Automate Paid Email Subscriptions with PayPal

A few weeks ago, we announced a new AWeber/PayPal integration, which makes it easier than ever to add your customers to your email list.

We love to talk about the new capabilities of the API, which made this integration possible. But in our excitement, one of the new features didn’t get quite the spotlight it deserved.

So today, I’d like to (re)introduce you to AWeber’s integration with PayPal subscriptions, which enables you to manage a paid newsletter with ease!

How Can You Use This?

Perhaps the most obvious way to make use of this feature is to have a paid subscription to your newsletter itself. If you have valuable content to sell, you can easily automate the subscription process, creating another revenue stream.

If you have a PayPal subscription set up for another reason (a print magazine, for instance, or paid membership to a website), it’s still a good idea to tie your mailing lists to subscribers’ payments: adding value through an email campaign tied to their subscription is a great idea, and gives customers another reason to stay with you.

Remember, the key is to send content that customers will find useful. If the product is worth it, people will be willing to pay.

How Do You Set It Up?

The first step in setting up this integration is to create your subscription in PayPal.

Learn how to create a subscription.

Then, if you haven’t already, set up the PayPal app in your AWeber account. You can find the app at the My Apps page of your account.

Note that by setting this up, you’ll be able to use all the features we talked about in our earlier blog post, including using automation rules to move customers to new lists when they make a purchase and having a different list for each product that you offer.

You don’t have to do anything else. AWeber will automatically add new PayPal subscribers to your list. Then, if they cancel their payment, they will be unsubscribed. When they catch back up on their payments, they go back on the list – everything is automated.

What Have You Done So Far?

We did mention this feature previously, so we were curious: how many of you are already using the PayPal app? Have you tried using it for subscriptions? Share your story in the comments!

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34 Comments

  1. Wow this is really cool…about time guys! ;-)

    12/15/2011 11:14 am
  2. Gil

    “You don’t have to do anything else. AWeber will automatically add new PayPal subscribers to your list.”

    cool but will they “double optin” list ?
    Thanks

    12/15/2011 12:00 pm
  3. Jon

    Sounds good and certainly something to look more closely at in the new year. Always good to see you expanding your services for clients. Best wishes to you all for a safe and happy festive season.

    12/15/2011 12:06 pm
  4. Dell

    I am interested but I will need help getting setup. I am an admitted
    “tech dummy” and do not know anything about “apps” or “feeds” or any of the
    ways to do this. Please advise!

    12/15/2011 12:37 pm
  5. Great feature, thank you!

    You mentioned “if they cancel their payment, they will be unsubscribed. When they catch back up on their payments, they go back on the list – everything is automated.”

    If someone is in an autoresponder, does that mean when they resume their subscription the autoresponder will resume from where it left off? (E.g. message 17 of a 30 part sequence?)

    If so that will be an amazingly simple way to create paid drip-feed training membership courses, so my fingers are crossed the answer is ‘Yes!’

    12/15/2011 12:42 pm
  6. I’ll be interested to see the response to the questions raised here – especially the one about double opt-in requirement for paid customers. I asked this question specifically (surrounding the PayPal parser) and was told that it doesn’t matter if they have paid you, Aweber still requires a double opt-in for integrated new subscriptions. Is this the same, or has that been bypassed for this app?

    12/15/2011 3:34 pm
  7. Thanks for all your feedback, everyone!

    Gil and Gabrielle – If you’re referring to a confirmation message being sent to the subscriber, then yes, they will need to confirm. Confirmation is not only an industry standard, but also just good business sense when it comes to adding someone to a mailing list.

    Dell – For information on setting up this particular integration, take a look at our knowledge base article on the subject:

    http://www.aweber.com/faq/questions/234/How+Do+I+Integrate+PayPal+With+AWeber%3F

    For more general getting started materials, try this instead:

    http://www.aweber.com/faq/questions/512/How+To+Get+Started

    Ed – You have it exactly right! When someone is unsubscribed, we continue to store their information for you, including where they are in your follow up series. When they’re reactivated, they’ll pick up right where they left off.

    12/15/2011 4:49 pm
  8. I have heard of subscribers paying a monthly fee for an ezine just as one would for a physical magazine subscription, but it seems a challenge to get paid subscribers for an email series unless you’re extremely well-known..

    Ironically, this is something I would like an email series on :lol:

    p.s.
    I would also like to know the answer to Ed Rivis’s question as well?

    12/15/2011 5:41 pm
  9. Confirmation is not only an industry standard, but also just good business sense when it comes to adding someone to a mailing list.

    Good business sense? C’mon Nick!

    They’ve just *paid* to get on that list. Why do they need to confirm?

    In this case, some customers will miss the confirmation email and complain they never got on the list!

    Etienne

    12/15/2011 6:14 pm
  10. Thanks Nick & Aweber for the absolutely brilliant function! It really helps to automate our subscription process via email. Thanks again.

    12/15/2011 7:27 pm
  11. John

    What if we’ve been running a paid email newsletter previously? Can we move everyone to aweber/paypal or will each person need to sign up again?

