This is a guest post courtesy of WePay.com
I use my fair share of free online applications and the other day, responding to a cute, heartfelt email plea from one such free app, I logged into their website to give them a donation. After all, I’ve been using their handy little service for free, and I’d like to chip in my fair share. Unfortunately, their donation system was set up so that the minimum donation I could give was $60. Sixty dollars? Yes, I love your freeware but I also use freeware for a reason…
I own a service business, so I understood exactly where the developer was coming from – he did need to get paid for his work. But I had been thinking of donating more like $15. In the end, the incomplete transaction made me feel cheap and left me contemplating uncomfortable questions about the new economy. What it didn’t do was get my donation into this particular app developer’s bank account.
The moral of this story is: accepting payments online can be extremely frustrating, for the payer and the payee. It’s worth it to spend some time thinking about what you’re asking, how you’re asking it, and whether the way you accept payments online is truly optimized.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned as a freelancer who accepts payments online and a frequent online shopper, conscientious donor, curious digital property purchaser, and avid networking event registrant:
1.) Accept Payments On Your Website – Don’t make customers look for your address to send a check. Don’t send them separate payment instructions. Make it super easy for them to find your online payment button and even easier for them to pay you.
2.) Don’t Create Unnecessary Barriers to Payment – I remember back in the day trying to make a purchase at a website that asked me demographic questions before I could enter my credit card info. I’m pretty sure I still bought the product, but imagine if I’d been even a smidgen less motivated? A convoluted checkout process would have stopped me cold.
3.) Don’t Require Customers to Create an Account – Forcing account creation is one of those unnecessary barriers to payment, but it deserves its own bullet point. Many people don’t want to sign up for an account. They don’t want to remember a password and they don’t want the email marketing messages that invariably come with signing up for an account. Give them the option, sure – you need to market your product after all – but don’t make creating an account strictly necessary or you may lose a sale.
4.) Be Clear About What Your Customer is Buying – This is where the aforementioned app developer and I parted ways. I didn’t realize I’d be required to donate the cost of a pair of shoes until I was halfway through paying, and that left me frustrated every time I see his app icon in the corner of my browser. Clearly mark what your client is paying for – including sales tax and shipping and handling. But don’t stop there – make sure they get an email receipt afterward so they can remember what they paid for next month when they’re perusing their bank statements.
In a nutshell: Don’t make yourself impossible to pay.
How do you currently accept payments online? Have you ever experienced any problems with your current method?