TAM 064: ActiveRelay with Dan DeWitte
In episode 64, we continue our ‘payments series'. This week I talk to Dan DeWitte, the creator of ActiveRelay. Why I wanted to highlight ActiveRelay first, was that it is unique in the payments space in that is is designed to work with ActiveCampaign from the ground up.
Most of the other payment platforms that integrate with ActiveCampaign do it as an afterthought. Meaning that they have their payment platform in place and then try to bolt on some ActiveCampaign integration.
Set yourself up with a free ActiveRelay trial account and check it out
ActiveRelay started with ActiveCampaign in mind and currently is only focused on integrating with ActiveCampaign. Consequently the integration is super tight allowing you to do things at a very granular level. Have a look at the product integration screen below.
Bullet Points We Chat About:
- Why create the product in the first place
- Where it fits in the marketplace
- Some of the cool features
- Who it is right for
- How to get started
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
- TAM 063 – How To Choose A Payment Platform
- Bean Ninjas
Announcer: Welcome to the Active Marketer Podcast, where we talk about how do 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 the ActiveMarketer.com. Now here's your host, Barry Moore.
Barry: Welcome to the Active Marketer Podcast. I am your host Barry and this is the podcast that's all about sales funnels and marketing automation. This is gonna be another episode in our payment series, where we highlight issue scenarios and solutions to different online payment platforms and problems.
Before you go evaluating any payment platform at all, it's really important that you have your evaluation criteria, your requirements down pat. Otherwise you're just gonna end up with the wrong solution. It's not sexy. There's no buttons to click and no payment pages to create, but it is the most important part of this process so if you haven't done that, head back to episode 63. The podcast where we talk about how to come up with your requirements for choosing an online payment platform.
One of those big requirements that everyone has is usually integration to something else. So, obviously we use an Active Campaign here at the Active Marketer and we talk a lot about it so, for example, when someone makes a payment you want to be able to then immediately fire off an automation, like a post purchase automation, for example. Or an onboarding automation. If someone does a refund you might want to run a refund automation. Or if their current credit card expires and you want to do some sort of follow up automation to get them to update their credit details.
Integration with your other platforms is a big, big, big thing. There are several payment processors or payment platforms that integrate with Active Campaign but I wanted to highlight one on today's podcast because it's specifically designed to work with Active Campaign, where as most of the other ones you know it's an option in a lot of the other platforms. This one is designed from the ground up to work with Active Campaign. So, I thought that was a really interesting choice by the software developer, number one and can be very beneficial to all the Active Campaign users out there in the Active Marketer podcast land.
This week, we're gonna be talking to the creator of a new payment platform called, Active Relay. His name's Dan Dewitte and he is now launching his payment platform specifically designed with integration with Active Campaign in mind.
Let's listen in on this interview with Dan and find out what Active Relay is all about.
I'd like to welcome to the show, Dan Dewitt from Active Relay. Welcome, Dan.
Dan: Thank you, man. Nice to be on your podcast.
Barry: Thanks, man. Appreciate that. Nice to have you on. I wanted to get you on because you've coming out with a new shopping cart product specifically designed for Active Campaign, which is a bit of a departure from most of the other ones. Most of the other ones, Active Campaign is a bit of a bolt on or an after thought but you started with Active Campaign as kind of the forefront of the product. Obviously lots of Active Campaign users in the podcast audience, so I wanted to get you on there.
I also wanted to get you on and talk about why you created it in the first place because I know when I went to look for shopping carts, maybe about a year ago … I don't know I must have went through a dozen of them. Man, it was just a pain in the ass because it seemed that there was kind of two ends to the spectrum. The super simple, kind of, Pay Pal button, click here, bye. Which is nice cause you can take money quickly and you can validate concepts quickly but there's no customer management. There's no integration, very little integration with Active Campaign, especially at the level you need it to. Then there was the high end of this town as well. $100, $200 a month which seems excessive, just to be able to take payments.
So, there didn't seem to be a real lack of products in that sweet spot. Maybe tell us a little bit about why you decided to create Active Relay in the first place.
Dan: Yeah, yeah definitely.
My background is extensive in the marketing automation front, having a long standing history of Infusion Soft that which stemmed through my then girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife as of February this year. I started on that whole marketing journey front and obviously I went down the whole consultancy space as well as the coaching space, which I really love a lot, a lot. That whole education aspect of internet marketing and what we can do. The most exciting thing for me is how we can dynamically direct people on a journey and we get to control that whole journey.