    12/15/2011 11:19 pm
  12. Dustan Harless

    What a lame requirement for this application. (confirmation when they have already paid you) If they have already paid to be on your email list, they obviously want that information! That’s like going to a fast food restaurant and the cashier repeating your order and saying “You sure you want that?” All you are doing is creating frustration with the customers as well as your paid customers for aweber. Do yourself a favor and just make it required to put the date the customer paid with paypal or other payment processor; the time, the amount and the product. That’s sufficient for audit/lawsuit protection purposes. You can easily program this into your code, as you already have it as a requirement on the confirmation for your forms.

    12/16/2011 6:25 am
  13. @Caleb – Nick Moore did answer my question (it was in the ‘footnote’ of his reply to others).

    He said “You have it exactly right! When someone is unsubscribed, we continue to store their information for you, including where they are in your follow up series. When they’re reactivated, they’ll pick up right where they left off.”

    I think this is *great* news. Instant fully-managed drip-feed membership training, by email. (I’m going to use it to send automated emails with links to hidden pages.)

    12/16/2011 9:55 am
  14. Etienne and Dustan – My apologies for not expanding on my previous comment about confirmation. To clarify what I was trying to say: Confirmation is the ONLY way to ensure that you are emailing an address that both belongs to the person who signed up AND is actively checked.

    Just because someone has an email address associated with their PayPal account doesn’t mean that’s the address they use on a daily basis, and it may not be the address at which they want to receive your email.

    As far as lawsuits or audits go, remember that confirmation doesn’t just protect you legally, it also protects your reputation in the eyes of ISPs like Google, who are going to care less about legal technicalities and more about whether people are actually opening and reading your messages.

    12/16/2011 11:50 am
  15. barbaman

    great really..with facebook and paypal connected its truly needed

    12/18/2011 5:08 am
  16. I’m interested in this type of functionality, since it’s basically what I already do manually (if they sign up for my product, I add them manually to the members mailing list, and they receive a confirmation email).

    I don’t use PayPal directly, but another payment processor (2Checkout.com). If I wanted this type of functionality for my own site, is it the case that I would need to write an Aweber app for myself, to deal with 2Checkout.com subscriptions?

    12/18/2011 8:36 am
  17. Ethan Evans

    Nick –

    You mentioned the following in your replies above:

    “Confirmation is not only an industry standard, but also just good business sense when it comes to adding someone to a mailing list.”

    “Confirmation is the ONLY way to ensure that you are emailing an address that both belongs to the person who signed up AND is actively checked.”

    Here’s my question:

    Why does Aweber permit their customers to setup a list that does *NOT* (repeat — DOES NOT) require confirmation when an e-mail is submitted via a web form? These lists filled with unconfirmed e-mail addresses run afoul of the things you mentioned in the quoted text above.

    It’s weird to me that Aweber would be cool with someone running a list filled with unconfirmed e-mail addresses that are collected through web forms, but NOT be cool with someone running a list filled with unconfirmed e-mail addresses obtained through this new Aweber/PayPal integration platform.

    Thanks in advance for shedding some light on this.

    1/3/2012 3:22 pm
  18. Eoin – Yes, you could certainly develop an app for 2Checkout or other payment processors (or have one developed for you, if you have access to a developer). You might want to take a look at https://labs.aweber.com for more information on creating apps with our API.

    Ethan – First, I’d like to mention that we do recommend the use of confirmation for all subscription methods, including web form submissions. We’ve definitely found that lists with confirmation enabled generate less complaints and have higher delivery rates.

    That said, a manual web form submission is a very different process from an automated subscription via a PayPal purchase (or any other automated subscription method). The subscriber is providing an email address for the specific purpose of receiving email from you, as opposed to having their address pulled from billing information. There’s also less room for misunderstanding – if you fill out a subscription form, winding up on a mailing list is not only expected, it is clearly desired. Someone who purchases a product primarily wants the product – being added to the mailing list is not necessarily something the customer is expecting/wanting.

    In addition, there are some technical differences between the two methods. Without getting too involved: All web form submissions are made directly from a subscriber’s computer to our servers. This gives us an extremely strong audit trail that shows exactly when, where, and how someone joined your list. Other, automated methods (like the PayPal app), get any information about the subscriber second or third hand, making the audit trail back to the actual subscription request much weaker.

    Hopefully that was helpful (and not too tedious)!

    1/4/2012 9:55 am
  19. Ethan Evans

    Nick, thank you for the thorough response! I appreciate it.

    However, something remains unclear to me — and I think this is something that a lot of long-time Aweber customers who use confirmed opt-in (as do I) don’t quite really grasp.

    Why doesn’t Aweber enforce a universal confirmed opt-in policy for web forms? Yes, you mention Aweber “recommends” people use confirmed opt-in, but why isn’t this simply *mandatory* for web forms in all cases? Nick, can you (or anyone else at Aweber) articulate a scenario under which non-confirmed opt-in for a web form is preferable over confirmed opt-in? I somehow doubt it — you said it yourself in a previous post — “confirmation is not only an industry standard, but also just good business sense when it comes to adding someone to a mailing list.”

