#45 Membership Gateways


In this episode we discuss the pros and cons of the various membership gateway alternatives that enable you to deliver training and information products and resources. Using these can provide you with a great online business model, however it’s an area in which there exists a load of options … and depending on how you like to do business … and how much business you do online … then there’ll be one solution better than the rest.

Membership gateways we discuss in this episode include:

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Tim: Good day everyone. Welcome back to episode 45 of your favorite internet marketing podcast. I am one of your hosts, Timbo Reid, and right there is…

James: James Schramko.

Tim: Massive delay there, mate. I hope you’re keeping up with me. This is a quick fast pace show, you know.

James: I’m right here Timbo, right here.

Tim: We’ll keep recording just because this is real time but my Skype Call Recorder just came up with an error problem. Do you ever get that?

James: Occasionally. Maybe one in a hundred calls. It might need an upgrade or something but I usually just hit start again and it gets going.

Tim: Yeah, sometimes I do that but I’m losing confidence in the old Skype Call Recorder which is what I do when I’m podcasting with, unless the other person can record their end, but anyway, there’s a bit of live action happening and we’re still recording using Audacity so that’s why we have backups, isn’t it James?

James: Yeah. And I use ScreenFlow.

Tim: Yeah, you do. You do. You use ScreenFlow, I use Audacity and others use GarageBand. So mate, how are you? You’re off to the Philippines on Sunday already?

James: Yep. I’m heading over there and doing some strategy stuff to high-level team-leader work this time, so calling in the top chiefs to see how we can rework the business.

Tim: You’re head honchos.

James: Yep, the top chiefs.

Tim: Beautiful. So mate, last week we covered domain names and how to get rid of those unwanted ones. This week I wanted to talk to you and ask you a few questions about, I think the topic is best summarize as shopping carts, but I’ll give you the background to it so I bought a great training product early this week which I was just blown away by the simplicity of which it took me through the different modules. Pretty simple, it was just behind a paid wall. There were about 10 modules. Nice video, workbooks, links. All the information that was mentioned in the video was sitting underneath the video. You’d complete one section, you’d move on to the next. Finally enough, I tried to bring it up in front of me to talk about today but he’s sites down, the guy who I bought it off, so I don’t have it in front of me but I just thought, you know, I haven’t seen that before. I certainly haven’t got that kind of beautiful, clean presentation of training out of Nanacast and I’m just wondering, I think we should have a bit of chat about what the best solutions are for that type of training offer.

James: Yep, so how to present membership.

Tim: Yeah, look, I don’t know. Is it how you present membership or is it a discussion around shopping carts or how would you frame this conversation?

James: Generally, you pay money to get access to something and usually that something is going to be behind a shopping cart wall of some kind. It could be inside the system that you paid the money to or it could be on a different platform. Probably the most popular way that people do it these days is they use WordPress-based memberships and they use software like WishList member as the gateway or the way to display the material inside WordPress and a lot of shopping carts can talk to WordPress. So you go from the sales page, you pay the money and then through what’s called an API, which is like tech talk for programming interface. It then allows you to see the WordPress membership hidden behind like a protected gateway. It depends on what system they’re using. If they were using something like Nanacast then you could either be using the membership platform within Nanacast or you could be using an API to talk to a different platform. As you know, a lot of my communities I build in VBulletin and I just use the shopping cart as the gateway. But once they’ve paid, they move through into the new platform, and in this case, it sounds like it could be something like WordPress.

Tim: So, let’s just get some clarity there because I’m confused. You’ve mentioned WishList member. We’ve got Nanacast, the other ones that I’ve heard, you talk about previously. There’s Office Autopilot, there’s Infusionsoft and now you’ve introduced WordPress into that mix. WordPress for me was always the content management system which you could display your website on but once it was time for someone to purchase something from that website, are you saying they can still stay within the WordPress environment, or they’re going to move into a WishList of Nanacast environment?

