SUBSCRIPTION BILLING

HIGH RISK MERCHANT ACCOUNTS FOR SUBSCRIPTION BILLING SERVICES.
FASTER APPROVALS. COMPETITIVE PRICING. BETTER SERVICE.

Payment Processing for the Subscription Billing Industry

Subscription billing service providers help companies maximize revenue by billing customers for a variety of goods and services throughout their subscription lifecycles. The exponential growth of Subscription-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms has increased the requirement for accurate and efficient recurring billing methods for a range of products and services, from website access and downloadable software to online gaming, groceries, apparel, and more.

DigiPay Solutions has created a “A Subscription Billing Industry Primer” with important information about setting up a merchant account, controlling chargebacks, managing risk and keeping merchant accounts in good standing.

Who is DigiPay Solutions?

DigiPay Solutions is a recognized payment processing brand among subscription billing service providers. The company’s extensive network of partner banks, payment experts and elite portfolio of tailored solutions has helped launch entrepreneurial start-ups and take enterprise organizations to the next level of corporate growth.

Thousands of merchants, from start-ups to enterprise-scale organizations, leverage DigiPay’s curated knowledge of high-risk payments to securely process hundreds of millions across an array of vertical industries. DigiPay works closely with subscription billing partners, providing tailored solutions and timely advice to national and regional service providers, and helping them maintain the highest standards of banking and payment card industry compliance.

DigiPay’s team of experts, combined with our partners’ proven record of successful subscription billing services, can facilitate successful new company launches and help existing businesses grow and scale.

Subscription Payment Processing Primer

A Brief Guide to Subscription Billing Services

The Subscription Billing Industry: An Economic Overview

The maturing Subscription-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model reflects a paradigm shift in contemporary society as customers evolve from ownership to sharing and just-in-time models. As consumers and business owners become accustomed to renting and sharing versus buying and owning, an increasing number of SaaS app stores and service providers are entering the market.

Organizations also use subscription billing applications and software to solve billing pain points and extend customer lifecycles. As firms replace legacy technology, they can choose to build advanced digital capabilities in-house or partner with third-party vendors that use billing technology to enhance the customer experience. Leading solution providers can improve agility and enable partnering companies to remain flexible and agile in their ever-changing industries.

Gartner recently estimated that 80 percent of software vendors will change their business model from traditional up-front license fees plus maintenance to subscription billing models by 2020. MarketsandMarkets predicts that recurring revenue business will triple to $16.59 billion.

SIC, NAICS & MCC Codes

Subscription billing service providers are categorized by SIC Code, NAICS Code and Visa Merchant Category Code (MCC) to comply with payment card industry requirements.

Proper classification is vitally important to prevent funds from being held in reserve for misrepresentation.

SIC Code 5968: Direct Marketing, Continuity / Subscription Merchant

NAICS Code: Continuity, subscription, negative option and free trial related businesses generally use one of the following NAICS codes:
511210: Software Publishers
5191: Other Information Services
454111: Electronic Shopping, Internet Retail Sales
454110: Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses
8139: Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations (often used for membership sites)

MCC Codes: Of note, to date, subscription billing services do not have a specific MCC code and can be classified under different general industry codes, depending on the nature and focus of services.

Additional information on Visa MCC can be found in this downloadable guide.

Leaders and Rising Stars

In the subscription industry, publicly traded companies and sole proprietors are equally committed to education, transparency and growth.

Here’s a look at some common categories and brands.

  1. Dollar Shave Club

    (NASDAQ: UL): Unilever, the London-based consumer goods company announced it will be purchasing Dollar Shave Club in a deal worth a reported $1 billion in cash. Dollar Shave Club was recently valued at $615 million in a $75 million funding round led by Technology Crossover Ventures, MarketWatch reports.

  2. MediFast Inc.

    (NYSE: MED): MediFast trades at a forward-looking P/E ratio of 15.30x. The company’s market cap is $332,700,000.

  3. Herbalife

    (NYSE: HLF): Herbalife trades at a forward-looking P/E ratio of 9.34x; its market cap is $4.02 billion.

