My supporter status lapsed, presumably today or yesterday. I noticed this because I lost my blue site theme and was shown ads. I don't think I was ever given notice (at least, not on the site, or not that jumped out at me to easily notice) in advance of expiration (I'm not complaining about that. I renewed immediately.)
This caused me to think a bit about supporter subscriptions (for lack of a better word), and I've thought of a few things might make sense to help keep supporter revenue up, and/or give supporters a more seamless experience.
1) Auto-renew - I know that some people don't like this concept. But, it is used all over the place because it works. If we were to do it here though, I think it should require a very easy and obvious opt-in, not a complicated opt-out like some places use. It should also be very easy to cancel. Auto-renew would be especially helpful for people that need to pay for shorter terms due to budget. I think it would also be nice, if opt-in is used, for Supporters to be reminded that auto-renew is about to occur, so that they can cancel if they don't want to be charged.
2) Longer term options - If I had the option to do so, I would have considered signing up for two or three years. This would be even more enticing if the price went down for multiple year subs, similar to how it goes down with longer monthly subs now. I paid $30 for a year of Silver. I'd probably have paid $55 for two years or $75 for three.
3) An annoying pop-up that appears as the supporter's expiration date gets close - Maybe it appears one time at 30 days, once at 14 days, then daily for the last week, or something like that. This would just serve as a reminder to resub, obviously.
On a similar note, I think the supporter program should be promoted more. Just a (sticky for a few days, maybe) post from time to time talking about the importance of Supporter revenue to the people that make the site work would probably do the trick. Also, a pop-up that appears once in a while wouldn't be too bad. Considering the quality of this site and forum, and the amount of work that I know goes into keeping this place great, I don't think it would be unreasonable at all to push a little more for a little money from those of us that hang out here.
Anyway, I'm just putting this out here. Those of you who know about how this stuff works can tell me (or not) if any of this is workable. I'd also like to hear the opinions of other users, as to whether these would be seem as improvements. Other suggestions to make the program better would be welcome as well, though I mostly want to focus on the business side of the program - things that will drive revenue.
As the person who put the system in place, I think your suggestion are good ones and doable. I'd have to look into it after I'm done with changing the front page hardware chart. Here's my thoughts on each proposition:
Agreed, these are good ideas. We do have 'send a reminder when subs are about to expire' on the to-do list, but these go further and are better than that alone.
1 - I like this. Optional, opt-in only of course like you said. And with a reminder a week out that it's going to happen.
2 - Same, good idea. I'd personally use both this and the one above for auto-renew.
3 - I wouldn't want it to be that invasive and spammy, I think that would annoy and put people off. A single reminder a week out is good though and probably sufficient on its own(?). And I like Trucks' idea for the button at the top to show number of days left when it's getting close to expiring.