In episode 67, we continue the payment series by answering a few listener questions about online payment platforms
This is one podcast in a series of podcasts and posts designed to help you navigate the often times confusing world off online payments and what you need to do to get up and running.
Check the links below for other episodes in the payments series.
Other Posts In The Payment Series:
- Guide To Online Payment Processors
- TAM063: How To Choose A Payment Platform
- TAM 064: ActiveRelay
- TAM 065: SamCart
- TAM 066: Simple Payment Platforms
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
- Thrive Cart
- Easy Digital Downloads
Barry : Hi, it's Barry Moore back with another Tactical 20 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 Moore and this is gonna be another Tactical 20 podcast. The Tactical 20 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 20 minutes.
Welcome to episode 67 of the Active Marketer podcast. This will be another in our ongoing payment series. As part of that payment series, I sent out a survey to my subscribers asking what their problems were and biggest concerns were when it comes to the arena of online payments. In this episode, I thought I would read out some of the indicative questions that kind of swept across most people that responded to the survey and answer some of those questions here online. They range from kind of the beginner questions, which is great, which is exactly what the payment series is designed to address, up to some more advance questions. I picked up a few little representative questions at all levels so hopefully everybody can get something out of this episode.
I'm gonna start out with this question. This one comes from Deb and she says, “I'm new to online payments and I'm confused as to how it all works. If I have PayPal already, why do I need a shopping cart and payment processor? What's the difference between the products and what's a necessity versus a convenience?” That's a great question Deb, and I'm not here to tell you you need any specific shopping cart. I'm not here to tell you that you can't just get by with a PayPal button because you know darn well that you can. One of the things I might say is one, first of all, don't listen to all the hype out there. There's a lot of hype and a lot of marketing that goes into these platforms. If you have something that's working for you, that's fantastic, and if you don't need anything else then you don't need anything else. There's no need to go looking. I will say this. I will point out a few things there. One, to answer your question about payment processors, PayPal is a payment processor. It's one of many out there. The other most common one online is Stripe.
If you want to find out more about payment processors, you can head over to the blog. There's a whole article there, which is called “The Guide to Online Payment Processors,” which kinda walks you through the whole thing. Basically, in your case with PayPal, that is the shopping cart. You've got a button on your site, I'm assuming. Someone clicks that and they buy and PayPal processes the payment. In that particular case, the cart or the button and the processor are the same, but that's not always the case. A lot of times they're separate. If you think of it this way in the real world example, if you walk into a retail store they'll have a cash register or a till there. Attached to that cash register will be a little swipe machine and if you go up and you buy something, they take your card and they run it through the swipe machine. That swipe machine is what's actually talking to the bank and settling the payments, taking the money out of their account and putting the money into your account. That swipe machine's independent of your cash register. You can change banks and get a different swipe machine, doesn't mean you need a new cash register and vice versa. You can buy a new cash register and still use the same swipe machine.
That's how it is with shopping carts and payment processors. The payment processor really just handles the movement of money from one account to the other. In PayPal's case, it's moving it from one PayPal account to your PayPal account. If it was a credit card payment, a straight up credit card payment, something like Stripe would take it off the buyer's account and put it into the seller's account. As you already know, you can get by without that and just use a PayPal button. If that's all you need, that's all you need, but if you want something better, and by better meaning with a little bit more flexibility to it … Some of the limitations of just having PayPal is that you can only sell one product at a time, right? You can just have a PayPal button for a particular product. They click it, they buy, boom. You can't have people put multiple products into a cart and then go check out and buy three or four products all at once. You can't do some of the things like one-click upsells, for example, with PayPal or PayPal natively without some sort of shopping cart system wrapped around PayPal.