James: Well, a lot of those Office Autopilot, Nanacast, WishList, Infusionsoft gateways are going to bring you back to a WordPress environment for the back end.

Tim: Okay. You have to explain that more mate. You’re brief answers are killing me.

James: Basically, you pay the cart the money. So the cart will process the money. My idea of a cart is, it’s the place where they take the money and then it delivers you somewhere. With most carts, you just tell the cart where you want to send people once they’ve paid and that could be, it’s almost always away from the cart to a new platform of some kind but in some cases, the cart has an internal facility to deliver content that I think probably Nanacast is one of those, I think one shopping cart might have something like that as well. But a lot of these gateways are actually sending you back to WordPress but behind a password protected area that the cart has now allowed you to see.

Tim: Gotcha. Okay. Now it’s making sense. What you’re saying there is that some of these shopping carts, of which, is that the right terminology like WishList, Nanacast, Infusionsoft, Office Autopilot, they add shopping carts first and foremost?

James: Yeah, they’re shopping carts/membership gateways.

Tim: Okay. Alright, so what you’re saying is some of them have the ability to host the content as well. Others just perform the function of enabling the transaction, yes?

James: Exactly. Generally, they’ll enable the transaction and then they’ll give you permission to view content wherever that happens to be hosted on whatever platform.

Tim: Right. So once the transactions happen obviously at the back end, one of the shopping carts is going to say, where you do you want me to take people once they’ve paid and you provide them with that link and off you go, yes?

James: Well, it could be seamless. What it’s really doing is saying, “Okay Tim, you’ve just paid me. Now I’m going to set up a bridge to this new platform. It’s going to happen behind the scenes. We’re going to talk to it and we’re going to tell that you’re cool. You’ve paid so we’re going to let you see this content” and it will appear for you. If you can imagine some of my memberships I have of the VBulletin forum sitting in a subfolder, so people come along to my WordPress site on the top level, they see a payment button, they purchase. They go along to Nanacast, put in their details and as soon as they hit “confirm”, Nanacast sends them off to the VBulletin with like a permission slip saying, “alright Tim, you can see this now.” And it opens up in front of your eyes and now you’re in the VBulletin environment. But I think the bulk of memberships are using WordPress as the hosting environment for the videos and the modules.

Tim: Do you have preference?

James: I have a preference for the way that I do business. I’m still using that one Nanacast gateway because it’s where I want content-rich memberships with videos and comments and stuff. I really like the VBulletin platform because it’s a very discussion-based environment and it allows me to stream videos and it works well the way that I run memberships. And if I don’t have a discussion-based environment, if it’s just a one-time purchase product, and it just requires one video player, then I think the Nanacast membership itself is fine. You can automatically have people see that when they login. People will have seen that with TrafficGrab or Wealthification where they just go into a video environment where they can see the video and download stuff. There’s no commenting discussion environment. That can be put in there but it is clunky. I think they have to use discus or something. Where I see the future of this stuff is a lot of people will want Facebook style functionality with pictures and socialization and comments so, I think you’ll see more integration with Facebook and I think VBulletin has a Facebook integratioin module but then I’m not sure how you do that behind a paid firewall. I haven’t really looked into it yet. But if you want a paid environment, then you could use platforms like Ning which will give you that socially sort of experience behind a paid wall.

Tim: VBulletin to me was always just a forum. You’re telling me now that it is a place where you can host any type of content you want?

James: Well I do. In FastWebFormula I’ve got every one of my conference recordings hosted there in a streaming video right there in the page and it’s a pretty powerful platform and it allows you to do a lot of things and then people can ask questions relating to that specific video and it’s quite good for their search features and the ability for people to use it from a portable device is very strong.

Tim: I’m going to put you on this spot here. I don’t expect you to go too in-depth but what is the difference between, let’s keep it simple, WishList member, Infusionsoft, Nanacast?

