Entries tagged with “Social Media”.


Mobile technology seems to be in the news quite a bit today.  Instagram, a social photosharing, site was  acquired by Facebook.  AisleBuyer, a line-busting mobile commerce application, was acquired by Intuit.  Best Buy is looking at mobile strategies to combat the phenomenon of “showrooming,” in which consumers come to the retail store to look at the product, then make the purchase from Amazon, or eBay or another eCommerce site.  Mobile commerce, mobile payments, mobile social.  It seems that mobile is everywhere.  What does that mean for merchants?  What should merchants be looking for in the mobile revolution?

Something that often gets overlooked with the introduction of a new technology is that of strategy.  Merchants often rush to the new technology that promises convenience, increased conversion, and cool factor.  But the question that we should be asking is, “Why?”  Does mobile even make sense for me?  Consider a traditional, independent bookstore.  They have a storefront and inventory.  They get foot-traffic and have a traditional Point of Sale (POS) system that is integrated into their inventory management system.  What would a mobile acceptance channel add to them?  On the other side of that coin, consider a crafter or a locksmith.  Often, these professionals operate in the field – at craft fairs or in parking lots.  They have traditionally accepted cash or checks.  Recently they’ve begun to use either a “knucklebuster” or an IVR system to accept payment from debit or credit cards.  For them, mobile payment acceptance makes sense – they can increase their conversion rate (and sometimes their average ticket size), cut back on “bad” transactions with real-time authorization, and add convenience for themselves and their clients.

Another factor that must be considered is security.  Just because a payment is mobile, that doesn’t mean that security goes by the wayside.  In fact, some (including myself) may argue that security becomes more important.  Encrypted card readers are just one layer, albeit a very important layer, of protection for the payment process.  Choosing a service provider with a demonstrated history of compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is another important step in protecting mobile payments.

Mobile payments are an exciting innovation in the payments world.  They offer significant advantage, but as with any tool, they must be managed appropriately in order to recognize the maximum benefit.

Dr. Heather Mark, PhD.  SVP, Market Strategy

Many people today that consider themselves to be internet savvy might believe that they are too clever to fall for an online scam.  They know that they should not respond to pleas for help from Nigerian princes that need to move furniture for their long-deceased, well-meaning philanthropist great uncle.  They know that any job posting that requires respondents to send their bank routing information is likely not legitimate.  They know that a bank will never send an email asking their account holders to “verify their passwords” by clicking on a link.  But do they know that they shouldn’t click on that link that promises a sneak peak of the iPhone 5?

According to a recent survey by the Ponemon Institute (in collaboration with PC Tools), the answer is “no.”  The temptation is just too much, even for seemingly savvy internet users.  “Almost half (47%) of US respondents identified an online survey with a prize as either a scam or an attempt to get you to buy something later. However, when presented with the test scenarios, more than half (55%) of US respondents indicated they would be likely to provide their personal information to redeem a prize after completing an online survey,” said Richard Clooke, Online Security Expert, PC Tools.

A recent article on CNet emphasizes point made by the survey. Last spring, a number of Facebook users were scammed by a link that offered a look at the new iPhone 5.   According to Elinor Mills, the author of the article, “People who normally ignore all the other scams involving purported free software or naked celebrity photos clicked that fake news link and even completed a captcha on a second site, which reposted the scam to their own Facebook stream. That probably says more about how fanatical people are about Apple products than anything else. But it did raise the question–what does it take to lure someone to click on something that seems fishy?” It would certainly appear that the old cliche “everyone has their price” is analogous to this situation. If scammers can target the right prey with the right bait, people seem to disregard their concerns about fraud.  Target techies and Jobs-o-philes with a promised look at a future Apple product and they’ll likely click away.

The moral of the story – “think before you click.”  Many people associate internet scams with malware and Trojans, but sometimes scammers are looking for more specific information about users so that they can launch more targeted and sophisticated attacks later on.   For example, in the scam listed above,  scammers could perhaps garner email addresses.  Those addresses could then be used in phishing attacks later on to get more sensitive data from individuals.  It’s important to remember not to let your guard down when it comes to cyberscams.

Dr. Heather Mark, Ph.D.

SVP of Market Strategy

As information sharing and technology are updated at an increasingly rapid pace, it is critical to maintain a competitive edge by keeping customers informed of new solutions to their problems. 