First of all, I would say if you're thinking about a shopping cart, go back to episode 63 and listen to it. That is how you define you requirements before you go out looking for a shopping cart solutions and that'll save you a whole lot of time if you think you need a shopping cart. Secondly, to the point about what's the difference between what's a necessity and what's a convenience and why do you need a shopping cart, because in a lot of instances a shopping cart will have features that potentially can earn you more revenue. For example, let's say you have a $100 product that you're selling on PayPal. There's a button on your site. They click it, that person buys a $100 product. If you could have a customer experience that's better than just that button on your site and an ugly PayPal payment page, a greater percentage of those customers are likely to convert. There'll be some people that coming now, they click on the button, they go to PayPal and they decide not to buy and they leave and they never come back. That conversion rate of the people who see the button to the people who complete a checkout, the better that user experience is in the checkout, the higher that conversion rate's gonna be. You want to make that process as pleasant and frictionless as possible to get someone from the sales page to a completed payment.
That's where some of the shopping cart solutions can help that and they can up that conversion rate, which would lead to more revenue to you. Some of them will have advanced features like one-click upsell, so if someone's checking out for your $100 product and you've got a complimentary product for $50 for example, you can say, “Hey, would you like this $50 thing with that while you're buying this $100 thing?” They say, “Yes,” and then that can lead to a cart value of $150 versus $100. Just like Mcdonalds when you pull up and they always ask if you want fries with that, there's a reason. They're trying to up their cart value. Shopping carts can help you do that as opposed to just a PayPal button. There's some of the things to think about. Go back to episode 63 if you're thinking about it and do your requirements, and also have a look at the blog for the guide to online payment processors.
Now I'm going to jump to another question. This is from Belinda and she says, “Hey, I'm new to online payments and confused by everyone's preferred systems.” Right. Tonnes of marketers online, tonnes of people with opinions, tonnes of people getting paid affiliate commissions, so they'll tell you that this particular product is “best” or that particular product is “best,” or “I prefer this one” or “I prefer that one.” When you hear someone say that this shopping cart system is best, what they really mean is it's best for them. It best suits their needs. It best accomplishes what they need to get out of a payments processor. That might be completely different to what you need to get out of a payment processor. You might be selling physical items and they're just selling online items, so they don't need to collect addresses and shipping and all that kind of stuff but you do. Their requirements are going to be very different to your requirements. Anytime you hear someone say this is the best, take that with a grain of salt. There is no “best” shopping cart, there's only opinion.
I would also say to you, Belinda, go back to episode 63 which talks about how to come up with your requirements for a shopping cart system or a payments platform. Go through your requirements first and say, “I need this, I don't need that, I need this, I don't need that.” Once you have that list of requirements done and dusted, ready to go, then you can go out looking for ones that best match those requirements. There is no best, there's only the best for the person who's talking about it.
Here's a pretty common question from Jason. Jason says, “I'm looking for something to use besides PayPal.” He's maybe one step along the process from Deb there and he's looking to replace PayPal. “I'm looking for something to use besides PayPal, I'd like to keep the transactions on my site, but does that mean I need SSL? What is it and how do I configure it?” If you're gonna do the transactions off your own site then yes, you absolutely need SSL. SSL stands for secure socket layer. It's just a way to encrypt data as it goes across the Internet so that if someone were to grab … You can imagine every little piece of data flying around the Internet is a little packet of data. Since the Internet's an open architecture it's not really that hard for someone to grab a packet of data as it flows around the Internet. They could crack open that packet of data and they could see what's inside of it.
What you need to do is encrypt that data if it has important information. You want to encrypt that data so that if someone does grab the packet and crack it open, they can't actually make any sense of what's inside of it because it's encrypted. It gets encoded or encrypted on one end of the discussion, flies across the Internet encrypted, it gets decoded on the other end of the line. Anybody who grabs it in the middle just gets gibberish. That's what SSL does basically, it encrypts data as it moves between different points on the Internet. If you need SSL, like if you are doing transactions on your site, you're taking people's names and their credit card numbers especially, you don't want that information flying around the Internet in open text. You need that information encrypted so yes, you will have to have SSL installed on your site. Easiest way to do that is just contact your web hosting provider, tell them you need SSL. They'll instal it on your site, should be done the same day, and you're off to the races. If you're gonna do transactions off your own site absolutely, you need SSL.
