The Right Subscription & Billing Platform

Scott O'Neill Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Publishers across the industry are all looking at how they can grow digital revenues, while offering more efficient operations in the business and a seamless user experience for customers.

The Right Platform: Build vs Buy

While building your own platform in-house has been adopted by some in the industry, it also diverts resources from a publisher’s strategic objectives. Instead, outsourcing and working with a vendor to implement a platform to identify, engage and monetize audiences provides a whole host of advantages:

  • Lower costs due to economies of scale
  • Accelerated implementation and integration time with an out-of-the-box platform
  • Leverage the vendor’s expertise and experience
  • Focus more on strategic objectives
  • Increased level of flexibility and adaptability to changing market conditions
  • Guaranteed platform performance, availability and support
  • Access to innovative and proven ideas, including an industry partner network
  • Product roadmap for future features and functionality
  • Functionality to enhance online services

The increased level of experience, flexibility and preparation for the future enables publishers to have the most effective long term solution for a subscription and billing platform.

Whilst having the right platform plays a key part of driving revenues, there are other key considerations publishers need to have in mind.

Key Considerations for Your Digital Strategy

There are several areas which need to be taken into consideration for launching or adapting your digital strategy:

  • Multiple Platforms or One: Taking independent CRM, subscription and billing platforms and pulling them together can create many headaches, resulting in longer delivery times and complicated processes. With a fully integrated platform, which comprises all the tools a publisher needs to launch and manage subscription models, publishers can work in a far more efficient and streamline manner.
  • The Cost of the Service: A service needs to be the right price to entice audiences while high enough to make a profit, with subscriptions on average costing between £20 and £25 a month. Leveraging intelligent profiling and machine learning, publishers can create products and services, such as cross-platform bundles and device bundles, based on price points which have historically proven to acquire customers.
  • Which Model Works Best: One common misconception is that publishers can only offer one digital model at a time. With eSuite, publishers can access all models, from subscriptions to pay-per-click, taking a flexible approach to developing their digital product portfolio which appeals to the broadest possible audience. The functionality also means that they are not restricted to staying with that business model forever, using analytics and customer insight publishers can expand the product portfolio to reach different audiences easily and quickly.
  • Targeted Audiences: Depending on the type of content the service provides, you will need to consider the type of audience you are going to target and therefore how you can reach out and engage with them effectively. Offering single and social sign-on, publishers can develop rich customer profiles which can be used to shape business decisions and offer content and services they know customers will interact with and pay for.

Embracing Different Models & Engagement Methods

We are seeing a variety of publishers experiment with innovative business models outside of the traditional subscription model. Embracing these mean that businesses can reach new audiences and if targeted correctly, offer a service audiences are more likely to engage with. These models include:

  • Micropayments – already adopted by the likes of Winnipeg Free Press and Blendle, this offers readers an enticing way to access and pay for content at a lower rate, compared to traditional subscriptions. This model is expected to generate over $100,000 for the Free Press, alongside its subscription service.
  • Membership SchemeThe Guardian and MyMail are but two examples of publishing memberships available on the market, providing members exclusive access to deals, events and content. The model provides an alternative way to gather audience insight and another way to engage and get them to purchase products.
  • Offers and Promotions – Embracing offers and voucher codes enables publishers to target consumers and drive customer acquisition, with the right platform supporting the creation of offers such as free trials, product discounting and bundling. While at the same time, publishers can reward returning customers with loyalty vouchers, e.g. following a years’ subscription receive a month free, ensuring they keep using the service which reduces customer churn rates.

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