TAM 063: How To Choose A Payment Platform
In episode 63, we are beginning a “payments series” highlighting a number of payment platforms that integrate well with ActiveCampaign.
There is no “best” payment platform, only the most appropriate for your needs. So you have to have a clear picture of what exactly you need before you try to choose a solution to your payment needs.
So, before you choose any payment platform or shopping cart, make sure you create a list of requirements. Trying to find a cart without doing your requirements first is a recipe for disaster. You'll end up not getting what you want and you may have to change carts, wasting time, energy and money.
So listen in and learn how to come up with an objective set of requirements before you go looking for a new payments platform.
Check out this special deal for the cart that I chose (and I have been through them all).
A big element to consider when evaluating any payments solution is how well it integrates with the other systems you use.
You can find out more about ActiveCampaign integrations in Episode 25 of the podcast
Bullet Points We Chat About:
- Which payment gateways do you need?
- One off payments or recurring?
- Traditional ‘add to cart' functionality?
- Do you need upsells and cross-sells?
- What does it integrate with?
- How well does it integrate?
- Customer management
- Sales metrics
- Do you need an affiliate program?
- What kind of volume you are going to do?
If you want to give ActiveCampaign a try, you can set up a free trial account here.
If you want to take your sales funnel and marketing automation skills to the next level, join us at The Active Marketer Academy my private mastermind and coaching community where we share all the good stuff!
Inside you will find, courses, live training calls, quick wins, shared automations and a helpful community of smart business owners and service providers just like you. Check it out here.
Links Mentioned In The Show
- The Active Marketer Academy
- Guide to online payment processors
Barry: Hi, it's Barry Moore back with another Tactical Twenty Podcast.
Announcer: Welcome to the Active Marketer Podcast, where we talk about how to design, automate, and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. You can find out all the tips, tactics, and techniques you need to get more customers and sell more stuff over at theactivemarketer.com. Now here's your host, Barry Moore.
Barry: Hi, I'm your host Barry and this is going to be another Tactical Twenty Podcast. The Tactical Twenty Podcasts are all about giving you an actionable tip, technique, or tactic that you can take away and implement in your business in less than twenty minutes.
Alright, this is is going to be the first in a series about payments, payment processes, shopping carts, everything you need to know about picking the right payment platform for your business. In coming episodes, we're going to highlight a couple of good products that integrate well with active campaign and we're going to talk to some of the founders, some of the makers of those platforms and explain where there platform excels, what audience it's right for, what part of the market it's right for.
But we're going to start off with something that's incredibly un-sexy and nobody ever wants to do and that's requirements. I get asked all the time and we're doing this payment series because I get asked all the time, “What's the best shopping cart? What's the best payment platform?” The answer to that question is, “There is no best, quote unquote, payment platform. There is the most appropriate to your needs.”
So what's the best shopping cart platform for me might not necessarily be the shopping cart platform for you because we have different requirements. What I went to talk about today, briefly, is how to set up those requirements. I know this for a fact and it's painful, anybody who's worked in the IT business and I was an IT manager of some very big companies. The [inaudible 00:02:14] of the product always want to rush to buying a product before they … they also come in and they say, “Hey, what piece of software … we need a piece of software to do this.” And they never fully define the requirements beforehand, they want to rush to a solution before they've defined the problem and I know from firsthand experience that always, always leads to disaster. They put it in the system and then they say, “Hey, it doesn't do this.” “Well, you didn't say that you wanted it to do that.”
So before you go looking for any piece of software, especially something as crucial to your business as a payment platform, I think you need to really spend some time coming up with the requirements of what exactly it is that you need in your business.
Now we're not going to dive into … this is a Tactical Twenty, so we're not going to dive into the whole requirements-gathering process and documenting process, because I know none of you are going to do the whole thing. So what I'm going to suggest is an abbreviated requirements-gathering process and I will put a checklist that you can download, a high level checklist that you can download and go through when you go looking for a shopping cart. So you want to head over to the show notes, theactivemarketer.com/63, you can download that checklist.
Let's talk about some of the things you should have straight in your head before you go looking for a payments platform. So first of all you want to break down the features that you actually need in your business, because like I said, the features you need aren't necessarily the features that somebody else needs. You don't want to pay for stuff you don't need, but you certainly don't want to pay for stuff and not have that feature there either.
So I would suggest you just sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and you write down all the things that you require in a payment platform. We'll talk about some of those in a minute. Then you break those up into two groups: the must-have, like, “My payment platform absolutely must do this.” And then you break up the other group into nice-to-haves, like, “It would be really nice if it did this but it's not crucial to my business.” You break up those things into groups of must-haves, nice-to-haves and then go back through your must haves and start ranking them in order, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. What's the most important things, what's the second most important thing. Then do the same thing again with you nice-to-have features.
