Once you get your business off the ground, one of your next challenges is to secure a steady revenue stream and a platform to facilitate it. A subscription business model with a recurring billing cycle is one of the best ways a Web-based business can ensure continual income and nab customers who are hesitant to pay a single higher price up front. Couple it with a solid social media marketing plan, and you are in a great position to continuously grow your customer base and increase sales.
How Recurring Billing Works
In the “real” world, most business transactions are one-off situations. Aside from the occasional magazine or newspaper subscription—or situations like a gym membership, which are often automatically recurring—getting continuous and repeat business can be a struggle. In the virtual world, however, most everything can be considered a service, making recurring subscriptions and purchases a sensible pricing plan. Even products can be offered as a service to customers, if you provide items people need at a regular intervals, thereby saving them time and money.
Most businesses hire a subscription service provider to provide the software and manage the accounts. Customers sign up for your services (or products) via your website, and you bill them using whatever pricing model works best for your business. The recurring billing service provider communicates with your customers (posing as you), managing the trial periods, setup fees and renewals. They also send all receipts, reminders and statements. For a more thorough look at how a recurring billing service can help your business, visit Chargify.com.
Enter Social Media
The continuously growing social media industry is the perfect marketing platform for subscription businesses. Seventy-seven percent of B2C companies got customers from Facebook, according to a 2012 State of Inbound Marketing study, and 80 percent of U.S.-based social media users prefer to connect to a brand through the social network.
Here’s one more statistic from Awareness, Inc. that should serve as a caveat: Fifty-three percent of businesses using social media marketing don’t measure their success. The “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” method of marketing is a bad idea. If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. For a list of top social media marketing tips, visit SocialMediaExaminer.com; for help getting started using analytics, try Sendible’s social media management software.
When you are readying to launch your social media marketing campaign to support your subscription business, remember that you could easily see an immediate response from thousands of people. Are you prepared? Do you have the help you need to keep from getting overwhelmed, or are you trying to do it all on your own? Make sure you have the manpower to handle the potential influx. Plenty of startups have closed their doors because they grew too fast.
Finally, remember to stay flexible. In today’s fast-paced e-commerce world, those companies that are not able to bend and move with an ever-changing world economy will quickly fade into obscurity.