Forced Continuity = Good… HIDDEN Continuity = Bad…


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terryd.jpgI just read a great blog post by Terry Dean about forced vs. hidden continuity. (You can read it here…)

It reminded me a bit of a post my friend Michel Fortin made a while back about the same topic. (You can read that one here… )

Because I push my own coaching students so hard to set up continuity income streams, I’ve been able to do a TON of split and multivariate testing on different ways to present forced continuity offers.

Forced continuity, when used correctly can make a massive difference to your bottom line.

But when done poorly or when it is “hidden continuity” (which is illegal), the damage to your relationship with your list and long term negative impact on your business can be devastating.

Without naming names, there have been several high profile marketers that have absolutely destroyed their relationships with their lists (and thus the responsiveness and profitability of their lists) over the past 12 months by screwing up the way they present their forced continuity offers.

The unfortunate part is many of them made a boatload of money on the frontend, and from the small percentage that did stick month to month in the continuity. This did 2 very dangerous things.

First, it boosted their egos and made them think the “hidden continuity” tactic was a good idea (after all, look how much money they made…) But what they failed to see is the long term impact and real money cost that the loss of trust with their list and customers created.

Second, (and perhaps the biggest damage) is the dozens of other “me too” marketers who watched these so-called successful promotions and are going out and trying to do the same thing (but in most cases are doing it even WORSE that the first example.)

So often, marketers who are not plugged into a good mentor or coach to bounce ideas, tactics and strategies off of, try and copy what they see successful marketers doing. The problem is they are only seeing what is happening on the surface (tactics), they don’t see the real underlying strategies behind what makes successful marketers successful.

Without a good coach, even if they are trying to copy a sound and ethical system (such as TRANSPARENT forced continuity), odds are they will still mess it up and miss some major steps or principles.

But when they are trying to copy BAD or unethical systems (like HIDDEN continuity), not only does it hurt them, it hurts the entire market as a whole.

It hurts ALL marketers, because trust is not just eroded for the bone-head that screws up his offer, the customers who get burned wind up losing trust with ALL marketers using tactics that (on the surface) look similar.

So even if you are doing everything right with your continuity offer, your sales and conversions can be hurt by the negative experiences your prospects have had with OTHER marketers.

I have no problems with aggressive marketing. In fact it’s essential to test as many different tactics and strategies as you can to see what your particular market responds to best. But it is also essential to keep a long-term view, and avoid anything that can damage your trust with your customers or prospects.

With so many other marketers pushing the ethical envelope it has never been more important than it is right now to be plugged into a mentor or coach who has been down the road before you, and can see the long-term picture for any strategy or tactic you are thinking about testing.

My friend Matt Bacak (one of the “good guys”) is currently running an offer with forced continuity attached to it, and he is doing something that is absolutely KEY when presenting an offer like this…

dirt.jpg

As you can see in the screen shot above, Matt has very clear language right at the point of checkout explaining exactly what you are getting, how much you will be charged and WHEN you will be charged.

He is making it 100% clear, what is going on. And he even takes it one step further…

When you sign up, you immediately get an email that again reminds you about the monthly billing and better yet has clear, easy to follow instructions on how to cancel the subscription without getting billed.

Also, just to cover his bases further, when you get the first issue of his newsletter, he includes a great big yellow sticky note that tells you again about the monthly billing and includes instructions on how to cancel.

So if you are going to test and use forced continuity, make sure you are not only clear and transparent in the sales process, but remind buyers at every single step in the process and of course make it easy to cancel.

And just a side note for anybody wanting to test forced continuity in your own business…

From my testing, the more you actually SELL the continuity offer itself (in addition to the offer that has the continuity attached) the higher your conversion rates will be. You need to sell it as hard, if not harder than the main offer, and you should be 100% transparent with the continuity aspect.

Now I will admit that in many cases the by making make the monthly billing aspect of the offer more obvious you may see a drop in conversion rates (this is why so many try to hide it), if you continue the test long term what you will find is that you have a MUCH higher retention rate.

Because of that higher retention rate, you actually wind up making SIGNIFICANTLY more money long term with transparent forced continuity than you ever will with hidden continuity.

When selling traditional, non-continuity products online your profitability is based primarily on traffic and conversion.

But you need to shift your focus when selling continuity based offers because your profitability will be based on: traffic, conversion AND retention. I’ll gladly take a lower front end conversion rate if my backend retention increases, because I’ll make more money long term.

Happy testing!

Eric

About the Author

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3 comments to Forced Continuity = Good… HIDDEN Continuity = Bad…

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  • Very good post Eric!

    I’m glad you brought up the point of retention on the continuity program. This paragraph is so important from your post:

    “Now I will admit that in many cases the by making make the monthly billing aspect of the offer more obvious you may see a drop in conversion rates (this is why so many try to hide it), if you continue the test long term what you will find is that you have a MUCH higher retention rate.”

    We all need to have that longer term view with our conversion rates instead of just the numbers that take place today. And that was a very good example of making the continuity very clear at the point of purchase.

    Terry Dean

  • Great post Eric, not only do I agree with the negative aspects of this, I’ve been a victim of it, and it totally turned me off to the individual/s involved. To the point where, I no longer look to their business for any help whatsoever, no longer on the mailing list, nothing. I don’t go around bashing them, but I’ll never do business with them again…and that’s sad.

    It’s just like any other “underhanded” marketing methods. People are trading the instant gratification of more conversions, for the long term business they’d gain if they were just transparent.

    On another note, what you said about running your own continuity programs, and how you focus must change was great. Especially this:

    “But you need to shift your focus when selling continuity based offers because your profitability will be based on: traffic, conversion AND retention.”

    Lower conversions that have higher retention is ONLY something one would know and even consider through testing, or…having a guy like you put it out there. That’s a nugget I will keep with me from now until……

    Thanks Eric.

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