Is Affiliate Marketing Right for You?

In most industries today, small business owners will find that e-commerce is the only true route to success. If you’ve already built your online business and are now struggling to turn a small but devoted customer base into a large and vocal fandom, maybe it’s time to recruit your customers to sell your product for you. If you’ve already come this far, maybe it’s time to look into affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is often confused with multi-level marketing (MLM). In light of the recent Herbalife settlement, people are once again thinking of MLM as a bad word – just Google “MLM” and you’ll see that one of the first results is “Is multi-level marketing a pyramid scheme?” But that’s missing the point of the settlement, which we believe is actually a good thing for the industry.

In 2012 Bill Ackman, founder of Pershing Square Capital, a hedge fund, began a campaign against Herbalife, accusing the 35-year-old dieting supplement company of being a pyramid scheme. After a lengthy investigation, the company agreed to establish a $200M fund to reimburse distributors for lost wages and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that Herbalife was operating legally.

This settlement is meaningful because, despite the fine, it reinforces that MLM is a fair and legitimate business model. In the words of Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson: “The settlements are an acknowledgement that our business model is sound and underscores our confidence in our ability to more forward successfully.”

While it shares superficial similarities with MLM, affiliate marketing is itself a distinct business model from both multi-level marketers and illegal pyramid schemes:

Pyramid schemes require that people pay to participate in the scheme and only profit when they recruit others to participate. The “product” is only redistribution of money pumped into the scheme: the business is built on recruitment. It’s a closed system and the money flows overwhelmingly toward the top. With no incentive to actually sell a product, those at the bottom of the pyramid eventually run out of new recruits and the pyramid collapses.

Multi-level marketing companies rely on the sale of real products for their cash flow. New recruits are brought on board and the company incentivises recruiters, but the profits at all levels still come from actual sales. Rather than profiting off fees charged to recruits, the company rewards recruiters with a percentage of profits based on sales. In other words, the product is everything.

Affiliate marketing is a single-tier system which rewards affiliates for each visitor or customer the affiliate directs to the business. The affiliate is not selling the product but is instead marketing the business and directing traffic to the company’s website.

Affiliate marketing is often overlooked by digital marketers. Though the methods are more or less identical – SEO, SEM, PPC, email campaigns, etc. – instead of coming from the business directly, the content is actually being promoted by a third-party “publisher” (the affiliate). This is a powerful tool for building trust in a brand; when somebody else speaks up for your product, it makes a greater impression on consumers than hearing it directly from the merchant.

The product is still everything, however. Some people get into affiliate marketing or MLMs because they seem like a solid, profitable business model, and then figure out what the “product” is later. But the medium is not the message. There is no product that is a poor fit for affiliate marketing as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons. Get your product right first – the best time to introduce affiliate marketing to your business is once you have a small but growing customer base, a group of potential brand ambassadors who can prove to you and others that you have a great product.

Affiliate marketing is not a “get-rich-quick scheme” and it’s certainly not a scam. It’s good business. If you know you have a great product and a great online business, affiliate marketing is right for you.
From the start, our mission has always been to provide freelancers, self-employed professionals, entrepreneurs and small business owners with convenient and affordable tools for growing their business. We believe in small business and want to do what we can to help improve the lives of your customers – check back often with the Payza blog for the latest tips and tricks on growing your online business, and be sure to follow us on: Facebook and Twitter

Disappearing Banknotes in India: Understanding the Terms Surrounding Digital Payments

Don’t know what are UPI, NPCI, IMPS, NEFT, or RTGS? Don’t worry, we can help!

The people of India are still adapting to the sudden demonetization of the 500 and 1000 rupee banknotes. Emerging from what experts have described as a “debacle” and utter “fiasco” in monetary policy, many Indians are frustrated by media reports that offer confusing information about India’s financial system.
To help bring some clarity to the situation, we wanted to go over some of the unclear terms in finance and digital payments that are common in media reports about demonetization.

What is UPI?

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a digital payment system network. Using an app on a smartphone, the UPI enables citizens to transfer money between bank accounts of 19 major Indian banks. In addition to simplifying and increasing access to many basic banking services, the UPI app lets a customer to transfer funds to the bank account of a merchant to make payments without the need to share private financial information.

The National Payments Corporation of India along with The Reserve Bank of India developed the app to encourage Indians to replace cash transactions with digital payments.