Then you have a really straight forward objective criteria which you can then go evaluate any potential shopping cart solutions against that criteria. Does it do this, does it do number one, “Ah, okay, we'll you're out.” It does one, it does two, it does three, doesn't do four but it does five, “Okay, we'll put you on the short list.”
So you can use that as a list of criteria when you go to [inaudible 00:04:56]. Then you're much more likely to find something that you're happy with and that will last in your business than if you just go shoot from the hip and buy one because somebody mentioned it on a Facebook group or someone told you that it was good for them. So list of must-haves, list on nice-to-haves, then go numerically rank all those in order of what's the most important to you.
So let's talk about some things to look at when you go to evaluate shopping carts. First of all, I would say “How much volume are you going to put through this thing?” So if you're just starting off, your business is quite small and you're only putting a couple hundred dollars or a couple thousand dollars through a shopping cart every month, you don't need the all-singing, all-dancing, whiz-bangery, has every single feature in the world. Because it's probably going to cost you 100,200 dollars a month, and if you're selling a few hundred dollars a month, that's a big chuck of your profits is just going to the shopping cart. You might want to fallback to a simpler, cheaper solution that's not going to be as big a percentage of your monthly revenue.
Now if you're pumping through tens of thousands of dollars, hundred of thousands of dollars a month, 100, 200 dollars is not anything really that you need to worry about as far as the cost of the cart. So what kind of volume are you going to do, realistically, and what's the cost of the cart?
Let's talk about some of the concrete features. Do you want to be able to take just credit cards or do you want to be able to have PayPal as well? So do you want to have a single payment form that allows the customer to choose whether they want to pay by credit card or whether they want to pay by PayPal? If that's a must for you and not a nice-to-have that dramatically narrows the field, because there's not very many shopping carts that can do both on the same payment page without taking you to say, PayPal, for the fulfillment.
If you're just getting started, you want someone to buy, the very simplest thing to do is just put a buy button on your page from PayPal. Go to PayPal, create a buy button for however much your product costs, drop it on your page, people can pay. But that's going to take them away to the PayPal … of your site to the PayPal site, obviously and they're going to have to put in their details there. That break in the flow creates friction and that friction's going to cost you a certain percentage of your conversion. So just be aware of that.
Great way to start, if you want to get up and running quickly, cheaply, great way to start. As your business matures you might want to have more seamless, frictionless solution that is easier on the customer. So plenty of shopping carts out there will just do credit cards, you hook them up to Stripe or one shopping cart or whoever your payment processor's going to be, you create your payment form, people put their credit card number, bang, and away they go. But if you want to add PayPal to that mix on the same payment form then your options dwindle quickly. So make sure that's a must-to-have or a nice-to-have for you.
Do you need to do just one-off payments like a one-off payment of 2000 dollars for your SEO services? Or is it a subscription like an ongoing thing where you're going to charge someone 500 dollars a month? So if it's a recurring, if you need recurring, that narrows the field a little bit as well. So it is a must-have that I have recurring or is it a nice-to-have.
Then are we selling one-off products and I mean is someone coming and buying your website from you, for example, for 5000 dollars. Are they just buying the website from you or do you need traditional shopping cart functionality where people are gathering products into their cart, once they've gathered the three or four products that they want, then they check out. So do you need that traditional cart functionality where you're putting multiple products into a cart and then paying for the cart value or do you just need someone to buy this one thing? So I have this one thing you can buy, just put your credit cards in, hit buy, boom, and away you go.
That's vastly different when you go looking for a solution whether you want traditional cart functionality or whether you just want payment functionality. If you're looking for traditional cart functionality then you're talking about something like [inaudible 00:09:12] Commerce, or Shopify, or Big Commerce, some of those more complicated platforms that allow you to do that sort of thing. If you want one-off upsell, if you just want one-off products, that's a fairly simple thing to get done.
Now the next thing to think about is whether you absolutely need dynamic upsells on cross-sales. If you don't know what that is, basically I'm going to buy Product A, I check out, the payment platform, the shopping cart says, “Hey, before you check out would you like to buy B as well.” Based on whatever Product A is it's going to suggest an upsell or a cross-sell, an additional thing to put to pay on the way and even better if that's a one click upsell. So I put my credit card information in to buy Product A, I hit buy, and there's kind of an intermediate page before the payment takes place. That intermediate page offers an upsell. So, “Hey, before you check out do you want to buy B for another 50 bucks or another 100 bucks or whatever.” And you go, “Yes” and you don't have to entire anything other than yes, boom, and when you get to the checkout page it's charged you whatever the price of A plus B is.
