Keep your referral program tax compliant painlessly with a spoonful of sugar

A spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. This line from Mary Poppins can be applied to many areas in life, but what about keeping your business tax compliant? If you are like many companies looking to drive organic growth by running a referral program, tax compliance needs to be addressed. Marketing needs to take a proactive role in this in alignment with Finance. Ultimately, Finance needs all the info on payouts and the tax information of your advocates in order for 1099’s to be properly submitted at the end of the year.

So what is a spoonful of sugar for tax compliance? The answer is automation. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you had it as easy as the children in Mary Poppins when they cleaned the nursery? With a snap of your fingers your referral program is suddenly nice and tidy and tax compliant. With the advancement of referral program software, automating tax information collection and reporting is almost that easy. But if your referral program still has a manual process of tax collection from customer and partners who have made referrals and received rewards, tax compliance is much less like Mary Poppins and much more like the reality TV show Hoarders.

Make referral program tax compliance simple and easy

Why does referral program tax compliance end up being so daunting? With the different advocate information that is needed to keep your referral program tax compliant it can become quite confusing. This information includes:

  1. What determines if an advocate needs a W-8 or W-9 form?
  2. What is the difference between a W-8BEN and a W-8B3N-E?
  3. When do you send a 1099 to an advocate?

And it’s not only these question that make tax compliance difficult, but the question of when to collect this information and how to motivate referral program advocates to fill out the tax information.

While tax compliance may never be fun, it can be easy. In the whitepaper, What you need to know about Referral Program Tax Compliance, you’ll learn the answer to all of these question and more. Discover how investing in a referral software that automates tax compliance removes the operational hassle of tax compliance to allow you to redirect your focus on making your referral marketing program successful.

referral program

How Amplifinity’s referral tracking platform drives business growth

When a business wants to generate high-quality leads, one of the strategies that it turns to is referral marketing. And it’s not hard to see why. Referral marketing is known for having four times higher conversion than typical marketing channels, according to eMarketer. One of the leaders in the referral marketing space is Ann Arbor-based Amplifinity.

Amplifinity has built a successful software-as-a-service platform that is available in three flavors: Amplifinity Base, Amplifinity Pro and Amplifinity Enterprise. Amplifinity also maintains an app for the Salesforce AppExchange called the Amplifinity Connector – a referral app that integrates into Salesforce in 30 minutes to facilitate an exchange of data from Amplifinity to Salesforce and drive referrals in Salesforce. This increases sales team productivity and revenue from referrals.

Amplifinity’s flagship software is an automation engine that controls referral programs for businesses of all sizes. And Amplifinity’s platforms enable businesses to engage with existing customers and partners and incentivizes them to make a trusted introduction to a brand for a high-valued interaction. Some of Amplifinity’s customers include ADP , DIRECTV, ADT , TSYS and RingCentral.

Amplifinity offers 100% referral attribution with trackable referral sharing options for customers and partners such as email, social media, personalized URLs, offline referrals and verbal referrals. And the Amplifinity platform enables marketers to generate authentic campaign creative, reward options and much more. Amplifinity also provides marketers with the data to gain insight into an advocate’s activity and how promotions are performing to learn how customers and partners are engaging across business networks. Plus Amplifinity’s analytics give businesses measurable ROI to create program accountability.

Recently, Amplifinity committed themselves to the Salesforce 1% pledge in which they promise to donate a combination of 1% of their time, revenue, and product. Amplifinity is also donating $5 from every demo it receives at conferences to Playworks – a non-profit that focuses on the importance of play in a child’s development and learning. Amplifinity employees are also volunteering their time at Food Gatherers, an Ann Arbor-based non-profit that distributes food to people in need.

Amplifinity has raised over $15 million in funding since it was founded in 2010. Some of Amplifinity’s investors include Draper Triangle, Early Stage Partners, RSVP Ventures and West Capital Advisors. To learn more about the company, I spoke with Amplifinity CEO, Larry Angeli:

Amit Chowdhry: What events took place that led to the founding of Amplifinity? And what was the decision behind the name “Amplifinity?”

Larry Angeli: Early in his career at IBM IBM -1.17%, Amplifinity’s founder Richard Beedon learned the power of referrals. In his sales territory, he built a network of businesses and individuals that gladly provided him with leads based on the combination of IBM’s strong products and the quality of his relationships with them. That network enabled him to be the leading salesperson in his region. Many years later, that success became the seed for the idea to start Amplifinity.

Our customers often talk about the idea of amplifying the goodwill that exists in their customer base as a way to generate new revenue. We believed amplifying word of mouth marketing to infinity across all networks was a great way to capture the essence of our mission as a business, hence the name “Amplifinity.”

Amit Chowdhry: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being based out of Michigan?

Larry Angeli: Michigan is terrific place to locate a technology company. And the state has been a big supporter through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). In addition our location in the Ann Arbor area is a not only a hot area for startups, but also a magnet for technology talent coming from the University of Michiganand the broader Detroit metro area. Locating in a college town provides a great quality of life for our employees.

