Ambassador Marketing – The Definitive Guide for 2019 and Beyond
Is Ambassador Marketing the key to marketing in the 21st century?
Yes, we think so!
As an e-commerce business, if you are still stuck with the same old digital marketing strategy, then, you are probably missing out on tons of benefits that come with the next wave of influencer marketing strategy.
So, what’s the new trend in influencer marketing?
In this guide, we will explore:
- Basic definitions of brand ambassador marketing
- Different types of brand ambassador programs
- Different types of brand ambassador strategies
- 10 Steps to creating an ambassador marketing strategy for e-commerce
- Influencer and ambassador relationship marketing tools and solutions
Who is a brand ambassador?
A brand ambassador is someone who represents your brand, product, event or service. Ambassadors can even be existing customers or “superusers” who have been identified and invited to join a brand ambassador program.
Simply put, a brand ambassador is a creative way of referring to someone who markets a brand, product or service through grassroots, face-to-face or “word of mouth” marketing strategy.
So, what do smart brands do?
They incorporate ambassador marketing into their marketing budget. It’s a win-win. They simply connect with people who support their brand, build strong relationships and create an ambassador community that will help them spread the word in a more efficient way that any advertising campaign can do.
A brand ambassador produces results through communication tools either publicly or privately. This can include social media, emails, messaging and one-to-one marketing strategies.
Types of Brand Ambassadors
There are basically two broad types of brand ambassadors: paid and unpaid brand ambassadors.
- Individuals chosen for their brand fit, demographics and audience
- Purely transactional: ambassadors are paid in fees, free products or services
- Content is usually more professional and polished
- Easier to manage as there’s a clear exchange
- Best option for brands due to their strong media presence and large following
- Also called Micro Influencers
- Individuals chosen for their brand loyalty
- Can include existing customers
- They have smaller networks of colleagues, friends and family, but are highly influential in their circles
- Unpaid ambassadors could also include online reviewers
- Content is more authentic and trustworthy
- Best option for brands with smaller budgets
Why Ambassador Marketing?
Nowadays, programmatic advertising, Facebook, and Google search ads alone won’t do the magic.
Although this does not mean that those methods are not effective at creating awareness and increasing sales, the world is rapidly evolving and so are the trends.
More and more companies are adopting an ambassador marketing strategy as part of their influencer marketing efforts.
What types of brand ambassador marketing strategies are out there?
Now that you know why you need brand ambassadors, you may be curious about what marketing strategies these brand ambassadors will use to help strengthen your brand image and increase sales.
There are many ambassador marketing strategies that brand ambassadors use. However, these can be broadly categorized into three: Social media, Online reviews, Ambassador/Affiliate marketing software.
Let’s run through them, shall we?
1. Social MediaClick To Tweet
Brand ambassadors use various social media platforms to spread the word about a brand.
In contrast to a banner advertisement, this time, your brand is projected through a person via social media.
Brand ambassadors can help share content or links relating to a brand to their friends and families on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In many cases, these brand ambassadors are remunerated with product bundles and free samples.
2. Online Reviews
Online review sites are extremely useful platforms through which brand ambassadors can review your business.
If you want to improve your reviews online, all you need to do is enlist the help of your brand ambassadors.
You can in return, pay them per positive review or send them gifts.
3. Ambassador / Affiliate Software
The emergence of brand ambassadors and affiliate software makes it easier than ever to manage and scale brand ambassadors’ social media campaigns.
With these programs, you can track the activity of each ambassador, their value added to your brand and incentivize them appropriately. However, the distribution channel doesn’t really matter, as long as you can track the results and measure the ROI.
You can pay them according to their contribution or send them free products.
What is a Brand Ambassador Program?
It’s established that word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective tools a brand can ever employ.
A brand ambassador program is designed to utilize the passion of a brand’s most enthusiastic or loyal customers by giving them exclusive benefits and the autonomy to carry the brand’s message to consumers.
In other words, it is basically creating a word-of-mouth scheme to help a brand, product or service receive optimal recognition and thrive.
Types of Brand Ambassador Programs
There are four types of brand ambassador programs. These are affiliate marketers, informal brand ambassadors, college ambassadors, and requirements-driven influencers.
This video from Adam Erhart tackles how to effectively build brand ambassadors:
Affiliate Brand Ambassador Program
This type of brand ambassador program is modeled on the affiliate marketing structure.
This involves a partnership between a brand and some individuals, usually influencers or bloggers.
These individuals function as affiliate marketers.
This means that they promote a brand and in exchange, get a commission whenever a purchase is made through their promotion.
This brand ambassador program is a win-win for both sides as both the brand and affiliate marketer profit from the purchases.
Pura Vida Bracelets is great example of a successful affiliate brand ambassador program.
College Brand Ambassador Program
This type of brand ambassador program simply involves a partnership between a brand and students.
The brand leverages the students’ internal connections to raise awareness for an organization and increase its sales.