  4. USANA Health Sciences Inc.

    (NYSE: USNA): USANA Health Sciences trades at a forward-looking P/E ratio of 14.54x and has a market cap of $1.59 Billion.

  5. Your Name Here:

    With your great brand story and DigiPay Solutions as your processing partner, there’s no limit to how far you can scale your company. DigiPay’s diverse, extended family of subscription billing professionals process anywhere from $20,000 to millions in monthly revenue.

Interested in learning more about Publicly Traded Nutritional Supplement, Vitamin and Sports Companies listed on Major U.S. Exchanges? Use this link to view by Large-Cap Stocks, Mid-Cap Stocks and Small-Cap Stocks.

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Subscription Billing Programs and Services

Subscription commerce is a multi-faceted, evolving industry that adapts to ever-changing modes of consumer behavior. Following are some examples of popular subscription service models:

  • Interval Billing: Interval billing bills customers on a regular schedule, such as monthly, quarterly or annually.
  • Usage-Based Billing: Usage-based billing assesses a subscriber’s exact usage of a product or service and invoices accordingly. This billing method could be use flat fees, percentages or tiered fee tables.
  • Fee-type Billing: Fee-type billing charges a subscriber a predetermined amount, which could be a flat rate, tiered rate or incremental, usage-based rate for a subscription service.
  • On-Demand Billing: Companies that charge subscribers a fixed rate for subscriptions typically offer tiered prices, beginning with a free or freemium model and scaling up to a premium level. Mobile apps frequently use this method, attracting new customers with a freemium offer and upselling to enhanced services.
  • Flat-rate, Scheduled Billing: When companies bill subscribers a fixed amount at routine intervals, a subscription is called scheduled or flat billing. Health clubs frequently bill members a set monthly fee.

Opportunities and Challenges

Subscription commerce can help companies create predictable revenue streams, enhance customer relationships while deriving valuable customer data. Billing platforms have evolved as organizations shift their focus from traditional subscription billing into hybrid solutions that can manage one-time transactions, subscriptions, and usage/consumption ratings. For example, the ride-sharing company Lyft uses a billing platform that can securely store customer credit cards, calculate fees based on time and distance, and implement surge pricing during peak traffic times.

Today’s billing platforms must be more versatile than ever before, and require advanced analytics and automated technologies to maintain consistently high performance levels. Smart businesses are using emerging technologies to provide value to their customers, augmenting physical products with digital content and adding new services to existing subscription models.

To compete in the rapidly maturing subscription billing market, companies must invest in digital technologies that constantly adapt and scale in parallel with customer requirements. Their recurring revenue solutions must deliver customer value beyond linear billing capabilities, and remain agile, intuitive and responsive to individual customers and industry trends. This highly competitive segment is continually diversifying and identifying new revenue streams, making it necessary for billing service providers to innovate or perish.

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Enabling Subscription Billing Commerce

How do I create an eCommerce merchant account?

Establishing a merchant account to process payments is the first step in enabling commerce. Subscription billing is classified as a high-risk business, which means industry service providers are ineligible to apply for merchant accounts at numerous sponsoring banks. DigiPay’s expanded network of banking relationships accepts the subscription billing business category and provides competitive rates, terms and conditions.

Subscription billers find it advantageous to work with processing partners who are familiar with their industry, jargon and common business practices. Payment processing sales representatives who are not familiar with subscription billing practices may be less effective at managing relationships, due to their learning curves. By working with knowledgeable processing partners, subscription billers can save time and money, improve efficiencies and attract and retain more customers and followers.

Why is Subscription Billing considered High-Risk?

Many banks will not accept subscription billing merchants due to the industry’s higher-than-average chargeback ratio. Subscription service providers, especially entrepreneurial start-ups, may be unfamiliar with related risks of working with consumers whose high debt ratios and credit challenges increase the likelihood that they will default on a payment plan, file for bankruptcy or initiate chargebacks on recurring payments due to their inability to pay or misunderstanding of terms and conditions.

