Ambassador marketing, turning passionate fans into sponsored brand advocates both on social media and in person, is a growing powerhouse for brand marketing. Community-driven brands are turning to ambassadors more and more to boost brand awareness and customer acquisition. Ambassadors take many forms, from college ambassadors promoting products on campus to influencers promoting a brand through Instagram posts and more.
Indeed, if done right, ambassador marketing is a surefire way to drive sales and brand awareness. It's a branch of advocate marketing when you reward loyal customers for promoting your product or service. And it can also relate to influencer marketing, except that ambassadors work with your brand long-term and integrate it into their daily lives.
To get the most out of ambassador marketing today, marketers need to understand the ins and outs of choosing the ideal ambassadors for your brand and creating an effective strategy for working with these people.
Who is a brand ambassador?
It's a person who loves your brand and is ready to promote it to their network on social media, websites, and in everyday life, because they value your products or services.
You ultimately get to choose the ambassadors to reflect your brand; you can invite social media influencers, industry professionals, partners, or even celebrities to join your brand ambassador program. These individuals typically collaborate with your brand for monetary compensation (like through affiliate links), or other insider rewards.
Workout apparel brand HYLETE sponsors influencers with discounts and free products they can promote in their social media posts.
Your employees and customers can be your brand ambassadors too. User-generated content is a free and authentic way to promote your brand through the experiences your customers are already sharing about you.
Skyscanner consistently reshares UGC from customers to inspire its followers to plan their next vacation.
Brand ambassadors use a word-of-mouth strategy to communicate about your business with their friends or through media. They can use videos, reviews, photos, or any other content type to make your brand more authentic and appealing to a broader audience. They can influence user behavior, driving your brand awareness and sales.
Improve reach: They introduce you to a new network of potential customers, with 75% of marketing pros considering ambassador engagement effective in lead generation.
Build trust: Most consumers believe traditional ads are meant to mislead. Ambassadors add humanity to your brand, sharing honest thoughts about your products or services with the world.
Manage your brand reputation: Positive feedback and reviews from ambassadors can help you keep a brand presence on track and control your online reputation. They can also respond to customer complaints and therefore mitigate negativity.
Brand ambassadors create user-generated content of different formats, which looks authentic and genuine in the audience's eyes since it comes from a "normal person," not a business craving for sales. They respond better to it, and you can use that UGC on your brand's social media pages for more authenticity and trust.
How to get the most out of ambassador marketing
Starting an ambassador marketing program is a multi-step process. Not only do you need to look for ambassadors who share your brand's values and have the skills to enhance your marketing campaign, but you should also decide on an ambassadorship program that would fit your goals and objectives.
Step 1: Outline your program or campaign goals
The two most common purposes of ambassador marketing are to increase brand awareness and sales. And while ambassadors can absolutely help with myriad goals, your success criteria should be as specific as possible. Visualize what you want to achieve:
Boost brand awareness?
Build an audience?
Get more sales?
Promote customer loyalty?
Increase earned media value?
Get more user-generated content?
Make sure the goal aligns with the overall objectives of your marketing strategy. Also, you'll need to come up with clear metrics that would demonstrate how successful your ambassador campaign was.
Step 2: Define the tiers of your brand ambassadorship program
Depending on your marketing goals, budget, and ambassador marketing trends you're focused on, you can structure your ambassador program to meet your needs. Luckily, with the right influencer discovery tools, you can find and partner with the individuals or accounts that match your goals.
1) Influencer or requirement-driven program
With this popular approach, brands choose an influencer whose content, values, and audience fit their marketing needs most and agree on collaboration. Provide an ambassador with particular conditions to fulfill on behalf of your brand, and pay them or gift them products for their promotions.
Furniture brand Kirkland's partners with influencer Kaitlyn Bristowe, sharing her top picks from the brand on a dedicated website page.
The benefit: It's easy to control and update the requirements if necessary; you get increased reach and a new audience. Using an influencer marketing CRM platform like Pixlee's [Pixlee TurnTo is now Emplifi] can help you efficiently discover, manage, and measure success from influencer partnerships in one place. This streamlined approach is especially useful for brands working with many influencers at a time.
2) Affiliate program
With this approach, you partner up with an affiliate marketer (like a blogger or social media influencer) who'll generate a kind of native ads for your product, advertising it and getting a commission for every purchase made through their promotion. Affiliate brand ambassadors advertise you via banners on their websites, social posts, or links on their social media profiles. The more revenue they generate for you, the higher their commission will be.
KiraGrace gives ambassadors like @omniyogagirl personal discount codes that followers can use, which makes it easy to track campaign success.