James: Okay. I’ve got to firstly stay I’m not a big user of WishList member but it’s probably the most popular platform for WordPress memberships. It’s because I’m not a fan of WordPress-based memberships at the moment because I use Nanacast. I think Nanacast is actually more robust but for the average person who has one membership…

Tim: what do you mean by more robust?

James: It’s just like it’s one cart for every one of my services and products and businesses so it’s a very good solution. With WishList member, my understanding of it is you need one installation per site. As you know, I’ve got SilverCircle, FastWebFormula, SuperFastResults and then I’ve got all these one-time products like TrafficGrab, Wealthification, and then I have all these SEO and website video services. Every single one of my products and services is run from one cart. For me, there’s the elegant simplicity of that is powerful, that one cart can handle PayPal, multiple credit cards depending on the product and it hooks into my Office Autopilot front end for customer relationship marketing for e-mail collection and follow-ups. So that’s a more powerful system on a bigger scale. For one membership, people might use WishList member and have a WordPress sales page and a WordPress hosted membership environment and it’s probably quite a good WordPress membership but I don’t have just one, I’ve got many so I want a more robust solution.

So WishList is basically WordPress-based platform from my understanding of it. It’s quite easy to use and you can have multiple levels of membership. I’m not really up with how it processes money or integrates with e-mail system so I’m not the expert on that one. Infusionsoft is mostly, they say it’s an all-in-one solution and it’s probably more for your medium-size businesses. It’s not the kind of thing a solo operator would generally take on because it’s a bigger beast. It’s really, really powerful with e-mail sequences and tags and visual diagram, mapping of follow-ups but it also needs a little bit of rocket science to run from the anecdotal stories I’ve heard. Some people call it “Confusionsoft.” I believe it’s gotten better. I tried to use it about 2 years ago and I failed with it. I just couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t get it and to do the things that I thought it could do was going to cost me a lot in extra programming and consulting and it didn’t work with straight PayPal back then and I didn’t have a merchant facility so I just basically sat there tearing what was left of my hair out for about 9 months and then in the end I just got a full refund and I’m not touching it again. If you had a company with 10 or 12 or 15 people and one of them is an in-house IT person and you have a systems person and you really want to put some horsepower behind it, it’s probably one of the more powerful systems until you go up to those $25,000, $35,000 solutions like Silverpop or the really big CRM systems.

It’s a pretty good small business system but it’s too big for your average entrepreneur like the speaker or the expert or the Coach or the Timbo, from what I gather. And there are little niggles from time to time with how it integrates with especially things like PayPal. Well that being said, a lot of people have trouble integrating with PayPal. The big thing for me when I switched to Nanacast, I was able to just plug everything I had into it and it worked instantly. I was up and running that day and it was much easier to get. It receives everything. It’s like the glue that holds everything together and that’s why it’s powerful for me because it just hooks into the things that I have already.

Tim: Okay. A good summary. Go on.

James: So, what are you going to ask me about Infusionsoft or Nanacast?

Tim: Well that’s with Nanacast and we’ve kind of talked about Nanacast previously but also Office Autopilot.

James: Oh yeah. Let’s talk about that. So I made a big switch from Aweber to Office Autopilot and I’m really glad I did. This was about the time Aweber came out with their brand new interface which I really hate and my problem was, Aweber runs with lists but it’s like Outlook in the old days versus going to Gmail when you’ve got tags, it’s such a smarter system to have labels and tags. So, Office Autopilot is really powerful. You can tag each customer with different labels and it’s a really powerful customer relationship management system. You can store details of customers, you can create special groups. You can say group of people who have spent more than $500 who don’t own this product and you can create groups and broadcast just to those groups. So I’ve taken a real channel approach to my business.

Tim: It’s not really in the same set.

James: It is.

Tim: Sorry mate. It’s just our line.

James: That’s okay. It does have a cart. It’s an all-in-one solution as well but I think its early days for the carts side of it. It does have an affiliate program, it does have a shopping cart. I believe it does integrate with WordPress where it’s not so strong is I don’t think it handles recurring PayPal at this time. And it would be good if you’re a speaker, author, expert and you have 1 or 2 products and you have like one-time product or you have a WordPress membership, it could handle everything for you.