Here are some risks commonly associated with subscription billing services:

  1. Credit Card on File:

    When customers enroll in a subscription service, they provide a credit card that may later expire or be replaced. This may trigger a failure in routinely scheduled billings and renewals.

  2. Account Changes:

    When customers change their subscription levels in the middle of a billing cycle, they may dispute a prorated charge or monthly fee that fails to reflect an adjusted pricing tier or membership level.

  3. Scheduling Challenges:

    When customers switch payment due dates, it can trigger duplicate billing charges which are then disputed and may become chargebacks.

  4. Subscriber Remorse:

    Consumers who opt in to subscription billing services with monthly reoccurring payments may forget that their credit card will automatically be billed every month. They may then dispute the charge that appears on their credit card statement. Many card issuing banks require consumers to contact the merchant before they process a chargeback request.

  5. Consumer Complaints:

    Consumers may complain that subscription billers called before or after business hours or were discourteous. They do not have to prove the representative was disrespectful. A simple complaint about a subscription billing company can prompt regulatory agencies to launch an investigation, creating additional exposure and negative publicity for subscription billers.

  6. Lack of Infrastructure:

    Subscription billing start-ups in the early stages of setting up their businesses may not have appropriate customer service support to deal with consumer complaints and inquiries. Consumers who are unable to communicate their concerns to merchants are more likely to turn to their payment card issuers for refunds and chargebacks.

Can DigiPay Acquire Subscription Billing Merchant Accounts?

Yes, at DigiPay subscription billing is in our DNA. As financial services specialists, we are familiar with the industry’s unique framework and diversity of categories, business models, SIC and NAIC codes and VISA MCC. We underwrite our merchants before sending their applications to our sponsor bank.

Once new merchants establish credibility and trust with DigiPay banking partners, they receive personalized attention and ongoing risk management from DigiPay’s team of payment specialists. This personalized service, coupled with the sheer volume of transactions we process through multiple banks, ensures our merchants receive the highest level of service and support.

Choosing the right payment processing partner is critical, because without the ability to accept payments, merchants are out of business. DigiPay’s merchant onboarding process combines sophisticated technology with human oversight. Experienced underwriters who understand the subscription billing industry, and have expertise in payment card brand and banking industry compliance, bring a refreshingly holistic approach to new account set-ups.

Subscription billing is growing and DigiPay can accelerate that growth, by giving subscription billing service providers the attention and resources they deserve and a one-stop shop for their processing solutions. The first order of business is to eliminate any barriers to progress. Look no further than DigiPay Solutions, where getting a merchant account will open doors to a bright and prosperous future.

Why Is So Much Information Required for a Subscription Billing Merchant Account?

Because of the higher risk associated with subscription billing services, more due diligence is required during the new merchant onboarding process. This means underwriters need to review a range of documents to assure the business is compliant, financially sound, and a good credit risk. DigiPay is unique because we underwrite merchants in-house before we submit their applications to the bank. Because our team of underwriters is experienced in high-risk, your business is presented to the bank with all required documents and full disclosure, to engender trust and stability.

Presenting your business in the best possible light from point of first contact is important because merchant accounts are essentially a line of credit from a processor. Because high-risk merchants have higher chargeback ratios and regulatory exposure, financial institutions are concerned they may violate card brand rules, laws and regulations. Complaints to the FDA and the FTC against a merchant create liability not only for merchants, but can also hold processors accountable under Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations.

DigiPay’s in-house team of underwriters and risk managers have curated knowledge in all areas of high risk. We are best qualified to guide you through the process efficiently and painlessly while helping to present your business to increase approval and gain credibility.

How do I increase my processing limits?

Once a high-risk subscription billing merchant account is approved, payment processors set monthly processing limits, typically between $10,000 and $30,000 per month, for the first three-to-six-months. This gives processors time to develop a customer risk profile by evaluating payment flows, average ticket sizes, processing levels and chargeback ratios.

Subscription billing service providers with stable, consistent performance throughout their initial trial periods can usually increase their processing limits. DigiPay’s risk management team works with merchants and sponsoring banks to shorten trial periods and raise processing limits.

