One of the top questions people ask me is how to choose a shopping cart and e-mail autoresponder service. People get stuck at this point all the time. Although this is a “big decision” (after all to make money online you need to be able to collect the money and keep track of who has purchases from you) – it isn’t something that you can’t change as you learn and grow in your business.
I would like to help you discover some of your shopping cart and autoresponder options so you can make the right choice for you in your business.
The 4 basic things you need to have in place to make money online
I often talk a lot about content, mentors, and ideal clients, but this articlet is more technical. The three basic tools you need for a functioning online business are:
- A way to communicate with potential customers and buyers. This is called an autoresponder.
- A place to create order pages – This is called a “shopping cart”.
- A way to have the money transferred from your customer’s bank account to your bank account. – This is called a merchant account. When you are first starting out, you can use PayPal or Google checkout as your merchant account instead of applying for one from a business.
- A way to track referrals (affiliates) You might not need this right away – but I would try to quickly find a solution to paying affiliate commissions so that you can grow your list more quickly.
Where most business owners get confused is the fact that there are hundreds of services offering different pieces of what is needed at wildly different price points.
How to choose a shopping cart and autoresponder for your business
Here is a quick summary of how to choose a shopping cart and e-mail service for your business.
1. If you are just starting out…
If you are at the very beginning of your online marketing journey and have very little money to invest, I would recommend that you use aweber linked with paypal. There are good instructions on the aweber site about how to link the two so that people can buy from you via paypal and be subscribed to a list in aweber. Aweber costs less than $20 a month, has good technical support and a high delivery rate. At this point, I would not recommend constant contact because it is difficult to create subscription thank you pages and you are limited to one e-mail autoresponder sequence per account. There is no affiliate tracking in this option, but if you are selling products all on your blog (no separate domains), wp-affiliates is a decent option.
2. You want one program that does e-mail, affiliates and has a shopping cart feature.
The tried and true option here is 1Shopping Cart. It has gotten more expensive lately but is still a solid choice. The increase in price of 1ShoppingCart has spawned some other options. I haven’t tried them, but I have heard good things about PremiumWebCart, NanaCast, Shopify, and RedOak cart.
3. You want to completely manage your business through your shopping cart and autoresponder system (or you want to start with a full featured system and not have to change)
I have been an infusionsoft user from the very beginning. Infusionsoft is the most powerful (and most expensive) option available. It allows me to control the flow between my lists in way that is not possible with the other systems. I have been generally happy with it — but there is a steep learning curve (my team is still learning how to get the most of the system for Decisive Minds). One quirk to be aware of, Infusionsoft requires a merchant account (not just paypal) to automatically bill payments.
So, at this point, you are probably wondering what the penalty is for choosing wrong. Other than the time invested in learning and setting up your products on one system and then moving to another, the penalty for choosing wrong is losing subscribers. Most list services will require your subscribers to re-opt-in in order to stay on your list. It is not uncommon to lose half of your subscribers (luckily, the less interested half), when they have to re-opt-in.© Copyright 2012 Michele A Scism