Using Hosted Web Forms with PayPal

Having done quite a bit of work on websites over the years we know they all seem to have several things in common regardless whether they are just informational, a blog, a commercial site, or a not for profit.

1. Web Form – The first thing they have in common is they are all trying to communicate some sort of message or information to the viewer.  Generally they want the communication to be bi-directional at least.  In order to do that they need to collect user information or at least some sort of password.  The easiest way to do that is to create a Web Form.  While adding a Web Form to a site is fairly easy, creating a good one that provides both parties with useful information may be a bit more illusive.

Specifically, having a form that will provide the user with an auto-response which is meaningful is important.  Further, bringing the user to a useful place after submitting the form is really important.  Finally, being able to store the information in a database which is easily accessed is critical.

2. Database – With few exceptions, every website needs a database.  At the simplest level, having one for mailings and newsletters is critical if you have any intention of doing business online.  If you’re using any web application on your site you will need a database and be able to support it somehow.  Some common examples could be: a shopping cart, a picture gallery, a bulletin board, or a blog.  These are just a few examples.

3. Email Blast Capability – If you have forms and you have them integrated with a database, you will ultimately need to send email blasts.  As you grow, you will quickly discover that using a paid service really helps because….

  • you can track opens, closes, forwards, clicks to measure the actual effectiveness of the mailing.
  • you can send html and text emails which are much more effective that just plain text
  • Generally quite easy to create templates for items like newsletters for reuse
  • Quite easy to schedule the sending of emails for dates and times in the future

4. Paypal or Merchant integration –  It would be nice to be able to conduct business online whether you are simply offering promotions or discounts, selling a single item, or managing a complete online store.  At ETP Marketing, we generally use PayPal integration for our customers since it works quite well and is really effective if you have a small number of products or services you’ll be selling on line.

At ETP Marketing, our goal is to get you up and running as quickly as possible with an end-to-end solution that will connect your Hosted Web Form with a Hosted Database and integrate that with an Email Blast Service and complete the process with a Merchant Account using Paypal.

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Using Hosted Web Forms to Sell Events

Whether you are a not for profit or a small business selling services and products and services, you probably invite your customers and potential customers to events regularly.  Typical events can rage from:

  • Speaking
  • Training
  • Webinars
  • Book Signing
  • New Product release
  • Annual company celebration
  • Customer Appreciation Days
  • Golf Outing

The list can go on and on.  The ideal solution for events, whether you charge for them or not, is a Hosted Web Form from ETP Marketing.

You can post your event on your web site, your blog, twitter, facebook, print adds, company newsletters, and more.  Simply include a link to your Hosted Web Form and you’re all set.  People will sign up and pay (if required) for your event in advance.  You can then be comfortable hosting your event knowing you’ll have at least a certain number of attendees.  You may find you have a few additional people sign up at the event itself.

Coordinating the event will require a minimal amount of effort and expense.  In my view, you’d have to get pretty large from an events perspective before you out grow Hosted Web Forms and have to move to actual event planning software.

This will afford you the time and resources to focus your time on what’s really important!  Hosting a Great Event.

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Windows 7 – Power Down Feature/Defect

I hate to complain about Microsoft, but considering they’ve been the leader in the Operating System world for over 20 years you’d think that they’d at least get the simple things right.

Truly,  only M$ can start with a good idea and design it in such a way that they’ve actually designed in a defect.  In my most recent experience, my Windows 7 system comes put of the box with a “Power Setting” that shuts the system off after an hour of inactivity.

Now this could be a useful way to save electricity and be a bit more environmentally conscientious.  That would be if the feature actually worked.  Seems pretty basic as systems have been doing this sort of thing for many years.

The way people implement this type thing is to save everything the computer is doing then either power down or go into some other sort of hibernate mode so when the system powers back up it just picks up where it left off.  M$ use to do this, and I believe the Intel Chip set has supported this feature for many years.  Of course, when M$ implemented hibernate on previous systems it was truly a painful experience because it took so long.  It was almost as painful as a complete restart anyway, but I’ll give them this.  At least it worked.

Fast forward to 2010 and Windows 7.… they power down completely and then when you power back up you’re presented with a screen that says something to the effect the system was shut down illegally and is recovering.

Come on guys! Not only is this annoying, it’s pathetic!