For more information, see this article about UPI and the related app in The Hindu: What is Unified Payment Interface?

What is IMPS?

Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) is a digital payment system network. IMPS enables the instant, digital transfer of funds between major banks.

Like the UPI, the IMPS platform makes it easy to digitally transfer funds between banks using mobile phones. Using this service, citizens can transfer funds whenever they please, even during off-hours and bank holidays.
The IMPS platform is managed by the National Payments Corporation of India and operates using the National Financial Switch network.

What is NEFT?

National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) is the most extensive banking network in India to transfer funds digitally. This network provides a simple and cost-effective means to transfer funds throughout India and is popular for settling retail remittances. This banking service is available during business hours and closes for bank holidays.

What is NPCI?

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is a non-profit organization that oversees all retail payment systems in India. The organization aims to offer all Indian citizens unrestricted access to digital payment services. Endorsed by the Reserve Bank of India, the NPCI is a leader in advancing India’s “cashless society” initiative.

What is RTGS?

Real-time gross settlement (RTGS) is a money transfer system within a country that enables the transfer of a high volume of funds between banks. Finance companies use this system to transfer money or securities instantly, where the funds are sent individually rather than bundles or batches that are mixed with other securities. The RTGS provides essential financial infrastructure for a country’s Central Bank and monetary system.

Do you know of other banking and finance terms we should add to our list? Would you like for us to explain the details of a digital payment system? Tell us in the comments section below.

Managing Corporate Culture Is the Secret to Attaining Top Performance

Companies that are rated as top performers financially have also been found to foster good corporate culture. In fact, a study by Boston Computing Group reported that leadership and task management performance are directly related to financial performance. What’s more, according to one statistic, companies that build strong leadership and talent management capabilities increase revenue 2.2 times faster than those without it.

Developing a healthy corporate culture should be one of the top priorities for every company. Corporate culture represents the company’s overall style of functioning – this includes beliefs, ethics, and values of the company, method of working and work environment, the extent of social management, the well-being of employees, the extent of teamwork, quality of customer service and also dress code. Every organization should strive to cultivate a healthy corporate culture that sets its management and employees on a path to success. The following are some of the key benefits derived from a healthy business organizational culture:

Motivation

Studies have shown that when employees can relate to a company’s values and goals or are able to achieve their own professional goals, their performance far exceeds the average threshold. Hence it is very important to find a good fit between the company’s beliefs and the people it employs. Also, a company’s culture must be consistent. Employees feel motivated when they are kept informed, engaged in decision making, encouraged to work as a team and experience a high degree of job satisfaction in terms of their personal growth and achievements. Hence recruiting the right talent and constantly engaging them is a very important part of managing corporate culture.

Customer Satisfaction

This is simple logic. If your employees are engaged in their work and believe in you, then naturally they understand the importance of keeping your customers satisfied. High employee motivation always comes across and is evident to your customers. Most top performing organizations recognize this distinct link between customer satisfaction and corporate culture.

Attracting And Retaining Top Talent

When choosing a company to work for, corporate culture is a very important consideration. Top talent in the industry usually looks for more that just pay. When questioned, many candidates stated that they prefer to work for companies with a vibrant work culture and that provided services with a meaningful impact on customers over pay scale. This also means that if employees can connect with the company, then they are less likely to leave. Thus helping you keep attrition rates in check.

Company Image

Overall a good corporate culture helps in creating a positive brand image for the organization. Your employees are more likely to recommend you to their buddies, allowing you to stay at the top of the game in attracting talent.

Growth

As the company grows it is important to understand and sustain what is important for you. Corporate culture can do the job of setting direction and will ensure your expansion is in alignment with your values. Companies that proactively manage corporate culture have the ability to focus on sustainable long-term growth.

7 Tips to Protect Your Business Against Cyber Criminals

Congratulations, you’ve made an effort and created a strong password for each of your online accounts. Now you can resume your daily routine, free from the worry that your business may be at risk of a cyber-attack.
Not so fast.

Although a strong password minimizes the likelihood of a security breach, it is not the be-all-and-end-all solution. Today’s cyber criminals are looking for various kinds of weaknesses in your organization. They need data, and will do whatever it takes to get it. Everything from credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, email addresses, online passwords, and much more.

