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What’s an ACH Payment? How Does ACH Benefit My Business? (Video)

What’s an ACH Payment? How Does ACH Benefit My Business? photo

The year 2000. That’s when I moved out of my parents’ house, and into the real world.

I remember a big part of my adulting was setting aside an hour or so once a month to “pay the bills”. Paying the bills required my checkbook. (Not a real book, a small 3” x 6” — usually pleather — folder with a pad of paper checks and ledger inside.)

Paying the bills meant I’d write out each check, fill out the remittance slip, put the check and slip into the supplied return envelope, and slap a postage stamp on the envelope. I’d then take my stack of envelopes to the mailbox for the post office to pick up and deliver. Delivery would take anywhere from 1 to 3 days depending on the vendor location.

Quite a process.

Today, all my bills are paid electronically online as ACH payments. It takes about 10 minutes to pay all 6 of my bills. I haven’t yet made the jump to automatic ACH, but know many who have. Automatic ACH means no time at all is spent “paying the bills”.

What’s an ACH payment?

You’re probably familiar with ACH payments and don’t realize it.

Have you ever gone to pay a bill online and you’ve been prompted to enter your bank routing number and bank account number? That’s an ACH payment.

But let’s back-pedal a bit. That acronym. What’s it stand for? ACH is the Automated Clearing House — the clearing center for all electronic payments that happen between banks and financial institutions in the U.S.

When people talk about ACH they’re usually referring to ACH processing — the process of moving funds from one bank account to another. Or an ACH payment — an electronic payment/eCheck — where you, the customer, give authorization for an institution to debit funds directly from your checking or savings account for bill payment.

How does a business benefit from ACH?

The benefits of ACH payment are clear for consumers: It’s much more convenient. Making an ACH payment is a lot faster than writing out a check and getting the payment into the mail on time. Plus, money is saved by not having to buy postage stamps.

For a business, there are many benefits to taking ACH payments, too. Some of the top benefits are:

Faster processing time — With ACH payments, it’s all online, so the processing time is much faster which means you get your money quicker. ACH payments are usually processed within 1-2 business days versus 5-6 business days it takes for the check to arrive in the mail and process it.

Cost-effective — With ACH payments, the funds are transferred from bank account to bank account electronically which makes the transaction cost very low and therefore, a more cost-effective payment method for businesses than accepting credit and debit card payments.

Especially cost-effective for businesses and organizations with recurring billing — The more transactions you have, the more transaction fees you pay. And if you run a business that charges a monthly fee, like a gym, or have customers that pay on a recurring basis, like a utility company, you have lots of transactions. ACH is particularly attractive for these businesses and organizations because they can accept payments in a cost-effective way.

 


Think ACH is right for you?

Obviously, ACH offers both businesses and customers the opportunity to save time and it provides major convenience. For businesses, you’re able to secure payments faster and save on transaction fees with ACH.

If you’re interested in learning more about ACH, or signing up to take ACH payments, give us a call at 888.244.2160 or fill out our simple online form. We’d be happy to go over the rates for ACH with you and help you get set up so you can start saving and streamlining your payment process.

Kristen Campbell is the Brand Manager at Constellation Payments. She is responsible for managing all marketing initiatives and programs including channel partner and merchant success programs, public and media relations, internal and external communications, and customer engagement. You can reach Kristen by sending an email to kcampbell@csipay.com.

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3 Ways to Save Money When Processing Payments

“3 Ways to Save Money When Processing Payments” is locked 3 Ways to Save Money When Processing Payments photo

There are certainly costs associated with processing payments, but there are also ways you can save money. Here are three:

1. Invest in a terminal.

Contrary to popular belief, renting a terminal will end up costing you more overall, rather than outright buying a terminal.

Terminals aren’t as expensive as you may think. Our terminals range from $260 to $880 depending on the features and functionality you’re looking for.

All units are part of the Ingenico family of terminals that are built to provide industry-leading performance and flexibility. Plus, the terminals, functionality and transactions have all been certified with key processors — and are EMV-ready so you can accept chip cards.

Not sure which terminal is right for your business? Check out our EMV terminal line-up here with product specs and feature summaries on each terminal. We offer a full range — from terminals with a small device footprint, to high-end interactive terminals with customization for loyalty programs and opportunities to upselling, cross-selling and promoting your brand.

2. Choose an all-in-one payment technology provider.

As you’re probably well aware, there are lots of pieces that make up the payment processing puzzle. Two pieces being the gateway and the merchant account. Most merchant service providers supply one or the other. The problem with that? Two providers means two different support teams, two implementations, two agreements, and so on.

Most all-in-one providers can consolidate costs for you — and since time is money — having all services under one roof can save you operational costs. One point of contact for gateway services, the merchant account and software-integrated solutions streamlines support, reduces operational expenses and increases overall productivity.

