The subscription-based economy is thriving. Netflix’s well-known model (and subsequent public relations mess in changing it), and the recent announcements from Google and Apple have set it in stone.
The subscription model, like many of the B2B sales models in the SaaS industry, is all about the customers – listen to your customers and have your service to comply and you’re on the right direction!
Here are 10 tips that can assist subscription based companies to get by in the industry:
1. Keep it simple
Ease of use is a key aspect of the subscription economy. Subscribers want the one-stop shop, and their attention will not be kept easily. Frustration, which might lead to churn, can easily ensue if they can’t find what they want or need.
2. Customize to the consumer
Bob’s business is not the same as Mary’s. Can you offer flexible payment options (weekly, monthly, annually)? Family versus individual? Basic versus premium?
More is better, but more can also be overwhelming. Netflix’s popularity is in part because it offers customized selections based on its subscribers’ viewing history. If the subscriber never, ever watches foreign language films, they don’t want to have to scroll through them to get to the good stuff.
4. Make it social
Can your subscribers see what others think of this product? Can they easily share it through social media? Social media has the power to sweep many others and help in distributing your message – and it’s free, so you might as well use in your business favor.
5. Offer continuing value
Make sure your offers will always consist of an added value. Can some ancillary information help your subscribers? Partner with other companies that add value. Also, what new thing can you offer? Can you surprise them with how good it will be?
6. Keep it open
Remember what we said about the ancillary market? Is your forum open enough to allow add-ons? Don’t keep things so proprietary that spontaneous creation is stifled. Think of Flickr, for example – would it help or hurt their business to team with a photo editing application? It would help, of course, and they’ve allowed just that.
7. Give it away
If you still haven’t done so, consider using a free-trial or freemium model for your product. Subscription economy is likely to be ruled by the free-to-join. For example, you can make your overall platform free and have advertising, add-ons or premium offerings in order to make it profitable. Think Facebook – free to join, but not likely to go broke anytime soon.
8. Don’t charge for that which was once free
How would you like to have nearly 9000 pages of complaints about your new pricing structure? That’s what Netflix got for their announcement that they were nearly doubling their prices, removing services their subscribers had gotten used to having included, and offering no additional value in the exchange. Calling it a great deal just added fuel to the fire. (If you can’t give it free, keep it as low as possible!)
9. Keep the customer relationship as thy first priority
With the Netflix debacle, it’s not just about the pricing. Their customers felt personally betrayed. If you succeed in accomplishing a real relationship with your subscribers, where they recommend your service not for incentives but because they’re real fans, the worst thing you can do is spoil that relationship in a “money grab.” Nurture your relationship. Keep customers in mind as you consider changes. Get feedback on proposed changes. Don’t sell their information to spammers or let slimy advertisers in. Business is more personal than ever.
Customers in the subscription economy are more savvy than ever. They can tell if you honestly love your own offerings or if you’re just using sales tactics. Let your enthusiasm shine through and it would be a win-win situation!