Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Invest in MIDJR at Empire Avenue!

So I heard about this thing, Empire Avenue, on John Chows blog…and I figured I would give it a try.

I am not going to write a post about how to use it, but basically it measures your activity on certain social networks, and is similar in some ways to other influencer measuring tools such as Klout and Peer Index.

Where Empire Avenue is unique is that your value can effectively be peer-reviewed by others buying and selling shares in your score, giving you an incentive to remain a valuable commodity and remain active on your social networks.

It’s actually startlingly addictive.

Part game, part ratings system, Empire Avenue works by allowing users to create a ticker linked to their activity on various social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. The system measures that activity and the level of engagement your content provokes, and then assesses your share price based on that activity. People can buy shares in you and you can buy shares in others, which leads to a virtual social currency that moves up and down just like a stock.

So far the virtual currency, Eaves, are only available in the game but I understand they are plans for you to be able to exchange the currency for real money/goods. Also, some corporate players have gotten involved, specifically Ford.

At its highest level its networking, gaming, aggregation and social media status in one fun little package and I suggest you give it a shot!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Guest Posts Wanted!

If anyone is interested in being a guest blogger, I would love to have you. Content would have to be focused on payments and internet marketing. Contact me if interested.

Google Wallet and its effect on Online Marketers

How does the announcement of the Google wallet effect online merchants. Well, as far as I can tell – it doesn’t. Its important to note that Google Wallet is separate from Google Checkout, and can be thought of as the brick-and-mortar counterpart to the online payment nature of Google Checkout


What Google basically did is take the concept of the ewallet, which has been around online forever, and take it offline. So now you can attach multiple funding methods to the wallet, and then use it wherever the wallet is accepted. Online this has been used for everything from online gaming, to digital music downloads, discreet purchasing and for many other reasons including payouts of funds. The reason Google is doing it is to simplify purchasing, and I love the idea. I hate carrying cards around, however I use a blackberry so since this is only available on the Android, I can’t use it.


There are tons of other articles online that explain what the wallet is, and how it used NFC to process the payments so I am not going to get into that, my focus is strictly on online payments. So, while Google Wallet obviously is geared toward consumer convenience, it also has some hefty implications for internet marketers who work with offline retail stores, not those that strictly sell online. Users will also be able to load coupons, offers and even gift cards, not to mention loyalty cards Users searching for specific deals will be pointed to a place of business on a Google map. Google will also be promoting a daily Google Offer, the Google equivalent to Groupon or Living Social.


Google Wallet will connect online and offline commerce, and will make online promotion for local retail businesses MUCH easier. Google Wallet and Google Offers will make it one step easier to reach potential customers. Things like loyalty cards will be more effective if customers aren’t deterred by having to keep track of dozens of cards in their wallet, or needing to print out coupons.


Google Wallet will also boost paid search advertising efforts for retail businesses, with or without an e-commerce site. Plus, since all coupons will be available electronically I would expect a new range of reporting metrics available to advertisers in Analytics from Google Wallet purchases. Tracking the date your coupon was downloaded from your ad and looking at the amount of time it took someone to actually redeem it, for example, could help you craft ads with stronger CTAs. And knowing how many people have used your coupon beyond clicking on your ad would be good general information to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing as well.


What the Google Wallet is trying to do is make e-eommerce not just a process of buying products/services online via a website, but rather as a tool to make purchases anywhere, and most importantly to bring the convenient aspects of online shopping (searchability, electronic coupons/payment) to your business offline.



JR

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Direct Merchant Account or PayPal?

Today I was asked “are your rates better then paypal” and I gave two answers.

1. Yes

2. PayPal and a direct merchant account are two very different things.

I am sure you can find tons of articles on the internet about PayPal Vs Merchant Accounts, but I would like to give you my perspective. I think PayPal is great, I think there is definitely a purpose for PayPal. I strongly believe that Paypal is a great service for startup online companies, companies on a low budget that just need something to get up quick. However, if you are looking to do any serious volume, or if you are looking for something with flexibility, or if you are looking to do anything in what would be considered a high risk area, you need a direct merchant account.

What may make PayPal attractive, is first the cost. Its reasonably cheap, no setup fees, gatway fees, monthly fees, etc. With PayPal you are not really getting a merchant account, you are using their merchant account.

When it comes to getting your money, a direct merchant account may take longer, or shorter, it really depends. BUT the credit card payment system is one that has been around for over 40 years. Its trusted the world over. PayPal is a private company that in the grand internet scheme of things has been around for a while, but not as long. Also, if you do some google searches you will read stories from people around the world who have had their funds frozen by PayPal, for one reason or another. I am sure in a lot of these cases, there was a very valid reason to do this. However, I would also assume that it happened to a few people that didn’t deserve it. Just something you need to keep in mind.

Fraud protection is also something that every merchant really needs to take into consideration. With a direct merchant account/payment gateway, you will usually access to customizable solutions for Fraud protection. And you can base your settings on your business type and the history, its your choice. However, with PayPal, they have total control over fraud detection as its their merchant account that you are using. So, you may have instances where transactions are being declined that shouldn’t be.