Unfortunately, small businesses and freelancers often dismiss the possibility that they could be targets of a cyber-attack. The truth is, cyber criminals consider your accounts to be easy targets. Without an information security officer by your side, they know your business is more vulnerable. The same holds true whether you are freelancing as a social media expert, taking online bookings for your next sight-seeing tour, or selling your ceramic coffee cups through your website. According to Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat, 43% of cyber-attacks target small business because of their lack of knowledge and training on security. Just as the internet opens you up to new opportunities in e-commerce and freelancing, it also opens you up to new ways of being defrauded, scammed and robbed.

Don’t panic, though. There are some measures you can take to keep these criminals at bay and protect you, your business, and your customers from attacks.

Here are 7 additional tips to keep your business safe:

1] Make use of security certifications and encryption technologies that help protect sensitive data, and display any accompanying logos signifying that your website is safe. Immediately notify your clientele of any breaches in security. Protecting your clients’ information should be your top priority.

2] Learn as much as you can about how to avoid security risks and make the effort to participate in free webinars and reading online articles from trusted sources.

3] Get a good antivirus software, and keep it updated. IT security organizations like McAfee and AVG have loads of useful tips and tricks.

4] Always update your operating systems and web browsers.

5] Create and maintain internal and customer-facing risk management policies and procedures so your employees know what’s appropriate and what isn’t when working online. Establish clear Internet and social media usage policies as well as rules for using email safely.

6] Familiarize yourself with the contracts you have with your financial institutions and other business partners. Know your liability in case of losses through fraud and other security breaches.

7] As a freelancer, you must also protect yourself outside your home. For those times when you decide to work from a library or café, remember that most public networks tend to be unsafe and risky to use. Protect yourself using a Virtual Private Network (VPN); it will create an encrypted connection that acts like a tunnel between you and an outside server.

By following these tips, you are preventing yourself, your assets and your customers from falling victim to potential threats lurking online. Some of the most important changes a small business or freelancer can make to safeguard against data breaches are relatively simple and require minimal effort. Taking appropriate measures to ensure the trust of your current clientele is as important as making new ones. After all, your business depends on the trust built between you and your customers.

For more tips on securing your e-commerce business, visit the Online Security section of the Payza Blog and follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Increasing your SEO Score for More Online Visibility

Here we provide a strategy to ensure your customers will find
your online business when conducting internet searches.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a fundamental component of website building and digital marketing, has been around long enough that we in the business already look back fondly at the “good old days” of SEO. Once upon a time, getting your website to rank was as simple as cramming enough keywords into a page, a practice that now has the opposite effect. These days, SEO is a complex set of best practices that is constantly being changed and updated, so keeping your website optimized can be a full-time job.

Before we go any further, to understand SEO we need to understand how search engines work. Basically, Google, Bing, etc. send robots all around the internet that “crawl” every website they can find. They pull all the data from these sites and, using a very large set of complex algorithms, attempt to identify which ones have the most valuable information for their users.

For example, when you type “e-commerce” into Google, it attempts to sort the search results in order of what you are most likely to find useful. The problem with this is that robots are not that good at deciding what is and isn’t useful to humans.

The practice of search engine optimization then is to find ways to tell those robots that your website is the one people are looking for. But this comes with a problem as well, which is that even poor or spam websites can still have good SEO, and so Google, etc. have to constantly improve their algorithms in order to filter out the sites that are trying to “trick” them into thinking they’re useful and return only the best possible results for their users.

So as search engines get smarter, SEO practices have to get more sophisticated. Let’s have a look at some of the key elements of SEO and how you can use them to increase your online visibility.

Terms you need to know

Keywords: Keywords are the terms or phrases browsers are searching for. Search engines catalog the keywords you’ve incorporated in your website and use them to rank your site appropriately in their results pages.
In-bound and out-bound links: Search engines consider how many other websites link to yours, as well as which websites you link to, to measure the legitimacy of your site. The quality of the in-bound and out-bound links will also influence your score.
UX: User experience is a broad category of its own which includes ease-of-use, intuitive navigation and quick loading times. Search engines consider how pleasurable it is to use a website when ranking them in their results pages.
Bounces: When someone clicks through to a site only to discover that it is not what they were looking for, they will hit “Back” to return to the results page. This is called a “bounce” and it signals to search engines that your site is not what visitors are looking for, so they will rank it lower in future search results.

