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Ambassador marketing programs are the present and future in advertising. We live in a world where brand-to-consumer messages can’t have much success unless they’re customer-centric.
Ambassador marketing helps you personalize your communication and get out of the crowd.
As a result, both your potential and existing loyal customers will see your brand’s authentic self unfold. They’ll connect with your values easier, and they’ll turn to your products increasingly more.
Besides being lucrative (yes, we have the numbers to prove that), ambassador marketing programs are easy to measure. We all know accurate tracking of your results is essential in planning, but many marketers have problems measuring their online marketing campaigns.
We’ll help you solve that problem, too, so keep reading below.
A marketing ambassador, aka brand ambassador, is your brand’s bullhorn. The official phrase you’ll read in most expert sources is that these brand ambassadors represent your company.
We prefer to say that they embody your brand.
These people should identify with your company’s intrinsic values and what you stand for; they should be passionate about your products and eager to recommend them further.
If someone like this talks about your brand with actual real-life passion, you’ll appear trustworthy and genuine. Thus, this will attract more people to your brand.
The result is creating an engaged, loyal audience of people who are more likely to become your brand’s ambassadors. Thus, you could increase your reach exponentially at a meagre cost.
You just need a solid strategy and reliable software to get the job done.
The specialist literature defines two main types of brand ambassadors:
Programmatic advertising doesn’t cut it anymore—that’s the harsh truth. People don’t trust ads nowadays, even if you sell relevant and effective products that focus on their needs. A grain of mistrust will always be there because traditional ads aren’t authentic.
That need for credibility and connection to others is puzzling in a world governed by mass media.
These channels have taken regular people from the midst of their small social circles and thrown them into a cold, global market.
Social media was the game-changer.
Joining groups, reading reviews, and connecting to similar-minded individuals grow that need for authenticity.
Thus, your brand can’t survive in this world unless it leverages real people’s recommendations. Here are the numbers we promised in the introduction:
Let’s discuss what these figures show us.
Ambassador Marketing Advantages
Benefits of ambassador marketing include:
It’s clear that peer recommendations are more effective than traditional advertising because those reviews are honest. Here’s how customers minds’ work (you’ll probably recognize your own subconscious process here):
Ambassador marketing programs aim to increase brand awareness because you’ll get more conversions if more people know about your brand. That makes sense.
Here’s something else that makes sense:
Traditionally, brands would try to appeal to larger masses by using a few celebrities with a large following. The reasoning behind that strategy is that it’s better (read more cost effective and persuasive) to target a gigantic mass of people through similar and consistent messages.
That may have been true some years ago, but things have changed today.
Now, people crave authenticity and connection. You can’t achieve that without personalizing your messages.
That’s why you need smaller influencers or brand ambassadors.
Ambassador marketing programs get sales because people with distinct backgrounds talk about your products/brand from unique perspectives. That creates buzz and trust.
Obviously, that combination ensures more conversions.
If you want to take things further, you can give your brand ambassadors promotional codes that they’ll share with loved ones or followers. Those discounts act as incentives because they:
Now you understand that brand ambassadors speak on your company’s behalf about your products, bringing you more trust, sales, and a loyal brand community.
But what exactly do brand ambassadors do?
Regular people, not brands, produce user-generated content that includes any sort of:
UGC is how brand ambassadors reach their audiences, and it’s very effective because 79% of customers make a purchase decision based on it. That happens because UGC is authentic, and therefore trustworthy. Just look at this graph:
How can you leverage user-generated content? We explain more in this article here, but here are some basic steps to start with:
In-person events include:
You can use this strategy if you’re:
In this case, lululemon is an excellent example because its brand ambassadors are local trainers. These fitness experts use lululemon stores in different neighbourhoods to teach classes and have workout sessions.
That way, potential customers get to know and experience the products intimately, right at local lululemon locations. Besides, these potential customers will feel a stronger bond between themselves because they’re from the same area.
That connection is immediately associated with lululemon because it’s the brand that facilitated it.
Your brand ambassadors can write online reviews on specific platforms, not just on social media. That strategy improves your reputation and trust level, but these reviews have to:
A brand ambassador program that uses affiliate software is scalable, making it much easier to track and manage.
