Online Subscription Business

Today’s consumer is changing their behaviour. They are no longer purchasing products and services in the same way they used to and this could be very stressful for you and your business.

However, there is an opportunity available, one that could be more beneficial to you than trying to change the purchasing behaviours of customers: the online subscription business model.

What Is The Subscription Business Model?

The subscription model is very simple. The consumer pays you a regular fixed amount for access to certain products or services. In the last five years, the use of this business model has expanded significantly and now there are a number of products on the market being offered through a subscription.

One of the most commonly accepted subscription models is for online resources. This is often where a subscription offers access to software, articles, online tools or forums. A good example of this would be Adobe, who have now changed their Adobe Photoshop and other products from pay once, use forever to now being on a subscription model.

Another good example would be the magazine NZ Fishing News, where you can subscribe to a digital copy of the magazine.

Ecommerce is a major growth area for subscription businesses. Amazon have their Amazon Prime subscription service where consumers get access to free next day delivery as well as the latest TV and films through their service.

Food via a subscription service is now very common in the United States and Europe. Yet there are also subscription companies like this elsewhere; like New Zealand’s My Food Bag. Even men’s grooming (dollar shaving club) and clothes shopping (Le Tote) have taken to the subscription business model.

What Are The Benefits Of A Subscription Business?

So, what are the advantages of a subscription service? On the UK’s acclaimed Dragon’s Den, a show where entrepreneurs pitch business ideas for a cash injection from five high profile investors, subscription services were very prominent business ideas on the recent series. Yet the ‘dragons’ often asked simple questions that demonstrated a lack of understanding for the business’ core attributes.

For instance, when they were pitched a clothing line, they asked:

  • How would they make money if someone didn’t like any of the clothes they were sent?
  • And how do they determine what clothes the customer would like?

Both of these factors are fairly simple to answer. Firstly, most subscription services that operate under the ‘surprise and delight’ subscription niche, charge a flat fee for sourcing and delivering the clothes. The second question was simply about noting customer behaviours and recognising trends (i.e. customer likes dark clothes).

It is by answering the first of these questions that you can determine the biggest advantage of a subscription business – a regular, fixed income.

By knowing exactly what your customer is going to be paying each period, you can have a fairly accurate income projection. This is highly useful in your business planning. You can then set budgets accurately, determine what resources you can afford and distribute them to where you need them at exactly the right time. This makes the subscription business model more cost effective and many have much less waste than other businesses with other models (especially when selling consumable goods like food).

In addition, subscription businesses have a higher level of loyalty. This means that you are more likely to retain your customers and have a higher level of Customer Lifetime Value. The improvement in the customer lifetime value can also be supported by having a price that would be higher over the average customer lifespan than if the customer just bought the product outright.

Subscription businesses can also gain customers that competitors would not be able to. This is because subscription businesses have a lower initial investment cost than a pay-once, use forever option. This lower initial investment removes barriers from customers who might not be able to afford otherwise.

For example, Adobe used to charge $200 or more for some of their software packages. This was rather expensive and did limit the number of people who could afford the package. Now their charges are approximately $8-$10 per month which is much more affordable for the majority of potential users.

All these benefits make subscription businesses look very attractive.

Top Tips For Running A Successful Subscription Business

Subscription businesses may have many advantages; however, they are not perfect. The same problems of customer acquisition exist, especially when marketing and growing awareness for your brand.

By having a strong product and good subscription model, you can build the best foundation for growing your business. Here are some tips on how to make your subscription business a success:

  1. Offer an introductory month – many businesses offer new customers a cheaper or free first month.
  2. Keep your subscription price to roughly your full product cost divided by customer lifespan – this is to ensure you aren’t undercharging. Ideally you want to be above this level.
  3. Have a couple of subscription levels – customers love choice and offering a few subscription levels can improve signups.
  4. When running a content based subscription service don’t worry about the amount of content – you can always start early and charge less and improve the price as you establish your presence and gain more content.
  5. Communicate often with customers – subscription services are all about the customer. Therefore, you need to keep communicating to retain them.
  6. Be efficient – one of the advantages of a subscription business is the waste of resources that can be prevented. However, this can only happen if you are efficient and know how to supply your business properly.


Customer behaviours are changing. They are demanding products of a higher quality but they don’t want to pay a fortune. They are also leading busy lives, making it difficult to find time for some of the luxuries in life. This allows forward-thinking business people the chance to create subscription services that provide for these needs.