Some carts will be able to do that, some carts will not be able to do that. So you need to make sure you know whether that's a requirement for you or not. A big one is integrations, it might be a fantastic shopping cart solution, but if it doesn't integrate with your other systems like active campaign, for example, if it doesn't integrate with the rest of your business system, it's going to be a painful, painful long road for you. Because every purchase you make that's not going to get into your main business followup system.
So think about what other systems you need it to integrate with and whether your payment platform integrates with those systems and how well it integrates with those systems, not just that they say, “Hey, we integrate with active campaign,” for example. How well do they do that? And I'll talk about that a little bit more on integrations in a minute.
An often overlooked thing too is customer management in metrics. So once somebody buys from you, that's great. Everyone focuses on getting that sale and that checkout, but once somebody buys from you they're a customer now, so you may have to go in and find that purchase, you might have to refund all of it or part of it, you may have to change their credit card number once their credit card expires.
So how easy is that? How do you know when their credit card's about to expire … a really important question when you start talking about subscription businesses where you're charging so much per month and they've paid with a credit card. At some point that credit card is going to expire, all credit cards expire at some point. So is your cart going to give you a heads up when that credit card expires? When it does expire, is it going to try and re-bill that customer? Does it make it easy for the customer to go and amend their credit card details? “Hey Barry, your cards about to expire. Click on this link and put your new credit card information in.” You'd be surprised at home many carts don't actually have that functionality in it.
You have to manually find that person's credit card details, you might have to get them to sign up again. Alright, so think about customer in the longterm, especially for a subscription business. Customer management in the longterm is pretty important, it's going to save you a lot of time if there's good customer management features in there.
Then the other post-sale thing you want to think about is how good are the metrics? So when you log into your shopping cart platform, how good are the metrics there that tell you how many sales you've had, what's our monthly revenue this month versus last month, is it better is it worse, how many subscriptions do I have, how many people have expiring cards coming up, how many people refunded, how many cancelled, etc. So those kind of metrics that really are important to your business. Some shopping cards do that really, really well, some carts have none of it, none of it at all.
I was really surprised. I was testing out one cart, doing some test transactions, transactions went through fine, I went back into the cart to find those transactions and they were nowhere to be found. There is no transaction history in the cart itself. I contacted the cart makers and I said “Hey, how do I go and amend or even just view a transaction?” So Barry calls me up or Barry sends me an email and he says, “Hey, you know, I had a problem with this transaction. I need to dive in and find that transaction again. How easy is that process?”
So this particular cart, I went back into the cart and there's no transaction history at all. And I said, “Well, where's the transaction history?” And they said, “Oh, we have to go into Stripe for that or you have to go into PayPal for that.” They were doing none of that customer management in the back end at all. Very, very … very, very painful.
Then the last thing I'm going to leave you with is do you need an affiliate programme? And what I mean by that is, are you going to have people selling your product on your behalf? So basically, someone has a link, they send some traffic to you, that traffic buys, and you want to give that person who referred you a commission for the sale. So does your cart have affiliate programmes where you can get other people selling for you, which is nice to have as well.
So do you need to … have a look at what you actually need. Sit down, make a list, write down your must-haves, write down your nice-to-haves, rank them all out. So those are some of the things to think about when you're looking at features that can be important in a shopping cart. And again, volume is a big thing as well. So are you putting ten transactions through a month or are you putting ten thousand transactions through a month? Think about that as well when it comes to evaluating the price of that particular cart. You can get stuff, PayPal is essentially free other than the transaction volume. You can get shopping carts starting at nine bucks a month all the way up to hundreds of dollars a month.
So there's a big disparity in there, how much of that shopping cart cost … how much is that eating into your revenue? Is it 10%, 50%, or is it like 2%. So take that into account as well.
I'm going to close on integrations here. So when your looking at integrate, does it integrate with Product X. So let's just talk about active campaign. Does your product integrate with active campaign? Does your cart solution integrate with active campaign? Now, not all “yeses” are created equal. What I mean by that is there's a number of different ways you can integrate and a number of different levels at which you can integrate.
So let's talk about some of those. Some people integrate really, really well with active campaign and some of it's just shit. There's a couple of different ways you can integrate. One of them is API integration and if you don't know what API is, Application Programming Interface, it's just a language that allows one product or one system to talk to another system. The cart can talk to active campaign via an API where they pass information back and forth in the background. Now, not all API's are created equal either and we'll talk about that in a second. API level integration is, Product A talks directly to Product B and the developers have wired the product that way.
The other way to integrate is to go through some third party like Zapier or Zapier, however you want to say it, or something like if this/than that. Basically these are kind of like switchboard applications where Product A talks to Zapier and Product B talks to Zapier, but A doesn't talk to B. They only talk to Zapier and Zapier acts like a switchboard. It says, “Right, there's a new purchase in Product A, we need to take that purchase information and put it into Product B.” And the reason that those things are so popular is because if I have an application, like a shopping cart application, I want to integrate with 300 things. That's a lot of coding if I'm going to do an API to 300 different things. Then someone's going to change your API and everything's going to break.
