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The Best Subscription Management Tools

Admin | 29 October 2021 | Read time: 16 minutes
Topics | featured
  

The subscription economy market has seen a big increase over the past few years. And it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon. In 2020, subscription management platform Zuora reported that the subscription economy has grown by more than 350% since 2012. 

Businesses converting to the recurring revenue model stand to do very well, but there are hurdles to overcome. These companies have to find new ways of managing and tracking customers through a subscriber journey that transaction-based companies may have never dealt with. 

For example, one of the most crucial moments in the subscriber journey is the point at which a pre-acquisition user becomes a post acquisition subscriber. Gathering data, generating invoices and handling payments manually at this stage on a large scale isn’t a viable option. That’s why it’s essential that businesses utilise subscription management tools instead to ensure payment collection happens smoothly and effortlessly. 

In this article, we will be listing some subscription management tools that are easy to use, and can enable subscription based companies to manage this crucial stage in the subscriber journey on a mass scale.

What are subscription management tools?

Subscription management tools are specialist software that automate and streamline processes across the subscription lifecycle. From acquisition to retention, subscription management is all about keeping customers engaged through frictionless registration, personalised experiences and consistent billings and payments methods. Subscription management tools allow businesses to reduce payment issues and cut down on involuntary churn, ensuring a smooth billing experience for customers. They also enable businesses to closely monitor revenue at the touch of a button, and alter pricing with ease. The most popular subscription-based businesses provide software as a service (SaaS), which caters to both digital and physical products. 

Top subscription management tools

The list below contains a balanced view of 5 of the best subscription management tools out there, picked by our internal partnerships team to ensure you find the software that suits your company needs. 

Zuora

KV Rao, Cheng Zou and Tien Tzuo founded Zuora in 2007 for enterprise clients in subscription-based businesses. It’s one of the leading SaaS platforms that helps synchronise subscription order-to-cash procedures. Zuora keeps its software up-to-date with the latest marketing trends and automates some of the most important and time-consuming aspects for companies running a subscription economy. 

In addition to Zuora Central there are four primary applications:

  • Zuora Billing - recurring billing operations
  • Zuora Revenue - revenue recognition
  • Zuora CPQ - helps businesses produce sales quotes
  • Zuora Collect - payment collections

 

What it does:

  • Tracks and monitors subscription lifecycles.
  • Automates payment and billing calculations.
  • Calculates key metrics of subscriptions.
  • Gathers insights into subscriber engagement and revenue operations.
  • Helps customers prevent voluntary and involuntary churn through tech and data. 

 

Key features: 

  • Dunning management.
  • Revenue recognition.
  • Tax management.
  • Usage tracking.
  • Coupon management.
  • Recurring billing.
  • Trial management.

 

Chargify

Chargify was founded in 2009 by Siamak Taghaddos, as a team within the business communications company Grasshopper. Chargify is promoted as ‘the only billing and subscription management solution built for B2B SaaS’. Both small-to-medium businesses and enterprise companies can leverage Chargify’s effective structures and automation to launch new products, increase customer satisfaction, growth, retention and lifetime value.

What it does:

  • Creates frictionless sign-up experiences.
  • Delivers better customer service.
  • Provides customers with a self-service option.
  • Automates email communication.
  • Proactively monitors subscription changes and revenue movements.

 

Key features: 

  • Dunning management.
  • Business intelligence tools.
  • Recurring billing API.
  • iPhone app.
  • Multi-gateway support.
  • PCI compliant security.
  • Branded payment websites.

 

MPPGlobal

Unlike the other tools in this list, MPPGlobal was specifically created to support the enterprise media and entertainment sector. 

MPP Global started life in 2000 as a mobile commerce platform for media and entertainment brands. Within a couple of years, MPP Global launched their payments and billing solution which formed the foundation of their success across the media sector, supporting their ambitions to monetise digital content. Their platform, eSuite, is now the market leading subscription management platform for the media sector, supporting the end-to-end subscriber lifecycle. Recently acquired by Aptitude Software in 2021, they now boast more than 20 million active subscribers - focused on accelerating digital transformation and driving recurring revenue growth for media brands with agile subscription models.

‘eSuite’ is their best-of-breed subscription management platform that reduces time-to-market and total cost of ownership by centralising the entire subscriber lifecycle and optimising customer acquisition, revenue and retention under one roof.