Subscription businesses have numerous and significant advantages over their competitors. Over the long term, with the right marketing and operational strategy – subscription businesses find they can increase revenue and customer lifetime value while decreasing waste, costs and the amount of energy needed to run and maintain the business.

The Inbound Marketing Funnel

The inbound marketing funnel is the process your customers go through when they find you and your products online.

Unlike with other marketing processes in the physical world, there are many different elements and avenues your customers can take. This can cause several problems for your marketing team and business.

However, by understanding the inbound marketing funnel and implementing the best strategies for each step of the process, you can better adjust your campaigns to develop strong leads and convert numerous website visitors.

This article will describe the inbound marketing funnel and how you can use it to grow your business and customer list.

Step One: Entry Point

The entry point of your customers can be highly varied. The three main entry points are through search engines, social media and word of mouth. However, there are other methods such as direct entry (i.e. the visitor entering in your address straight away) or from review sites or business directories.

Search engines have the greatest contribution because not only does it include organic searching but also any pay-per-click campaigns.

Organic searches are very effective as a traffic generation path as some businesses report that over 80% of their traffic is generated this way. To create more traffic from organic searching you must optimise your website for search engines. There are several main elements to improving your website’s SEO and these include:

  • Keywords: Picking a single keyword (or phrase) per page and ensuring that it has a density of between 1.5 and 3.0%. Keywords should also be used in the title tags and captions of any images you have on the page.
  • Page titles and meta tags: Need to be optimised so that they have the keywords inserted.
  • Website speed: Google wants the websites it ranks on their search result pages to be of high quality. Part of Google’s assessment on the quality of a website is the speed it takes to load. If your site takes longer than 3 or 4 seconds, you are likely to lose a significant amount of traffic, leads, and revenue.
  • Submit your site index: Through your Google Webmasters Dashboard, submit your Site Index so that it is easier and quicker for your site to be indexed and ranked by Google.
  • Social media: Social media is becoming very important when it comes to SEO. The better the social signals you have (likes, followers, comments), the better the chance your content will be ranked highly.
  • Inbound links: Developing inbound links through your content and getting quoted by other articles will raise the rank of your site. This is because Google sees inbound links as a sign that your website has quality and accurate content.

In addition to search engine optimisation campaigns, you should also have a strong social media campaign directing new and old customers to your website. Do this by advertising useful content on your site and conversing with those who have a strong interest in similar topics to your products or services. Don’t forget to thank those who have interacted with your brand on social media.

Also, you can generate traffic by offering a great service and having previous customers spread word about their experiences with your brand. This can be highly effective as it builds trust early with your key customer group.

Step Two: Lead Generation

Once you have attracted the customers to your website you need to subscribe them to a mailing list or an RSS feed. This is more important than you realise because 70% of those who visit your website are unlikely to visit your site again, unless you regularly remind them of your brand.

There are several ways you can obtain the visitor’s contact details. The first is to offer the visitor something valuable in exchange for their contact details. The valuable item could be anything from a free quote, white-paper, ebook or gift. This is highly effective because most individuals are attracted to free gifts.

Another way is to simply ask for the contact details when they land upon the page. This can be done with an option on the side of the webpage or via a pop-up that requests their details after they land on the page.

Step Three: Converting The Lead Into A Customer

The next step is to convert the lead into a customer. Regular contact should always be kept up with the contact so they do not forget who you are and to help with conversion. This can take several points of contact (i.e. emails, social media updates, blog posts) and could require you to offer more free gifts.

In addition, each piece of content you are sending to them should provide further details why they should be buying from you. Eventually, your campaigns must lead them to a sales page where they can make a purchase.

Knowing when to do this can be difficult, but you should be monitoring the contact’s interactions with your email content. If they are regularly clicking through to your website, it is likely that they are ready to make a purchase.

Step Four: Delight

The final step is when you have finished providing your contact with your product or service. You should have given them excellent service and ensured that they were happy with what they have received.

Then, you keep in contact with them providing the past customer with more useful information. At every opportunity, you should invite them to spread word about your brand. This could be by forwarding on your email content to their friends or family or by mentioning your business on social media.

A good example of this is with Amazon. After you have made a purchase they offer you the chance to tweet, or publish an announcement on Facebook, about your purchase. Later, when you have received your order, they will send an email to request a review of the purchased product.

This process attracts new potential customers to your brand and starts the process again (along with SEO and social media content).