This software allows you to:
Based on what we discussed above, you can create the right brand ambassador program for your needs. “All” you have to do is harness your customers’ passion for your brand by giving them free rein to produce content according to your guidelines.
It all starts with a personalized word-of-mouth marketing scheme that suits your company and products. When you embark on such a strategy, it’s essential to remember that what worked for other companies may not work for you.
Still, it’s essential to have a framework for that program and understand some successful examples.
This next section discusses six types of brand ambassador programs and how they worked for different companies.
1. Affiliate Brand Ambassador Program
This strategy starts from a partnership that your company creates with content creators. They are probably paid influencers or bloggers, so you’ll have to give them an incentive or commission to promote your products.
These influencers recommend your brand and include an affiliate link with a discount code in their posts as a rule of thumb. Each time someone buys your products using that link, the influencer gets a commission.
inBeat has worked with numerous companies to create effective brand ambassador programs; Mogo is one of those examples.
We make it clear to potential brand ambassadors that Mogo.ca is working on an affiliate basis, so more referrals entail increased earnings. Interested influencers have to:
Another fantastic example is Pura Vida Bracelets because of the great incentives they include. At the same time, the use of a warm tone of voice shows they will nurture a long-term relationship with its influencers.
Why use this strategy?
Using influencers as brand ambassadors in a large-scale affiliate program is cost-effective and easy to manage. However, you’ll have to create clear content guidelines and explain to your influencers what’s expected of them. Include best practices, do’s and don’ts, and let your ambassadors speak their minds.
Here’s another reason this strategy is a win-win.
Brand ambassadors are motivated to create more posts and get more referrals because those sales translate into commissions. On the other hand, you have budget flexibility.
But you have to be careful about who you’re choosing to be part of your program.
You want brand ambassadors who feel a personal connection with your brand and who really love your products. These people have to find a unique perspective about your company to mobilize their peers.
Otherwise, if they don’t see results, they’ll opt out of your brand ambassador program.
And while it’s normal for all programs to have their share of opt-outs, it’s also essential to minimize them as much as possible. After all, ambassador marketing cannot create long-term trust if your spokespeople are always leaving you. Check out our infographic on how to keep your brand ambassadors engaged for expert tips on the subject.
2. Gamified Brand Ambassador Program
Gamification is a strategy that works in ambassador marketing because it’s based on challenges and rewards. Your brand ambassadors are more likely to stick to your program, working through those steps if there’s something in it for them after each stage.
This strategy sounds similar to the affiliate program, but there’s an essential difference.
It feels like a game, and you don’t need to hire professional content creators.
Let’s take this example: You have a driving school and want to get more students. You’ve decided to use existing customers as brand ambassadors.
Thus, you can ask those customers to post the most challenging parking maneuvers they learned from your instructors.
That strategy works because people want to:
At the same time, you position your driving school as:
Pro tip: If you want this program to work, choose a platform or an app with built-in gamification. That way, you can post new challenges seamlessly and also track your brand ambassadors’ progress.
3. College Brand Ambassador Program
Getting college students to become your brand ambassadors is a strategy that works well for your audience. Students are primarily motivated by their peers because they have a more vital need to belong to a like-minded community. They want to be part of a group that brings change into the world without losing their identity.
Besides, students are social, and they network almost exclusively with other students.
That means you’re leveraging acute awareness and belongingness in just one go.
Bumble is an excellent example, with a transparent student-oriented ambassador program. Just look at the keywords they picked:
You, too, can use this strategy if students represent (part of) your audience. You can ask them to:
You can motivate college ambassadors either with affiliate marketing solutions or gamification programs. This strategy works so well that even big names like Red Bull and Coca-Cola have used it.
4. Employee Ambassador Program
Using your employees as brand ambassadors is a brilliant idea because:
Besides, your relationship with your employees is tighter. You can speak to them at a different level, from outlining your expectations to discussing results.
You’ll have to:
5. Informal Brand Ambassador Program (Referral Marketing)
This program isn’t as well structured as the others discussed above because basically anyone can join it. Sure, some companies will select only people who’ve proven their brand loyalty, but most brands accept anyone.
That’s because referral marketing participants aren’t official brand spokespeople. These individuals represent the company as customers but aren’t your brand’s faces.