Although the upfront costs are more, a direct merchant account/gateway allows the flexibility needed to make it easier for both the customer and merchant. For the customer, ease-of-use translates into more sales. For the storeowner, ease-of-use and automation translate into time (and therefore money) saved.

Overall, PayPal is an excellent payment solution for a business on a low budget that wants to get up and running quickly and easily. But a direct merchant account is a extremely flexible payment solution that will grow as your business grows. In the short term it will cost more to get up and running but in the end it's always worth it.

If you are looking to setup a direct merchant account or have any questions about this article, please contact me



JR

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Offshore Processing for Internet Marketers

When I speak to a lot of internet marketers and bring up the option of processing business offshore, I am told (in a lot of cases) that they are not interested in offshore and they only want a domestic solution.

I am actually not 100% sure of the reason but one thing is for sure, offshore processing has much worse reputation in the Internet Marketing industry then it should. A lot of the time setting up offshore is exactly what a merchant needs to do, at least for the time being. One of the major benefits to processing offshore is that it provides you with much-needed flexibility and can really help if you are having any chargeback issues. I would be happy to speak in much greater detail with anyone that is interested. Contact me anytime.

The fact of the matter is, the offshore banks that I have worked with are all established, have a very good understanding of ecommerce, and are very easy to deal with it. If the image that you have of working with an offshore bank is that of a shady organization, operating out of a small office, in the middle of some backwards country, then you are wrong. I have seen some of the operations, and they are impressive to say the least. They are banks, they are regulated by the associations they belong to, and a lot of them understand ecommerce better than domestic banks.

What I sometimes suggest to my merchants (especially those in the online marketing space) is that they should have both domestic and offshore processing and once they setup, it’s easy to understand why. Yes, you will pay slightly more for offshore processing, but would rather pay a slightly higher premium to ensure that you are always up and running, even if you encounter some slight chargeback issues.

And lets be honest here, even if you run a 100% complaint operation, if you are running any type of trial offer you will have customers that forget to cancel, will complain and you will get Chargeback - and the difference between offshore and domestic chargeback thresholds is significant. This is a HUGE advantage of going offshore and I think it’s a better option than the IPSP model.

One concern that a company may have with going offshore is the requirements to incorporate in that jurisdiction. That is understandable if its something that you have never done before, but it’s really not a complicated process and it’s a process that any processor with experience can walk you through. There may be some slight additional costs, but the benefit of ensuring your processing is up always definitely outweighs that. Contact me if you have any questions about setting up an offshore account.

I think that getting comfortable with Offshore is something that comes with experience. I do have quite a few merchants/offers processing offshore, and I think that these days anyone with substantial volume that offers a trial is starting to see this requirement. Adult merchants have been processing offshore forever, and they definitely see the value in it BUT its important to note that you need to work with someone that has experience because you don’t want to get burned, have the bank blow up and hold your funds.

Some quick benefits

- Usually allow for more volume/no cap
- Higher chargeback threshold
- Potential for multiple currencies
- Higher chance for approval.

If you have questions about Offshore Processing, or would like to talk to me about setting up an account then get in touch.

JR

Friday, May 13, 2011

Direct Merchant Account VS IPSP/Third Party

Recently I read a post on directreponse.net (http://bit.ly/kUQ7fO) that discusses Limelights integration with CCBIll. I am a huge fan of this blog, I look forward to reading the posts and I know that Rich is clearly a person that knows a lot about this industry. That being said, there are some things that I don’t agree with and I think that every marketer should be aware of.

I think the move by Rick at LimeLight to integrate with CCBILL is a great one and I think a lot of merchants will use this service, however there are some important things to note and this based on feedback I have received from merchants who are working with CCBILL or other similar models.

1. This post clearly is against Offshore merchant accounts. I am really not sure why that is. I have boarded a lot of merchants offshore and they are running great. The pricing is a bit higher, settlement timelines are slightly longer (for the most part) but there are a lot of advantages to going offshore. I will get to those in another post because that is a whole discussion in itself.

2. For this IPSP Model, the rates are very high…with reserve and everything involved it can get really up there. This money can be spent on other way to grow your business, not processing. I understand that its an ”all in” solution but you are definitely paying a premium for it.


3. “their compliance team might as well be the FTC themselves” This is a direct quote from someone I know who is working with them. Because CCBILL is basically the merchant of record, their ass is really on the line. I don’t blame then, I would do the exact same and I am not advocating non compliance, but when changes need to take place for whatever reason (especially increasing conversions) you don’t want it to be a lengthy process. This leads me to my next point.

4. If you want to change something, it needs to go through an approval process. I understand that...and I definitely don’t blame this, but it’s a reason why this type of account isn’t for everyone.

5. “They host everything and integration is not easy” I have never integrated with them, so I can’t comment, but this is another complaint someone gave me.

A lot of things above are seen as positives and beneficial to the merchants, but I really believe that Offshore is definitely a viable option and you have more flexibility with a direct merchant account.