The benefit: It boosts sales and empowers ambassadors to drive stronger engagement.
3) User-generated content (UGC)
This partnership has no formal agreements, arrangements, or conditions. Informal brand ambassadors are anyone who loves your business, enjoys your products, and promotes you for free simply because they are loyal customers. Employing a user-generated content platform like Pixlee's helps you collect, permission, and publish community content quickly, and allows your brand customizability when creating widgets and social posts for your site. This method shows your community you appreciate their engagement with your brand, is cost-effective, and metrics like ROI and conversion can be measured for each individual piece of content or gallery.
Nature's Bakery customers were 181x more likely to purchase from the brand after interacting with Pixlee-powered UGC on-site.
The benefit: It spreads brand awareness organically, shows community focus, and boosts eCommerce metrics at a low investment.
4) Employee-generated content
Why not motivate your employees to become brand ambassadors? They know your business, are already connected with it, and have the professional experience to do that job. Even if they have a small following on social media, their contribution will be valuable because they can introduce your brand from the inside. This type of behind-the-scenes look humanizes your company and gives your customers a feel for your brand culture and values.
Sure, your employees can be your informal ambassadors already. But you can motivate them even more by offering some extra income for their ambassador activities. It will help you keep everything, including ROI, organized.
Carnival Cruises spotlights Employee-Generated Content on Instagram to share the enthusiasm of its internal community.
The benefit: It serves to improve brand reputation, authenticity, and trust.
5) College program
This one is for you if your brand targets corresponding demographics. College ambassadors are students who are influential on social media, interact based on shared interests, and can promote your brand to fellow students on and off campus.
They can spread the news about your brand through word of mouth, free branded samples of your products, hosting promotional events, fairs, and posting on social media. Redbull's student marketeer program works with over 4,000 college students promoting the energy drink brand on campus and through social media.
The benefit: It helps you target a specific audience, and builds awareness and trust.
Step 3: Find brand ambassadors for your program
You may discover that your most loyal brand ambassadors are clients or employees with a high-quality network. They already recommend your products to their friends and followers, so why not partner with them officially? Customers on your mailing lists and people who like your brand content on social media can become brand ambassadors too. Check their profiles and online activity to decide if any of them could be a fit for your ambassador marketing programs.
Additionally, Pixlee offers in-platform influencer discovery to find individuals in your industry with filters for location, engagement rate, follower count, and more to tailor your search based on campaign needs.
Your perfect candidate is professional, with a well-established online presence, able to generate creative ideas, passionate about building relationships, and has natural leadership skills.
Also, keep in mind that 88% of marketers prefer working with influencers with 100,000 followers or less, and 35% prefer people with 10,000 followers or less. That's because users don't trust ads from super famous celebs or influences with millions of followers, understanding they collaborate with brands for money rather than to provide genuine and honest feedback on a brand's products.
YouTuber and micro-influencer @simone.febbrari sees an impressive amount of engagement with a smaller follower base, posting with outdoor equipment brand Tentsile's products, and tagging #TentsileTribe.
Step 4: Establish clear rules and motivations for your ambassadors
Once you decide on brand ambassadors and they agree to collaborate, it's time to launch a campaign. But first, ensure to prepare a comprehensive brief with the rules and expectations and craft an ambassador contract to prevent misunderstandings.
Give clear, specific guidelines for ambassadors to understand what you want them to do.
Provide them with a channel they could address any time to get answers to any questions they have.
Send them your free products to support and motivate them to continue speaking about your brand online.
Encourage ambassadors by giving them first access to new products or offering them VIP access to your events.
Step 5: Launch your first campaign and measure results
For your ambassador marketing campaigns to succeed, do your best to track and analyze all the metrics it brings. Given that you've agreed with your brand ambassadors on what you'll monitor during the program, it would help if you used a CRM platform for this.
Here choose a few metrics you might want to measure; examples include reach, shares, impressions, engagements, posting frequency, inbound traffic, hashtag analytics, brand awareness, and customer lifetime value. With no analytics platform in the pocket, you can still measure the results by the number of affiliate links, promo codes, or website impressions. Google Analytics can provide you with many valuable insights too.
Brand ambassador marketing requires strategic planning – but with consistent campaign optimization and the right tools, you can make the most out of your ambassador marketing program.
LESLEY VOS is a content writer and blogger. She's an ambitious dreamer and wanderer. Proud guest writer and contributor to many blogs on writing, content marketing, and social media. Ninja from the blog on college life and writing, and a lady willing to be friends with you.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on pixlee.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.