Ambassador Marketing – The Definitive Guide for 2021 and Beyond
In 2021, Ambassador Marketing is the key to successfully reaching your target audience in the most authentic, credible and trusted way possible.
Online and offline, we’re completely saturated with advertising messages. We’ve become all but immune to traditional advertising methods and we’re turning more and more to people like us for trusted and authentic recommendations.
Ambassador marketing leverages this trend to provide an effective, measurable and highly profitable marketing strategy.
For this guide, we partnered with the experts behind Socialladder, an industry leading Ambassador Marketing Solution. Drawing on their experience with some of the most successful ambassador campaigns, and their technical expertise, we will cover:
- 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
- Ambassador marketing tools and how to find the best solution for your program
Let’s dive right in!
Who is a Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador is anyone who represents your brand, product, event or service. Ambassadors can be existing customers or “superusers” who have been identified and invited to join a brand ambassador program. They can also be influencers, industry experts, your employees or anyone passionate about your brand, what you offer and what you stand for.
Simply put, a brand ambassador is anyone who markets a brand, product or service through grassroots, face-to-face or “word of mouth” marketing strategies, especially on social media.
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 than 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.
Leveraging brand ambassadors for your marketing creates marketing channels are trusted, authentic, credible and highly effective. Ambassadors spread the word about your brand to a connected, engaged audience that trusts them. With numerous ambassadors, your reach is exponential.
However, best thing about ambassador marketing is that it is a cost effective approach with a great ROI/ROMI – all it takes is a solid strategy and the help of a great ambassador marketing software solution.
Sold? Let’s jump into the details and learn how to leverage ambassador marketing for your brand:
Types of Brand Ambassadors
There are basically two broad types of brand ambassadors: Influencers and true fans:
chosenfor 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
- Individuals chosen for their brand loyalty, visible advocacy and passion for your brand
- Can include existing customers and employees
- They have smaller networks of colleagues, friends and family, but are highly influential in their circles
- Unpaid ambassadors could also include online reviewers and creators of user generated content/social proof
- Content is more authentic and trustworthy
Why Ambassador Marketing?
Nowadays, programmatic advertising, Facebook, and Google search ads alone won’t do the magic. These types of advertising lack the element of trust and are seen as less credible and authentic.
Recommendations and referrals from those known to us are much more effective. This is where ambassador marketing really shines – leveraging an ambassador’s established relationships and reach allows your brand to reach an exponential number of people, in the right target audience. It also allows you to reach people via a trusted and credible source.
More and more companies are adopting an ambassador marketing strategy as part of their influencer marketing efforts and peer to peer marketing strategy. This is because ambassador marketing achieves results!
Ambassador marketing takes the age old ‘word of mouth’ marketing and elevates it to a marketing channel that is measurable, trackable and adaptable for best results.
According to the experts at Socialladder, a key aspect of successful ambassador marketing is being able to track and measure your results. This allows you to see what is working best for different ambassador segments, and different locations. You can then adapt your strategy accordingly, and see the ROI/ROMI for each assigned task or activity.
Ambassador marketing is also a cost effective marketing channel – you only pay for concrete, measurable actions or outcomes, which cuts down your marketing spend and ensures that you’re paying for results! Payment is often in the form of free merchandise or access to services you offer, which further cuts down your marketing spend.
The benefits of ambassador marketing are huge. Maximizing those benefits comes down to having a solid strategy, that is best suited to your business and your brand. Let’s look at some of the strategies you can use:
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 Media
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.
Brand ambassador programs are designed to suit the personal needs of a brand, but a brand ambassador program that works for one brand may not work for the other.
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 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 a 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 sporting 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 Marketing)
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: A great ambassador marketing tool will make this part simple and accurate by plugging into your databases or mailing lists and reviewing individual social profiles to pick up brand mentions and advocacy actions.
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. Look for those with a balance of personal content and promotional content.
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! If they’re an influencer, there are tools you can use to help you assess their track record and successful past campaigns.
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.
What to Look for in a Great Ambassador Marketing Tool
According to industry experts, a great ambassador marketing tool will offer a comprehensive suite of features, that allow you to manage your ambassador program from end to end.
When you’re evaluating different ambassador marketing tools, look out for the following key features:
- Candidate Discovery and Outreach: the tool should offer ways to identify high-potential candidates from your existing customer database, ways to evaluate them, and a means to reach out to them. This takes the heavy lifting out of this initial process, which means you save time and start on a solid foundation, with great candidates.
- Streamlined Communication Methods: a great ambassador marketing tool should offer a variety of communication methods. These should allow you to easily reach your ambassadors effectively and in a relevant and meaningful way. Look for things like live chat, push notifications, interactive message boards, and strong customization and personalization options. Also, look for scalability and automation options here.
- Task Assignment and Tracking: look for options that allow real-world tasks to be assigned and tracked to individual ambassadors, as well as different teams or segments. This fosters accountability and allows you to see which strategies are working best for your different segments, as well as the ROI of each action taken.
- Integrations and API: evaluate the available integrations and APIs to ensure that the tool is compatible with your e-commerce platforms and the social media channels most suited to your business type and brand image. It should also be able to track different actions, like referrals, sign-ups, app downloads, and email collections, as well as sales and sales sources.
- Ambassador Feedback Channels: a great tool will help you gather hyper-localized feedback from your ambassadors so that you can create authentic and meaningful strategies for their specific locations.
- Robust Analytics and Reporting: Look for accurate, real-time analytics, gamification options, customization, budget tracking, and detailed reporting. This allows you to keep track of your progress and keep your participants engaged through progress tracking.
These key features are the foundation your program needs to be successful. There are many great tools available to choose from and we recommend looking into each one to compare your options and find the best fit for your business, the size of your program and your industry niche.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s ambassador marketing?
Ambassador marketing is a type of referral marketing strategy, used by a brand to market themselves through a credible person, such as a loyal customer or “superuser.” An ambassador will typically use marketing channels, such as social media and online reviews to make promotions. This marketing approach can lead to many new business opportunities. Read our full guide on how to successfully implement an ambassador marketing program.
Who is a brand ambassador?
A brand ambassador is someone who represents a brand, product or service to the public and is used primarily as the “face of the brand.” There are usually two types of ambassadors: either an influencer or a true fan. Discover how to find suitable ambassadors for your program and see how a successful ambassador program can bring great rewards to your business or brand.
How to implement ambassador marketing in your organization?
Start by conducting a full digital audit and health check of your online customer experience and see if there are any glitches needing your attention. Then begin by setting your unique goals and objectives, related to your brand ambassador program. Want to see our full guideline on how to set up a successful ambassador marketing program? Well go on ahead and check out our article.
What are the best ambassador marketing software?
Trying to find a suitable ambassador marketing software can be very frustrating. No need to look further! These are some of the top ambassador software available to you: Ambassador, Refersion, LeadDyno and Viral Loops. Check out our post for the complete list and see how to successfully implement an ambassador marketing program.
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