5 Ways Better Payment Processes Can Help Attract Social Media Influencers
As people spend more time at home because of COVID-19, they turn to everyone’s new favorite pastime: watching internet videos.
It’s no surprise that influencer marketing has seen big advancements during this pandemic. TikTok videos, branded livestreams, and similar pieces of content are currently drawing massive captive audiences. In addition, marketing companies forced to work remotely now have fewer resources to produce their own ads. In this new landscape, partnering with influencers creating their own content makes perfect sense.
This isn’t limited to simply running ads. Digital affiliate marketing — connecting an influencer with specific products or services — is at an all-time high as people turn to influencers for entertainment and e-commerce to buy whatever they need or want. Whether you consider this an opportunity or an obligation, one thing is clear: Retailers need to build partnerships with influencers.
In practical terms, that means compensating influencers for the sales they generate. Popular content creators won’t continue to push a product or brand if they’re not paid consistently and competitively. However, affiliate payments are notoriously problematic; close to half of affiliates we surveyed have dropped out a program because of payment problems.
Because paying affiliates involves a byzantine process, these issues are very common. Payers must accommodate various global payment channels (automated clearing houses, PayPal, check, wire transfer, etc.) in local currencies. Even before issuing payments, they must collect the underlying information, which can be extensive for a single transaction (let alone hundreds a day). Then, there are still tax obligations to meet and international regulations to comply with.
Working with influencers might be beneficial, but paying for that privilege represents a significant workload placed on the shoulders of the finance team.
Automating Your Payment Processing
Automation promises to revolutionize payment processing in ways that make affiliate marketing truly seamless. Payments require so much time and effort that companies struggle to pay every invoice on time in the correct amount. However, automation can streamline those same processes, all while eliminating human errors.
Here are a few examples of what an automated payment process can do for you and the influencers you work with:
1. Improve tax compliance
No one likes hunting down tax forms right before a filing deadline, so why not collect these forms (W-9, W-8, and value-added tax) upfront? An automated solution can solicit the necessary forms when onboarding new affiliates.
It can also automatically fill in tax documents that are ready for submission (think 1099 and 1042-S reports). Taxes can be an overwhelming distraction — especially as an affiliate network grows — but automation makes them manageable.
2. Eliminate manual processes
Some companies continue to pay most influencer invoices manually, but manual processes are time-consuming and prone to mistakes. Fortunately, companies can automate an extensive amount of this work and start processing payments at a higher volume, in less time, and with fewer errors.
With automation completing cumbersome tasks, in-house payment professionals can focus on higher-value initiatives — the strategy and analysis behind the numbers.
3. Build a global network
Business opportunities exist everywhere as long as a company can issue payments across the globe. Automation enables those companies to send payments to multiple countries and issue them in multiple currencies without becoming bogged down in the details. Being able to scale payments globally will be crucial as companies start aggressively expanding influencer marketing efforts.
4. Increase critical performance data
Tracking affiliate performance ensures that everyone is paid fairly. Fortunately, there are solutions on the market that can automatically track the numbers and prepare reports that companies can use to issue their payments in a transparent way (these include direct integrations, APIs, and CSV uploads). Similar to the above entry, a fair and trustworthy payment process based on the best performance data available will certainly attract more influencers.
5. Upgrade your influencer network’s quality
Again, attracting the right influencers involves offering an ideal payment process. Upgrading the quality of the ad network starts by making payments flexible and reliable, and popular influencers won’t accept anything less. There’s a direct link between using automation to improve payments and recruiting the influencers best suited to your marketing strategy.
This is a rare opportunity to enable influencer marketing. Without perfect payment processing, however, it’s likely a lost opportunity. Don’t let that happen by overwhelming your finance team. Instead, add automation before you start processing waves of global payments.
Rob Israch is the chief marketing officer at Tipalti, a payment automation software that helps businesses manage their entire supplier payments operations by streamlining all phases of the AP and payment management workflow in one holistic cloud platform. Rob’s 15 years of marketing experience include serving as VP of Global Marketing Programs at NetSuite, as well as marketing management roles at Intuit and GE.