That's why all these payment platforms like SamCart, ThriveCart, Active Relay, they're external platforms which mean they handle the encryption and you don't have to worry about it on your website, so that's why people like it so much. You might have a Buy button your website, someone clicks the Buy button on your website. They're flipped over to, say, Active Relay's website to fill out the order form. Once that customer gets to Active Relay's website to fill out the order form, Active Relay's handling all the security, all the SSL. You don't have to worry about it on your site. Once the transaction's done, then the shopping cart payment platform provider flips the customer back to your site for the thank you page or wherever they need to go after the transaction's complete, and then they're back on your site after that. One of the benefits of going with software as a service or an external cart provider is that they're responsible for handling all the security and all that stuff. If you want it on your own site, as you said, yes you'll need SSL.
As far as incorporating payments into your own site, completely into your own site, I think one of the best platforms for that is Easy Digital Downloads. If you just head over to EasyDigitalDownloads.com you can get all of the information on that. It's a very extensible platform, meaning you can plug in little bits and pieces of functionality as you need them, so you don't have to pay for the whole lot up front if you don't need all the features. You don't need all the features, you only pay for the features that you want and the features that you use.
Now we've got another kind of concern here from David. This is a common concern and if you have been running credit cards on subscription payments at all, you'll know what a pain in the ass this is. One of his big frustrations is credit cards expiring with no auto-card update. Someone subscribed to your service. They're paying whatever, $99 a month, with their credit card every month. Every month their credit card gets billed and then as all credit cards do, it hits an expiry date and then all of the sudden you start getting all these failed transactions. What David's talking about there is those cards expiring without there being any kind of follow-up process, or even proactive process, to say, “Hey Barry, your card's expiring in 30 days. Why don't you click this link and update your card information?” or if the card fails, sending them a Transaction Failed, sending them an email with a link in it where they could update their card details.
That process, the official term for that's called “dunning,” and there are some platforms that have dunning capabilities built in. None of them work terribly well that I've seen so far. There is an external service if you happen to be using Stripe as your payment processor. There's an external service called Stunning and you can find them at Stunning.co, that's “co” not “com,” so that's Stunning.co. They're basically a dunning service that you can bolt onto Stripe. If your transactions are going through Stripe, you can bolt on Stunning and that will do all your card fails and follow up and update emails and functionality for you so that you don't have to do it yourself. These people have a link to automatically update their card information and it should bring back a lot of failed transactions. It's worth its weight, certainly worth what you pay for it if you have a lot of transactions going through.
One last question we'll talk about, this kinda getting to the more complex kind of areas. This one comes from Julian. Julian says his biggest issue is finding a cart system that will integrate with ActiveCampaign, support intelligent Facebook pixel events at each stage of the cart process and give meaningful reporting and be a good mobile experience, as well. That's a big ask there. That's kind of like the holy grail of shopping carts.
Let's knock those off a few at a time. First of all, we need to get it to integrate with ActiveCampaign. There are several carts that do that really well and we'll talk about a couple of them in a minute. Then, we need to support intelligent Facebook pixeling events. If you're not familiar with that, what he's talking about there is having a Facebook pixel at various pages in the checkout process so that we can group people into custom audiences on Facebook and we can follow them up. Say they come to our sales page and our checkout page, but they don't actually buy. We can put them into a custom audience and then run ads to them on Facebook later if they didn't buy, trying to bring them back and get them to buy. All right, so we need to tell Facebook whether this person's bought or not, or whether they've seen our sales page or not. You can put pixels into your checkout process or ideally you can put Facebook pixels into your checkout process to let us know that that step's happened. Hey, step number one, they saw our sales page. Step number two, they went to our payment page. Step number three, they got to our thank you page which means the transaction was completed by if they got to the thank you page.
We got three different audiences there, someone who's seen the product but not gone to the checkout page, someone that's seen the checkout page but not purchased, and then someone who's gone all the way through and purchased. Now we can run different ads potentially to those different groups on Facebook, bringing them back to different stages of the sale cycle. If they looked at the product but not gone to the payment page, we might want to run a longer campaign on Facebook to educate them about how great the product is. If they've hit the payment page but not checked out, we might want to run an immediate campaign to get them back, an abandoned cart campaign to get them back to the checkout page. Then, if they have bought, we might run a little Facebook page to try and get them to share some content with their audience. We might try and run some ads to cross-sell them to another product. We're talking about one integrating with ActiveCampaign, two being able to put Facebook pixels into your checkout process, and then three being mobile-friendly, and then four, having good reporting. That's pretty much the whole matzoh there. There's not much left.
