

Experts believe we are moving away from the seemingly ubiquitous concept of product ownership and toward a more subscription-based economy. Young music listeners aren’t purchasing music, they’re subscribing to digital music platforms. They’re not buying books, they’re subscribing to services like Kindle Unlimited and reading e-books. While the U.S. seems to be on the forefront of the subscription economy, other nations are also now catching up.

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Subscription Services Growth

A recent study by Zuora, Inc. and YouGov found that an estimated 58 million Britons now subscribe to services – this represents 89 percent of the British adult population – as businesses continue to join the subscription economy. The study, entitled, “A Nation Subscribed,” found that nearly 9-in-10 British consumers now choose to subscribe to their favorite stores, brands and services instead of purchasing them on a “one-off” basis. This figure represents an 11 percent jump from the previous year’s results.

Drilling down into the study finds that it’s not the youngest of consumers who are drawn to the subscription economy. Consumers in the 35 – 54 age bracket spend the most per month (£62, or about $88). On average across all age groups, British consumers now spend £56 per month (about $80) on subscriptions. Compare this to last year’s average, which was about £18.49 (about $26.20).

Business Warm-up to Recurring Services

The study’s authors attribute the rise in subscription spending to an increase in the number of businesses across nearly all industries offering recurring services, noting that it’s no longer just magazine and music companies looking to launch subscription plans.

Companies such as those in retail, gaming, data storage and even healthcare are determining new ways to use subscriptions.

“Subscription services are everywhere, with growth coming from wealthier generations who want the same convenience, quality and freedom,” blogged SetApp’s Yaroslav Stepanenko. “Subscribing creates a wider range of choices, which is why customers everywhere are embracing these companies and happily spending more with them as they grow comfortable with new services and brands.”

Choose SubscriptionDNA

To get the most out of the subscription business model, companies need access to robust and easy-to-manage subscription tools, such as those offered by SubscriptionDNA.

Our software-as-a-service platform (SaaS) provides companies with all the tools they need, including billing and marketing, to efficiently and affordably manage their subscription businesses. With our customized front-end options, customers can login and manage their own accounts right from the subscription provider’s website. Contact us today to learn more!