3. Maintain PCI compliance.

Payment processors want to make sure you keep sensitive payment data secure — even if you work with a merchant service provider like Constellation Payments. To ensure you’re compliant, you are required to complete the PCI compliance questionnaire every year. Security scans must be completed every three months depending on your merchant environment.

If you do not complete the compliance questionnaire, you will incur a steep monthly fee for the extra risk your business imposes – most times as high as a $45.00 a month fee.

There are more ways to save money when processing payments, but these particular three are lesser-known and provide a good starting point when looking to reduce your costs.

Have your own tip? Share it below. And, as always, if you have a question, feel free to reach out to us by calling 888.244.2160 or send an email to sales@csipay.com.

Kristen Campbell is the Brand Manager at Constellation Payments. She is responsible for managing all marketing initiatives and programs including channel partner and merchant success programs, public and media relations, internal and external communications, and customer engagement. You can reach Kristen by sending an email to kcampbell@csipay.com.

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How Payments Are Done: The Most Popular Posts of 2016

If you’re going to read any articles from the How Payments Are Done blog, these five are it. Some clear up the confusion around specific payment processing jargon and technical complexities like “What’s the difference between a surcharge and a convenience fee? Who can charge what?”.

Other articles cover critical, need-to-know payment challenges like how to reduce the chance of chargebacks from occurring.

Check out the most popular posts of the year … share them … then let us know which one’s your favorite by commenting below.

Take Charge(back)! How to Proactively Prevent Credit Card Chargebacks [Infographic]

If you accept credit cards at your business, it’s nearly impossible to rid yourself of chargebacks. The good news? There are steps you can take that will drastically reduce the chance of chargebacks from happening.

Check out this handy infographic for seven proactive pointers — perfect for sharing on your social pages, with colleagues and at your next team meeting.

8 Elements Every Great Business Partnership Must Have

“Great partnerships just don’t happen.” Research shows there are elements that are essential for creating great alliances.

In this article, Constellation Payments CEO, Steve Pinado, outlines the eight components of effective partnering as identified in the book, “Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life” by Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller, Ph.D.

What better time than now to measure your partnerships against these components and see how they stack up?

Convenience Fees & Surcharges: What’s the Difference? What’s Permitted? What’s Not?

How does a convenience fee differ from a surcharge? What if you’re a government agency, a school, college or university? What’s allowed?

This post spells out the differences between the two fee types, the rules around each and what businesses are allowed to charge extra — a great primer providing clarity around what can be a very confusing topic.

Understanding Credit Card Processing Charges? A Look at Interchange, Tiered and Flat Rate Pricing

Trouble reading your statements or evaluating rates? This article explains — in simple terms — the different pricing options and methods of billing available for merchant processing services through Constellation Payments.

Glossary of Payment Processing Terms

That payment processing jargon I spoke of earlier? Here’s a great go-to resource worth bookmarking. This glossary defines the most commonly-used payment processing terms in simple, easy-to-understand language.

So, what do you think? What’s your favorite article? Have a topic you want to see covered? Comment below and let us know.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the How Payments Are Done blog and look forward to sharing more payment education, strategies and insights in 2017.

Kristen Campbell is the Marketing Brand Manager at Constellation Payments.

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Focus on These Marketing Metrics (& 7 Tactics) for SaaS Success

Are you familiar with CAC? LTV? They’re both worth getting to know. These two tiny acronyms can make a big impact on the success of your software-as-a-service (SaaS) business.

Earlier this year, Inc. published an article on marketing metrics for SaaS success. Author, Ameeta Soni, talked about Customer Acquisition Cost and Customer LifeTime Value.

For SaaS businesses:

  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is the cost involved to get a customer to subscribe to your software.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) is the total projected revenue that a business will derive from their entire relationship with a software customer.

Implementing ways to reduce the costs to acquire a software customer, as well as tactics to increase a customer’s lifetime value, will yield continual business growth and success.

It’s important to keep this formula front and center when determining which initiatives to carry out in your business.

Reducing Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC)

As Soni points out, CAC usually involves, in large part, costs associated with your sales and marketing process.

“Consider simplifying your product to reduce human sales touch and any other wasteful costs associated with closing the deal.”

This great piece of advice can be accomplished in a number of ways that shorten the sales cycle for software companies. Tactics to decrease CAC:

1. Create a 1-to-2-minute overview video of your software.

Cover the main features and benefits and most importantly, show how the software solves the prospective user’s problems.

A brief overview video is a great supplement to a live demo — especially for prospective customers that are in the beginning stages of their software search, want to learn the basics of your offering and don’t necessarily have time to invest in an in-person review.

2. Develop FAQs.

Having a list of commonly-asked questions will give your website visitors an extra level of support. Your potential customers will have as much information as they need without having to contact sales.

Quick Tip: Get the entire company involved in developing your FAQs. Every time someone in customer service, implementation, sales, marketing — any department — is asked a question, have them make note of it and the answer in a shared document that is then used to update your FAQs page on a continual basis.

