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What You Need To Know About Offering Subscriptions
You’ve either been offering subscriptions or you’re wanting to. It looks easy on the front-end. It looks promising and looks very lucrative. Right?
Those are all true but you need to know what you need to know first. Otherwise you’ll end up regretting having added subscriptions to your offers at all.
So when do you use subscriptions for online course sites or members’ portals?
Normally (and obviously), subscriptions are for membership type programs. It could be for certifications, community memberships, surprise boxes, periodical (weekly/monthly) new content release such as recipes, fitness and health, and so much more.
Often, online business owners think that all you need to do to set up a subscription offer is to actually set up the sales page and order form that has the ability to automatically charge customers on a regular basis. That’s kind of irresponsible actually if that’s all you’re thinking about.
That’s just one part of it… Not even the first part of it.
First part is always planning.
Now, I’m not going to talk about pricing here or the frequency of your subscription. I think that’s something you’ll know within as to what you want to offer.
Today, I want to discuss the different components or aspects or things to consider or whatever you want to call it as long as you keep it in mind before running a subscription.
1. Platform that can hold a good subscription
Again, not just the order form where your people can enter their payment info. It should be able to process all the other factors in this list smoothly. There are many platforms out there that yes, can charge subscriptions (meaning automated charging on specific frequency) but is it able to process changes to the subscriptions?
The other thing to consider here is the actual payment processor you are going to use. How difficult or easy is it to manage actual subscription payments.
Going a bit techy here.
If you’re using a specific e-commerce platform to do all your checkout pages both for one-time pay offers and subscriptions, it is sometimes difficult to manage subscriptions if you’re accepting Paypal. The way Paypal has set up their API, you sometimes need to go to Paypal directly to update anything about the subscription vs just doing it through the e-commerce platform.
Just something to keep in mind when choosing your e-commerce platform + your payment gateway/processor.
2. Upgrades and Downgrades
When you’re just starting your subscription, you’d think you’ll ever only have one type of subscription. That’s it!
Well, that may be true in the beginning, but just keep in mind that there are so many ways to upgrade or downgrade your members or customers. There definitely are people out there who prefer to be on higher package or to receive more and there definitely are people out there who would at some point rather downgrade than cancel.
Being able to switch subscriptions in an automated way is not just essential but is also a thank-goodness-I-did that type of decision! *wink*
Technically, upgrades and downgrades are separate subscriptions from the base offer. If a customer wants an upgrade, you’re essentially replacing the current offer with this new higher offer.
So definitely keep this in mind, if you haven’t implemented this already.
It’s actually funny how at the beginning of my business, when it was just me, I forgot about this.
So, yah, I’ve been there!
After one client, I realized quickly how automating cancellations is crucial!!
Here, it’s not just cancelling the payments. You need to be able to connect it with all other things that the member used to be able to access and cancel those as well. Whatever else you were regularly sending the member from simple email to physical products, you need to be able to cancel all those as well.
For membership sites, which is the most common subscription we build for clients, we have to automate the removal of tags on the CRM, removing access to the site, removing them from email lists and also sending any other last emails.
The last thing you want to stress about is an overwhelming cancellation system where your members are complaining even for cancellations. Ouch!
4. Changes to subscriptions
The most common change we’ve seen throughout the years has always been change in subscription billing date. To explain further, some customers request to change the date in the month or year to be charged for the next billing cycle.
A few reasons this can occur are when there’s a specific date that’s easier for the customer to release funds, when the business running the subscription wants to start the billing cycle at a different date or when migrating members from one platform to the other.
5. Freezing subscription
Like phone services, there are times that users will want to pause their subscription.
This is also a marketing strategy for some businesses. Instead of letting the member cancel their subscription forever, they would offer to pause the subscription instead. This way, they are still technically a customer.
Some would offer a lower price to maintain the membership with limited access to just keep the membership on pause vs cancelling then restarting all over again should they want to rejoin.
There you have it!
A great way to start with planning your subscription offer or reviewing it if you already have one running. I sure do hope this helped you with your offerings. If it sounded a bit much, don’t worry. It’s all doable just proper planning – and this is pretty much the reason why I’m sharing all these things right? So you don’t have to guess and wait for years before you actually realize what you actually need.
Here’s to making money with subscriptions!
Questions about this topic? Comment here.
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