How to choose the best subscription billing software

The recurring revenue business model has countless benefits, including predictable cash flows, high customer lifetime value (LTV), and scalability. But if you hope to reap these benefits, you’ll have to anticipate and oversee operational challenges.

According to Corporate Finance for Executive Leadership, 65% of companies face operational challenges when launching a subscription product or service–from not being set up to process and manage recurring revenue, to not having the tools to leverage customer data, to not tracking the metrics that the subscription business model demands.

That’s where subscription billing software comes into play.

Why do I need subscription billing software?

Shifting to a recurring revenue model takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work, especially if you’d like to build your own platform. Relying on a subscription billing software can take manual work off your plate and allow you to focus on your customers by:

  • Automating invoicing and card payment processing

  • Giving you the flexibility to offer different pricing plans across your product lines

  • Fighting involuntary churn to keep more revenue

  • Giving you actionable insights and greater decision-making power based on your business performance

  • Automating finance and accounting functions

  • Ensuring you are compliant with all relevant regulations

What makes the best subscription billing software?

Most platforms will have most (or all) of the capabilities mentioned above. Deciding which is best, however, depends on your specific needs and existing tech stack.

So, how do you identify the best subscription billing software for your business, especially if you’re not well-versed on the ins and outs of billing systems? Look for an expert subscription billing software partner to help you grow faster, smarter, and stronger. 

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  • Grow faster: You’ll need an easy-to-use platform that lets you react in real-time so you can iterate, experiment, and adapt quickly without draining your engineering resources.

  • Grow smarter: You’ll need access to a single source of truth for subscription information that gives you data-driven insights to capture more business.

  • Grow stronger: You’ll need an experienced partner that can manage subscriptions at scale, anticipate challenges, and tackle problems before they even pop up.

Let’s dive deeper into what features the ideal software should include. 

Powers recurring billing

Does the subscription billing software streamline the billing cycle from start to finish? Does it seamlessly integrate with your tax or accounting software and fraud solutions to keep your business humming?

A subscription billing platform must save you time daily by automating time-consuming tasks. Stepping away from manual processes can give you time to focus on your core business instead of payment mechanics. 

Enables plan management

Your subscription platform is bound to run into complex billing scenarios, especially if you have multiple pricing models. 

Perhaps you want to implement quantity-based pricing for some of your products and usage-based billing for others. Or maybe you want to offer free trials and additional products or promotions to entice new customers to subscribe to your company. 

Case study: PupBox Expands Subscriber Base with Flexible Billing from Recurly

The best subscription billing software will scale with you–handling your current needs and any new growth strategy or scenarios you dream up in the future.

Offers intelligent revenue recovery

You’re at risk of losing 7.2% of your subscriberseach month to involuntary churn. The best subscription billing software will have a revenue recovery process that leverages machine learning and hard-won insights to minimize involuntary churn and help optimize your customer lifecycle.

Makes it easier to scale

A top-notch subscription billing software is crucial if you have plans for global expansion. Without the right platform, you could be drowning in card payment processing, currency complications, gateway hassles, and tax issues instead of prospering in new markets.

Case study: AllTrails achieves historic growth while maintaining 1% involuntary churn and expanding globally.

How do I choose the best subscription billing software?

A thorough evaluation of the subscription billing software market is necessary to help you figure out which suits you better. Let’s dive deeper and examine what key features you should look for in subscription billing software.

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Ability to get up and running quickly

Some companies take several months—or even a year—to implement their subscription billing software. Ideally, and based on complexity, you should insist on an implementation time of less than a couple of months. 

But there’s more to getting up and running than implementation. Look for a vendor that provides the necessary training to derive value and get support to quickly rectify any issues that pop up.

Revenue recovery that impacts the bottom line

Involuntary churn might be the greatest enemy for most subscription businesses, and a compelling subscription billing software will know how to fight it. 

Look for a vendor that has a proven process for minimizing involuntary churn–like automatically updating payment details, retrying payments based on machine learning, and sending personalized dunning email campaigns.

Lastly, ask potential vendors how much they have reduced involuntary churn for their other clients–this will give you an insight into what to expect. For example, Recurly’s customers have a 1% monthly average involuntary churn.

Attention to privacy, security, and compliance

It’s easy to get blindsided by regulations, whether imposed by the local tax collector or by consumer watchdogs. The last thing you want is a letter from a regulating body saying that you’ve run afoul of the local laws.

A first-rate vendor will stay on top of local and international regulations, so you stay on the right side of the law. Recurly protects your business with world-class privacy, security, and compliance services.

Seamless integration with your existing tech stack

You want to ensure the subscription billing software will seamlessly integrate with your current solutions to become a single source of subscriber information. This allows you to view and combine subscription billing data alongside other types of customer data for limitless reporting and analysis possibilities.

Provides actionable insights

How much are you spending to acquire a new subscriber? What is the lifetime value of each of them? How many are churning? Which plans and promotions are performing better? The answers to these questions will guide decision-makers in your organization.

A subscription management platform that provides near real-time data and insights on those numbers will give you the actionable information you need to make smart decisions.

Experience with businesses like yours

The best subscription billing software for your company isn’t necessarily the best subscription billing software for every company. 

Look for a platform familiar with the challenges brands face in your industry. If a business in your field saw improvements after implementing a subscription billing software that you’re considering, you’d feel a lot more confident following in their footsteps, right?

Put payment success on repeat. Keep a good thing growing.

Finding a subscription billing software could be a game-changer for your company–providing flexible solutions to turbocharge your business growth by boosting your bottom line and saving time for your teams.

For over a decade, Recurly has helped an array of subscription business models handle their management billing needs across many industries, including Digital Media and Entertianment, Consumer Goods and Retail, eLearning, SaaS, and many more.

Whether you're a large subscription business or a small business owner on a shoestring budget, Recurly will help you keep a good thing growing. But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what our customers have to say: 

"After implementing Recurly, we saw a 45% decrease in credit card declines."

– Brian Zarlenga, Output General Manager

"[Recurly] has helped us test and learn what combination of promotions, marketing channels, and term length equate to the highest LTV."

– Ben Zvaifler, PupBox Founder

“One of the key reasons why we're able to get where we are is that we are very fast to react and also very flexible. Recurly plays a huge part in that.”

– Anton Jusufi, FabFitFun Director of Product Management

Only Recurly brings you the faster, smarter, and stronger approach to grow the value of every subscriber–offering all the features you need without the bloat you don’t

Ready to learn more? Book a demo here! 

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