Your 'Alternative' Billing Self-Test

Joe D
I have always considered true innovation to be at the forefront of industry advancement and at the heart of most beneficial decision making – on every level, really – innovation is an essential driving element in the process of improving every facet of each undertaking in which we engage. Everyone following domestic and international economic trends and seeking to maintain or increase revenue growth in the current and impending global marketplace is now considering a decision to implement the best alternative billing methods for their programs and markets, so I would like to give you some innovations to consider as you examine the alternatives available to you in 2008. If you are actively engaged in this process, kudos to your forward thinking instincts and here are some more ideas to ponder. If you are not, please read on, and don’t miss out.

There is so much to consider in making processing cascade decisions, and when making the choice for a replacement or addition to your alternative billing options, what qualifications and considerations do you seek? Presuming that processing is one of the most essential decisions directly affecting your bottom line performance, what elements do you investigate when undertaking your due diligence, and what are the most important characteristics you evaluate in assessing the quality of the finalists in your personal short list?
  • Is everything a company represents they provide available in all of their serviced countries? If not, do they detail for you in which country each method is in operation, the pros and cons to you and your users of each, and what each method entails?

  • If they provide real pull direct debit, do you know in which countries it is available? Do they provide all their information up front, or do they leave it to you to ask the ‘right’ questions?

  • Are there restrictions as to minimum or maximum charges? Do they assist you in price setting? Must you use direct currency conversion or can you set prices within their system independently of your other billing solutions? What is the level of flexibility as you target the EU and leverage current world economic conditions? If you have EU distribution, is there a solution you can also use for hard goods sales?

  • ‘Alternative’ billing in Europe is the credit card. Do they tell you the primary preferred payment method and availability in each of the markets in which they propose to process for your company?

  • Assess the fraud checks available and what additional levels of security are offered. While there may be no chargeback limits with certain solutions, how are the chargebacks handled?

  • Can you continue to use all your other billing options in concert with your proposed new solutions? Can you geo-target users for, say direct debit in the five top EU adult markets to one solution, and then geo-target users in countries still requiring a physical signature to another solution? Any new billing solution must add to your flexibility and capability to maximize conversion, and should not cannibalize or take away from anything else you are currently using.

  • Does the proposed new or replacement platform assist with all translations and guidance with geo-targeting strategies, and provide you with ongoing conversion coaching and support?

  • How long has each of the new and replacement billing options on your short list been billing with each process in which they claim adult conversion expertise? What is the nature of their negative database, and are they aggressive with collections to maximize EU revenue? Are they originating and initiating the transactions, or using a third party themselves?

  • If there is a geo-targeting error for a user can he change his country/language on the join page? – are there lost users? You try to give your users every possible opportunity for a successful conversion, but what happens to the user when the join is unfulfilled?

  • Is the surfer automatically redirected to another billing option you specify and designate by return URL if he doesn’t join by, say, direct debit? If he does not choose the primary preferred join method for his country is he then immediately directed to an alternative credit card, phone, or wallet option or is he now the processors’ user? Does each new and replacement billing candidate on your short list have the philosophy that the surfers are always - and remain – your and your webmasters’ users?

  • Does the proposed admin area break down your revenue stats country-by-country, and provide you with payment method totals and percentages for each in real time? Do you get one ‘lump’ sum payout for your ‘alternative revenue?’ Do you have the ability to perform an autopsy on under performing regions and failed joins so you can tweak from top to bottom? You already know that analysis and dissection of your stats will help you increase all conversions.

  • Can you generate additional revenue using typical successful credit card strategies - with which you are already familiar - with each solution under your consideration? If there are no chargeback limitations can you responsibly use free/multiple free trials, cross sales, recurring billing of course, multiple recurring memberships for the same user, pay-per-anything, upsells/additional time purchases/special events marketing and future one-click encrypted join marketing opportunities for special offers and cancelled members?

  • Who owns the customer in each of the solutions on your list?

  • Can you customize the actual join page with your own translated program-specific text and graphics to take the motivating content right up to the point of submitting the join? Can each platform allow you to host your own join page? If you don’t want the programming headaches, and seek ease of implementation and automatic updates, are the billers’ join pages automatically updated and available to open in an iFrame if you desire?

  • Are your short list candidates implemented with both NATS and MPA3 for even easier implementation on your side? Are all the benefits you’ve been analyzing also available through this implementation method?

  • Are you required to create an EU Corporate entity in order to process?

  • Although no programmer will ever say anything is ‘easy’ – look for a comparatively direct sequential and expeditious implementation. If you currently offer only credit card payment to your EU traffic, expect an enormous return on this implementation – and when you assess priority in your programming queue for adding ‘alternative’ billing solutions, remember that you are already investing a great deal to get EU traffic to your sites – you know it is there – you are just unable to convert it. If you are already using an ‘alternative’ biller but do not offer real direct debit in the largest markets, you could also see significant improvement in your EU revenue with just a few adjustments.

    Xbiz Award Nominee

    Ask questions, qualify the answers. I am surprised at how many program owners I have recently spoken with who have never seen their non-English geo-targeted join pages. In some cases they really have no idea what is happening on those pages. Does anyone on your short list offer you both ‘alternative’ processing and credit card processing at the same rates? How do the rates vary across the candidates on your short list? Always bear in mind however, that rates and charges should not be the deciding factor unless they are the only discrepancy remaining in your decision process.

    I am the Chief Marketing Officer of Webbilling.com, offering real EU direct debit [EDD] services in Spain, Austria, The Netherlands, Germany and the UK. The UK includes England, Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. No debit card needed - just a valid bank account, address and phone – with pin call and further security available in these markets. Add a solution that augments your current offerings, not one that cannibalizes what you have already built. The billing client should always be in control. Contact ecommerce and industry resource JoeD for further insight into the alternative billing arena. Marketing@WebBilling.com

    Xbiz Award Nominee

    Webbilling.com - Best Alternative Processor