Managing Alerts, Refunds and Chargebacks

Maintaining a low chargeback ratio is key to maintaining a healthy merchant account. When chargebacks exceed card brand maximums, your merchant account is at risk of being shut down. If a merchant category has consistently excessive chargebacks, banks will sometimes shut down an entire vertical industry. For this reason, it is critical for high risk verticals to self-regulate and work collaboratively to establish industry best practices.

Ryan Fritzsche, a payments industry veteran who has served as President and Founder of successful chargeback management organizations, leads DigiPay’s Subscription Billing Service Business division. Ryan brings a deep level of understanding and expertise to chargeback management. Keep reading for his expert advice.

DigiPay Chargeback Champion:

Chargebacks can be an emotionally charged issue for many merchants, but with the right systems in place, managing and defending against them can be a routine part of any merchant’s business. DigiPay Solutions’ team of Chargeback Champions works with business partners to identify the root causes of chargebacks, proactively avoid them whenever possible and effectively address each chargeback and retrieval request.

Why do chargebacks happen?

Chargebacks happen for many reasons and DigiPay’s elite team of Chargeback Champions are expert at analyzing why. Our proactive approach includes:

  • Preventing alerts and chargebacks through proven best business practices
  • Advanced fraud technology managed by experienced risk managers
  • Dynamic identity graphs that link transaction data with human behavior

How can I track my chargeback and refund ratios?

Keeping track of your Transaction Chargeback Ratio as well as your Volume Chargeback Ratio is critical because this is what Visa, Mastercard and payment processors monitor. Payment processors with high chargeback ratios in their merchant portfolios can trigger unannounced audits by Visa or Mastercard. For this reason, DigiPay, powered by TranZlytics, closely monitors chargeback and refund ratios, reacting quickly to spikes in activity. Excessive refunds, frequently the result of alerts, can be a sign of fraud or poor business practices, information the card brands and banks may consider when assessing risk.

The formulas shown below use simple math to derive Transaction Chargeback, Volume Chargeback and Refund Ratios:

  1. Transaction Chargeback Ratio:

    Add total monthly number of chargebacks and divide by total monthly number of transaction. For example – if during a month you processed 500 sales, and there were 10 chargebacks, your chargeback ratio would equal 10/500, or 2.00%.

  2. Volume Chargeback Ratio:

    Add total monthly dollar amount of all chargebacks and divide by the total monthly sales volume.
    For example – if during a month, you processed 500k in sales, and your chargebacks were 10k, your chargeback ratio would equal 10/500, or 2.00%.

  3. Transaction Refund Ratio:

    Add total monthly number of refunds and divide by total monthly number of transactions.
    For example – if during a month you processed 500 sales, and there were 10 refunds, your refund ratio would equal 10/500, or 2.00%.

  4. Volume Refund Ratio:

    Add total monthly dollar amount of all refunds and divide by the total monthly sales volume.
    For example – if during a month, you processed 500k in sales, and your refunds were 10k, your refund ratio would equal 10/500, or 2.00%.

How do I maintain low chargeback and refund ratios?

It is important not to ignore chargebacks, because win/loss ratios matter. Visa and Mastercard can impose penalties and fines in the tens of thousands on payment processors and their sponsoring banks for continuing to process transactions for merchants that exceed the permissible 2 percent chargeback ratio. Non-compliant processors and banks may also be subjected to further scrutiny and potential shut-down by card brands and regulators.

Here are some recommended ways to maintain low chargeback and refund volume ratios:

  • Stop fraud before it happens:

    Proactively identify fraudulent and stolen cards and suspicious behavior when possible. Having items like an SSL certificate, additional billing details, and other fraud detection tools.

  • Be accessible to customers:

    Dissatisfied customers who have access to live support will frequently be satisfied that they had the opportunity to air their grievances. They may be satisfied with a simple return or refund and find it unnecessary or initiate a dispute or chargeback.

  • Maintain a high transaction count:

    Companies with high levels of credit card transactions are in a better position to absorb chargebacks. Low-volume merchants can find themselves in the dubious position of having a high chargeback ratio with just a few chargebacks.