Other marketing strategies include spotting outfits that advertise the brand they represent, hosting on-campus events, handing out product samples, putting up posters or coming up with ingenious ways to promote the brand they work for.
College ambassador programs are ideal for brands whose target consumers fall within the college or university demography.
Brands involved in college ambassador programs: Red Bull, Coca-Cola, Victoria’s Secret.
Informal Brand Ambassador Program (Referral program)
The informal brand ambassador program is less structured than the other types.
Anyone who shows unwavering loyalty or love for a brand can join this brand ambassador program.
All he or she needs to do is spread the word about the brand to friends and families.
Requirement-Driven Brand Ambassador Program
Requirement-driven brand ambassadors complete certain actions for a brand within a specific time frame.
This is an economical way to develop a brand since the company only gives out free products or stipends to their brand ambassadors.
Most of the time, requirement-driven brand ambassadors are influencers with high content engagement rates.
10 Steps to setting up an e-commerce brand ambassador marketing strategy
- Conduct a digital audit and health check
It won’t make sense if you create an entire brand ambassador marketing campaign, spend a large sum of your budget and direct traffic towards an online store that doesn’t offer a smooth customer experience.
Conduct an audit to make sure the path to purchase is clear and fast! Look at things like:
– Registration processes
– Product tags
– Search functionality
– Page loading speed
– Mobile responsiveness
– Check-out and payment processes
- Outline your objectives
Do you want to change a brand or product perception in the market, or do you want to drive high quality leads to your e-commerce store? It’s important to create a sound ambassador marketing strategy that aligns with your business objectives first.
- Choose the Ambassador Marketing Program that’s right for you
This choice will depend on your objectives, budget, timing and in-house resources. Pick the model that best suits what you need right now, but consider how it will scale as your business grows.
- Find your brand ambassadors
Here’s where the fun starts! It’s time to start identifying your truly influential customers and advocates. There are a number of ways to find them:
Social media: Look for those users who engage with your content regularly in a positive and constructive way. Also look for users who post about your brand regularly on their own platforms using hashtags, mentions or related keywords.
Product review sites: Find those customers who make a real effort to write reviews.
Forums and groups: Facebook groups, SubReddits, LinkedIn, Quora, and other forums are a great place to find customers who are actively discussing your products.
Your own database: Ambassador marketing tools can make this part simple and accurate by plugging into your data or mailing lists and reviewing individual social profiles to pick up brand mentions.
- Identify the best of the bunch
Once you’ve created a few lists of potential brand ambassadors, review each one to pull together the best of the best. Consider the following:
Quality of content: Is their social media content of a high quality? Are they talented writers, marketers or product reviewers?
Thought leadership and influence: Are they leaders or experts on their owned platforms? Do others follow them for their knowledge and influence?
Authenticity: is their content personally written, authentic, and relevant? Watch out for individuals who punt product after product.
Brand fit: do they fit your brand personality, tone and identity?
Professionalism: This is something you might only discover when engaging with them, but it’s important to find those individuals who are both professional and ambitious!
- Rewards and Incentives
Your brand ambassadors need to know what’s in it for them. Decide on the kind of remuneration you are able to offer. This can be in the form of free products, early access to exclusive offers, payments, referral bonuses etc.
Once you have your brand ambassador shortlist, it’s time to engage with them. This can be done a number of ways:
A personalised email to invite them to join the brand ambassador program.
Connecting and engaging directly on social media (e.g. a DM on Twitter or comment on Instagram.)
- Analytics and Measurement
Before you implement your brand ambassador marketing strategy, make sure all your analytics and tracking codes or pixels are in place right from the beginning.
Also outline what metrics you will be tracking such as Reach, Engagement rate, clicks, purchases etc.
- Listen. Empower. Motivate
Empower your brand ambassadors with as many resources as possible. Here are some quick and easy ways to do so:
– Give them access to an image bank with product shots
– Take the time to give them clear briefings
– Create a brand wiki or give them brand guidelines and CI
– Provide dedicated support channels
– Respond to their requests for materials as quickly as possible
– Motivate them with bonus gifts, regular challenges or just by regularly keeping in touch
- Choose a scalable solution
There will come a time when your brand ambassador marketing efforts require the use of a tool or platform. Doing things manually is quite time-consuming, consider using a IRMs or Influencer Relationship Marketing tools to help manage and scale your program.
Ambassador Marketing Tools
Some of the biggest challenges faced by marketers are related to how time-consuming the process of identifying, managing, and processing influencer campaigns can be. There are a number of Influencer Relationship Marketing tools and Ambassador Marketing tools to help you with managing your programs, namely:
Refersion is used by marketers to build and manage a network of affiliates and influencers.
Ambassador is an all-in-one software that automates the process of enrolling and managing referring customers, affiliates and influencers.
Fivestars is a solution for creating rewards programs for brand advocates that can be used in-store and on devices like iPads at checkout.
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