 When rolling out new services or products, it is important to have a clear, straightforward message that can be shared quickly on what the benefits of your new services are.  Some of the more popular and important ways to stay in touch with your customers are through social media, blogs, newsletters, email and your website.  These tools can help a company reach many people more quickly and cost effectively than traditional marketing channels. 

 These marketing methods allow you to communicate effectively with a broad customer demographic in the way they choose to receive information.  In addition, they provide an opportunity for you to hear back from your customers quickly and candidly what they think about your products and services. In fact, many new product developments, improvements and advancements are a result of customer feedback or requests for a certain item or service.

 ProPay employs many of these resources to communicate to our customers what is new, what is coming and what solutions you may not already be using.   Checking our site, blog and subscribing to our newsletter are great ways to stay informed on what’s happening in credit card processing.  In addition, you may want to make sure you’re subscribed to receive updates and promotions via email, including our weekly 60 second tip.  You can edit your preferences by logging into your account and going to ‘my account’ then clicking on ‘my profile’ and then ‘change options’.

 Stay tuned for on-going updates on new products and services from ProPay.

Site: www.propay.com

The ProPay Perspective Blog: blog.propay.com

We have heard a lot lately about consumers tightening purse strings, saving more and spending less.  This means more competition for each dollar.  While finding new customers is important, you may find significant value in retaining those you already have.  Promotions and price cuts erode profitability, so here are some other ways to enhance the customer experience and entice customers back.

 Reach Out.

Let customers know their business is appreciated and you would like to see them again.  An easy way to do this is through a small business email marketing service.  Keep the communication brief, relevant and not too frequent.  You might also send a physical card to announce an event or a hand-written note to tell a customer thank you.

 Interact.

Open a dialogue with your customers.  Let them know you are listening and that their feedback is important.  In his recent book, The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk argues that getting involved in the social media discussion in particular with your customers is critical to a business’s success.  It allows a business to discover ways to improve and builds relationships, which drives customer loyalty.

 Incentivize.

Finding ways to give more benefits without cutting costs can give you an edge on the competition. Some insurance companies provide time-based extra benefits for loyal customers, making them think twice about switching.  Likewise, some credit card companies can charge higher fees because of the extra benefits they offer cardholders. 

 Be Extraordinary.

Happy employees help make happy customers.  Do you know people who will drive past several other mechanic shops to go to the one they like because the service is outstanding and the experience enjoyable?    Creating trust and having above-average customer service keeps people coming back and can generate a healthy stream of referrals.

 Make Buying Easy.

Encouraging repeat business may be as simple as offering gift cards, bounce back coupons, or scheduling the next appointment right away.  You might consider securely storing their payment information so they don’t have to provide it next time.  Enabling your website to accept payments allows your customers to buy whenever they want.  If it fits your business, offering a monthly subscription or auto-ship makes repeat buying a breeze.

 For more ideas, check out www.customerloyalty.org, an informative resource for keeping your customers coming back.

This week ProPay attended the 2011 Electronic Transaction Association (ETA) annual convention in San Diego, California.  While it was great to catch up with old friends and rekindle business relationships, I could not help but be struck by the focus on mobile payments.  While hosting a Social Mobile Payments roundtable, one of the participants made a very interesting observation.  She indicated that the exuberance we are seeing today around mobile technology is similar to that we saw in the late 1990’s with the DotCom boom.  As I thought about her comment, I had to admit that there are some similarities.  Anyone (including this author) that has worked for a Silicone Valley company during the DotCom boom, can attest to the excitement, exuberance and confidence we all had in the future of eCommerce.  Certainly some readers remember man.com, pets.com, etoys.com, flooz.com, or my favorite,  kozmo.com.  Kozmo.com would allow you to order literally anything, at any time and they would deliver to your door.  If you wanted a chili dog at midnight…Kozmo.com.  Need some nail polish remover at 4am?  Kozmo.com.  You can read about the ‘busts’ here. While there were some major busts, there were some great companies that arrived, as well.  Amazon.com, Google.com, Yahoo.com, and ProPay.com (had to give a plug for our company).

While new technology is exciting and mobile technology certainly seems to be the wave of the future, the over excitement of investors, and developers does harken back to the glory days of the DotCom boom.  While it is certainly to early to tell, history suggests that there is a potential for a bust of some level.  It should be noted that this is not limited to eCommerce or mobile.  At the 2011 Computer Electronics Show it was estimated that over 50 tablet PCs were released to compete with the ubiquitous iPad.  Estimates suggested that by the end of 2011, only two would still be in the market.  One has to wonder how many of the mobile startups will go the way of the DotComs?