  • Maintain excellent logistics and fulfillment:

    In the always-on, always-connected world, customers expect immediate confirmations and emailed receipts when they place orders online. A good CRM program can automate this process. The DigiPay TranZlytics Gateway is preconfigured to display a merchant’s contact information and customer service number to ensure that subscription merchants are locatable, and include tracking information with each shipment notification.

  • Use email marketing:

    Follow product orders and shipments with a simple survey or thank you email. This simple gesture will improve brand recognition when customers receive their credit card statements and make it easy for them to contact your company to complain or request a refund.

  • Initiate pre-chargeback and refund alerts:

    Create instant notifications of incoming requests for refunds, chargebacks and assorted customer inquiries. These services can be implemented in-house or outsourced to third-party providers. Merchants have a small window to react to customer disputes before card brands rule in favor of consumers. Automated chargeback and refund alert systems help merchants mitigate risk.

  • Implement a billing support hotline:

    Providing customers with a dedicated, toll-free number and email address will alleviate their concerns and build good will. Subscription Billing businesses that are highly accessible to customers have been shown to increase customer loyalty and decrease chargeback and refund ratios.

  • Create an easy refund process:

    Refunds are a reality of life and a cost of doing business in the subscription billing industry. By accounting and budgeting for refunds, subscription merchants can accommodate dissatisfied customers, avoid chargebacks and improve transaction flows.

Chargeback Mitigation Companies for Subscription Businesses

Merchants can handle chargebacks in-house or outsource to a Chargeback Mitigation Specialist. The following companies are experienced in identifying all forms of fraud, including friendly fraud. They will investigate chargeback claims and retrieval requests on behalf of merchants:

Chargeback Mitigation Companies:

  • MIDigator*
  • Chargeback Guru*
  • Chargebacks.com
  • Chargebacks 911
  • Chargeback 360

*DigiPay Preferred Provider

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How do I choose an eCommerce gateway?

Many subscription billing service merchants rely on eCommerce and Mail Order/Telephone Order (MOTO) sales to scale their businesses. Credit card payments transacted online or by phone are called Card Not Present (CNP) transactions. Online CNP transactions involve credit card gateways that transmit payments from merchants to their payment processors.

Following is a list of recommended attributes of payment gateways that address the unique requirements of the subscription billing service industry:

Support multiple merchant account IDs (MIDs):

Many subscription billing service companies require multiple merchant accounts to support their diversified array of programs and services. Gateways should ideally have the capacity to manage multiple merchant I.D.s organized under one master MID relationship.

Simple integration:

Payment gateways need to seamlessly integrate into CRMs, POS systems, third-party software, and eCommerce shopping carts to facilitate all forms of online, MOTO and in-store commerce.

Enhanced reporting tools:

Professional subscription billing service providers rely on a variety of real-time reports and transaction data to grow and scale their businesses and manage chargebacks and refunds.

Merchant Dashboard, with permission levels:

In addition to enhanced reporting, subscription billing service merchants need secure access to transaction data from wherever they happen to be working, with built-in permission levels that facilitate all levels of employees and management.

Payment gateways must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Ask your gateway provider if they are PCI DSS compliant and verify their certificate annually. Subscription billing merchants also need a gateway with a data vault for tokenization of credit card numbers and encryption of customer personally identifiable information (PII). Tokenization replaces a Primary Account Number (PAN) with a randomly generated set of numbers and records this in the data vault. This is to prevent hackers from accessing customer data. By storing PII and PAN in a highly secure, offsite location merchants shift their liability to the gateway provider. Encryption and tokenization keep your customer’s information safe while allowing merchants access to the data for future transactions.

TranZlytics Gateway:
Choosing the right gateway provider is critical for subscription commerce merchants and their processors. DigiPay’s chosen gateway is TranZlytics. TranZlytics offers high risk merchants a Gateway and HUB built from the ground up for B2B merchants. The solution includes transaction analytics and fraud prevention and built-in advanced chargeback management.

