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    Five Tips to Improve Your Subscription Payment Success Rate

    With the rise of the "subscription economy,” auto-charging customers regularly in exchange for goods and services has become a popular business model. Of course, this is old news for publishers, who have been making use of renewals and recurring payments longer than most other industries. However, auto-charges come with their own challenges---recurring credit card payments have much higher decline rates than stand-alone payments, for example. Here are five tips to improve your subscription payment success rate: 

    1. Optimizing retries

    The most common reason for failed credit card payments is that the credit line on the account has been exceeded. For this 'insufficient funds' scenario, as well as in the case of technical errors, you will likely want to retry the payment before taking …



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    3 Ways to Increase Your SQL Smarts

    All of the data that you are used to seeing in Advantage is stored in a Microsoft SQL Server database.  If you are involved in creating or modifying Advantage reports, then familiarity with Transact-SQL (or T-SQL for short) can help you.  T-SQL is the language you use to query a SQL database and is used by most common reporting tools (Excel, Crystal, SSRS, etc.).  The better you know T-SQL, the quicker and better you can respond to reporting requests from your customers.

    I've found these three things to be most helpful in expanding my T-SQL knowledge and expertise. 

    working on my MCSA certification

    reading SQL blogs regularly, such as these: http://www.cathrinewilhelmsen.net/  , https://spaghettidba.com/  

    Attending a user group meeting

    For Advantage users involved with …



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    Multiplying Revenue

       

    We have just finished up a season of conferences, summits, and trade shows in the industries we serve – publishing and membership associations.  One of the things that sticks out the most for me at these meetings are the stories of how organizations are increasing their revenue.  There appears to be no end to the tactics people have employed to multiply revenue by creatively looking for opportunities for repackaging their content, extending their brands, and thinking outside the box about new value propositions.  One publisher we know sells design furniture on a website which extends the brand of their design magazine.  Now that’s creative thinking.  I don’t know many publishers who sell furniture.

    Publishers, especially those in the B2B space, have been experts at diversifying …



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    Jump on the Membership Bandwagon

    In response to declining print sales over the last few years, publishers have experimented with new business models. A trend has emerged, and indications are that it’s here to stay: memberships add value and strengthen the relationship between publishers and their customers.

    Proven Benefits of Memberships 

    In 2014, DigiDay reported that membership models are successful revenue drivers that increase customer loyalty. By offering membership perks such as access to exclusive content and events, publishers engage their customers and dramatically improve subscription renewal rates. These perks also open previously untapped revenue streams 

    A year later, journalism professor Jake Batsell explained to media association FIPP  that membership offerings are beneficial to both non-profit and …



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    European User Group Meeting a Success

    Aller Media hosted the annual meeting of the European Advantage Users Group in mid-April at their office in Copenhagen.  Thirty-five users from eight companies and seven countries gathered for two days to get updates on the Advantage product roadmap, to attend feature workshops, and, of course, to meet and network with other clients.

    After a warm welcome from Aller’s IT Director for Business Solutions, Svend Erik Hansen, AdvantageCS VP of Sales and Marketing Dan Heffernan kicked off the meeting with a presentation on Advantage News and Strategic Direction. Dan reviewed our current projects and how they address the challenges our clients face in a rapidly changing industry. He also pointed out the many channels through which our clients can keep up with AdvantageCS news: our blog, …



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    Euroconsumers Live on Advantage

    Congratulations to Deco Proteste, a member of the Euroconsumers group, who recently went live on Advantage with their first set of customers. The project involves consumer advocacy organizations in five different countries---Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, Spain and Italy -- that all produce consumer report publications, but have plenty of differences.

    The goal of the project was not only to replace the existing fulfillment system with Advantage, but also to revamp and update the supporting infrastructure that integrates with Advantage. As part of the project, AdvantageCS developed a Contact Center solution with new scripting and workflow features that were specifically designed to work for the large contact center operation at Deco Proteste. Euroconsumers made a significant investment in …



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    Aller Finland Goes Live on Advantage

    Congratulations to Aller Finland, who recently joined Sweden and Denmark running their operations on Advantage. The combined Aller/AdvantageCS team put in many months of hard work, and overcame the many challenges that arise when three different countries consolidate their businesses onto a single fulfillment system. Every step had to be looked at in the context of each country to ensure there were no hiccups in ongoing production operations. Coordinating resources, project plans and priorities, and processing schedules made this project more complex than the average.

    So many people worked on the project that it would be impossible to name them all. However, Levi Hyssong (project manager), Karl Davis (lead engineer), and Sunil Chawla (data conversion lead) merit recognition as the main …



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    Advantage Contact Center: Introducing Customer Service Workflows

    Some time ago, a project was begun here at ACS to consolidate various customer service views. The result is called the Advantage Contact Center.

    Contact Center introduces a new feature called Customer Service Workflows, which are guided customer service transactions. Each Advantage customer service workflow guides a customer service rep through a set of phases. The Advantage user interface can be customized based on workflow scripts, which determine the phases of the workflow, the fields available for data entry and the defaulting of transaction values. At the conclusion of the workflow, a customer note is created to log the call outcome.

    Here’s an example of one such workflow:

    A customer calls to inquire about a premium which hasn’t arrived yet.

    The first phase in the workflow …



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    Dan's Blog: Smartphones Outsmart Us

    Is it just me, or is everyone experiencing more use of their smartphones? These "mobile moments" are becoming more frequent in my life, at least. A year ago I hadn't installed my bank's app and did all my banking on my laptop. Now I do all my deposits using my smartphone and find myself checking balances there more and more. A couple of years ago I thought I'd never use Facebook on my smartphone...but I almost never use it on my laptop now. Recently my wife was writing a long email on her smartphone and I asked why she doesn't use the desktop so she can edit more efficiently? Her answer was that the desktop was upstairs.  

    I guess that's what the word "mobile" means, after all: able to move. Our mobile phones can be with us all the time. I see more participants in meetings looking at …



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    Product Bundling – A Key Marketing Strategy

    Many Advantage features are born from the minds of marketers---not only from our clients, but also from our internal experts. One simple reason is the need for publishers to stay competitive in today’s market by implementing increasingly sophisticated marketing campaigns. One area guided by marketers that has seen quite a bit of development in the last several years is product bundling (known in the Advantage software context as packages). Advantage has supported bundling for 15+ years, but today there are about 10 different flavors available. You might be thinking: isn’t a bundle just a bunch of products? What could distinguish one from the other? Consider the following three use cases:

    The customer can choose from the print version of a magazine, the digital version, or a bundle …



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