3. Create a feature/benefit comparison table.

There are typically a few software solutions that your buyer is considering. Side-by-side feature/benefit comparison tables provide an easy way for your potential buyers to see how your software stacks up against other solutions.

4. Implement email lead nurture campaigns by segments.

You have prospects that have visited your demo or trial page, but did not fill out the form. Prospects that have scheduled a live, in-person demo but did not show. Prospects that have completed a live, in-person demo, but are hesitant to transition to another software solution.

Harness the power of automation and the cost-effectiveness of email marketing. Through marketing automation software, you can send email lead nurturing campaigns with personalized content that supports the buying cycle and stage each prospect is at. These campaigns, once set up, deploy on their own at the frequency you deem, so you save your marketing and sales teams from having to stop and start up new email campaigns continually.

Increasing Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)

In previous posts, I talked about ways to increase usage and loyalty to your software to strengthen retention — in other words, increase the lifetime value of your customers.

Tactics to increase LTV:

1. Implement a nurturing campaign as part of your onboarding process.

Have tips on how to best use your software? Share them with your users through an email campaign to get them excited about using your software.

Have a consulting arm to your software business? A blog? Webinars? eBooks? Encourage new customers to take advantage of these materials to get the most of their relationship with you.

2. Form partnerships that add value to your offering.

Your software can’t do it all. To remain competitive you need to develop partnerships with companies that complement your offering and provide value to your customers.

For example, partnering with Constellation Payments for merchant and gateway services makes it easy, fast and secure for your customers to process payments directly within their software. In other words, our channel partners leverage our scalable technology, gateway and processing platform to deliver the best value-added solutions to their software customers.

3. Host a user conference.

Gather your software users in one place to introduce new features, review development plans, talk upcoming features, and share best practices. User conferences also strengthen retention by cultivating community. Attendees are part of a group using the same tools and techniques … striving to achieve common goals and business success.

How have you reduced CAC and increased LTV for your software business?  Share below.

Kristen Campbell is a Marketing Specialist with Constellation Payments.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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Get continual educational guidance and strategies on important payment topics including: data protection, tokenization, EMV, and more.

Visit HowPaymentsAreDone.com, enter your email address into the ‘Subscribe to Our Blog’ box and we’ll send our best advice to your inbox.

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3 MORE Ways to Build Value into Your Software Offering

It happens more often than you think …

One of your top competitors calls your customer with an “almost-too-good-to-pass-up” offer to switch to their software.

And it’s not just any customer of yours that they call. It’s John … 5-years-a-customer, sends-in-referrals-all-the-time, speaks-highly-of-your-company-any-chance-he-gets-on-social-media John.

Fortunately for you, John doesn’t think twice when he gets this call. He politely thanks your competitor for the offer, then starts singing praises about your software and your company.

Done. Conversation over. All’s good.
Continue reading “3 MORE Ways to Build Value into Your Software Offering”

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3 Ways to Build Value into Your Software Offering

Retaining customers is crucial to your long-term success. So what steps can you take to increase software usage and loyalty — and ultimately boost retention and growth of your business?

Since we partner with many software companies, I thought I’d share some of the ways they build value into their software offering … ideas you might incorporate into your own customer retention strategy.  Continue reading “3 Ways to Build Value into Your Software Offering”

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How Payments Are Done: The Top 5 Blog Posts of 2015

Hard to believe we’ll be ringing in 2016 at the end of this month. That means now is the perfect time to reflect back on this year.

In May, we launched the How Payments Are Done blog with a specific mission in mind: to keep our business partners and merchant clients updated and armed with payment strategies that work.

Throughout the past seven months, we’ve covered a broad range of topics from EMV and tokenization, to card not present (CNP) fraud and mobile commerce.

Now let’s see which of those posts got the most attention — and might just warrant printing out and keeping at your desk to refer to again and again. Continue reading “How Payments Are Done: The Top 5 Blog Posts of 2015”

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Clear Up “EMV Chip Technology Confusion” with These 4 Resources

It won’t be just any old Thursday. Come October 1st, the U.S. will flip the switch to a three letter acronym we all should get used to hearing: EMV.

Named after its original developers, Europay, MasterCard and VISA, EMV is a set of specifications for chip cards and the devices — such as point of sale payment terminals — that are used to accept chip card payments.

Why the change? EMV chip technology is proven to significantly reduce card fraud resulting from counterfeit, lost and stolen cards.

If you haven’t already, you’ll soon see:

  • Consumers whip out new chip cards to make in-store purchases.
  • Merchants with new point of sale terminals that accept chip cards.
  • Chip cards being inserted into terminals instead of being swiped.

You’ll also see the emergence of contactless payment methods — like Apple Pay — where customers make purchases by holding their contactless card or mobile phone in front of a reader — rather than inserting a card.

With all these changes comes, of course, plenty of questions. Fortunately, there is no shortage of guidance.

Here are four resources we strongly recommend checking out in the next few weeks to get up to speed on EMVContinue reading “Clear Up “EMV Chip Technology Confusion” with These 4 Resources”

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