    (I’ll sit back and read any reply without commenting further, thanks in advance for taking the time to address the issue.)

    1/4/2012 5:46 pm
  20. Ethan – First, thanks for coming to the blog to discuss your thoughts. Confirmation and deliverability are definitely key topics when working with email marketing, so it’s great to see people asking questions.

    Confirmation isn’t mandatory for web form submissions mainly because there are people who believe that web form confirmation isn’t helpful to them, for whatever reason. While we may believe that they’d benefit from using confirmation, we don’t feel it’s our place to force them to use it as long as they’re still using our service responsibly (not sending unwanted email, etc).

    We try to place as few limitations on customers as possible while still being able to do what they’re paying us to do. This is why we don’t allow automated subscriptions without automation – we need a strong enough audit trail to be able to send email legitimately. It’s also why we allow customers to send email with 72 point fuchsia font, even though we certainly wouldn’t recommend it.

    1/5/2012 10:14 am
  21. I am thrilled with this new integration with PayPal – it is so simple. BUT, add my name to the list of those who want my paid customers to be added to the list without the need of confirmation. My business is computer training and my readers are less than computer savvy – probably 20% of them never see or answer the confirmation and I have unhappy customers because they’re not getting the information they paid for!
    At the very least can you give us some way to manually confirm for them in the above situations? Or an easy way to resend the confirmation?
    I use WishList Member for my membership website. It would actually be best if my member emails could go out thru that system but they tell me that I must look to aweber for that. I say, but aweber doesn’t know who is a paid member! Well, now you will! … it should be solved. But, not if they also have to confirm thru you. They are so confused. I actually get a fair amount of emails from my paid members saying, “Yes, you have my permission” How can I take that and confirm for them?

    2/27/2012 1:51 pm
  22. Barbara

    What if you want to add the PayPal buyer to your list, but it’s not with a subscription?

    Is there a way to automatically add them to our list in Aweber if they’ve purchased a one-time product (not a subscription) via PayPal?

    Thank you!

    2/27/2012 6:18 pm
  23. Confirmation is really a good idea even if someone paid for a subscription. You want to make sure they get the email and confirm. Why? For one reason if they they don’t see it (SPAM, wrong email address) you will get an unsatisfied customer who “wonders where the content they paid for is.”

    If you really are worried about it spend time on making the confirm message clear and helpful – maybe including some useful content or links they get as a bonus for making sure your sending email address is whitelisted and they confirm their subscription with you.

    5/30/2012 2:59 am
  24. Jake Challenor

    Hi Nick – is it possible to offer a free ’30 day trial’ to your paid subscription list before billing begins?

    1/18/2013 6:04 pm
  25. Jake – AWeber deals with the email side of things. Any billing or trial offers would be managed through PayPal.

    1/21/2013 8:35 am
  26. Thanks Crystal :)

    1/21/2013 5:59 pm
  27. What if someone signs up with Paypal for my subscription, gets their confirmation Email from A weber for my list, but then wants to use a different Email address? How can I change their Email address but not screw up the paypal/aweber integration?

    8/21/2013 9:10 am
  28. Ambient

    What if a customer decides to cancel their paypal subscription, then will aweber automatically remove that customer’s email from my newsletter??? Because if not then I’m going to have to take the time to figure out how to use WordPress’s s2member plugin, which is going to be a real pain.

    8/29/2013 1:30 pm
  29. Richard

    Is it possible to integrate my AWeber account with two different PayPal accounts?

    11/28/2013 8:53 am
  30. Rachel Acquaviva

    Hi Richard,

    Only one PayPal account can be integrated with your AWeber account. To learn more about integrating PayPal with AWeber, I recommend you check out our Knowledge Base article as there are other notes and instructions you may find useful.

    11/29/2013 8:28 am
  31. I currently use a drip drop coach program and integrating aweber and paypal would be fantastic.
    However, can I have different email lists?
    For instance, if they buy “Stop Smoking” they only get THAT email? etc?

    I’m trying to figure out how to integrate one paypal but more than one course, as I have about five courses.. this would save me a boat load of money and it helps me pass the savings to my clients who I respect and value very much.

    If anyone can get back to me on this, it would be great.

    1/1/2014 6:32 pm
  32. Rachel Acquaviva

    Hi Michele,

    You can add people to different lists based on the product they buy. Here’s the Knowledge Base article on integrating with PayPal with instructions on how to set this up.

    1/2/2014 8:50 am
  33. I have two websites who use two different paypal accounts. I find that I can only use this automation with one account but would like to use it with both. What are my options or is there an enhancement being put in place to support two PayPal accounts but one aweber account with multiple email list?

    1/5/2014 8:20 pm
  34. Rachel Acquaviva

    Hi Jason,

    Thank you for reaching out with your comment. You can add people to your different lists based on what they purchase, but as I mentioned above only one PayPal account can be integrated with your AWeber account.

    1/6/2014 8:49 am

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