Now, the lacking point for my clients at that point in time, that couldn't afford Infusion Soft, like it just purely was not a smart business decision, we had to figure out some form of solution as they, either intermediary or something that we can just keep on long term.
As you said yourself, it's an absolute nightmare to go out and try and find the right shopping cart or order form solution for Active Campaign. Now I love Active Aampaign. What they've done in the last 6-12 months is just phenomenal. So much so I pursued Active Relay as a SaaS product that is purely built for Active Campaign. I love Active Campaign for what's it's doing, it's simplicity.
One of my clients, she's in her late 60's. She's come from that Infusion Soft space herself over to Active Campaign purely because it's a better business requirement for her. Just this morning I got a message from her saying, “Happy dance. It's all linking. It's all working and I did it all by myself.”
To me that's it, at the end of the day. It's to be so simple, stupid that … Not saying that my client's stupid, not at all but so simple and straight forward that you can just go ahead and implement it. If Ruth's, and if she's listening to this podcast when it goes live … If Ruth can go do it after all the hurdles and hassles that she's had in building her online marketing space, man anyone can go do it. She's a true testament to that. That's the whole focus is giving you the user, and the ability to transact online faster. Obviously there was no solution in the space that does it to what I preferred it to do. With it in depth integrations with Active Campaign so I can start, stop, trigger, do whatever I feel like within Active Campaign. It just wasn't there.
The more and more I had those conversations with people, the more and more it became prevalent that something needed to happen and the old school approach of using [zapier 00:06:41] or some other third party integration tool that connected to your stripe then funnelled it into your Active Campaign account, just wasn't good enough.
Barry: Yeah, well big shout out to Ruth. Ruth if you're listening, nice job.
How did you make that leap from, “Hey there's a whole in the market,” or “There's a need that I've got or my customers and my clients have got,” to “All right, I'm gonna develop some software.” How does that happen?
Dan: It's a very good question. I've got a little history in SaaS products. I've come from an ex real estate SaaS product a couple of years ago, where I built launched with a business partner of mine and we ended up having a developing team in India and in Russia at the same time. So I've got a bit of experience in building the SaaS space requirements of the product.
Interesting, this one is, I'm doing it all by myself. Active Relay's been self funded, self supported and me at the helm of my battleship, which has been an interesting journey and I've pulled on a lot of experience on what I've wanted out of the platform. I believe a lot of what I want has resonated thus far with everyone else. I'm not one of those people that go and develops a product and go, “This will be great for this market space.”
I've actually come from the trenches, you could say and really understood what is needed in that space to have the ability to transact online. Circling back to the original point of that question is I sat down and wrote a brief and pitched it to my developer team and said, “Can we build it?” And they said, “Sure. It's gonna take some time but, sure. We need to learn how Active Campaign's API works but once we learn that we'll run with it.” And so we have, fast forward, nearly eight months now and we're on the verge of a soft launch. Intentionally doing a soft launch, because I think sometimes that kills a product is if you go out with at such a massive bang, you run a very high risk of not being able to A. Support your staff as well as a customer support basis as well. Or be the system just kind of falls over.
Barry: Yeah, for sure.
What did you want to see in the product? What was the things that you wanted to see that you kind of weren't finding out there in the market place?
Dan: I wanted to see the whole history in the contact record. I want to keep it … This is something that I'm channelling from Infusion Soft's route is that I love the information on the contact record. Having the ability to see all of the transaction history. All of my billing details, my shipping details, all of that jazz on the contact record so –
Barry: You mean the contact record inside Active Campaign?
Dan: Yeah, this is all inside Active Campaign. Because that's what I really loved about Infusion Soft, is I could just pull up a contact record in Infusion Soft and I could see all of the data resulting to a particular purchase, in there. I wanted to see that in Active Campaign, because I think it's fantastic.
The less programmes that you have to sign into on a daily business to run your business, better.
Barry: Amen, brother. Amen. I know, I'm even currently jumping back and forth between, “All right, when did they buy? Okay, I've got to go into AC and look at that. Then I've got to go into shopping cart or I've got to go into stripe and look at this other stuff.”
So, yeah, definitely would be nice to have it. What else?
Dan: There's so many. There's so many, where do I start?
One was the ability to see it all in one space. Another one was the ease to actually manage your orders. You just nailed it on the head earlier, just before was I have to jump into AC, I have to see this contact record. Then go into stripe or go into my other app and do something else. Or maybe go into my accounting software and eventually process a damn refund. Or update a flipping credit card. It just becomes a nightmare, right?
