Ambassador marketing is an incredibly lucrative and sticky marketing strategy that many DTC brands leverage to grow a community around their brand.
Turning your most passionate customers into your team of thriving brand ambassadors is the goal!
Brand ambassador programs can offer my benefits, including:
- Turning your customers into loyal WOM marketers
- Driving more sales (without any acquisition cost)
- Cultivating more engagement with your audience
But starting an ambassador program isn't a simple task. It takes intentional strategy and proper planning to ensure you and your ambassadors receive all the rich benefits the program offers.
This is especially true when it comes to keeping and ambassadors engaged throughout the program.
If you have noticed a decline in engagement in your ambassador program, then here are eight strategies you can implement to see more participation, excitement, and buzz from your ambassadors.
Let's get into it!
What Is Ambassador Marketing?
Ambassador marketing is a marketing channel that brands can use to generate buzz around their brand with the help of their most loyal customers.
Brands will tap into their pool of passionate and loyal customers and have them create content with their products and post it online in exchange for a reward.
These ambassadors are already creating content and sharing their love for your brand with their friends, family, and followers. With ambassador marketing, you are bringing these customers into one unified place and adding community-driven accountability.
Many people conflate brand ambassador marketing and influencer marketing, but they are two separate channels, and the participants are held accountable in different ways.
One important distinction is that with ambassador marketing, the community you build and its authentic relationships drive accountability rather than the brand imposing a structure to drive accountability.
Ambassadors can push your brand to new heights and help you reach your target audience in an extremely genuine way. Ambassadors can generate social buzz, increase sales, drive more traffic to your website, and push more people to follow you on socials.
Ambassador marketing is mutually beneficial, and the best part is that they already love your brand; they will be excited to work alongside you!
What Is an Ambassador Program?
If you decide to start investing time into ambassador marketing, you will need to plan your program.
An ambassador program looks different for each brand, but essentially, brands bring their loyal customers and have them complete activities in exchange for rewards.
Some of these activities include:
- Creating UGC on social media
- Sharing their affiliate links or coupon code to drive more sales
- Engaging with your content on social media
- Attending events to represent your brand
- Writing reviews, blog posts, or content for your brand
One of the most amazing things about ambassador programs is that they are customizable, and no two brands will look the same. So your brand can be creative and implement a strategy that will resonate best with your group of ambassadors.
Common Ambassador Program Mistakes that Lead to a Dip in Engagement
A decline in engagement happens from time to time. Life can get in the way, your ambassadors start a new job, go on vacation, or maybe they need a break from social media.
There are ebbs and flows to an ambassador program.
But, if you noticed that engagement had declined all around and no matter what you do, you can't seem to pick up traction, then you might be making a crucial error in planning your program.
Here are some of the most common mistakes brands make that lead to less engagement and excitement from ambassadors:
- No new activities - You haven't updated your activity roster or created anything new in a while, so your ambassadors become bored and unengaged. Incorporating one to two new activities is a perfect cadence!
- Recruit the wrong people - You recruited people that love your brand but hate being on social media; therefore, you aren't generating any UGC. The ambassador doesn't feel like the program is a good fit, so they stop participating.
- Don't have a good offer - You aren't giving the ambassador a reason to participate. The only rewards you offer are products from your store, they don't have a reasonable commission rate, or you aren't rewarding them enough points. They decide to quit the program.
- Not enough bandwidth - You don't have the resources to commit to the program entirely. When a brand doesn't have enough bandwidth, the program falls flat, and they don't have enough time to commit to engaging with their community and keeping the program fresh. So the ambassadors notice and lose interest.
8 Ways to Generate more Buzz and Engagement with Your Ambassadors
Recruit the Right Type of Ambassadors
There is a difference between loyal customers and brand ambassadors. But, unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes brands make when starting an ambassador program is recruiting the wrong people.
You want to ensure that potential ambassadors aren't afraid to create content on social media. Almost all of the activities ambassadors do take place online, so if you recruit someone with no online presence, they will likely fizzle out and not commit to the program.
You want to look for ambassadors who embody specific traits, who aren't afraid to post on social media.
This will make the difference between a mediocre program and an extremely successful program!
Pro tip - check out who is tagging you in photos, using your hashtags, or incorporating your products into a content and reach out to them! This way, you will know that they are both an advocate of your brand and active on social media.
Entice Your Ambassadors to Participate
You will want to define your offer and make it interesting enough to get people to stick with the program for the long run.
