Online Marketing

Canadian Payment Gateways, Merchant Accounts and other ways to get paid in Canadian dollars (CAD)

When choosing how to accept payments online in Canadian dollars you have many options to choose from. Most of these solutions can integrate with Drupal and Übercart.

We at Kafei Interactive have supported Canadian dollar gateways including PayPal, Moneris, TD Merchant Services (Beanstream) and US-dollar gateways that connect to Authorize.net and Skipjack. We have also assisted organizations fine-tune their servers to meet their PCI obligations.

Canadian Payment Gateways

These solutions are all ones where your website must be configured to securely accept payments online. You accept the credit card on one of your site pages so the client never leaves. A payment gateway is most useful when you are doing more than $5000 in monthly sales.

If you already have a merchant account with any of these providers you're already half way there.

  • Moneris (Royal Bank & Bank of Montreal)
  • Paymentech (Scotiabank & National Bank)
  • Global Payments (CIBC and CITI Corp.)
  • TD Merchant Services (combination of TD and First Data)
  • Desjardins

Source

Some of these accept low risk and others accept high-risk accounts. High risk stuff includes web hosting and anything related to adult services. InternetSecure resells for Paymentech if that is what you are looking for.

Interac Online

This is a new "pay page" service that is offered with some payment gateways listed above. Basically the bank has to allow their web banking interface to be used as a pay-page. So you get redirected to your own bank or credit union to pay then kicked back to the site at the end of the payment process. No confidential data is revealed to the merchant using this system.

It takes a week or more to get your money if you use Interac Online according to one provider. They initiate a transfer from the source bank, wait two days, then hold the money a week(?! not sure why this is necessary), then two more days for the transfer. I'm sure what they probably meant to say was that it takes about a week in total.

Using Canadian Dollar Payment Services

Here is where things get interesting.

For processing less than $5000 in monthly sales. Not advisable for non-profits and some others because sometimes PayPal withholds your money, for up to 6 months! Usually it takes about two days (as with most services listed on this page).

There are no Drupal modules for Interac Email Money Transfers because people need to add you as a payee in their web banking using your email address as the "target account". Configuration varies by bank or credit union. If a client were to ask for this in Übercart I would recommend making it like a Cash/Cheque option where you acknowledge payment after.

  • PayPal - can be used as a gateway and/or pay page in Canadian dollars
  • Interac Email Money Transfer - payee must add your email address as a recipient transfers complete in about 4h!
  • Hyperwallet - allows you to transfer between any Canadian accounts

Cheques and Cash On Delivery

Sounds absurd but it is more common than you think. Many small businesses make deliveries and bring the product direct to the consumer. In these cases we often provide a cheque or a pay by cash option just in case the client needs a "live" option to pay. On our websites we produce when you choose the cheque option customers are then presented with a billing address to "complete" the sale. The transaction is marked as a pending order until you as the store owner update the sales record.

Time to Put Your Business Card Online?

I have a lot of friends who run small business.  Some run very small businesses.  That means their web options can be limiting.  Yes, they could go all out and do some social media advertising (which is always a good suggestion) but I think a friend of mine nailed it on the head - he needs what amounts to be a "business card" that is posted online.

Initially I thought this was kind of absurd but after some time I am starting to think that he is on to something.  Social media is limited by the form fields big companies place on their sites.  As of yet, none have done a good job of tying information together across services like a custom site can.  But what happens when you are ready to step up to a custom website but you are not quite ready for a full-fledged multi-page CMS site?

The business case for a really small site

Some say that blogging is the answer but a lot of people who work on their own are not keen to be writing all day or even once a week.  A business card is all these clients need... a simple design project and some plain text somewhere on the page so they can start getting into Google's index.  Something that will still be there if they forget to post for six months.  With a setup like that a business can start defining it's own image rather than leave it entirely up to online commentators. 

The added advantage of doing things this way is that the account is not terminated due to lack of activity.   It also ensures someone is seriously looking at your SEO and that you can track the results of your campaign(s).  That can be important for people that do not work online but see their presence as a distant cousin to their Yellow Pages ad.

Restaurants fall into this category for sure - how many eateries do you love but either do not have a website or have a really terrible one that you can never find? My favourite pizza delivery shop has no online presence at all, except for a few comments on a restaurant review site which happens to have the phone number listed there.  It would be great for them to have their name and a phone number somewhere consistent.  Even better if it had a menu.  That's really all I need to order a pizza... and a one page site would do the trick.