Tim: Cool. That’s a good summary. I did try to sort of cut in there but Skype connection wasn’t allowing me so that’s why I’m letting James run with it. What would you suggest, James? I mean, we’ve got a lot of first time internet marketers listing and they’re probably all wanting to race off and create some kind of training product using video, audio, and workbooks or maybe it’s an information product. What of those systems that we’ve talked about would you suggest that they use to get them going?

James: Most of those are going to have a learning curve and/or require you to hire someone else to do bits for you so I would put out the other possibility. If you’re just an expert and you have a cause and you don’t want to set all these up yourself, you could just go on to sign on to something like Udemy and just load up your course, set a price and start selling it. That’s the fully hosted, everything’s done for you, easy to operate version.

Tim: Okay. Well, I’m just going there now and have a little bit Udemy, I’ve been there before but I haven’t really had a good look at it so that would literally be, what do you do, you line up all your content there and away you go.

James: Yup. And they’ll give you link to promote it and now of course you don’t own the race course there so I don’t think you’re going to have your own affiliates and you’re not going to have an asset that you can sell so easily but you can start selling your course easily. That’s the way I understand it works. For the nice, easy solution, I guess something like WishList would be good for one membership. If you’re going to have a membership with videos and stuff, that would be fine for that. If you want to tackle a little more, you might look at Office Autopilot. That’s a more expensive situation but the e-mail power of it is great. It’s not going to suit someone with 100 customers but if you have 10,000 customers, it’s a really great solution. And if you have 20,000 customers, that’s a super powerful solution. So, that’s my favorite system. It’s like the Goldilocks. It’s more advanced than Aweber for e-mail management and it’s not quite as tricky as Infusionsoft but its way easier to use. It’s as easy to use as any other system and for me, that plus Nanacast is great. But you’ve only got a couple of products or you have a WordPress membership, then Office Autopilot is probably a one-stop shop these days.

The only cave yet being you have to check whether the payment system is going to work for you, until that’s resolved. That’s where Nanacast is powerful. Nanacast will take PayPal, credit cards, recurring one time. It’s got an affiliate program built in. So if I would start business tomorrow for my business, I would still sign up with Office Autopilot and Nanacast and VBulletin. They’re the platforms that I like. They’re 3 different things but they get everything done. And these 3 things together are lifting hundreds of thousands of dollars through the system and it works and it’s strong and each one is good at what they do. Office Autopilot is really good at e- mail. Nanacast is really good at gluing everything together, and Vbulletin is really good for hosting content and making discussion items. So that’s my favorite combo.

Tim: I love it mate. Well, we love a good combo and that is where we are going to leave it. James, it’s a nice quick episode and it certainly answer the question that I’ve had in my mind for a while and I’m going to go and get stuck into looking at… Udemy right now but also WishList, I think being a WordPress kind of guy I am. Have a good trip mate. You’re off to the Philippines on Saturday or Sunday. So, have a good time.

James: Yeah. We should do an episode from there. I’ll have decent internet.

Tim: Yeah. Yeah. Well, image that. We might be able to hear each other. That would be extraordinary. You might get a ninja on too, we could interrogate a ninja or they could interrogate us.

James: Yeah. They’re pretty tricky I think. You can ask them just about anything and they’ll be able to tell you.

Tim: Alright mate. Have a good trip and so you’re in the next episode. Listeners if you want to catch the show notes and the transcript from this episode, go to FreedomOcean.com. Sign up, and you’ll get a transcript of every episode we’ve ever done sent to you or you’ll be given access actually. You will be given access to a page where you can download all the transcripts. Have a good time, James. Thanks Mate.

James: Thanks Timbo. See you.

Feel free to leave a comment below either about what we discussed in this episode or what you’d like s to cover in an upcoming episode.


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