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Increasing Revenue with Hosted Web Forms

Now that we’ve added PayPal support for our Hosted Web Forms, it’s time to add a few examples of how people can use Hosted Web Forms to Increase Revenue. Importantly, their are a number of side benefits that fall out of this process of using Hosted Web Forms.  These benefits include reduced errors, reduction of credit card processing effort and mistakes, reduction of email entering errors, easier emailing, easier ordering and fulfillment, increased cash flow, and increased actual sales.

The Wine of the Month Club Example

Manual Process

Imagine you own a Wine Store and you want to start a Wine of the Month Club to increase sales and customer loyalty. {I’ve belonged to a couple.  They’re fun and inexpensive}.  So what do you do?

You probably begin with a little “space advertising” in the store that says something like “Ask us about out Wine Club“.  Maybe you even have some other signage or fliers describing the Wine Club details.

Now you have to be available to talk to the person and sell the program. Once they’re convinced, you get out your sign-up book where you have the customer enter their contact details including email and/or mailing address along with their selection of the type of program.  Perhaps it’s two per month for $25, either 2 reds, 2 whites, or one of each.  Finally, you get their credit card and enter all of their information for each sale.  You have your first order.

Now it’s time to fulfill your Wine Club Orders.  About mid-month you go through your book and manually calculate how many of each type wine to order.  Next you need to manually enter all of your email addresses in a database for your notification email to be sent at the end of the month {This part is prone to error both on interpreting the clients and writing and typos that you make}.

The Wine arrives and you bag it and tag it.  You send out an email using your home system in which case it’s time consuming and provides little report email data or you pay $15 per month and use an email service.  Next you begin processing all of the credit card payments for the $25 manually.  You probably need to run off receipts for each order and put them in the bag.  Customer comes in, picks up order, and you’re done.  Pretty easy, eh?

The Hosted Web Form Approach

You start by designing a Web Page that describes your Wine Club details.  You Print off a number of these pages so you can use them as sales collateral throughout the store and at the checkout cash register.  On the Wine Club Web Page you have a link or button that takes the client to the Sign-up page on the Hosted Web Form.

You put up a large sign in the middle of the store that says “Sign-up for our Wine of the Month Club”, under which you place a PC that is always on displaying the Wine Club web page you created.

Whether you are in the store or not and whether or not the client is in the store or at home, the client reads the web page and clicks through to the Web Form sign-up page.  At this point the client enters all of their information and makes payment using a recurring payment button on the Hosted Web Form.

Upon completion, the client will receive notification of the transaction completion from you plus separate notification from PayPal for the completion of their financial transaction.  You will receive the same for both as the money would been transferred to your PayPal account at that point.

Behind the scenes, your Hosted Database has been updated with all of the user information in real time.  When it is time to place orders you have all of the “correct” information in a spreadsheet which you use to easily calculate your orders and place them.

The orders arrive, and you bag them.  You use the spreadsheet you have from the Hosted Database to print customized personal tags for the bags.

Now the first of the month comes.  All of your customer Wine Club transactions have been automatically processed by PayPal.  If you have 100 customers, you now have $2500 less PayPal transaction fees in your account with no effort on your part. The money is in your PayPal account and all of your customers have received a receipt from PayPal.

About the same time you put together your Monthly Wine Club notification email letting customers know their Wine is ready for pickup along with any other announcements you’d like to make.  You send that email to ETP Marketing for release.  It goes out in a couple of hours.  A day later, reports are ready for your review if you’d like to see them.

At this point, you’re using the time you saved to think of more processes improvements you can make using Hosted Web Forms.

As for the extra revenue, you’ll find uses for that too!

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Hosted Web Forms with PayPal Support

At my ETP Marketing site, I just added PayPal Support to the existing Hosted Web Forms, Hosted Database, and Email Blast Services.  This is be really nice functionality for the small business or not for profit as it allows them to sell products or take donations without having to put together some sort of Shopping Cart.

The fact that it can easily be tied into the Hosted Database, Hosted Web Forms, and Email Blast Service makes this a money making must have feature.  All this and the client really doesn’t need to know a bit of code.  That works for a lot of folks frustrated with the technology that just want to get on with business.

As I build out these services, I’m trying to listen to my customers and be as inclusive as possible.  I had been providing the PayPal services for some time for a few clients before offering it as part of the package.  It works so well that including it is really a no brainer!

Of course, ETP Marketing offers a spectrum of services beyond the Hosted Web Form Services.  They are Interactive Producer Services that range from basic Interactive Producer Services to more sophisticated Interactive Producer Professional Services.

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