A "business card on the web" would help businesses like these - where they already have some online presence but they want to have some control over their identity.  It is a bit of web design, some programming and search engine optimization.  That can be beyond a lot of business owners but fairly trivial for those of us who love code. 

 

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The trials of planning events using Facebook

When I ran into some old friends in Vancouver this summer we parted with a "see you on Facebook" comment. We had been discussing the popular social networking tool and lamenting that it seems harder to arrange events using the utility. "After about four months you'll get over Facebook" said one of the women I was speaking to. Based on prior experience I knew she was right.

It is very easy to communicate on Facebook by utilizing different methods of interacting with people. You can poke someone, email them, post to their wall or interact with a myriad of plugin applications. The event planner is just one of the built-in methods. To use it, you click "events" on the leftmost side of your screen and click "create an event". Simple enough. The rest is simply filling in information and selecting a few friends to go.

Sounds easy right? So why is the event planner on Facebook so lacking?

The thing that Facebook is lacking is an adequate reminder system. The onus is still on the event planner to repeatedly message people until the date sticks. Otherwise, for all the people invited to an event, they will simply forget since Facebook does nothing on it's own to remind people, not even the owner!

Of course as you're reading this I know you're thinking "well, geeze Ryan, you must be a terrible event planner." Arguably, this is so. I love to coordinate events but I never like to be the one in charge when it comes to planning them (and if nobody plans them I do what I can). The reason that I thought Facebook would help is because everything appears to be easier because the contact list becomes a thing of the past.

Speaking of contact lists, you've probably already guessed what happens when someone isn't on your Facebook list. Yes, that's right, either you're messaging them individually or you're cutting them out of your life altogether. Sorry old friends, you're not on Facebook. Get with the program. Once they're on it though, they'll forget too because of the expectation that if you plan events with software that software should actually help you in some way, even if it's just a poke at the last second before the party starts.

Occasions when you could theoretically find success with Facebook events is when you know that everyone in your audience will take notes and transfer them to their calendaring system which they rely on for business. Otherwise, it will likely be lost unless the organizer is diligent about reminding people as they would using any other proven medium. Guess what kids? That means you get to fill out two emails now instead of one. Let's all rejoice in the new technology.

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Business services offered this fall

With autumn in the air and a new comptuer on my desk it is finally time to start reaching out and taking on some work on the side. Since my time is limited to the evenings and weekends it will likely be a slow starter but I've narrowed down my scope so it should be pretty easy to manage.

Here's what I've got lined up:

  • Introducing your business to web analytics. If you're still using plain web statistics to observe the preferences of your visitors it's time to move on. The modern website requires a little more attention than how many pages are downloaded in a given day. I can introduce you to your global audience, show you who comes from where, how they got there, and what they are ultimately looking for.
  • Copywriting content for your business. Let's face it, writing is "easy" but not everyone reads things the same way. I can help you refine your content so that it is appropriate for the many different audiences visiting your website. As you would expect, writing samples are available upon request. Topics can vary as I enjoy writing on a number of subjects. I can also write very clear documentation for your technical projects that any geek would love and end users will appreciate too.
  • Graphic production, post-procssing and hosting of imagery. Over the past few years I have been utilizing the tools beyond Photoshop that are used to process graphics for websites. As such, I can configure automated systems for you to browse, categorize, and publicize images as you wish. Need a watermark for sharing your photography? I can make it happen over any medium: email, ftp, website, or post straight off your computer without you needing to lift a finger. Or maybe you just want this photo touched up on the cheap but with stellar results. Send all that stuff my way.
  • Website design and implementation oversight. I have managed a variety of web projects in the past ranging from large to small. The needs of each project differ but genarally have a lot in common. Designers are needed, they often work with different developers on the project and lots of different technologies can be involved. I try to keep the technologies and the timelines focused so things don't get out of control. Sometimes simpler really can be better. These projects tend to be somewhat larger so check in with my schedule if you need this on the fly.

So there you have it. I do these four particular things and have sufficent experience with all of them to guide you along the process of whatever online business project you are working on.

 

If any of these items are of interest to you pick up the phone and call me. I can be reached at 604 505 4060. I am available 7am-8pm, please leave a message during standard business hours (typically 9-5) as I am occupied with other activities during this time.

 

While we're on the topic, it's probably important for you to know that I've generally worked with larger organizations in the past but I hold small business owners with a high regard. With this in mind I research both ends of the spectrum, keeping in mind the bigger picture which includes your average "mom and pop" shop.

