Affiliates and influencers are like athletes. At the end of the day, it’s all about how much they won (clicks and conversions) and if they were paid for their effort. The challenge for affiliate management and influencer marketing is to do it safely and effectively at scale. If your program starts becoming too successful: The process of actually paying for that performance, through web analytics, spreadsheets, and PayPal, starts becoming the only thing you do. That means you’re effectively using all your time scorekeeping, rather than developing and deepening partnerships, optimizing your performance, stamping out fraud, or growing out your partner network.
Let’s tackle the performance tracking and management side first. First off, you need a reliable platform that can track all of your partners, and tie back performance to each of your partners and channels. Things change as well. In 2018, 58% of traffic was from mobile devices (Stone Temple), which makes it critical to have a tracking platform built to handle the realities of our mobile world and its massive growth in traffic.
The other critical piece for finding a trusted tracking solution is that Apple continues to disrupt the affiliate network’s traditional tracking cookie setup by clearing out the cookie’s tracking data. Fortunately, these ITP changes don’t affect platforms with the standard mobile-friendly server-to-server (S2S) tracking, which further enforces it as the most reliable and effective format for tracking partners.
An effective performance marketing effort must have the ability to:
- Onboard, manage, track, and communicate with all partners, whether they are traditional affiliates, influencers, marketing channels, or clever strategic partnerships.
- Setup offers that payout those partners, block traffic from the wrong geos, and track events.
- Has reporting that is both easy-to-use while being deep enough to not require spending countless hours on external spreadsheets.
- Make it easy to catch and stop the rampant fraud out there, especially on mobile.
- Reliably and securely pay to your global partners.
We’re not living in a national team world any longer either. Companies and Marketing have gone global, and the type of partners you work with and need to pay out are also global. Right now, you may think, “Our accounts payable team can handle the commission payments.” While this is true at smaller scales, the workload skyrockets when you reach hundreds of partners, and especially if a portion of them are international. At that payment velocity, onboarding, getting the right payment details, validating identities and tax information, scheduling and executing payments, and communicating payment status becomes more complex and can introduce errors at every stage. Processing payments becomes a full-time job in itself.
If you’re not running a robust commission payment operation, be ready for your program to get skewered online. Many of the best affiliates and influencers are great communicators with viral followings, and they have no qualms about reporting back to other partners about a bad experience. Even if they aren’t vocal, 70 percent of publishers and affiliates are likely to leave a network because of a payment issue. Some key capabilities to look for in a payment processor:
- Streamline onboarding, collecting payment, bank, and tax details. The most effective is to offer a portal for self-service where the partner can securely provide this information.
- Offer multiple cross-border payment methods (PayPal, US ACH, wire, Global ACH/SEPA, etc.), including the option to pay in local currency. A single payment method doesn’t work for any country and partner.
- Enable status updates on payments made through email, cutting through the massive back and forth often needed with partners.
- Easily track and analyze partner performance in making their payments.
An effective platform provides you with the ability to build the ultimate team, one made of a global team of the best of the best marketing partners, while cutting through the time-consuming processes for keeping them happy and satisfied. Draft wisely.