It enables media brands to:

  • Maximise ROI and reduce cost of ownership
  • Get to market quickly by deploying physical and digital products in real time.
  • Personalise experiences and optimise recurring revenues.
  • Unlock greater subscription agility and flexibility.
  • Optimise subscriber engagement & CLTV
  • Experiment with business models to extend revenue
  • Support internalisation strategies.
  • Access all their subscription business data to inform decisions and insight

 

Key features spanning the entire subscriber lifecycle include: 

  • Content datawall and paywalls.
  • Consumer registration.
  • Single and social sign-on.
  • Identity management & CRM
  • Entitlement & fulfilment management.
  • Digital and physical product and bundle configuration
  • Subscription & billing management
  • Centralise subscription data across all payment channels including In App payments.
  • Localisation and global tax management.
  • Payment optimisation and retention tools
  • Data lake services, reporting and analytics

 

Recurly

This diverse subscription management software is a relatively recent success story. Recurly was founded in 2009 by Isaac Hall. He was having problems making recurring billings work and came up with a concept now used by all kinds of enterprises, ranging from SMEs to global enterprises.

What it does:

  • Configure pricing with a variety of billing models.
  • Attract and acquire customers by configuring trials, introducing new plans, gift subscriptions and promotional offers.
  • Procure expected revenue.
  • Automate subscription billing.
  • Revenue Optimisation Engine powered by machine learning reduces subscriber churn and increases monthly revenue.

 

Key features: 

  • Cancellation management.
  • Dunning management.
  • Voluntary and involuntary churn prevention.
  • Self-service portal.
  • Revenue recovery tools.
  • Recurring invoices.
  • Multi-period recurring billing.
  • Deferred billing.
  • Customisable invoices.
  • Third-party integrations.

 

Chargebee

Rajaraman Santhanam, Krish Subramanian, Saravanan KP and Thiyagarajan T founded Chargebee in 2011. This subscription management and recurring billing solution for B2B Saas companies helps power some of the fastest in the world. 

Chargebee reliably integrates with a host of third-party apps including NetSuite, Mailchimp and Slack. It also supports popular payment gateways Stripe, PayPal and Braintree.

What it does:

  • Automate invoicing.
  • Collect payments.
  • Streamline revenue operations.
  • Align billing workflow with GTM strategy.
  • Drive decisions with 360-degree revenue reporting.
  • Scale revenue stack for each stage of growth.
  • Promises secure subscription experiences.

 

Key features:

  • Dunning management.
  • Cancellation management.
  • Revenue recognition.
  • Tax management.
  • Self-service portal.
  • Usage tracking.
  • Revenue recovery tools.
  • Trial management.

 

(One to watch) Amplio

Founder Michael Mendoza created Amplio to help companies identify new ways to grow subscription revenue from day one. It’s designed to enable subscription businesses to craft products and offers in just a few clicks, gain visibility of revenue forecast, and find new ways to monetize their audiences.

What it does:
 
  • Update products, features and packages dynamically
  • Integrates with your favourite marketing automation platforms
  • Integrates with your favourite paywall provider
  • Prep email nurture campaigns
  • Increase time spent on your site with targeted content
  • Flag subscribers at risk for churn, and draw them back in
  • Manage pricing at the feature level or override at the offer level
 
Key features:
 
  • Single Customer View
  • Product Configuration 
  • Nurture Workflows
  • User Management
  • Subscription Billing
  • Self-Service Portal

Subscription management solutions

Ultimately, you don't need every software out there, and tech for tech's sake is just going to leave you with out-of-control costs. But a good combination of powerful tools that cover the subscriber journey will save your precious resources, notably time. While the platforms mentioned above offer effective tracking to bill your subscribers at the right time, there’s another aspect of the subscription journey that should be consideredthe experience itself!

Here’s where a combination of subscription experience and subscription management tools offer the best competitive advantage. Subscription experience tools like Zephr differ from subscription management in that we take first-party data and transform the experience of the user to either push them towards subscription in the way that is right for them, or ensure that the customer gets the most relevant value from the product itself.

Zephr partners with the other best-in-breed technologies in our ecosystem so we can help clients deliver a fully optimised subscriber journey, and ensure smooth management of the billing cycle through trusted subscription management providers.

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