I would say as far as the ActiveCampaign friendly bit goes, there's only a handful of products that would even come close to satisfying this criteria. As far as ActiveCampaign friendly goes, hands down the best shopping cart that integrates the most deeply with ActiveCampaign is a relatively new product called Active Relay. You can also add Facebook pixels to your checkout page there as well. They are mobile-friendly and they do have good reporting. The only drawback to Active Relay at the time of recording now is that it's a very new product, so they haven't finished building out their feature set yet. Some of the cooler features of the bigger cart platforms or the cart platforms that have been around longer aren't yet in Active Relay, but I do know the founder Dan and we've had him on the show, and I know he's got big plans. I would say that one integrates the best with ActiveCampaign. If you want to find out more, you can go back and listen to episode 64 of the podcast where we have a dedicated session with Dan there talking about Active Relay.
Then there's two other carts that integrate quite well with ActiveCampaign and they both will give you Facebook pixeling, decent reporting and a decent mobile experience. Once is SamCart and if you go to episode 65, there is an episode with Scott Moran where we talk about SamCart. Again, you can integrate with ActiveCampaign, you can put pixels on your pages, mobile experience is pretty good and the reporting is very good. The other one that's just in the wings now, and if you head to the show notes for this episode at TheActiveMarketer.com/66 I'll have a link to it, there's a new cart platform just on the horizons. I've been in the beta for a long time now and they're just opening it to the public now, so by the time this recording goes live they may be open to the public, but there'll be a special link in the show notes at any rate where you can get in even if they're not open to the public when this goes live.
This one's called ThriveCart and the great thing about ThriveCart is they've been spending a long time on the development. I think I got in in February last year and I'm recording this in October, so it's been a good eight months in development since I first got my hands on it. Really feature-rich platform, very feature-rich platform. You can pixel your pages. It has good reporting and it integrates well with ActiveCampaign. One of the unique things about their integration is … Most of the integrations with other providers, you can specify a list you want someone to join and then the tags you want them to have as they join the list, whereas in ThriveCart you can actually put people straight into an ActiveCampaign automation. You can say when someone buys, add them to this automation, or when someone abandons the cart add them to this automation. It's not necessarily better, it's just kind of different. Either you can specify a list and tags, or in ThriveCart's case you can go straight into an automation.
Active Relay, SamCart and ThriveCart. ThriveCart's gonna be pretty feature-rich as well. Again, they're a pretty new platform so they don't have everything built out but again, Josh, the founder, we're trying to get him on the show as well. I know he's got some big plans for that platform as well. Those are the three that integrate best with ActiveCampaign by far. Some other ones like SendOwl will do some decent integration but they're not anywhere near as feature-rich and they'll nickel-and-dime as you move up.
Again, to summarise, there is no best platform out there. There's only the platform that best suits your needs so make sure you know what your needs are before you go searching for any software platform, not just a shopping cart but any software platform at all. If you want to go back to episode 63, we talk all about how you can come up with those requirements. If you want to find out more about payment processors, go to the blog and you will find the guide to online payment processors there and we'll walk you through exactly how it all works, what are the best payment processors out there, which ones you should think about using, et cetera. That's this week's Tactical 20 episode, some questions from the listeners. We'll be back next week where we're talking about one of the more traditional kind of shopping cart platforms. So far we've been talking about more online marketing platforms where you're selling digital products or events or subscriptions, but what about physical products? What if you have an online store selling physical products? Next week we'll be talking about Shopify, so make sure you come back for that episode and I'll see you next time.
All right, that's our Tactical 20 podcast for this week. If you have any questions or any topics you'd like to see covered on future Tactical 20 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. Get out there and design, automate and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. See you next week everybody.
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