Managing that whole process of … That's been a massive learning curve for me, is how I create a level playing field for everyone so they can build their own little quirky features onto it in their own platforms but build a base level of how do we manage credit card failures? How do we manage expiring credit cards? And I love the feature that you pose, which we've also gone ahead and implemented. That's one thing, another one and I'll touch on that shortly is the user feedback. I'm taking a lot of that on at this early stage. But creating that level playing field so you could go into Active Relay, hit one button and process a refund. It's not going to stripe, go into your other app, go into this, go into that make sure it's the right contact on the right receipt doing the right thing.
It's just going to Active Relay, find the receipt ID or the contact's email address or name, whatever that may be and hit process refund. Like, it's as simple as that. It's simplicity, one of the core values.
Barry: Nice, nice. Why the focus strictly on Active Campaign? Are you planning to add any other platforms or is it just gonna be AC only?
Dan: It's one that's getting commonly asked. AC only. It'll remain that forever. I'm pretty firm on that. We may go down the route of integrating with some other merchant facility type stuff but I wanted to keep it simple, stupid. I don't want to be all things, to all people. I don't want to be agnostic to multiple other platforms because it loses it's special source essentially. I can't have as in depth integration's into other platforms because then there's just irrelevant fields in Active Relay that aren't required for certain people.
Active Campaign obviously needs that in depth solution right now, as a check out platform and I'm happy to stay with it, really. There's no real reason to change from that front.
Barry: Well I think there's this, certainly big enough user base in Active Campaign that-
Dan: Massive, and they're gonna grow. They're growing.
Barry: Yeah they're growing by crazy amounts and they're really on a tear at the moment so it think the future's pretty bright for that platform. So certainly-
Dan: Very, very bright.
Barry: So certainly products that support that platform is gonna be another big growth area as well.
Tell me a little bit about some of the other features you got baked into Active Relay that maybe set it apart from some of the other solutions that are out on the market?
Dan: Yeah. Well as I said earlier, the big thing was the visibility of seeing the whole purchase data in Active Campaign. The cracks of it right now, we integrate all billing, shipping fields. Obviously if you've got them toggled on on your order for you can actually hide them if you wish, because it's not a requirement any more to have address fields on order forms. Obviously removing some of that barrier to entry but if you've got those fields toggled on, we're definitely gonna be importing that data straight into Active Campaign so you can merge them into emails and do anything to your heart's content.
That's a core aspect and the ability to do tagging on practically every purchasing actions. Whether it's initiation of a subscription process, or a single order or if you're initiating a refund or a cancellation of a product, if there's a credit card failing, if there is a credit card that's gonna expire in the next month, so there's all those tagging functionalities as well.
Naturally a list because of the Active Campaign API, or business rules, I should say is a user has to be on a list to email them. Then there's also the full transaction record history in the notes and that's probably the most exciting thing for me is the ability to see all the transaction history log getting noted down in the notes record on Active Campaign.
Barry: Yeah, that'll be nice. That'll be real nice.
Barry: Then if you couple that with the Gmail plug in-
Barry: That's gonna be pretty … People that know what we're talking about, Active Campaign has a Gmail plugin where if you get an email in your inbox from somebody it pulls up all their stuff from Active Campaign, you can see it right there in your Gmail box.
So, combine all that with what the information that you're storing in Active Campaign from Active Relay and man, you're gonna get a pretty complete picture on somebody whenever they send you an email.
Dan: Definitely, definitely.
Barry: That's pretty awesome.
Dan: I actually went and downloaded it last week. I don't know why I hadn't downloaded it before but I just … One of those things, shiny object when they first come out and I finally dived on the band waggon and I reckon it's great. I think it's a very powerful and neat little feature that you can have with inside your Gmail, really which is quite exciting.
Barry: Very cool. How do you see Active Relay in comparison to some of the other things out there, like maybe Sam Cart?
Dan: Yeah, it's a good question?
First of all the feature functionality. Right now and if you're using Sam Cart, I can't knock Sam Cart. It's a great app and what it does is phenomenal. It doesn't have as strong a feature set as what Active Relay does and I think because of the agnostic approach, connecting to multiple other platforms they can't do down a route of deeply integrating into one or the other apps because they have useless fields, essentially on their application.
It's the feature set between the two is huge. Having the ability to see all the transaction log and the notes history, the custom fields, all of that stuff and a few other little bits and pieces. The expiring credit cards, stuff like that are the big ones as well.
