Established football brand since 1965
Voetbal International is the longest-running football magazine in the Netherlands, the first VI magazine was already printed in 1965. And the brand is still relevant today. In addition, VI now also has a solid online proposition that readers can subscribe to: VI PRO. This is a separate section of the website with background stories and analyses. What does this mix of platforms mean for the relationship with the reader?
In the summer of 2019, VI was acquired by Digital Enterprises. Before that, VI was owned by WPG publishers. WPG's subscription system was due for renewal. Dave van den Berg, customer relations manager: “In our old subscription system, every weekly magazine subscription started on Wednesday, because the weekly magazine always releases on Wednesday. We wanted to be a little more flexible. With the arrival of VI PRO, customers can join every day.” In addition, VI was faced with the challenge that its subscriptions in the old system still had to be paid in advance. Someone bought an annual subscription and had to pay for a year in advance. “That is not customer-friendly and causes problems with subsequent payments. That is why we started working with monthly payments.” This is how VI came into contact with Buckaroo.
Buckaroo's credit management solution has supported the collection of monthly payments and timely reminders to customers of outstanding payments. Dave: “Memories are not always experienced as positive. Even though we try to approach people as friendly as possible and do not even mention the word 'reminder' in our first message, it turns out that people often feel attacked and react badly to such a message. We prefer that customers indicate why the payment was not successful, so that we can work on a solution.”
“In our old subscription system, every weekly magazine subscription started on Wednesday, because the weekly magazine always releases on Wednesday.”
— Dave, customer relations manager VI
As a customer relations manager, Dave specializes in (constantly) binding customers to the VI brand. VI has a very large group of loyal subscribers. These subscribers may have joined VI as many as 50 years ago. They were always used to paying with giro collection form. That is not the most pleasant payment method for VI, because as a merchant you continue to wait for the moment that you receive your money. The solution turned out to be a personal payment request. “Last year we politely sent these customers a letter inviting them to pay by direct debit, but that turned out to be not so easy. That was a big change for people and made them hesitant. That is why we sent them an invoice with a payment request. Based on this, we see that the payments are now running smoothly again.”
Besides the loyal reader, VI also wants to bind new subscribers to the brand for as long as possible. With the old subscription system it was difficult to attract people for a two-year subscription, while experience shows that this is often a guarantee for longer membership. That is why, since spring 2020, VI only offers one-, two- and three-year subscriptions to the magazine. This ensures that customers are committed to VI for a longer period of time when they sign up, and as a result they are also inclined to stay longer. In combination with VI PRO, every subscriber has automatic access to the digital platform anytime and anywhere. “For example, weekly magazine subscribers not only have a relaxing moment on Wednesday with the brand new magazine in the letterbox, but also have direct access to a tactical analysis after a match. This makes it even easier for us to bind our weekly magazine readers.”
“We politely sent loyal customers a letter inviting them to pay by direct debit, but that turned out to be not so easy. That was a big change for people and made them hesitant.”
— Dave, customer relations manager VI
If someone wants to take out a digital subscription and therefore only wants access to the VI PRO stories, only an email address needs to be entered to create an account. This e-mail address is also used to send invoices. Sometimes a subscriber indicates that he has not received these invoices and the subscription costs are so high that a collection agency has to be involved. But even then, only communication via the e-mail address is possible. That is why VI is considering having digital subscribers already state their address and/or telephone number when registering. There is also a downside to this: “You create a significant barrier for someone to take out a digital subscription. So that is still quite a complex issue.” In this way, VI is always evolving to continue its relevance as a brand.
The ideal payment method differs per situation, product or service. Because of our wide range of payment methods and unique features, we at Buckaroo are always able to offer you an appropriate solution. Let the following cases inspire you.