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I send a mail to everyone who hasn't renewed within a week offering them a discount on renewal and just checking in that everything was to their satisfaction. I've only had one mail back in a year saying, "I didn't renew because your site isn't satisfactory."
I know, people don't always tell the truth but I think the bigger problems are:
1. users moving on to other jobs away from education
2. download-based service means people strip the site dry and this lessens the need for renewal
3. some have said they'll come back in 6 months when there is more new stuff to download
I could increase my level of new materials to reduce the effect of reasons 2 and 3.
What do others do to maximise renewals? I'm painfully aware that every member that doesn't renew is a member I have to find again using Adwords or some other method. If I could get renewals up to a third, I'd be happy. 15% just seems low.
BTW, might be relevant...my fees are $30/$50 for 6/12 months.
You have a very visible ripping problem - that you need to address:
1. Give the users a reason to stay using the website even though they got all the content.
2. More content.
Definately you should go for the recurrent billing, with the option to select paying every period by "hand".
paypal is the only service I now that handles fully automated annual subscriptions, and the main problem I have with it is customers find it very difficult to cancel - I usually have to do it for them.
WebmasterWorld uses PayPal subscription service. I just looked, and I don't see any way of unsubscribing if I wanted to. No unsubscribe link in WebmasterWorld, and no cancel subscription link in my PayPal account. And no heads-up that it's about to be renewed either. So, yes, auto-renew can definitely improve subscription renewals. ;-) I don't know much about PayPal subscriptions--maybe they are something that only the vendor can cancel?
As a consumer, I think the value of an auto-renewal depends upon the service. Domain names, for example, I want on auto-renew. If I don't renew them, I will lose them. It may be similar for magazine renewals, but I still prefer to manually renew those. Web site subscriptions are another matter. If my membership lapses, it's just a matter of renewing. I haven't lost anything as I would were I to lose a domain name.
I think the best thing is to give people a choice of auto-renew or not. It can be a default but I think it should be a choice so that the consumer can decide what's best for them.
After all, keeping the consumer happy will do more for maintaining a relationship with them than trying to slip under their radar with an auto-renewal they may or may not want.
I've been contemplating putting a 'cancel subscription' button on MY site, which does nothing more than send me an email so I can cancel it for them. I suspect subscription custom is quite a low priority business for paypal, as the service offered is pretty basic, but it's still the only option I've been able to find on the market.
There may/should be an API to allow me to hook in to let customers unsubscribe directly from my site, but I haven't been able to work that out yet. Anyone know of available options there?
I'm going to set this up at the weekend so I haven't really got my hands dirty with it yet, so I'm not sure about it but it seems as though PP is pretty straightforward, others less so.
Regarding subscription management, we use our own scripts to do it. Integrating it into IPN is the only way to do. IPN allows immediate updates and cancellations and doesn't require the customer to wait for you to stop answering e-mail and update their account. BTW, that's another thing Websmaterworld doesn't do for unknown reasons.
<A HREF="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_subscr-find&alias=[YOURACCOUNT]"><img border="0" src="https://www.paypal.com/images/cancel_subscribe_gen.gif" width="139" height="21"></A>
That takes them to a login page for their Paypal account. As soon as they login, Paypal searches for any subscriptions with your site and lists them so they can be cancelled. It prevents them from having to look up the subscription themselves which seems to be the biggest stumbling block without that link.
It's quite intuitive but we all know nothing it fool proof on the net. Like I said, over three years now, only 6% of our customers have needed any additional guidance and most of those were people who didn't realize "Edit Account Info" would be the page where that button was on our site.
Then in the search section use the drop down box beside Show: and pick Subscriptions. Then choose the date range to search i.e Within: The Past Year. Then if you find you have subscriptions that you want to change or cancel select their detail link from the search results.
Not very easy to figure out on your own, but the instructions were probably sent out from PayPal on the PayPal notification e-mail when you signed up.
How is something sneaky if you make it clear on every single page of your sign up process that the subscription auto-renews?
I'm not talking about in "Section III, Part 3, Addendum B" of a T&C. We make it abundantly clear on our site that our subscriptions auto-renew. Paypal states it numerous times above the submit/accept buttons on every page of the subscription setup process. How is that trying to sneak something through?
Another bonus: people tend to forget the small monthly payments. This eliminates your having to ask them to "resubscribe". One decision point, no reminders.
I worked for the UK's largest telecoms company. They made millions in telephone rentals. It was the old cord type telephones. I asked myself: "What kind of people would willingly pay $5pm and more for an old clanked out telephone, when they can buy a new cordless one?"
Answer? Those who don't know they're paying for it. Most folk had paid for it for years and they no longer saw the item on their bills. Below their radars.
We learned the hard way. Each time we sent out letters to tell the renters about any changes, even if it was to decrease their prices - we got a flood of unsubsriptions - costing us a chunk of our market. So our lesson was to let our sleeping dogs lie.
For the time being, I've implemented (well signposted) recurring billing but only for the 2 6-month membership packages that exist on the site. I've left all the others and will see what happens in 6 months' time with the first round of renewals.
I would be interested in looking into pay-per-download if anyone knows how that could best be implemented. Something like $1-a-download or $20 gets you 25 credits would work far better on my site as opposed to short term memberships.
Just recently saw that implemented on a major news site for their archives.
Their subscriptions were something like:
$4.95 per article
19.95 per month w/ limit of 100 articles
100.00 per year w/ limit of 100 articles per month.
(Something along those lines.)