7 ideas for implementing recurring revenue in your agency

Robert-Jan Budding, September 25, 2019

The market that web agencies operate in is very competitive. As the owner of an agency, you know this like no other. To distinguish your agency, it is important for you to have your own style and offer interesting products that stand out. As such, recurring revenue, also known as the subscription model, is currently on the rise in the world of agencies. On the one hand, this model can help you stand out in a world where companies usually simply invoice based on hours worked. On the other hand, it makes for a very interesting revenue model. Read more about this topic in our whitepaper, ‘Recurring revenue for Agencies’.

In doubt if this model is interesting for your agency? Start with reading the introductory article about recurring revenue.

To help you on your way with using the recurring revenue model, this article will supply you with a number of ideas to implement in your agency.

1. Maintenance and support services

After you complete a project, there is often still plenty of maintenance and support work that needs to be done; customers may need you to add an extra feature, edit an image, or fix an element that is not working properly. One of the challenges agencies face when offering support work is that it is hard to estimate the number of hours you need to reserve. You could offer your customers a bonus card, but that still does not give you any idea of how much work to expect each month. Offering maintenance or support subscriptions can help make things more predictable; you simply reserve the number of hours that you sold to your customer. How the hours are then divided up is determined by the type of subscription and what it includes. Here are a number of examples of work you can include in subscriptions:

  • Creating backups;
  • Updating plugins or website code;
  • Providing support in the event of hacking;
  • Small design modifications;
  • Small feature developments.

What constitutes a ‘small’ modification and the extent of the support you offer can then be calculated separately for each type of subscription. For example, you can offer three types, ‘Small’, ‘Medium’, and ‘Large’: each consecutive subscription offers more services and is more expensive.

2. Hosting resale

Some agencies develop and maintain their own hosting service, but generally speaking, hosting is outsourced to specialists. Hosting services are perfect for a recurring revenue model. You can add hosting services to a larger package that also includes support services, or offer elements separately and let your customers decide how much they are willing to pay. Both scenarios generate additional monthly income.

One major advantage of having third parties host your websites is that it allows you to outsource support services. After all, you often lack sufficient knowledge of the hosting market, and would prefer to work on creating new websites or campaigns instead of answering technical questions.

3. SEO and SEA support

You want the websites you build for your customers to flood with (converting) visitors, and so do your customers. You can ensure this by offering search engine optimisation (SEO) or search engine advertising (SEA) services.

SEO and SEA are both recurring actions. Changes in a search engine algorithm, new products, the number of factors that Google takes into account; these are only a few of the reasons why SEO or SEA work is never finished. Here are some services you can offer as part of an SEO or SEA support subscription:

Do not forget to request Google Partner status so that your knowledge and the ease with which people can find you will skyrocket.

4. Content marketing subscriptions

Creating high-quality content that stands out is the best way to grow websites and companies. This does require a large number of blog posts, infographics, and videos, all of which have to be produced first. Many of your customers will find it hard to produce these things themselves, or simply do not have the time. Finding good topics that are geared towards the right target audience, writing catchy, search engine-optimised texts, or designing striking images requires real craftsmanship.

One way of offering recurring revenue services is by offering packages that will have you write a certain number of articles or words per month, including an image and campaign, or translate texts into the languages spoken in countries that your customers would like to expand to.

5. Social Media Management

Many entrepreneurs understand that social media is a great way of contacting and maintaining contact with customers. However, social media is also time-consuming and does not receive the attention it deserves within many companies. Like content management, maintaining social media requires a very particular skillset.

If your agency is sufficiently creative, you will be able to utilise your knowledge to offer social media packages alongside your usual website development services, which will involve you publishing a certain number of posts for your customers, including images. This type of service can easily be offered as an add-on to content management services to generate additional revenue with a recurring revenue model.

6. Production subscriptions

You probably get many questions asking if you could create an image or an extra page template, or create an infographic to go with a blog post in only three days. Like support work, these kinds of questions constitute welcome but unexpected work that is hard to schedule. Instead, you could offer these services on a subscription basis by offering a production work subscription. Whereas a support contract might focus on issues that your customer could not possibly solve themselves, a production subscription would offer them Design as a Service.

To make services such as this one even more attractive, you could utilise the ‘unlimited’ hype that currently exists in the telecom world. This includes using a Fair Use Policy. You will find that many customers would love the possibility of taking out a subscription for production work due to the security that recurring services affords them. This will allow you to create a steady revenue stream out of irregularly recurring work.

7. Full-service subscriptions

And while you are working on modifying your service portfolio, why not go all-in? Why not offer a full-service subscription for the development, construction, go-live and maintenance of websites?

The advantage of full-service subscriptions for your customers is that it allows them to pay in instalments. As such, it is usually a more interesting option for many customers, particularly ones that are just starting out. Here are some examples: develop a content & social package to offer alongside your design package; offer a full technical package including development and hosting (the technology and the coding), but leave content and production to the customer; or create a full-service package featuring development, production, and content services, ensuring that your customers will turn to you for all of their online affairs. The possibilities are endless!

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