The inbound marketing sales funnel is all about generating traffic to your site and selling products by using your content and previous customer experiences to attract potential customers. The inbound marketing funnel can take several weeks or months to complete. However, the return on your initial investment can be better than most outbound marketing strategies.

Start your business’ inbound marketing sales funnel and see your business’ growth over the long term while you reduce costs and improve profits.

Blog Scheduling

Blogging is an art form that allows you to reach your audience and convince them of your industry authority. 81% of individuals will trust information that is included within blog posts and 61% of readers are influenced by content in articles published online.

However, there are many different aspects of blogging which are required for it to be successful. For instance, you will need to publish blog posts that offer high quality information the reader can use, for example; a guide to solve a particular problem or a report on a niche within your industry. This content is very important because online readers don’t want to be sold to, they want to be informed.

A high quality image should be used to demonstrate what your blog post is about. The human mind can process an image quicker than text and in fact, some of your readers may judge whether or not they wish to read your blog post based on your image.

You’ll also need a way to sign visitors up to your email subscription list. 70% of your audience will not return to your website unless you subscribe them to something. This is important because if you want to sell your business further down the line, having a high returning visitor rate can raise the value of your business.

One of the most important aspects of blogging is consistency. If you are going to start blogging you need to blog at the same time every week. This means you need to think of subjects, complete research, write the article, edit the content and then publish the post on a consistent basis. This will improve the results of your blogging.


Why Is A Schedule Important (And Why Should You Stick To It)?

Blogging is a hard task that people often underestimate. There is a significant amount of work that needs to take place in order to develop content and get it looking just right. Unless you are a professional writer, it can take several hours just to write a 500 word piece.

The danger is that when you have a significant amount of work to do, your blogging is the first action that will disappear. This is very common and can often escalate into several posts being missed in a row or inconsistency in publishing.

By creating a publishing schedule you can avoid problems such as missing posts on your blog or published posts being full of grammatical errors. The more professionalism you can convey, the better the results of your content marketing campaigns and the higher returns you will achieve.

You’ll also notice that your impressions on Google and other search engines will improve. This can be really important because one third of all small businesses report that the majority of their traffic comes from organic searches.

Organic searches are one of the major contributors to online sales and this has been confirmed by Google, who state their ranking algorithms take into account how often content on a site is being changed and how often content is being published.

Research has demonstrated that businesses that publish more than 15 posts per month are able to achieve more traffic, leads and sales than businesses that don’t blog at all.


How Do You Design A Schedule?

Beginning a blogging schedule is not difficult, as long as you start in the right place. Many people believe that you should start with how and when you are going to create the content – but this is a big mistake. There are several reasons for this:

  • Without creating a publishing schedule you don’t have a fixed time to publish your first blog post.
  • Without a publishing schedule you have no regular deadlines to work towards.
  • Generally speaking, when creating schedules, it is easier to start at the finish point and work backwards so you can better arrange other activities around your goal.

When creating your publishing schedule, first of all think about when your target audience are going to be online. General research has shown that Mondays are the best time to publish a post as this is when they are more likely to be read, however, they are shared more on a Thursday but every audience is different.

If your audience are night owls who are partying at the weekends and reading during the week, Monday to Thursday evenings might be the best time for them. If they are professional businessmen, then research has shown they are more likely to consume content just before or after work Tuesday to Thursday.

Once you have decided when to publish your posts, you can start to work backwards to determine when you are going to create the articles. Start with the editing of your article. Ensure that you give yourself at least one full day to edit the article, although you don’t want to spend any more than 30 minutes on the work.

On the previous day you should have researched and written the article. The timing for this can be unique but try to save about two hours for this task. Research is very important as readers like to have highly informative content that can be verified by a third party. Also, referencing quotes and statistics from third party sites can help your SEO, as Google includes outbound links in their ranking algorithm.

Once you have done this you need a time every week or month where you sit down with your marketing team and decide on subjects and blog titles. This is best done on a monthly basis as it can stop repetition and allow you to create topics at a strategic level.



Creating a blogging schedule is an important task if you want your business’ online marketing to be a success. To get it right, start with deciding when you will publish your content and then work backwards so you know your articles will always be completed on time.

By sticking to your schedule you will produce professional, consistent blog posts that will drive traffic to your business and in turn improve growth.

How to Optimise Google+

Google+ is one of the latest and biggest social media channels available on the internet. It has the ability to propel your business up the search engine rankings so that when someone searches for something, it is your brand’s content they see first.

