How to Add an Online Service Component to Your Offline BusinessRieva Lesonsky
Are you looking for a way to add a new revenue stream to your offline business? Consider adding an online service component. Online services are a hot growth category, according to recent data.
Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of U.S. adults use online services every day. Entertainment and music dominate online services, but work productivity tools, ebooks, health and education services are also very popular among consumers.
Not all online services are free, either. More than half of users regularly pay for them. While the “freemium” business model is hot (51 percent of consumers say they would use a service that offers limited content or services with an option to pay for more), but it’s not the only way to go. What makes customers more willing to pay for your online service?
- 58 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to pay for services if they get a free trial first.
- 49 percent say they’re more likely to pay if they know they can change their subscription at any time
- 33 percent say they’re more likely to pay if they can add new services as they go
What do consumers dislike about online services? 54 percent are bothered by unrelated services being pushed; 49 percent hate when it’s hard to reach live support and 41 percent dislike inflexible purchasing options.
As for what they’d like to see more of, 61 percent say instant, 24/7 service and support is the biggest thing missing from the online services they use. Surprisingly, 62 percent prefer to deal with customer support issues by phone; just 3 percent prefer to do so by social media.
How can you add an online service component to your offline business?
- Consider adding tools that enable customers to do things themselves. For example, an interior designer could add a tool that enables customers to figure out how much paint they need for a room, visualize different paint colors in a room or move furniture around in a virtual room. A personal trainer could offer online workouts, customized to different needs, that customers can view and follow along with in between training sessions.
- Be sure to market your online service both in your office or location and online. Online searches and word-of-mouth are how customers most often discover online services. Make sure it’s easy to buy on the website, and send marketing emails with links customers can use to buy—websites and emails are the most common channels through which customers sign up for online services.
Last, but not least, keep your revenues rolling in by sending emails to remind customers to update their credit card information on your site; 90 percent won’t remember to do so on their own.