Subscription-based businesses need an online foundation before beginning marketing initiatives. This involves having a website that is easy to navigate, a digital presence so your prospective clients can easily find you, and a plan in place to manage your online reputation. All of these pieces focus on helping your clients refer others to your business, directly and indirectly.
Your website content should be given to your audience incrementally. As the hub of your marketing efforts, your website should clearly provide the complete details of your services, which includes information about all tiers of your products or services. While your website will include information on all tiers of your offerings, the primary call to action will focus on the first tier. (We recommend having the option to start any tier on your products or services page, but on all other pages, only include the option for the first tier.)
This informs your prospects of all of your services without giving them too many options to get started, which simplifies the decision to use your services or buy your products. By limiting the actionable options and combining that one option with a low-risk trial, they are more likely to begin using your services or purchase your discounted products.
The goal of being transparent about your offerings while focusing on the low-risk, first-tier offering is to engage your prospects with your offerings so they can experience them on a small scale, experience the value and benefits of your products or services, and be more likely to purchase.
Note: In cases where a very low-cost or free first tier is not provided, such as with product-based subscriptions, a lead magnet call to action can be used instead.
Your website should be simple and incremental. On your homepage, focus on your tier one offerings, one bold statement that clearly lets your audience know how your offerings benefit them, and your clear call to action.
When a website visitor chooses to learn more rather than clicking on your call to action on the homepage, they should view your tier two web pages that provide more details about all of your services, your team, etc., and your one clear call to action, which still promotes that first tier. From there, again, if they don’t choose the free trial, they should view your tier three web pages, which dive even deeper into your services and business, as well as promote your one call to action, which is still the first tier free trial (or discounted trial for product-based businesses).
This three-tiered website structure mirrors your pricing and service structure as well as your marketing structure, making it easy to navigate while simultaneously providing insight into how your business operates without needing to say so. This will help you provide a smooth customer journey for your audience.
Tip: Make it easy for your prospects and customers to contact you for help by making your contact information highly visible and easy to find on your website. This will not only help you offer great customer service, but it will also help you capture new customers and retain current customers. Customer retention is very important for subscription-based businesses as repeat business makes up most of your business.
For many businesses, a detailed FAQ or troubleshooting page may also benefit your audience.
Directory Listings & Review Sites
In the subscription-based services space, when a prospect searches for your services, they are likely presented with multiple business listings, review sites, and review articles that focus on the “Top 10 Best…” in your industry. Since your prospects are likely seeing review sites and business directories first, before your website comes up organically, it’s important to create business listings on these websites, such as Capterra and Clutch. (Product-based subscription businesses may not need directory listings or listings on review sites, depending on your products.)
Choose review websites and business directories to create listings based on your industry, where your competitors are already listed, and where they are not already listed but look to be effective. Find these websites by using the search terms your prospects are likely using to ensure your business is listed on those top search listings.
You will also want to cover your bases by creating business listings on Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook. Since you likely serve a large geographic area, provide your address to showcase legitimacy and context on these listings, but also promote your service area; this can be done either in your “About” description or by showcasing a service area map.
Up next, it’s important to optimize these listings, respond to reviews on these platforms, and share those reviews on other platforms, such as social media and your website. Reviews are powerful, so share your positive reviews in many places.
To create your business listings, you first need to collect basic information about your business, including business name, business type, website URL, contact email and phone number, logo, and a basic description for your business. Then, you must distribute these across the business directories and review sites you determined necessary for your business. While there are third-party citation building services, we recommend performing this task manually as most citation building services focus on local citation rather than review sites.
Building a Digital Presence
Prospective customers will research your business online, which is why it’s vital for your business to have a broad and accurate digital presence. This begins with directory listings and review sites, and continues with social media pages and more.
Once prospective customers have found your business through a review site, they will likely research the legitimacy of your business, which is often found by viewing multiple business listings, a website, and active social media pages. Businesses that only have a website can be a red flag to prospects, so be sure to build your digital presence across multiple platforms. Ensure your business details are accurate on each one, and that they all lead back to your website. This includes social media platforms as well as industry-specific platforms.
To determine which platforms you should be active on, research what platforms your audience is on and what platforms your competitors are on. Then, determine whether you will have the time and resources you need to maintain activity on those platforms. It’s important to not only be on these platforms, but to also be active on them as it adds to your legitimacy for your prospects.
ONLINE REPUTATION STRATEGY
Once you have business listings created on business directories and review sites, it’s important to manage your reputation on these websites and elsewhere online. This process involves requesting testimonials and reviews, and managing your online reputation and sentiment in a consistent manner.
While anyone can review your business on most business listings or social media pages, most people only do so if they were really wowed by your services or were really upset with your services. Negative reviews happen to everyone, which is why it’s so important to develop a strategy to monitor and improve your online reputation. This strategy will involve two things:
- A way to ask your customers to review your business
- A plan on how to respond to negative and positive reviews appropriately
When asking your customers to review your business, you can do so in person, in an email, via text messages, or in other ways. There are also platforms that automate this process for you, sending emails and texts on your behalf.
ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT
ORM generally starts with your Business Listings. You will ask customers to review your offerings and send them directly to your Business Listings (Capterra and other top search listings will be most effective for service-based subscriptions, but Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook can also be used) so they can leave your business a review. Prospects will read these reviews, so you need to review them, too. When you do, respond to each one, whether it’s positive or negative. If it’s negative, try to take the conversation off of that platform by encouraging them to email you (or you can email them first if you have their email address). This way, even negative reviews can promote how customer-focused your business is by showing prospects how you resolve issues.
In addition to monitoring and responding to reviews, ORM involves managing your entire online reputation, which includes random posts and comments across the internet. Monitoring your online reputation gives you a sense of your overall reputation, online and offline, which can help you know how your services are benefitting your customers as well as opportunities for improvement.
There are many tools that can help you monitor your online reputation. One free tool that many small businesses use is Google Alerts; create alerts for your business name and services names, if applicable, to monitor your brand mentions on any platform.
When reviewing your brand’s online reputation, it’s beneficial to view your brand sentiment. This narrows down to positive, negative, or neutral. The sentiment is the overall view of your brand from all online mentions. The goal is to have a positive sentiment, which doesn’t mean all reviews, posts, and comments are positive, but instead that most are. This positive view or sentiment shows that your customers and industry have a positive view of your business, which is critical to success.
If your sentiment is negative, then you need to resolve that with ORM, so start monitoring and responding to negative reviews, posts, and comments. If your sentiment is neutral, then your audience doesn’t really have an opinion about your business, which means not enough people know about it yet.
Your sentiment is heavily influenced by your online content, so focus on improving your content marketing efforts to boost your sentiment.
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