However, if I have my shopping cart application, and I just write it integration to Zapier, I automatically get integration with everything that Zapier integrates with. Boom, I get 300 … instant integration with 300 different products. So that's why everybody does it, but Zapier is kind of a listen then do kind of thing, where it listens for a new purchase, boom, there's a trigger here for a new purchase then you have a set of instructions you want followed. “Take this purchase information, put it into active campaign with this tag, and then put it into zero as a new customer in zero,” for example. The good thing is you can integrate with multiple applications via Zapier, the bad thing is it's not as tight as an API integration.
So you get native API integrations or third party integrations. Now, when you talk about the native integrations and even Zapier to some extent, all integrations are not created equal. So you can integrate at a number of different levels. You can integrate only at list level, and this is the worst. Your shopping cart says, “Hey, new purchase” and says “I integrate with active campaign,” you go to the integrations and it says “Add new purchase to this list,” which means I have to, in the back of active campaign, I have to have a list for every single product then. So product A has to go into List A, Product B has to go into List B, Product C has to go into List C, because we can only integrate at list level. Kind of rubbish, you might as well not do it at all.
With the marketing automation platform like active campaign you want to be able to tag people as they come in. I want them to go onto my main list or I want them to go onto my customer list with “Tag Product A” or with a tag that says “Product B” or with a tag that says “Product C.” So I want them to go on my customers list and then which automation, which post purchase automation fires, I want that to fire based on which product they bought. I want them all going onto one list, with different automations firing based on which tags they have.
So some shopping carts will integrate at a tag level. It says, “I will add this new purchase to this list with this tag or, even better, with these tags.” A number of tags. So if you can choose list and tags or even list and form, that's a much, much better integration. Then the really clever people have an integration that works on a number of levels. Meaning that, if someone buys something, they go onto this list with this tag. If they refund something we give them this tag, which might fire a refund automation. If the card doesn't work, if we can't charge the card because the card's expired, that gives them a different tag and a different automation can fire, to spark our workflow behind the scenes at the back office to chase that customer down and get a new credit card number, etc.
So list level is kind of the most basic, we don't really like that, list level plus tags is great, and then list level plus tags with multiple events, new purchase, cancel, refund, credit card expiring, etc. I can tag each one of those events differently, that's the holy grail. That's the best integration you're going to get. And there's a couple of carts that do that, so we're going to highlight some of those in the coming shows.
So just to review there quickly, make sure before you go out and look for a cart that you at least make an effort to write down your requirements first. It will make the process so much easier, so much quicker, and you're going to be so much happier with the solution you get at the end of it. I've gone through this process myself a number of times and I've gone through it with a number of people a number of times and those people who don't write down the requirements it always end up in a shit fight. They're not happy with the put in, they are initially happy because it looks great, then they put it in they go, “Hey, it doesn't do this” and they change and they want to go find another cart. And putting in a cart is a decent amount of work, it's not … I don't care what anybody says about, “Hey, 10 minutes and you're up and running.” There's a little more to it than that and having to change and swap is a painful exercise.
So take the time to do your requirements first. Write down a list of everything you can think of, break those into must-haves, nice-to-haves, then rank them one to ten, then go out looking for a shopping cart that meets those requirements and you have a grading sheet that you can compare them against. So again, some of the things, do we need credit card, credit card and PayPal or just PayPal, or do we need those on the same order form? Do we need one-off payments only or do we need recurring payments as well, do we need shopping cart functionality where you put multiple products into a cart and check out? Do we need upsells, cross-sells, down-sells? How good is the integration? How good is the customer management? What kind of metrics do we get? What kind of volume am I putting through this? Do I need an affiliate programme or something along those lines?
So that's your homework. Go out and put your requirements together and I will see you next week. We're going to talk about a particular cart and we're going to break down a couple of different carts over the coming shows and we're going to compare and contrast and hopefully help you pick the one that's right for you. Not the best one, but the one that's best for your needs. See you next time everybody.
All right, that's our Tactical Twenty Podcast for this week. If you have any questions or any topics you'd like to see covered on future Tactical Twenty Podcasts, you can always send me an email at Barry@theactivemarketer.com and let us know what you'd like to see. Also, if you head over to the show notes for this episode and just leave a comment or leave a comment in any of the episodes show notes, tell us what you'd like to see and we'll make sure we cover it on an upcoming episode. So get out there and design, automate, and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. See you next week everybody.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Active Marketer Podcast. You can find the show notes and all the latest marketing automation news over at theactivemarketer.com.
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