Tips to get you on track

Don’t Get Comfortable

If you haven’t updated your SEO practices in the last year they’re at least partly out of date, but there’s another reason why you need to be constantly tweaking and maintaining your website. Search engines rank websites lower if they appear stagnant – if the content of your website is updated infrequently, it may do damage to your SEO score.

Understand Your Audience

The main function of SEO is to leverage keywords. By modifying the structure and content of your website, you can incorporate keywords that are relevant to your products and that your target market is using to search for similar products on the web. However, it’s important to focus on target keywords very specific to your potential audience. Popular search terms are a double-edged sword – avoid common keywords unless they’re definitely favored by your specific audience, otherwise you risk a high bounce rate.

Use Analytics

Analytics can help you keep it fresh. By keeping a watchful eye on your website analytics you can identify which of your SEO campaigns are performing well and how to deploy your resources most effectively. Pay attention to your bounce rates, paid vs. organic traffic, brand vs. non-brand keyword performance, and long-tail vs. short-tail traffic.Search engines also use analytics to identify the legitimacy of a website. If you can increase the average time your visitors spend on your website, search engines will see that as a vote of confidence that your website is indeed useful to their users.

Optimize Your Site

There are a few ways to optimize your site:

Pages more than three levels deep into your website are rarely going to be seen by a human being, so keep all the important information close to the surface. If users have to click more than twice from your homepage to get to the information they’re looking for, most of the time they will go looking for it somewhere else.
Trimming unnecessary pages from your site and eliminating duplicate content can increase your score since both of those are interpreted by search engines as spam.
Search engines consider loading times and broken links when ranking sites, so make sure your site is running smoothly at all times.

Leverage Marketing and Social Media

Good customer service never goes out of style – it’s even more important to the overall success of your business than SEO. In the age of social media, a bad review can spread like wildfire and severely impact your ability to reach new customers. Social media is a boon to SEO practitioners for its utility in link building, user-generated content and reputation management. Signals from social media, including the number of followers, community engagement and content sharing tells search engines that your brand and website are valuable to their users.
More traditional forms of marketing can be effective as well, such as email marketing, maintaining a local physical presence, and getting your business reviewed by popular blogs and news outlets.

We are far from the age of “If you build it they will come”, especially not in the crowded and competitive online retail industry. Search engine optimization is the key to standing out in this market –9 out of 10 consumers use search engines to make purchasing decisions, and SEO is the way to compete for their attention. If you have any further questions about implementing good SEO practices for your website, leave a comment below, and keep visiting the Payza Blog for more tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your e-commerce business.

Fintech Investments Soar

Since the start of the new year, entrepreneurs have been on edge. Venture capital seemed to be dwindling, which made business owners worry that any company they began would struggle to stay afloat. However, the past few months have shown that companies in the financial technology, or Fintech, sphere need not worry. Corporations and banks have been investing so much in Fintech startups that funding for said companies is higher than ever before.  

The amount of funding put into Fintech startups has doubled since 2015, reaching 13.8 billion dollars. Investments have stemmed mostly from the corporate sphere. Corporations invest in such startups in hopes to make their operations run more smoothly. Unfortunately, this increase in investments came at a cost. It surged because of stock performance by many Fintech startups that was lower than expected.

Therefore, banks and corporations all took part in deals for startups in order to expand their investment portfolios. One such bank is Citigroup, which is a well-known and established bank, that has thirteen startups in its investment portfolio. Other financial corporations backing several Fintech startups include Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. The investment in Fintech startups by banks and corporations is not just limited to the United States either. Corporations in Asia, for example, make up almost half of all investors in startups.

Investing in Fintech startups by financial corporations and banks bodes well for the future of finance all over the world. It shows a push in outdated financial institutions to adapt to modern times by incorporating new technology into their business models. It is paying off for customers already. Banks have developed applications for mobile devices that allow easier banking transactions, for example. Also, exchanging money digitally is as seamless as ever. Fintech innovation has even reached a point that stocks can be monitored and traded right from a technological device.

However, there is some uncertainty in Fintech startups, as they have become wary about the nature of the bank investments in their companies. They are, of course, thrilled that banks are dedicated to breaking into the digital age, but there is still a question as to whether or not the financial institutions will be good investors. Bank regulations are very limiting, and many such regulations prevent them from investing in innovative Fintech ventures.
Only time can tell how involved banks will be in Fintech startups in the future, but I hope they continue to take a large investing role. Moving all banking into the digital age is the only logical course of action in this day and age, and it has the ability to help everyone become more money-conscious.