Obviously as we launch Active Relay, we only have one cart and it's a really nice simple clean cart and it works. That's the main thing, is the ability to set up, sell, in less than 20 minutes. That's priceless hiving that ability.
Now if you understand a bit of CSS you can go ahead and put some other little bits and pieces in your order form pages. This morning, I gave one of my developer beta users, is a developer from the UK and I said, “Humour me, can you change the header background to be an image or a gradient or anything like that?” And he did it in five minutes. That's what is quite inspiring because like he can now go and take it one step further for his clients and take it beyond what the initial order form is, and having that functionality to do that, which is quite cool.
Barry: What's kind of the product road map? So where you heading? Obviously you've got your basic functionality for your release that's coming up and then you must have some things queued up that you want to accomplish with the product so where is it headed?
Barry: Where is it headed?
Dan: It's a very long road map but it's an exciting road map. We got the small meatier feature performance enhancements. I won't go into them because there's a [bajillion 00:17:37] of them based on the beta users that have been in the platform right now. We'll slightly keep chipping away at them, making them into the platform. They're making the platform a better product, but the four core, major products enhancements that we're doing one is the affiliate platform. So there'll be an affiliate integration platform with Active Relay where you can manage the affiliates that affiliate your products. Your clients that affiliate your products better than any other user, which is huge. So full functionality around what products you want to affiliate them for, the price you want to affiliate them at, if there's any limitations to that particular affiliate or product. That's the affiliate module, which is huge.
The next one is we're doing, native integration with zero QuickBooks online and Fresh books.
Dan: So we can reconcile transactions faster. I know the headache and I know any other listener out there at the moment, especially with Stripe is that they do a bulk transfer every 24 hours and let's just say it's $1000 because you made $1000 that sale. You go into that data, you go into your let's just say Zero accounting software and you see a line item for $1000. Then you gotta go back into your Stripe account and marry up which products you sold and put them in as line items. You're spending a couple hours there alone trying to reconcile today's transactions. So giving you the ability to funnel all that data straight into your accounting software, making it all as individual line items and sale items. You obviously get to determine the parameters and what fields it gets placed into, but you're instantly shaving hours in your accounting on that front. So that's a core development module number two.
Number three is drag and drop builder. We're exploring the idea at this stage. We're toying with some prototypes of a drag and drop functionality similar to optimised press on bounce. Or even the Active Campaign email builder. Where you can just drag the fields out and stuff like that. You want purely for shopping cart creation. That'll be nice, cool little feature on top. But that's down the track road map product. That's the reason why we've launched with the one shopping cart design template, essentially. Where you can right now, you have the basic user has the ability to change the cart theme colour which is all the title colours and the header background, as well as the call to action buttons.
Now the advanced user that understands a bit of CSS, you can inject images in there till your heart's content. That's up to you if you want to go down that advanced route, or find someone who has that CSS skill set that can go ahead and tweak some order forms based to your requirements.
Then the final major road map that we're working on at the moment is a offline payment capability. So there's a platform out in the space called Square. For the users that haven't heard of Square, Square is a little plug in that plugs into your headphone jack on your phone or your tablet or something like that, where you can actually swipe a credit card or tap a credit card to accept payments. We're looking at, we're in talks with a manufacturer in Asia on creating our own little, swipe, tappy headphone jack integration tool. So you can be at a live event for instance and you can accept payments at the end of the event just by punching in a person's contact details, swiping or tapping the card on the little module in your phone and then away you go. It all gets stored and you can go from there. So we are working on that scenario as well. That is a super long term approach because there's a lot more technical hurdles with an integration tool like that.
They're the main four road mapped features for Active Relay at this stage. We are doing some other things with Facebook as well. Been chatting with a Facebook developer team to bring in the [inaudible 00:21:53] messenger box. So for all the advanced users that are listening to the podcast we're looking at some messenger box style integrations for down the track.
Barry: Very cool and I'll just go back to that zero integration which sounds awesome. I want to give a big shout out to, all that stuff you said, all that terrible painful line item reconciliation stuff. I want to give a big shout out to [Be 00:22:17] Ninja's who do all my bookkeeping for me. So if you hate that stuff as much as I do, you can just hire them to do it for you every month. So big shout out to those guys that do a great job.
Cool, so when's the product gonna be available?
Dan: Next week. I'm not sure when this podcast goes live but I'm just gonna say next week and not give it a date.
Barry: There you go cause it can always be next week, right?
