Subscription Billing Blog

The 3 biggest takeaways from Google’s subscription billing shift

Google recently announced that it was changing the way it processed payments for Google Drive subscriptions. According to 9to5Google, the company’s subscription payments were previously sent through the platform’s storage page. As of January 2017, however, these transactions have been integrated into Google Play.

Although the shift seemed to receive little fanfare, Google’s methods present a way companies can alter their subscription payment processes without disrupting the user experience. In fact, if handled correctly, such changes will enhance the way customers interact with your product. Here are three key takeaways from Google’s subscription billing shift:

1. Make sure your transition benefits your customer

An email from the company, cited by 9to5Google, stressed that the change in payment processing was designed to improve the customer experience. This benefit is especially noteworthy for Android users, who can now manage all their subscriptions from one screen on their smartphone or tablet.

Google, which has seen tremendous growth since its start, now has several different products across a variety of platforms. It makes sense that the company would want to combine some of these processes, but introducing change only to simplify its own processes would alienate customers.

In this instance, Google improved the user experience by eliminating a key barrier to payments: an extensive checkout process. As research from the Baymard Institute revealed, 27 percent of people abandon online purchases because of a complicated checkout process. By combining all subscription payments into Google Play, the software company eases the payment process.

Android users can manage their subscriptions through one interface.Android users can manage their subscriptions through one interface.

2. Pair changes with a more positive benefit

The payment processing switch wasn’t the only Google change that occurred over the past few months. In December 2016, Greenbot reported that Google started offering discounted annual subscriptions for its largest plans. Traditionally, subscribers had to pay $1.99 per month for 100 gigabytes of storage and $9.99 for 1 terabyte. Now, subscribers can prepay for the entire year for $19.99 or $99.99, respectively – a discount of about two months of payments.

Although the two changes aren’t exactly linked, the fact that they were announced the same month bodes well for Google’s customer approval. Some people are simply resistant to change no matter how well it benefits them, and switching its payment processing method could have caused dissatisfaction among Google customers. By announcing favorable discounts at the same time, Google counteracts those negative attitudes.

Your company can adopt a similar timing strategy. You don’t have to offer a discount, but providing a separate, unquestionably valuable offer while simultaneously making a significant change keeps customers engaged with your business.

3. Announce transitions in a way that engages and informs

One of the easiest ways to mismanage a shift in payment strategy is to communicate poorly. Not only do you want your customers to know when the change will occur, but they also need supplemental information that will make the change as smooth as possible.

Google’s email accomplished three objectives:

  1. It informed customers of the upcoming change. (“Starting in January, Google Drive will be using Google Play to process your subscription payments.”)
  2. It detailed how the change benefits users. (“To improve your experience … you will be able to manage your subscription through your Google Play account page …”)
  3. It addressed potential concerns. (“We are not changing the price or the amount of your Google Drive, and this change won’t affect your access to your files.”)

Your communications don’t have to tackle these ideas directly, but you should clearly define your message before sending it to customers.

Timing is also an important factor, and these messages will have more impact if they come at a time when a customer has just interacted with your business. For example, when a customer submits a payment right before your platform is set to change, your billing software can automatically send a message informing that person of the upcoming shift.

Google is an undisputed industry leader, and it can’t hurt to adapt their processes to your business. If your company alters its payment processing methods, take a page out of the software giant’s book by providing tangible advantages, pairing the transition with other benefits and announcing the change in a way that engages.

About Author

Kevin Cancilla

Kevin Cancilla

Kevin Cancilla is Sr. Director of Marketing at Vindicia. He is responsible for corporate communications, outbound product marketing, demand generation, sales enablement, website and content development, and partner marketing. Kevin is an industry veteran with over 20 years experience in strategic marketing and product management for enterprise software companies such as STEALTHbits Technologies, Tripwire, Epicor, Netcentives, Calico Commerce, Baan, and Adobe Systems. He holds a BSBM degree in Marketing and Business Management from the University of Phoenix.

read more

Targeting the future: How cloud services should approach 2017 and beyond

Companies revamp past services with subscriptions