CCBILL is doing something right, they have been around forever, were /are leaders in Adult processing, but I want to present alternatives as their solution will not work for all large advertisers. As the online marketing space grows, its good for people to know there are options.

If anyone is interested in knowing more about a direct merchant account, offshore or domestic, I would be more than happy to discuss what is available.
After reading this post, its more about negatives towards the IPSP model, then positives for a direct merchant account. I will write one shortly that focuses on the positives.

JR

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What is a "High Risk" Merchant Account

Some Merchants in certain categories (but definitely not all) that deal with high volume sales in eCommerce are likely to be designated as “high risk” because they might have a high rate of charge-backs. Chargebacks occur more often when the merchant does not actually see and swipe the credit card. This is why traditional retail merchants are able to avoid a large percentage of them, whereas Internet merchants are not. Further, many of these businesses function within industries with perceived (and I need to stress the word perceived because I work with TONS of merchants that this doesn’t apply to) reputations for low product or service quality, minimal authenticity and order fulfillment failures.

Some merchants who are limited to applying for High Risk Merchant Accounts become frustrated with their limited options and wonder if they will ever be able to apply for a Low Risk Merchant Account. The reality is that if your industry is well established as a high risk category, you will likely require a High Risk Merchant Account for the life of your business. If, on the other hand, your credit history and business practices are the reason for your high risk designation; you may be able to make some reasonable changes and qualify for a Low Risk Merchant Account in the future.


High Risk Merchant Accounts include:

Merchants with Bad Credit or TMF
Subscription services - Multi level marketing - Psychics/Fortune Tellers
Direct telemarketing - Travel - Vitamin/Herbal supplements
Membership services - Tickets - High volume Merchant Acccts
Adult websites - Dating sites - Telecom
Online pharmacy - Timeshares - Mail Order/Membership Clubs

So, are there still good solutions for Higher Risk Merchants? Absolutely! Just because you are conducting business is one of this higher risk categories doesn’t mean you will not be able to get an account. Work with processors, (like myself :))who have experience in this area and understand the business. We can probably help you implement strategies for chargeback reduction.

While its true that the majority of high risk accounts will be placed offshore, we can definitely look at the business and see if domestic is an option.
If you have any questions regarding High Risk accounts, don’t hesitate to contact me.

JR

Are Daily Deal websites considered high risk?

Daily Deal websites are something I know quite a bit about as I work with some of the largest Daily Deal websites around. These guys process a significant amount of volume and quite honestly the chargebacks are extremely low considering the volume. So the question is, why in speaking to some companies, do they tell them that domestic processors are not willing or want to their business because it’s too high risk?

A few answers to this question.
1. They don’t understand it.
About 1 year ago, when the larger sites were just starting out, this may have been a good answer and a few of my clients had to really sit down with processors and explain the concept. If you get this answer from a processor today, then they shouldn’t be in this business. Anyone who doesn’t understand this business has been living under a rock.

2. There is a fear of high chargebacks from customers who aren’t happy with service they received.
If that is the case, then this is not a merchant that I would want to work with either. The Daily Deal websites that will succeed are the ones who place an emphasis on customer service. If a customer is not happy, then refund them. You would rather have that customer come back and be happy with the service they received, then not and of course you don’t want the chargebacks.

3. The merchant can go out of business after they sold all the deals.This is a risk that you have to take, but all these larger deal companies do their due diligence on the merchants to see if they can handle the huge influx of customers they are going to receive. I wouldn’t want to work with a deal company that will just take anyone, I will want to see their contract and how they board the merchants.

I do not in any way consider a daily deal sites high risk, as long as the people behind them are in it for the long term and are looking to build a sustainable business. Right now we are placing daily deal sites domestically at GREAT rates both in Canada in the US. For some of the larger sites we have merchant accounts at both a Canadian and US bank, and NO ISSUES AT ALL!

I strongly believe that the top guys will stay the top guys but there will be smaller sites that focus niche industries, which is definitely something we are seeing now.

As always, I am here to help if you are looking to place this business. Hit me up


JR

Who is Jared Ronski?

My name is Jared Ronski, and you are probably asking yourself why does this guy have a blog and why am I reading it.

Well to give you some background on who I am, I have been in the payments industry for over 7 years in various capacities. I started off working in prepaid, helping companies disburse funds around the world. I worked with MLM companies, companies paying affiliates, and gaming companies just to name a few.

After prepaid, I got into the payment processing business - helping merchants accept payments (primarily credit cards) online. I work with both Low Risk merchants as well as High Risk merchants. The typical merchant I enjoy working with the most is the high volume, experienced, internet marketer. I find that its fun, interesting and its an area that I really enjoy.

The purpose of this blog is to really discuss the issues facing internet marketers, talk about strategies to overcome them, look at what is working and what isn't , and hopefully I can help people along the way.

Any feedback to the site is greatly appreciated, and I look forward to speaking to anyone who would like to know more about what I do.

thank you,

Jared