TranZlytics also offers advanced real-time reporting for faster and better use of CRM data.
Payment descriptors are registered with a Chargeback Alerts program that is synchronized in real time with merchant CRMs to efficiently manage refunds and subscription cancellations and prevent future chargebacks. Re-presentments are pre-integrated with the gateway.

Interchange optimization can significantly reduce associated costs of credit card processing, which vary based on payment card interchange pricing. Including more data with card not present (CNP) transactions can significantly lower interchange rates. The TranZlytics gateway automatically attaches missing data to ensure that B2B transactions process at the lowest possible rate. This action is seamless and requires no additional input from the merchant.

With a single HUB for transaction management and an expert risk management team to monitor your data, you can focus on what you do best, growing your business. Think of Tranzlytics as a Subscription Commerce HUB with the IQ of Einstein and the memory of an elephant.

CRMs for Subscription Billing Service Businesses

Customer Relations Management (CRM) software is a basic requirement, both for large enterprises and small companies that want to scale and grow their businesses. These systems are designed to automate the lifecycle of product offerings and to facilitate payments. As with payment gateways, it is vitally important to validate the CRM is PCI DSS compliant if it is touching customer information. Unlike payment gateways, CRMs are not rigorously monitored for PCI DSS compliance; a security breach can devastate your business and erode customer trust.

Below are examples of CRMs used by professional subscription billing service provider’s entrepreneurs and enterprise-level service providers:

  • Konnetive CRM:

    Konnektive is CRM of choice for a diversified array of subscription companies. The CRM’s expanded solution suite shopping cart technology, logistics and fulfillment and call center integration. The platform also provides advanced reporting and analytics and PCI certification. Subscription prices vary.

  • Zoho CRM:

    Zoho, a generic and inexpensive CRM program provides tools for recurring billing, customer tracking, customer satisfaction emails and a customizable database. While the service is not specifically designed for the subscription billing service industry, it is affordable and supports multiple MIDs.

  • Limelight CRM:

    Limelight is the go-to CRM created “For Marketers, By Marketers”, for a large number of continuity, membership and subscription subscription businesses. The reason it’s so popular is its integration with NMI and some robust call center integration. The biggest downside to LimeLight is that they’re expensive. Everything is done via a custom quote, but a subscription business can expect to pay at least $500 per month, plus a one-time setup fee. Whether or not that fits within your budget is obviously up to you, but it is probably worth doing an intro call just to see why so many subscription businesses end up choosing them.

  • Google Sheets:

    Google Sheets is a free service that provides a basic spreadsheet for start-ups. Its biggest asset is that it is free.

Growing and Scaling Your Subscription Business

It’s a Great Time to be in Subscriptions

Subscription commerce is a competitive, expanding market, and DigiPay is excited to be part of it. Our extended family of subscription commerce merchants, with vastly different models and product sets, are equally committed to optimal results, performance metrics and profitability. Whether they offer usage-based, interval billing or flat fee models, all subscription billing providers want affordable and easy high-risk payment card processing, which is our specialty.

Mike Ackerman
Co-Founder, CEO, DigiPay Solutions

Affiliate Marketing

What is affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is a partnership between merchants and affiliated individuals and companies that sell for them on the internet. Companies of all sizes, from leading global brands to start-up entrepreneurs, use the affiliate marketing model to great advantage, finding it an effective and lucrative ecommerce strategy. For example, thousands of Amazon.com affiliates promote products on their websites, redirecting buyers to Amazon’s site where they can check out and complete the sale. These sales are tracked by unique URLs that enable affiliates to earn commissions.

Creating an effective affiliate marketing plan begins with identifying trusted and reputable affiliates with extensive networks and followers, retail analysts have noted. These sources can help introduce products and services to markets outside a company’s traditional marketing footprint. Some examples might be a blogger with thousands of followers, or an e-zine with a strong vertical industry focus.

Because affiliate marketers are ideally an extension of a company’s brand and salesforce, it is crucial for organizations to create an affiliate program with clearly articulated terms and conditions, leaving nothing to chance. Some companies may outsource most of their promotional efforts to affiliate marketers. Others may supplement their traditional salesforce with a few affiliate partners.

