Affino and The Stage jointly ran a think tank last week at the PPA Independent Publisher Network Conference to explore subscription automations. We have been working very closely with The Stage for the past year, not least to ensure that all the subscription workflows are as effective and automated as possible. You can read more about it in The Stage Case Study.
The think tank (round table) was lead by Simon Hassell the Commercial Director at The Stage, Rachel Scott the Head of Marketing, Quang Luong, Affino’s Product Director, and myself Markus Karlsson CEO of Affino. It was also well attended and the most entertaining event based conversation we have had this year. Many thanks to all those who attended, and hopefully it was as useful and enlightening to all the participants as it was for us.
Automation is the way to most effectively streamline your engagement with your subscribers and prospects. Get it right, and the onboarding journey is smooth, and your customer teams can focus on creating the best experience rather than deal with the nitty gritty on a daily basis.
For The Stage we focused on maximising the effectiveness of the automation for each of the key subscription lifecycle stages, as well as the financials, reporting and analytics. In preparation for the Think Tank we jointly worked through the core elements.
Fundamental to being able to automate your processes is for them to be fully integrated.
Once you have the integrations in place, it is essential that you are able to effectively trigger all the automations you wish to deliver for each activity.
At the core of the automation in Affino are Conversion Events. These can be triggered by all the core activities both of your team and of the audience - against any core activity in Affino, or when imported or triggered through the API integrations.
Additionally, there are hundreds of behind the scenes processes going on in Affino which ensure that the data which drives the automation and reporting is all captured and processed effectively so that all the automation is delivered realtime or with the minimum of delay.
The Stage and Affino teams worked together to evolve and refine six key areas with tight automation. This has proven to be essential for the team to effectively deliver on subscriptions and memberships during the pandemic.
Marketing is usually at the heart of subscription automation, since it involves engaging with the biggest audience and requires effective pipelining and onboarding. When done at scale this has to be automated for the best overall experience, Key marketing automations for The Stage include.
It's important to note that these are all journeys and that all of the automations should be regularly reviewed to ensure that they are doing the best and most optimal job for where your audience and service offering is.
Sales Automation is critical when selling subscriptions at scale, Ensuring that all the processes are handled as effectively and seamlessly as possible means that you minimise the friction on the sales funnel and convert the highest number of prospects.
The automation then ensures that the sales notifications and reports operate in a timely manner and hand off effectively to the fulfilment and onboarding automation processes.
Affino handles all the onboarding processes, and most of the fulfilment for The Stage, and where it doesn't it provides fast realtime APIs so that users and their deliverables can be authenticated and identified through Affino's User and CRM APIs.
This ensures that The Stage's fulfilment is all realtime, automated and fully reliable.
Up to 90% of subscription renewal decision making happens in the first thirty days of a new member or subscriber coming onboard. Affino has a host of automated processes to both assist with the onboarding process, and for rewarding loyalty.
Core to this is making every aspect of the subscription, personalisation, permission and insight as self service as possible for the customer, with the ability to send, and present, targeted notices to guide and encourage deeper engagement.
For The Stage there are days when approaching 1,000 subscriptions are auto-renewing. This can only be done with highly effective retention and renewal automation which smoothes the renewal processes as far as possible, and handles the credit card recovery, grace periods, dunning and all related renewal tasks as seamlessly as possible.
Affino also providing as powerful insight as possible into the subscription renewal, retention and expiry levels.
One of the areas that the Affino and The Stage teams worked the hardest at was to ensure that the finances and revenues are all perfectly accounted for throughout the system. This is an immensely complex task with all the varying subscription automations in place, and the disparate data sources which we had to contend with at the outset of the project.
When reviewing the project's aims and successes The Stage and Affino teams identified the following as some of the key takeaways as a result of having all the automations in place.
The net result of having all the automations in place has been transformative to The Stage team who are now able to focus on delivering the best service, content and experiences whilst Affino takes care of most of the mundane subscription management tasks automatically.
If you want to explore how you can best automate your subscription services and deliver maximum value to your audience then please get in touch.
If you have any comments or questions to explore any of these further then either reach out to us or post in the comments below.