When you talk to CMOs and other marketing leaders, they’ll commonly cite influencers and creators as representing one of the core pillars of their strategies. Why, then, are these individuals so often being neglected—if not downright abused—when it comes to the support needed to deliver (and be compensated for) the true value of what they can do for brands?

In conducting an analysis of the $8 billion mobile commerce transacted through the Button platform activity, we discovered that influencers and creators are missing more than 50 percent of the revenue they’re owed. That’s a huge problem for influencers and creators. But it’s also a tremendous problem for retail brands and marketers who are increasingly aligning with these individuals to drive sales.

With social commerce sales on pace to reach around $2.9 trillion by 2026, marketers can no longer ignore this problem. Let’s examine why the brand-influencer relationship is out of whack and what marketers can do to recalibrate.

The growing power of influencers (and de-influencers)

Influencer marketing continues to grow for one simple reason: It works. In fact, 61 percent of consumers trust influencer recommendations, compared to 38 percent who trust brand-produced content. Similarly, 60 percent of marketers say influencer-generated content performs better for them than branded posts.

Aligning with influencers to drive sales can move the needle for retail brands. But being present in these conversations is important for another reason, particularly in light of the “de-influencing” trend that’s been sweeping the social space in recent years. De-influencing is a growing trend in which influencers tell their followers why they should not buy a product. These so-called de-influencers typically discuss why they think products are overhyped and provide alternatives to their followers.

In other words, brands need to be a part of influencer conversations, both as a key revenue driver and as a way of staying in touch with customers in a space where competitors might be seeking to undermine a brand’s message. But participating in the influencer space is about more than just funneling money into another campaign—it’s about building relationships, and relationships require trust.

How influencers are being shortchanged (and why retail brands should care)

Influencers represent a fast-growing category of the broader affiliate marketing landscape, but they look a lot different than other players in the affiliate space. Their content is often powerful and personal, and they are effective as brand partners due to their authenticity and tight-knit audiences.

Unfortunately, we also see that, far too often, influencers drive sales for brands that are not credited to them, and they are losing out on a massive revenue opportunity. A big part of the reason is that consumer experiences are broken in mobile.

Mobile traffic from influencers originates across a variety of different sources, with organic posts by influencers on social media platforms driving the most traffic. In these environments, influencer traffic is hit with a number of challenges, including broken in-app attribution technology and social media apps’ in-app browsers.

For example, users might be forced to log in to retailer sites before they purchase (whereas they always stay logged in on these retailers’ apps), or they might be directed to products where inventory is sold out or to pages not existing within an app.

With millions of influencers and a similar number of product pages on retail sites and apps, mapping all of those permutations and knowing how to treat each link to ensure influencers are compensated appropriately as a marketer is impossible. That’s why so many brands decide to just not try—and thus, their influencers aren’t rewarded for the sales they truly drive.

Marketers need to implement solutions that can solve these disconnects with their influencers and reward them according to their value. Again, it’s not just influencers who are losing out. Marketers and brands are losing out due to these broken mobile experiences in the following ways.

Underinvestment in high ROI opportunities

Button’s recent traffic analysis found that influencers are driving far more revenue for brands than the marketers behind those programs realize. Consequently, many are underinvesting in their influencer programs because they don’t realize just how high the ROI actually is. This is a massive missed opportunity for scale and increased profitability at a time when marketers need to do more with less.

Lost credit for sales driven

Similarly, marketers who are spearheading influencer initiatives aren’t getting the credit due to their own efforts when it comes to bettering their brands’ bottom lines. In other words, marketers: You’re not getting credit for your work, and you’re being forced to work twice as hard to get to the same number as a competitor. As such, influencer marketing teams aren’t getting a proper seat at the table when it comes to more strategic brand and marketing conversations.

Long-term degradation in influencer marketing

Also, let us not forget that if influencers are unable to support themselves financially because they’re missing out on half their sales, they are going to turn to the companies that can pay them the most and that drive the highest value for them. After all, if they aren’t compensated fairly for doing what they do best, many will not be able to continue doing it. That would mean the loss of tremendously valuable influencers, including micro-influencers, who are important to driving mobile commerce for retail brands.

Marketers that are investing in creator and influencer programs need to invest in fixing the broken mobile experiences (where three-quarters of e-commerce sales are now happening) and restoring the lost credit this vital channel is driving—both for them as marketers and, more importantly, for the influencers and creators who rely on this channel for their livelihood. It’s not just about being good marketers. It’s about being good humans.

Do you work regularly with influencers? How are you ensuring both sides are getting the most out of your partnership? Join the conversation with a global network of CMOs and marketing leaders on the CMO Alliance Community Slack channel.