Companies need to consider their primary objectives and corporate culture when creating an affiliate marketing program. Companies that manage more than one sales force, such as telemarketers and outside sales, have learned to structure sales programs to ensure that different teams are not competing against each other. This principle is equally relevant when working with affiliate marketers, who have proven to be most effective when they are not in direct competition with internal sales teams.

What are Five Essential Components of an Affiliate Marketing Plan?

Payment acceptance: Affiliate marketing takes place on the internet, where payment methods vary. Merchants that only accept traditional credit cards will miss the opportunity to scale their businesses globally, by not accepting the most popular payment methods of other countries. Partnering with a company that specializes in cross-border payments and understands the unique regulatory environments of different countries around the world, will solve this issue.

Establish dedicated URL links: Targeted, accurate URLs are directly tied to affiliate marketers’ commissions and need to directly link to landing pages and product codes. Companies need to work with IT specialists to accurately track and promptly commission affiliate sales.

Create a coupon program: Considering how many consumers search for coupons and offers online, doesn’t it make sense to create coupon programs that help affiliate partners attract prospective buyers? Discount codes are one of the biggest growth hacks on the internet and show no sign of slowing down.

Stay in touch with affiliate partners: Establishing deep ties with affiliate partners means notifying them in real-time of any changes in inventory, pricing models and promotions. No company can afford the embarrassment of having an affiliate learn of a discontinued item or clearance sale through a third party. As sales representatives on the front lines of selling a company’s products, affiliate marketers deserve real-time alerts to keep them agile and motivated.

KPIs, banners: Affiliate marketers, like any sales professionals, need to know their key performance indicators, not only to track their closing rates but to be inspired to reach even greater heights. While there are multiple ways to do this, establishing a secure portal where they can log in and view their activity, commission status and current promotions will help them stay on track and cut down on customer service calls.

How can Merchants Prevent Affiliate Fraud?

  • Know Your Affiliate (KYA):

    Before you approve a new affiliate, your first step in preventing fraud is to fully vet them. Ask them about their current brand relationships and how they promote their products. Their responses will help you evaluate if their values and culture are consistent with your company’s image and brand. Ask how the affiliate will drive traffic & sales to your offer. Check to see if the affiliate has behaved fraudulently in other programs

  • Review the Affiliate Site to See:

    • Is their website(s) compatible with your brand standards?
    • What visual impression are they creating?
    • Is the copy written in a way that will enhance or cheapen your brand?
    • Are the product descriptions accurate?
    • How well are they promoting their site?
    • How well do they integrate with social sharing options?

  • Enforce Affiliate T&C and keep them updated:

    To stay apace with ever-changing rules and regulations, it is necessary to periodically update your affiliate terms and conditions. Let your affiliates know how these updates will be broadcast and request confirmation. Be sure to include a due date for compliance to the new terms as well as an enforcement strategy.

  • What is the best way to enforce Affiliate Terms?

    Monitor for violations using technology and human intelligence. Consider contracting with third-party service providers that use technology to monitor websites, or build those capabilities in-house. Ideally, machine learning coupled with human intelligence is the best way to ensure compliance.

  • Can Enforcement Be Outsourced?

    Yes, DigiPay powered by Tranzlytics provides high-risk merchants with Pro Managed Services to ensure compliance and to detect and prevent fraud. Tranzlytics fraud detection includes daily screen shots that identify changes to a website. In addition to monitoring for key word violations, Tranzlytics can monitor affiliates and sub-affiliates traffic to ensure compliance.

What is the best way to spot affiliate fraud?

The adage, trust but verify, applies when monitoring affiliates. The following guidelines can help identify potential fraud:

  • URLS’s with multiple redirects: It is important to know if the affiliate is using an approved site for your offer or unapproved sites to send fraudulent traffic.
  • Look at referring URL’s for the original source of leads and sales. Check for trends to identify sub-affiliates associated with fraud and high chargeback ratios.
  • Multiple transactions from a single IP address. This could indicate an affiliate or sub-affiliate is running stolen credit cards to place multiple orders.
  • Use transaction history and trends to Investigate spikes in leads or sales.