This is because Google owns the network and it wants to prioritise its own content. It is also because Google+ updates can be highly optimised for search engines and engagement.

Why Should You Use Google+?

While it is not the largest of the social media networks, the audience that regularly use the platform are often the decision makers at home and in the office. According to statistics, 28% of those using Google+ earn more than $60,000 per year. When more than half of American households are earning a combined income of less than $60,000, it demonstrates the main audience on the network are senior position holders. Therefore, you have a good concentration of most target markets and decision makers.

Research has shown that digital marketers have been slow to adopt Google+ with only 40% of all marketers using Google+. This offers your brand opportunity to be seen on a network which isn’t crowded like Twitter and Facebook. The more limelight your brand has, the greater the reward.

Finally, Google+ does have a priority spot on the Google search rankings, much like YouTube does. Therefore, you can have a poor performing website, but Google+ can draw in the crowds to improve results.

To get the most from the platform you must develop a Google+ strategy that will drive traffic to your brand’s site.

What Content Works Best On Google+?

The biggest issue with Google+ is that no-one really understands how they should use it. There hasn’t been much of a move to adopt Google+ and that has meant few have identified the best ways to create updates that convert well.

However, many social media gurus have experimented and found that users are particularly interested in images. The interest in images is even greater than in other networks like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter but is comparable to Pinterest. Hashtags are also used differently on the social media network.

Formatting is also possible on Google+, so text can be bolded, be in italics and have a strikethrough. This isn’t the case on the majority of other social networks and gives a huge visual appeal to your content.

Above all else, Google+ depends on links. People don’t read content on Google+ and then abandon it; they want to learn more once they’ve consumed the original content. Therefore, think of Google+ as a starting point for a visitor journey rather than the entire journey.

How To Create The Perfect Update On Google+

There are several elements that make up the perfect Google+ update. Each of these steps needs to be implemented to get the most out of the social media network and for your content to reach the larger audiences.

Step One: Headline

On most networks the content you create is a blog title and link to some content. On Google+ it is much more than that. Each piece needs a heading and this can normally be the title of the content the update links to.

For example, the Google+ title for this piece would be: How To Optimise Your Google+ Updates

To make this standout more on the screen, you can bold the title. This is done with an (*) inserted at the beginning and the end of the title. So our title would look like this when we are creating the update:

*How To Optimise Your Google+ Updates*

And look like this when published.

How To Optimise Your Google+ Updates

Step Two: Subheading

Next, you need to create a sentence or two that explains what the content is about. For instance:

Learn how to optimise your Google+ updates to reach a greater audience.

This section should be placed in italics, which can be done using the (_) symbol before the first word and after the last word.

_ Learn how to optimise your Google+ updates to reach a greater audience._

This would be displayed as:

Learn how to optimise your Google+ updates to reach a greater audience.

Step Three: The Main Body

Then you need to create the main body. This is where you write a short abstract of the piece. This section needs to entice the audience to want to know more. This section could be two or three paragraphs, depending on how much you want to write. For example:

“Google+ is still a very young social media network and so few organisations have taken up the chance to use it, despite the obvious advantages. With so many decision makers on the social media network and a clear indication of what content they enjoy, there is an opportunity to claim a segment of your market and convert them into customers for your brand.

This article will give you a step by step guide how you can perfect your Google+ updates, so you can reach a significant proportion of your audience.”

Step Four: The Link

If you are trying to direct your audience to a blog post or page, publish the link with the post. Do this twice, once in the body of the message and another time in the share box contained below the main update creation box. This increases the number of people who click through to your main content.

Step Five: The Hashtags

In many other networks you should include the hashtags throughout the content. This is not the case in Google+. Instead you write two or three of them at the bottom of the update. These hashtags should be the terms you want people to use to find your content. For example: #socialmediamarketing and #socialmedia

Step Six: The Image

Finally, you need to upload a strong image that will illustrate exactly what your content is about. If you are advertising a link, this is normally done for you by automatically taking an image from the page you are advertising. Otherwise, you’ll need to do this yourself.

Now you have created a fully optimised Google+ update.


Google+ is still trying to find its feet on the social media landscape; however, many of those users on Google+ are decision makers looking to consume high quality content. Use this guide to create the best Google+ content and see your audiences’ engagement improve. The more engagement, the more leads you will have and the better ROI from your social media marketing campaigns.