Amit Chowdhry: Is there a specific Amplifinity customer case study that stands out?

Larry Angeli: ADP recognized the value of referrals in generating organic growth. It was incredibly powerful for targeting SMB where referrals are a natural part of networking  between businesses and the trusted advisors that support them in their growth. ADP needed a better way to harness and grow referrals from these groups. With Amplifinity they provided robust referral tracking and data transparency for their customer and partner advocates all within an ADP-branded experience. Referrals are now their top source of lead generation.

Amit Chowdhry: There are several competitors in the referral marketing space. How is Amplifinity distinguished from its competitors?

Larry Angeli: Amplifinity is the only referral software provider that has built a platform that satisfies the unique needs of companies that generate leads for a sales team. This includes: 1.) A deep integration with Salesforce that truly enables sales and customer support teams to be a part of the referral program 2.) Handling of tax compliance, CAN SPAM compliance, advanced reward structures and fulfillment that are critical for companies running referrals as an always-on channel for demand generation 3.) Automated nurturing communications to keep advocates engaged and making referrals 4.) Data and analytics that are unmatched in helping companies to understand their brand advocates and show the ROI of their referral programs.

Originally published at Forbes.com

Why referral programs generate more quality leads than automated personalized marketing

Technology is trending, and as Marketers, we’re always keeping an eye out for the next big breakthrough (like referral programs) that will make our job easier. So when automated personalized marketing came onto the scene many thought it was that breakthrough. After all, personalized marketing has made amazing strides in the past few years and automated personalization has become a highly adopted best practice for both B2Bs and B2Cs. This is often employed through an automated software like marketing automation, which crafts individual messages in an attempt to create a customer-centric approach. And for a while, this form of personalized marketing was the ultimate way for Marketers to create a targeted strategy. But as we know, when a channel or tactic becomes highly adopted its effectiveness begins to wane as it becomes increasingly crowded and noisy.

In fact, as of recently, “The majority of marketing leaders report dissatisfaction with results from Marketing Automation. Frost & Sullivan reveals 75% not accomplishing what they expected,” (Root Causes of Marketing Automation Failures).

This is not a surprise. After all, just in one day I receive an average of 30-50 personalized automated emails in my personal email account and 10-15 in my work email.

So what do I do? I click check all and delete. Whether it’s 50 consumer emails or 15 B2B emails, ask yourself, would you really take the time to sort through them all to determine if one offers you value.

The reality of the situation is, that even for the 15 B2Bs that are sending automated personalized emails to my business account, I’m very unlikely to open them. I have deadlines to meet and despite if I know the business, I haven’t developed any personal relationships with them so in my mind they can’t be sending me anything that will fulfill some unfulfilled need because they don’t know me well enough.

The same can be said for prospecting emails. I’m sure you’ve experienced someone who has stalked your LinkedIn or Twitter profile to piece together your work email and send you their solution to all your problems. Or it might be your job to send those emails.  And while you or one of your prospect may click on them once in a while, they mostly end up in the same place – the trash. But this doesn’t mean that the sender of those emails are doing anything wrong, it’s just the nature of prospecting today.

And although the success rate of automated personalized emails and prospecting emails has declined, I’m not saying that you should abandon these marketing efforts, just that you can’t rely on them to generate high quantities of quality leads anymore. While you’re headed down the right path with personalization and the attempt to create a customer-centric approach, these approaches are missing a vital component to succeed today – the relationship.

How referral tracking programs succeed in high quality lead generation

Referral tracking programs are that next big breakthrough for Marketers.  Referral programs employ a relationship-focused sales approach in a strategic customer-centric way. Referral tracking programs harness the power of your current customers, partners, and employees’ relationships with their network and  incentivizes them to provide you with a warm and trusted introduction. These advocates already have an established relationship with the customer demographic that you hope to capture, and because of that, they’re referral of you is more powerful than any unsolicited prospecting email or automated personalized email.

Referral tracking programs offer automation and clear ROI while employing all-inclusive sharing options that attribute advocate referrals and measures each advocates individual success to optimize your nurturing strategy and get the most return on investment.

In fact, referral programs:

  • Create a 4X higher conversion rate than typical marketing channels (emarketer)
  • Increase LTV by 16% compared to non-referred customers (Harvard Business Review)
  • Decrease churn by 18% compared to non-referred customers (Harvard Business Review)
  • Increase a leads likeliness to buy by 400% (Nielson)

But you don’t have to trust the numbers. Discover what your individual ROI and revenue would be with a referral tracking program by using the referral ROI calculator now!

ROI Calculator

Top 10 common conundrums solved by a successful customer referral program

How to Navigate Israel with Successful Customer Referral Programs

You have to admit, even with all the space the internet has to offer it’s begun to feel slightly crowded. Business are SHOUTING from every direction, pushing past you in an effort to block you out but you’re still expected to deliver an increased numbers of quality leads.