What are common affiliate marketing words, expressions and phrases?

Affiliate software: Unique applications developed by companies to track and manage their affiliate marketing programs.

Affiliate link: This distinct URL, created for each affiliate marketer, enables companies to recognize, track and pay commissions to affiliates.

Affiliate ID: These unique IDs are sometimes used in addition to unique URLs on websites to identify affiliate marketers and ensure that they are compensated for sales.

Payment Mode: Pertains to the method of payment used by a consumer to complete an affiliate-referred sale. Most affiliate programs offer payment methods beyond traditional credit cards to appeal to global consumers.

Affiliate Manager/OPM: Affiliate managers, who specialize in all aspects of affiliate marketing, provide expert guidance on establishing and maintaining affiliate programs.

Commission percentage/amount: This refers to the percentage of each sale that companies provide in commissions to their affiliate marketers.

2-tier, or multi-tier, affiliate marketing: Like multi-level marketing schemes, this method rewards affiliate partners for referrals and recommendations, creating a second tier of sub-affiliates who can also earn sub-affiliate commissions.

Landing pages: This web page is used to promote a specific product and is frequently used to test a market’s receptivity to a product or service.

Custom affiliate income/account: Some companies reward top-producing affiliates by creating an elite sales program with higher-tiered commissions.

Link clocking: Link clocking shortens affiliate-identifying links, keeping them short and easy on the eyes.

Custom coupons: Custom coupon programs, directly linked to specific affiliates, help companies track and analyze affiliate sales.

A growing number of companies are working with DigiPay and TranZlytics to optimize and grow their affiliate programs. Contact us today for a no-obligation review.

Industry Associations

The following membership organizations and trade associations represent the interests of the subscription billing service industry:

The ETA: The Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) is an international trade association that serves transaction processing products and service providers by providing education, advocacy and a forum for the exchange of information. The ETA provides industry leadership by hosting meetings and trade shows every year, providing education and communication tools and programs. For more about ETA, visit: www.electran.org

NACHA: develops operating rules and business practices for the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network and for electronic payments. For more about NACHA, visit: www.nacha.org.

WesPay: San Francisco-based WesPay is a membership-based payments association focused on regulatory compliance, risk management and operational sound practices across various payments channels. As a member of NACHA, the organization educates members on ACH and participates in the NACHA rulemaking process and the Accredited ACH Professional (AAP) Program. As an ECCHO partner, WesPay is a designated Educational Partner for the National Check Professional (NCP) accreditation program. The organization also participates in the Federal Reserve’s Faster Payments Task Force, fulfilling its vision of helping to shape the future of payments. www.wespay.org

Annual Events and Conferences

Oct. 4, 2018. Marketing Boot Camp, New York City, New York. This is the only conference 100% dedicated to subscription marketing. This interactive and intensive day is full of fantastic learning and networking opportunities. By attending this event, you’ll leave with new connections, actionable strategies, and immediate tactics that you can apply to your own subscription based service.

Upcoming Events and Conferences

Name Date City Venue
Affiliate Summit East July 30-Aug. 1, 2017 New York City, NY New York Marriott Marquis
Content and Commerce Summit Sept. 18-20, 2017 Los Angeles, CA JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE
Functional Food Center (FCC) Sept. 22-23, 2017 Boston, MA Joseph B. Martin Conference Center
Affiliate Summit West Jan. 7-9, 2018 Las Vegas, NV Paris Las Vegas Hotel
Traffic and Conversion Summit February 26-28, 2018 San Diego, CA San Diego Marriott Marquis

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Thank you for taking the time to review this compendium to learn about available opportunities and solutions in the subscription billing services industry. We look forward to welcoming you to our growing merchant community.

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DigiPay will also make it easy for your customers to find you, by helping you create an engaging online and in-store presence and seamless customer checkout experience. Take your subscription billing service business to the next level today at digipayinc.com.

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