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Facebook raises the dead

Today I had one of those weird experiences where someone reached out to me from the beyond on Facebook. Sure, you've probably heard stories about the dead living on though tribute profiles and/or groups on social networking sites. This wasn't quite like that. The kind of "dead people" I'm talking about is that associated with technology, ie, those whose accounts have been deleted.

So when I received a message on Facebook from a friend that no longer participates in Facebook I was a little worried. Had someone created a new profile with my friend's same name? A stolen identity? Would the profile not have been deleted when she left? How could someone break in like this?

Then I logged into Facebook. When I get into the site I took a look around and it was as if nothing had ever happened. At all. It was the exact same profile that my friend had before she signed-off months ago.

Awhile back my friend quit Facebook and the rest of us sat dazed and confused musing about why her profile could have gone away. It was nerve wracking. We browsed around the site looking for answers, but Facebook didn't mention a thing. Apparently bad news is not worth telling anyone about. When the story unfolded it was something miraculously dull. The same old excuses we all use when we dump a technology: "it's getting boring, I want to do something else."

A lot of people I know are coming and going from Facebook all the time. Some people I know have no Internet (yes, it's true, I do converse with the others) and most of them similarly reject Facebook, even if they know that photos and other memoribilia of themselves already exist on the network. Other contacts drop off because they have moved cities, others to keep work and private spheres separated, and still more leave just because they're bored. What's new about this situation is that someone is finally coming back.

Privacy advocates, beware! Simply deleting your profile on Facebook doesn't remove any of the information from their servers. They keep it around, silently managing it for you until you come to your senses and log back on.

So today, receiving this text message, I thought my friend had risen from the dead. And truly she had. Sort-of. Sometimes social and technology do not translate well to real life.

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Claiming ownership to your Blog

Recently I have been utilizing Bloglines as my RSS reader. It's a great tool which lets me read from all my favorite sources from any location with web access.

Noting that the service allows for much more than just reading RSS I discovered I could "claim" ownership to my blog and present a public profile for both it and myself. So in the coming days you should see some information about this blog showing up in Bloglines.

The great thing about creating these profiles is the cross-linking that starts to happen when people get a better idea of what you're talking about. This type of linking drives a lot of traffic to websites which will hopefully lead to improved performance with search engine optimization.

Lately I've been observing a new trend in my analytics reports where profiles are becoming more and more relevant to driving new traffic. As it happens, much corporate traffic comes from employee referrals and profiles on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. It's surprising, but word of mouth works just as well on the web as it does in person.

Thus far I'm not certain whether this type of linking helps or hinders search optimization techniques but any new traffic seems to be good traffic when it's coming from a group of real individuals.

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Moving beyond just tagging

How often do you go to a blog and see a swarm of tags down the side of the page which have little or no relevance? Well, if you look at this blog you will see just that. Right now most of the new tags are empty but this is intentional as I rework the blog.

We run a few blogs out of my office which has led me to have some criticisms of tagging in general. The first lesson that I have taken away is to keep the format your tags consistent. In my del.icio.us bookmarks I use all lower case words for my tagging for consistency, while on the blog I'm trying to reinforce proper capitalization of words to bring it more in line with news media. Many blogs I see have a mixture of both and it appears unprofessional to the casual viewer visiting the blog for the first time.

Another strategy that I am keen to embrace is to limit the number of tags. I hinted in a previous post but I think more needs to be said. Some bloggers will add new keywords each time they post an article but this quickly gets out of control. One particular entry in a blog I read has only one story about religion but a tag was created so this is visible on every single page. The author may not realize this, but the post challenges the blog's credibility in other ways when the general topic of the blog has nothing to do with religion. To avoid these mishaps I think the best strategy is to limit yourself to a set number of tags. If something doesn't fit, cut the article as it will deviate from the defined scope of the blog (or tag it with something more meaningful).

Since we're now in the business of defining our tags I think a further step is needed in blog functionality that has been missing for some time. Tags as landing pages. Yes, that's right, when you click on a tag you should be taken to some kind of customized section. Perhaps a definition of the tag, what it means to you, it's history and why you use it on the blog. This makes sense when you think about the tags as "categories" of information. Users will rejoice that your tags will become research topics for them and the SEO (search engine optimization) benefits will be great too: no longer would search engines ignore your tags but rather see them as individual pages worthy of indexing. The thought of that sounds enticing.

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