Across the Board

Blog on e-business and online payments.

How to Use Recurring Payments – Case Study of Sotrender.

Recurring payments, known also as recurring billings or subscriptions, is a mechanism that processes payments for all kinds of repetitive transactions. This payment method allows e-businesses to collect money from customers’ card, bank account or PayPal account. Once the client agrees, payment is initiated regularly at set time intervals.

How recurring payments work

Your client has to create an account on your website and order your service. When it comes down to the payment process they fill out the payment form, with the card or bank account data (such as card or bank account number, card expiration date, cardholder name, CVV etc.) or are sent to their PayPal account. Data are collected when clients create an account on an e-business website or after the trial version’s expiration. This is also the moment when you ask your clients for permission to collect recurring payments.

After first processed transaction you receive from PayLane your transaction ID. After 30 days or any other payment period, your system, through PayLane API, makes the next payment. To do it, there is no need to ask the payer to enter card or bank account data once again. The payment takes place using the transaction ID from the first purchase and transaction amount, which can be changed, so if your clients upgrades their account there is no need to ask him again for permission.

Case study of Sotrender – analytical tool for marketers on Facebook.

The role of social media in running a business cannot be ignored. Facebook page is used as a communication and promotion channel all over the business world. Thanks to development of this field of marketing and PR activities,tools that make running commercial Facebook page easier are getting more and more popular. We started to cooperate with Sotrender – an application for reporting, analyzing and optimizing Facebook activities. Sotrender sales their tool in subscription model and uses recurring payments. I’ve talked to Jan Zajac, PhD, chief analist and CEO of Sotrender, about their application’s functionality, their business plans and utility of the subscription model.

Interview with Jan Zajac

Ula Lachowicz: What is Sotrender?
Jan Zając: Sotrender is a complex marketing tool to analyze, optimize and report your activities in social media. So far, we monitor and measure engagement of Facebook users only but we’re going to focus on other social media channels as well, really soon.

UL: How Sotrender can help businesses run social media communication? Isn’t creating a Facebook page and tracking statistics enough?
JZ: Facebook original statistics, Page Insights, are rather limited. Plus, they are available only for the Facebook pages you are the admin of. Whereas Sotrender gives you much more opportunities and bigger value of all the data that’s gathered from all activities on Facebook pages. Apart from conventional statistics, you can compare your achievements to your benchmarks – and even watch all your competitors.

UL: You offer Sotrender in several languages. Now the website is available in English, German, French, Spanish and Polish. How do customers react to Sotrender in different countries? Is it a new service or is it already known somewhere?
JZ: Our website is available in several languages and we’re planning to add a few more in the near future. The application is available in two languages: English and Polish. However if there are more customers from another language area, we can prepare new versions of the tool’s interface. At the moment, we cooperate with clients from 16 countries. We have recently focused on British market, and it’s interesting that when we talk with customers and partners there, we notice the needs or approach to the application isn’t actually different from the ones in Poland.

UL: And where is the greatest interest in Sotrender now? In Poland or in the United Kingdom?
JZ: So far, it’s in Poland. We’ve been present here for quite a long time so we have the highest brand awareness. This is due to over a year’s work and marketing activities in Poland which result in interest in our solution. We’d like it to happen in the United Kingdom as well, and indeed it’s starting to.

UL: Some time ago you changed the name of the application: from Fanpage Trender into Sotrender. What was the reason?
JZ: Fanpage Trender – because the name was limited to Facebook. Sotrender is a broader term. We’d like to implement other social media channels. “So” because of “social media” and “statistics and optimizations”. Right now we are working on the tool’s new features for better optimization of social activities, based on complex algorithms.

UL: You offer Sotrender in four price packets and collect monthly payments. It means that you use recurring payments which allow to your customers automatically Does this model of subscription sale makes running a business easier?
JZ: Much easier. Sotrender is a service which is subscription based, in a natural way. There are also other sales models but usually it works well in that way – customers have a need to analyze and report their activities more or less thoroughly but regularly. For customers, it is a fixed position in the costs of their budget for social media campaigns, whereas advertising activities are usually one large expense. For us, it is also a convenient model from the accounting point of view.

UL: You encourage customers to sign up for the 14-day trial version so that they can test the tool and assess whether it is appropriate for them or not. But what does the first payment look like? Do customers need to provide payments data during the test account registration or do they do it after the trial expires?
JZ: Customer provides data while registering. There is also an option to make a payment using online transfer, although credit and debit cards are now the most convenient method of payment.

UL: Sotrender fee is charged monthly. If a customer subscribes to Sotrender on June 10, is the payment charged on the 10th of every month, or is the first payment charged partially at the beginning of July?
JZ: In that case, the first payment is charged partially, and next payments are charged at the beginning of each month.

UL: Let’s assume that the customer is using the Starter package. After some time, they want to use more features and decide to upgrade to the Standard package. Are they able to upgrade the account at any time, or should they wait until the end of month to avoid paying for two subscriptions?
JZ: Our customers can upgrade their accounts at any time.

UL: Let’s go back to Sotrender business plans. You mentioned that you’d like to develop an application for other social media channels. The next social media stars after Facebook are Google Plus and Pinterest. Which social media channel will you add to Sotrender next?
JZ: We’re expanding Sotrender to Youtube and Twitter soon because most companies communicate with the business environment there. Currently, very few of our customers are interested in Google Plus or Pinterest.

UL: Do you focus on expanding Sotrender in European markets or do you think globally?
JZ: Definitely, we think globally, but we have to wait for that until summer. At the moment, we intensify our activities on the UK market. We can’t go everywhere at once but we are expanding our presence on different markets step by step.

Sociologist and researcher, particularly interested in what happens at the interface between individuals and society, nature and culture. Fan of commercials- claims that ads are Art! Admires pure form in any field of art. At PayLane responsible for good visibility, audibility, readability and brand presence. Thinks about new markets, channels and partners. Open to any form of cooperation. After work - follower of the slow food movement. Always finds time to support NGOs.

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