This is where getting into the minds of your ambassadors comes into play. What activities, rewards, and incentives will get them to participate?
How can you create a program that keeps them showing up week after week?
Many brands make the mistake of assuming that an ambassador will simultaneously work as a content creator for the brand with little benefit to them.
That isn't the case.
It's important to remember that being an ambassador is often a side hustle or something they do for fun.
So you need to create a program that excites them, one that they look forward to participating in.
Some things you need to optimize are:
- Commission rate
- Community-based activities
- Campaign payouts
- Free products
Provide Them an Unbeatable Value
What can you offer your ambassadors outside of simply being a customer?
Is it the chance to work closely with founding members of their favorite brand?
Or maybe, it's an exclusive, ambassador-only discount they get once they join the team.
Whatever it may be, you need to set your program up to entice your customers to become ambassadors, which means creating value.
Some of our favorite examples of this include:
- A free outfit sent to you upon approval into the program
- A lifetime discount code only available to ambassadors
- Commission on all sales they drive
- Exclusive events and parties only for ambassadors and VIPs
- Premier access to a new product launch
- Chance to test a product before launch
Build a Community Around Your Brand
The most successful brand ambassador programs and the ones that build a community around their brand and their mission.
Ambassadors can come together and network and build friendships all-around your brand. But, it's up to you to invest in your ambassadors and create a community.
We have seen brands that have grown their program to thousands of ambassadors, and one thing unites all of them - their passion for the brand and what they stand for.
If you're a skincare brand and you're passionate about educating the public on clean beauty, then look for ambassadors that fit that persona.
You want to build a community of skincare fanatics. Some could be estheticians; others can be content creators passionate about skincare or complete novices that love your brand.
They can come together over their shared common interest and exchange ideas, tips, and educational materials, all while growing in a community of people with a shared interest.
Your brand should be the jumping-off point, but give the tools necessary to grow a community of like-minded people. This will make a difference in the overall engagement and longevity of the program.
Incorporate Your Ambassador's Content into Your Marketing
More often than not, ambassadors are looking to grow their following and build their community online. A lot of ambassadors have aspirations to become full-time content creators and earn more passive income.
Your ambassadors are producing so much UGC, so you might as well reward them in return by publishing their content in your marketing.
The ambassador would receive tons of exposure, and you would be showing them that you appreciate their hard work.
You can feature them on your socials, in your blog, or even as a model on your website.
Be sure to tag the ambassador so people can follow back!
Host Challenges and Community Events
Need a way to spark buzz and generate excitement for your ambassadors?
Then host a challenge, competition, or event, and give them the chance to earn points, cash, or a reward for participating.
These events or challenges can take place both on and offline and can serve as a way to build community, get to know the other ambassadors, and bring a bit of excitement to the program.
Here's an example we love:
Offer your ambassadors the chance to earn points by attending an IG live your brand hosts on Instagram.
This could be a discussion with an expert, a live class (exercise, cooking, painting, depending on your brand), or an interview with an exciting guest.
The ambassadors can get points for attending, and it's an excellent way for them to bond with their fellow ambassadors and learn something new!
Gamify Your Program
Gamifying your program is a great way to increase engagement and motivate your ambassadors to do well.
You can add a simple rankings feature or a leaderboard to your program so that ambassadors can see who the top ambassadors are each month.
Establishing teams based on points earned and content produced is another way to motivate ambassadors to deliver content and engage with the program.
The more points or posts they make, they can move into a new team. In addition, each team can offer additional benefits.
This doesn't need to be intense or make the program feel demanding. Instead, think of gamifying your program as a reason for your ambassadors to keep coming back for more.
Communicate with Your Ambassadors and Get Their Insights
Noticed a dip in engagement? Then go directly to the source and see what happened.
You need to build your ambassador program around what excites your team. To find out what they enjoy and what they don't, and then optimize for their feedback.
Your ambassadors can offer a lot of rich insights if you ask.
Send feedback surveys, or start a conversation wherever you keep in touch with your community.
Be open to what they have to say and let them have a hand in designing a mutually beneficial program!
Ready to turn your customers into your thriving crew of brand ambassadors? If so, watch the epic CrewFire demo video or get in touch with us to learn how you can drive more referrals, word-of-mouth, and user-generated content for your Shopify store.
Get in touch w/ Rony (CEO - CrewFire)