Here’s what you have to do:
- Store credit
The Uber referral marketing program for riders is an excellent example that you can copy.
Of course, Uber has a separate program for drivers that’s equally successful and pretty hands-off.
6. Combined Ambassador Marketing Strategy
The world of marketing isn’t in black and white. Marketing people blend different strategies all the time, and the same is true in this case.
You want to personalize these frameworks so they can suit your brand’s needs.
This approach allows you to scale your brand ambassador program and think of more efficient solutions. For instance, you can blend all of the five strategies below to address a broader market.
Pro tip: If you’re going down this road, you’ll need a good platform to manage and track your ambassadors.
As you can see from the examples above, ambassador marketing works—and you have plenty of strategies to try.
Here’s how to arrange a program that works:
Advertising is just the tip of the iceberg. First, make sure that your brand delivers top-quality products to people. Second, you want people to have a smooth experience on your website and perfect marketing funnels.
Here’s what to check:
Any campaign should rely on clear objectives that allow you to:
It’s worth noting that many marketers wrongly focus just on awareness and perception goals through their ambassador marketing campaigns. But don’t forget that your brand ambassadors have a high potential to increase your sales exponentially, so tap into it.
We’ll talk more about that below.
We’ve outlined various ambassador marketing programs above, so choose the one that suits you best or personalize different ones until you get a framework that suits you. Consider these factors:
Of course, you’ll need the best brand ambassadors to help you advance towards those goals. Here’s where you can find these people:
- Facebook groups
After making a long list of potential names, it’s time to pick the best potential ambassadors. Here are some questions to consider:
Ticking all these boxes seems exhausting work—and it is. That’s why it’s best to choose an efficient platform that would get you in touch with the best brand ambassadors for your needs.
We’ve worked with many customers over the years, so we know what the market trends are. Besides, we have a comprehensive database of influencers and brand ambassadors.
According to the type of ambassador marketing campaign you’re going for, decide which incentives would fit the brand ambassadors you've shortlisted.
For example, many people just want recognition or the sense they’ve contributed to a higher cause. In other cases, free products and in-store discounts work best. If you’re doing an affiliate program, consider a commission/referral bonus.
Once you have those details established, start sending messages to potential brand ambassadors. If they don’t reply at first, don’t worry because they often reply after two emails. However, it’s wise not to be too pushy and stop after two messages to avoid situations like these:
Pro tip: To increase your response success rate, ask these people for their feedback and mention why you think they’d be an excellent fit for your brand.
Offer your brand ambassadors the resources they need to complete your projects:
You need to get the best software, because managing a comprehensive ambassador marketing program requires extensive analysis. Imagine keeping track of everyone’s activities, following all the codes, engagement rate, clicks, sales, and so forth.
Focus on scalable software that allows you to set clear objectives, incentivize your brand ambassadors, and follow results. You also want a platform that helps you be flexible enough to adjust your strategy if something doesn’t work, like inBeat’s Pulse tracking software for Instagram and TikTok.
Marketers say they’re having a hard time measuring ROI from brand ambassador campaigns. That usually happens when you haven’t mapped out a good strategy.
That strategy includes:
- Affiliate links and promo codes: best for monitoring sales and referrals and measuring conversions
- UTM codes and Google Analytics: best for measuring website impressions
Ambassador marketing is an effective solution because you’re leveraging an audience that already trusts and loves your brand. These people have unique perspectives about your products and understand why they’d be so helpful to their peers.
There’s a problem:
Many companies don’t know how to leverage the power of ambassador marketing. Often, marketers will stick to one-off campaigns that use commissions as their only repayment method.
However, ambassador marketing done right can take your brand to new heights. Real-life ordinary people understand your brand’s messages and values.
They make your products part of a larger picture—their lives, their businesses.
Thus, the solution is finding the people who share the same ideals as your company. Next, empower your brand ambassadors so they can do their jobs well. That’s how your ROI will soar.
You can do this massive work by yourself, or you can use a brand ambassador platform like inBeat to pick the right people, reward them, and follow their results in real-time. Now, you can say we’re a bit biased here because inBeat is our platform—but you have the option to try our software for free, and you can also set up a complimentary meeting to see if we click.