How to Auto Upload Affiliate W9’s
Do you have an affiliate program? If you do, then you know that one of the pains of running an affiliate program is getting all of your affiliates to comply with sending you their signed W9 IRS forms so that you can pay them. Well, this tip will show you how you can completely automate the process using MyFusion Helper.
First off, however, before we get down to the technical aspects of how to put this campaign together, I wanted to give you some Best Practices that we recommend from seeing this done with hundreds of clients over the years. Best Practices are derived from the experience of doing it over and over again and seeing what works and, more importantly, what doesn't!
- Use Infusionsoft's built in webform so that you can automatically setup affiliates. Yeah, we know, their webforms are not the prettiest thing in the world and generally we use something else like Thrive Themes to create great looking landing pages, sales pages and optin forms. However, in this case, we recommend you use Infusionsoft forms directly. The reason is that with them you can automate the creation of affiliates – something you can't do with other form builders.
- Email them their new links immediately. When someone signs up, it's because they're considering emailing for you – so make it easy. You can grab the link to your primary offer and merge it in directly to your welcome email immediately after they sign up. Get it in their hands easily and make it easy for them to send you traffic right NOW!
- Don't pay your affiliates until they submit their W9. This is really important. If you want them to comply and submit their tax documents to you, then you must be rigid about this and simply withhold their payouts until they have done so.
- Provide a simple and easy way for them to submit their W9 to you. This is where we come in and we'll show you how to do it all here in this post. But having a “simple” solution is imperative if you want them to comply.
- Store their W9 for your own documentation purposes. We used to use Dropbox or a protected S3 folder for this in the past, but you'll see with this tutorial that you can simply store their documents right inside of Infusionsoft and keep everything very clean and organized.
- Alert affiliates of payouts waiting for them. When you process your payments to your affiliates there will always be those that have not submitted their W9's yet. As recommended in #2 above, we do not recommend paying them until they have. However, you should send them an email when you process payments that they have a payment awaiting them and send them to the link to submit their W9. There's nothing like “missing a payday” to help stimulate their compliance. Even better, you can, of course, streamline this further, but sending this email out 5 days before you process payments to let them know if you don't receive it in the next 5 days they won't get paid.
Okay, so now let's get down to the down and dirty of HOW to implement it…
Setting Up the Automation
Step #1 – Create The Helper
The first thing you need to do is create a Helper in MyFusion Helper to allow for the uploading of the W9 file directly into their Infusionsoft FileBox on their contact record. The FileBox is not used that frequently in Infusionsoft and with good reason. It's poorly documented and has some file size limitations as well (files must be less than 10mb), but it is extremely useful for account related documents and contracts.
Make sure to configure the API Goal when you setup the Helper. If you have questions, simply watch the video here. You can use any value you want for the Call Name, but the Integration must be set to myfusionhelper (all lowercase and no spaces). Your call name also must be lowercase and without spaces or special characters.
It's Not DropBox...
We created the Upload It Helper to automate the process of uploading files into your Contact's FileBox. It is extremely easy to use and even supports both Android and iOS phones as well. In fact, that's our preferred method for getting signed documents into Infusionsoft because it doesn't require a scanner. Simply snap a picture of the document and upload away – it's a beautifully simple solution. For more information about how to use the Upload It Helper, click here.
Step #2 – Create the Webform
You'll need to create an Infusionsoft webform and make sure to use the Partner Snippet on the webform so that you can auto-create them as an affiliate.
NOTE: You must have the proper version of Infusionsoft in order to use the Referral Partner module. If you don't have the Partner snippet (shown in the image below) then it means you likely do not have the full version of Infusionsoft and may need to talk to them to upgrade.
To keep this tutorial brief, we're not going to go into the details of how to use the Partner Snippet. It's pretty straightforward, however, and if you need more help you can goto the Infusionsoft Help area for it here.
Step #3 – Setup the Sequence Automation
Now that you have an affiliate webform and the Upload It Helper created, you're ready to start creating the sequence and connecting the dots. The most important part of this sequence is that you want to drive them towards submitting their W9 to you.
You do this using the goal completion nature of Infusionsoft and setting an API Goal after they do upload the file. This is something we do for you with the Upload It Helper. When you create the Upload It Helper, just make sure to name your API Goal that you want to use. To set it up in the sequence, it will look like this:
Now, technically, the Tag Goal at the end is not needed. In fact, after auditing 100's of Infusionsoft client accounts, I can tell you that 85% or more of them would not have this goal. So why do I use it?
As a Campaign Builder Best Practice, I teach that you should always start a campaign with a goal and end a campaign with a goal. There are exceptions to this rule (every good rule should have exceptions), but that is the general rule of thumb. So, inside the “Tag for Payment” sequence it will apply the tag.
The reason that this is a Best Practice is that it pulls the contact out of the campaign immediately, instead of letting them queue up at the end of a sequence. It also gives you goals that can be reported on – not just within the Campaign Builder performance view (as most people believe) but also from within the Marketing Reports via the Campaign Goal Completion report which allows you to see data on goals indefinitely – not just the last 30 days (the limit within the performance view).
Now if you're paying attention, you'll note that with the API Goal there, the Tag goal is redundant. However, the reason it's still useful is that now we can setup a saved report of those affiliates that have payments due but have NOT submitted their W9 (don't have this tag) and those are the ones we can send that “warning: you're not getting paid” email we discussed in #6 of the Best Practices discussed at the top of this post.
Step #4 – Nag Them…
Okay, nobody likes being nagged, but I call this Complete Their W9 sequence a nag sequence. The reason I call it that, is that I would recommend you have 5 or 6 emails in there spread out over a couple of months all of which are reminders to get them to complete their W9 and upload it.
We take advantage of the Goal Completion nature of Infusionsoft and the fact that this sequence is set to Stop Immediately to terminate these nag emails as soon as they have uploaded the file.
The way this works is that as soon as they upload the file, we apply the API Goal. That API Goal will then stop them immediately in the sequence and advance them to the next one. This way, they won't continue to get the nag emails after they have complied.
Understanding this basic principal of Infusionsoft Campaign design – Goal Completion – is very important as it allows you to stretch out your communication for those that aren't as responsive and yet short-circuit it for those that are fast action takers.
That's a Wrap!
Okay, that's all there is to it. Now, go forth and automate!