What is your plan to get heard through the squall of squawking businesses? Our marketing team created an infographic that documents the top 10 most common problems for businesses solved by successful customer referral programs.

Not long ago I had the opportunity to experience the customer’s side of a basic successful customer referral and found it very fulfilling.

Recently, I was in Israel exploring the small town of Tsvat. In Tsvat there is this one narrow street which plays host to an artist market. While walking through the artist market people are jumping out of their shops, talking about their merchandise and desperately directing you toward their business. But if you show the slightest bit of interest in their product three more sellers show up beside you to direct you toward their shops with similar products. The process actually seemed to parallel very well with Pay-Per-Click (PPC).

At that point I wasn’t sure how to tell the difference between the right product and the product that would fall apart 30 minutes after buying it. Luckily, I had access to an advocate on my trip. She knew the sellers and was able to steer me away from the cheap, overpriced products and toward exactly what I was looking for. The referral process broke through the noise of the sellers and made me hone in on a particular business without doubt or second thoughts. Now imagine what successful customer referral programs could do for a business.

While the most successful customer referral programs are much more advanced and automated, this basic exchange of information, prompted by trust, establishes the foundation for successful customer referral programs. It’s time to ask yourself, can one of your businesses struggles be solved with innovation automated referral software?

 

10-problems-solved-by-referral-automation (1)

Why your referral marketing recipe needs to include CAN SPAM

How well does your referral program walk the CAN SPAM line?

Let’s be honest, most people detest spam in both the digital and the supposedly food based form. That’s why it was inevitable that the Federal Trade Commission passed the CAN SPAM Act in 2003. And while the allegedly edible spam might be scary, the CAN SPAM Act is not something that you should shrink from. In fact, knowing the ins and outs of the CAN SPAM Act is an essential part of creating a successful referral program.

After all, consumers get assaulted by an only growing number of unsolicited emails daily. But do you know how to differentiate your referral program recruitment emails from spam?

By keeping your emails compliant with the CAN SPAM Act you can easily differentiate your referral program emails from spam. Here are six basic guidelines created by the CAN SPAM Act to stick by.

  1. Don’t use untrue or misleading subject lines and headers.
  2. Identify the message as an ad.
  3. Tell the receiver where you’re located.
  4. Offer an opt out link in a visible format for future emails.
  5. Promptly respect opt out requests and complete them within 10 business days.
  6. Watch carefully what 3rd parties are doing on your behalf because you are liable.

But to create a successful referral program you need to go beyond the basics. Remember, if you comply too much with the CAN SPAM Act you will end up limiting your referral marketing program’s success, but if you don’t comply enough, spam will end up becoming your referral email’s future.

Discover how to walk the CAN SPAM line and ensure your referral programs success with the infographic Why CAN SPAM is key to for referral marketing:

Can_Spam_Infographic (1)

 

 

 

RingCentral chooses Amplifinity to automate referral program

RingCentral will work with Amplifinity to increase customer and prospect engagement while also increasing demand generation quality and quantity.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. July 19, 2015 — Amplifinity, the global leader in technology-driven referral automation software, announced today that RingCentral, a leading provider of cloud business communications solutions, have chosen the Amplifinity platform to build, automate, and manage their customer referral program.

Before deciding to work with Amplifinity, RingCentral had a successful in-house, self-built referral program, but needed to evolve the automation, integration, and scaling needs as the company grew. Extensive academic research shows that referred customers are more profitable, more loyal, and have a lower acquisition cost paired with higher lifetime value. The marketing team at RingCentral wanted to implement a fully automated and integrated referral system in order to increase customer and prospect engagement while also increasing demand generation quality and quantity.

Amplifinity’s referral automation software allows its customers to accurately manage rewards, market to their advocate base, close the sales loop, drive testimonials, share new products and quantify the full value of referrals to their business. These programs result in measurable increases in leads, customer loyalty and new customer acquisition, creating a powerful sales and marketing channel. Moreover, Amplifinity fully integrates with common SaaS platforms, including Salesforce and Marketo.

“Amplifinity brings automation, and ease to a referral program we’ve been running for years,” said Mark Brier, Director of Upsell and Referral Marketing at RingCentral.  “While our program was successful before, Amplifinity has increased our effectiveness and efficiency by solving a lot of small, nagging problems. Now we can focus on making referrals an important part of the growth here at RingCentral.”

How referrals increase your sales

 

“RingCentral is a high-growth and incredibly savvy SaaS firm, and so they have high expectations of functionality, ease of implementation, reliability, and effectiveness,” said Larry Angeli, CEO of Amplifinity. “We’re pleased we’re able to deliver on all fronts so we can help referrals play a bigger role in increasing sales in 2015 and beyond.”

 

About Amplifinity

Amplifinity’s referral amplification software turns customer, employee and partner advocacy into revenue. Our platform provides complete referral tracking and management with 100% accuracy so none are missed. Enterprises like ADP and DirecTV trust Amplifinity to enable high-quality acquisition while providing an engaging, fully-branded experience for their advocates. www.Amplifinity.com