Boost Your Conversion Rate with these Online Payment Insights

Firoz Patel

When you are just starting out the process of building a company, the ever-expanding number of items on your to-do list may seem somewhat daunting. However, the payments solution process on your website should not be one of them. Your company website – its design, messaging and functionality are critical in terms of developing a positive brand provides a positive user experience when the user attempts to purchase your product. That being said, it’s important to incorporate best practices in the shopping experience, and to consider the following factors when evaluating your site and ways to increase the conversion rate from users who are browsing vs those who are clicking “buy”.

Security

With large scale data breaches making headlines with an uncomfortable frequency, it’s no surprise that individuals place a lot of value on the security provided by online vendors. Consumers demand that their online buying experience is as protected as possible. From the vendor’s perspective this means that it’s important that you procure any certifications that show the users that you are trustworthy. So go ahead and display your SSL badge proudly!

Multiple Payment Options

It’s critical that online stores – particularly when it comes to small businesses who are still building a name for themselves provide multiple forms of payment. This addresses the consumer’s twin priorities of security and convenience when it comes to their online shopping needs.

Reflect Inventory in Real Time

In addition to providing multiple payment options for the consumer, it’s important that the shopping process is as easy as possible. If you operate both an online store as well as a brick and mortar location, make sure that the availability of inventory is as accurate and up to date as possible. You don’t want to lose potential customers because an item that they saw (either in person or on the site) isn’t actually available. Ensure that the inventory control system that you have in place helps you provide transparency about product availability both online and in your physical store location.

Guest Buyers

It’s a fact, businesses want to maintain as much information about their customers as possible. From analyzing data about buying habits, to sending targeting sales messaging to specific segments of the consumers, data is invaluable to a business at every stage of development. However, if you are interested in enhancing your conversion rate, make sure that the value of data doesn’t come at the cost of a sale. Offer consumers the chance to purchase your products without being required to create an account. Many potential buyers may reconsider whether or not they will make a purchase if they have to suffer the inconvenience of creating a shopping account with your store.

Increasing your conversion rate of casual browsers to paying customers will likely be an important step at every step of your company’s development. That being said, make sure to regularly evaluate what kind of user experience you are offering when it comes to purchasing goods from your site. To learn more about payment solutions news visit my Twitter Account.

Countries Other Than China Set their Sights on Singles Day

Firoz PatelSingles Day started as a holiday in the 1990s in China that essentially served as an opportunity for single people to treat themselves to something nice. With the advent of e-commerce, however, the holiday has become one of the country’s highest traffic shopping days. Part of this is due to significant promotions from e-commerce titan Alibaba. Last year Alibaba earned three quarters of sales from that day. That is to say a reported $9.3 billion USD in sales. A Nielsen survey reports that the average expected amount to spend per person for the holiday is $277.76 USD. This number is based on a sample size of over one thousand internet users based in China.

While Singles Day not only rivals, but exceeds the numbers from Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in the US, another interesting trend of note is the changing demographics in terms of who the buyers are. In China, Singles Day captures the rising middle class and a younger generation that is flush with disposable income and developing a growing desire to spend.

Although Singles Day stems from a holiday first celebrated on Nanjing Campus back in the ‘90s, Alibaba is responsible for not only helping to spread the popularity of the holiday, but to brand it in a way that directly links the celebration to online shopping.

In many ways, Alibaba owns the holiday – and not just in a theoretical way. The Alibaba Group puts a lot of money into creating the advertising and content leading up to the holiday, and has built an infrastructure and system that caters directly to the demands of this day. But in an even more practical sense, in 2012, the Alibaba Group trademarked the term “双十一” (or “Double 11”). Although that is different from the term “Singles Day”, it is associated very intimately with the holiday. And in the fall of 2014, Alibaba threatened legal action against any media outlets that would enter into advertising deals from competitors that used this term.

Alibaba Although Singles Day has continued to grow rapidly over the past few years, this year international markets are clearly taking notice of the potential for this holiday, and Alibaba will celebrate Singles Day by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Although this is not a new holiday, this particular gesture suggests that other countries have really begun to take notice and that expansion of celebrating the holiday globally is likely on the horizon.  

1 2