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Automation to Elevate your Subscription Model - PPA IPN Think Tank

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PPA IPN The Stage Affino Subscription Automation Think Tank
PPA IPN The Stage Affino Subscription Automation Think Tank
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Automation to Elevate your Subscription Model, Deep insight from the PPA IPN Think Tank

Automating your subscription processes gives a massive boost to the user experience

The Stage share the key automations they put in place for their new subscription service

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.

Integration and Productivity
Integration and Productivity

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.

Aspects of Subscription Automation for The Stage

Aspects of Subscription Automation for The Stage

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 Automation
  • Sales Automation
  • Fulfilment Automation
  • Onboarding Automation
  • Retention Automation
  • Financials Automation

Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation

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.

  • Message Campaigns
  • SEO
  • Paywall & Metering
  • Social Sharelines
  • Analysis
  • Marketing Automation
  • Conversion Events
  • In-depth Audience Insight

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

Sales Automation

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.

  • Sales Automation
  • In-depth Audience Insight
  • Ecommerce
  • Account Sales
  • Account Automation
  • Pro Formas
  • Order Management
  • Deep Payment Gateway Integrations
  • Subscription management
  • Sales Targets Management & Dashboards

Fulfilment Automation

Fulfilment Automation

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.

  • Registration
  • Single Source contact record with full automation
  • Seamless fulfilment workflow from purchase through to service delivery
  • Service Automation
  • Subscription Lists
  • Online Access
  • API Authentication for apps and affiliates
  • Service Credits
  • GDPR Compliance
  • Cookie Policy Management
  • Terms and Conditions

Onboarding Automation

Onboarding Automation

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.

  • Automated onboarding tracking
  • Chained onboarding message campaigns
  • Onboarding list for customer service team
  • Customer loyalty scheme (option)
  • Self Service
  • My Account

Retention Automation

Retention Automation

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.

  • Automated subscription renewals
  • Receipting and Invoicing
  • Automated payment error handling
  • Copes with Grace Periods for Direct Debits
  • Dunning, recovery of subscriptions from expired or failed cards
  • Renewal Notices (print)
  • Subscription Renewal Campaign Automation
  • Renewal Pro Forma Automation
  • Suscription Expiry Report
  • Stop Code Report

Financial Reporting Automation

Financial Reporting Automation

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.

  • Self Service On Demand
  • Extensive financial reporting
  • Incoming Cash
  • Earned Revenue
  • Deferred Income and Liability reporting
  • Deep drill-down on all orders and payments
  • Order and Order Line Item reports
  • Tax Reporting

Round Table Discussion - Key The Stage Takeaways

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.

  • Tight requirements and planning is critical to success
  • Having all the automation under your control is a big deal
  • Smart targeting based on activity works
  • Moving control from development to marketing is a good thing
  • Uniting from multiple systems to a single platform is critical to success
  • Automation is an ongoing journey
  • Important to work with a platform partner that is agile

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.

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Affino Contacts

Markus Karlsson

Markus Karlsson

Quang Luong

Quang Luong

Stefan Karlsson

Stefan Karlsson

Driving business at some of the world's most forward thinking companies

Our Chosen Charity

Humanity Direct

And delivering industry leading awards

2016 British Media Awards - Technology Provide of the Year - Silver
2014 PPA Connect Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Event Brand of the Year
2014 PPA Digital Publishing Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Digital Brand of the Year (Again!)
2014 PPA Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Brand of the Year (Again!)
2014 AOP Digital Publishing Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Best Business to Business Website
2013 PPA Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Independent Publisher Digital Product of the Year
2013 PPA Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Brand of the Year
2013 PPA Digital Publishing Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Digital Brand of the Year