Dan: That's it.
Barry: Yeah, so hopefully, it should be soft lunch live by the time this podcast goes out. What's the web address?
Dan: The web address is the ActiveRelay.com.
Barry: Easy peasy. What's gonna be kind of the launch price for the product?
Dan: There's two pricing models for the product, there's $49 a month or there's $490 for the year, which gives you, essentially you get two months free. There is a 15 day free trial window in there, so you can go in there and sign up without your credit card. Try out the platform and if you love it, which I'm hoping everyone who's listening to this podcast will, and you continue with Active Relay and obviously your subscription to the platform helps us and enables us to build a better platform, essentially at the end of the day.
Barry: Just so everybody knows too, you've actually been in talks … You've actually gone out and visited Active Campaign headquarters as well and they're totally on board with the product as well, is that right?
Dan: Yeah that is correct. I embarked on a … Long story, short. I embarked on around the world journey with my wife back in May and popped into the Active Campaign office. Little over a month ago now, I caught up with Ted there, the community manager as well as Brian, the head of marketing and also dropped in and had a quick hello to Jason the CEO and demoed the platform to them and in their words they were, “Wow, we didn't think it would have this much integration.” They've seen plenty of other platforms out there that integrate- And you've said it earlier yourself is that Active Campaign is the bought on afterthought and not the initial thought, when integrating the shopping cart platform. They are super stoked, super duper duper stoked on it. That was really, really cool. Really humbling as well cause they saw the added value that they can bring to their platform and their users. They're so excited, they can't wait for it to launch.
Barry: Yeah and one other cool thing about the product that we didn't mention is the fact that those payment pages that your creating, you can multiple tracking scripts on each one of those payment pages, as well. So you can have your Facebook pixels, and your Active Campaign tracking scripts, or Google tracking scripts, independent on each page. Is that right?
Dan: That is correct. We gave you that ability, we are rolling up the ability to have global so you can just set it and forget it, for the user that just wants to set up their tracking. That's for the more advanced user that wants to really put some custom scripts on the individual order form pages. That functionality is there for you to go ahead and do.
If I can touch on it quickly Barry, we've got a heap of marketing templates, automation templates in the market place. We're gonna eventually roll out a myriad of them because as you probably are very well aware Barry, the blank canvas is the killer to all of us. So giving you guys some templated automations that are in the market place. They're all free. They'll get you guys off the ground and running with your set up.
So [band 00:25:45] and card recovery, subscription cancellation, [win-back 00:25:47] recovery, order membership registrations in there. There's also not released yet fail card recovery as well as expiring credit card recovery, as well.
Barry: Nice. Yeah as I always say the great thing about AC is a blank canvas you can do whatever you want. The bad thing is it's a blank canvas and you can do whatever you want.
Dan: It's a killer.
Barry: Yeah, so it's great that you'll have that jumpstart stuff in place.
All right, I would urge everybody if you're an Active Campaign user and you're looking for a shopping cart solution or payment page solution, head over to the ActiveRelay.com and sign up for a free trial. Play around with it and I think you'll be pretty impressed for what you get.
So Dan, thanks so much for coming on the show and best of luck with the launch of the product.
Dan: Thank you very much man, and I appreciate being on the show and thank you for having me on.
Barry: All right, we'll talk to you soon.
Barry: All right, I want to thank Dan for coming on the show and telling us a little bit about his journey behind creating that product Active Relay. If you do want to set up a free trial account of Active Relay and have a little bit of a play around, head over to the show notes at the TheActiveMarketer.com/64. We'll have links to all the things we talked about in the show today as well as a link to set you up with your very own 15 day trial account to Active Relay. So head over to the show notes, the TheActiveMarketer.com/64.
If you want more help with your marketing automation and how to write your requirements and how to choose a payment platform and how to come up with a card abandonment automation or a post purchase follow up automation, that's the kind of stuff we do and share over at the Active Marketer Insiders. It's a community for smart business owners like you who want to design, automate and scale their business to the next level, using sales funnels and marketing automation. So inside the community you'll find things like training. We just did a whole training call on how to choose a payment platform. You'll find shared automations. You'll find templates. You'll find training courses and monthly live mastermind calls, where we tackle the latest issues in marketing automation sales funnels and email marketing.
If you're interested and you want to fast track your success, head over to the TheActiveMarketer.com/members and check it out and if you have any questions at all, by all means, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, I want you to get out there design, automate and scale your business to the next level. See you on the next episode 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.