The Top 7 Brand Ambassador Program Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them!)

Alan VanToai

April 22, 2021

Are you curious if a brand ambassador program is right for you?

Brand ambassador marketing, influencer marketing, and affiliate marketing are all extremely beneficial strategies for DTC brands to adopt to help gain traction and grow their customer base.

With the rise of social media and a simultaneous decrease in trust in paid advertising, consumers are now looking for more genuine and authentic marketing efforts when choosing a brand to purchase from.

This comes as no surprise, seeing as 84% of Millennials dislike advertising, and are 115% more influenced by word of mouth than traditional advertising.

Knowing that, finding a way to market your brand genuinely is key to unlocking your next chapter of growth.And this is where brand ambassadors come into play.

Hosting an ambassador program can help your brand gain a competitive edge and cut through the noise of paid advertising and traditional marketing efforts.

But, it is important to remember that not all brands are ready for an ambassador program, and there are a few common mistakes new DTC brands make when starting an ambassador program.

Is ambassador marketing a strategy your brand is ready to adopt in 2021? Then keep reading to learn the top 7 brand ambassador program mistakes and how to avoid them!

What Are Brand Ambassadors?

A brand ambassador is an individual that will act as an authentic voice for your brand. You have likely heard a few variations of brand ambassador - influencer or micro-influencer, customer advocate, affiliate.

All in all, an ambassador is a person who knows your products, is active in spreading the word and giving recommendations to friends and family, and is interested in taking part in your brand's growth and success.

How Can an Ambassador Program Help You Grow?

Brand ambassadors can help your brand grow in an extremely genuine way.

If structured and thoughtfully planned, brand ambassadors can help you achieve:

  • Higher click-through rates
  • Greater conversion rates
  • Increased return on ad spend
  • Increased visibility for your content
  • Higher visibility and more engagement on social media
  • Increased social proof

Top 7 Ambassador Program Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Ambassador programs are an excellent strategy for growth and have the potential to take your brand to the next level.

But, before you flip the switch and start your program, it is important to know the most common mistakes brands make when starting an ambassador program.

So let's dive into the top 7 brand ambassador program mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1 - Your brand isn't Ready for an Ambassador Program (but You Start One Anyways)

There are many extraordinary brands out there, with exceptional products/services, that receive constant praise from customers. But that doesn't mean that these brands are ready for an ambassador program.

Several startups, small-medium-sized businesses, or large companies offer exceptional products or services to their customers, but those products won't translate well to an ambassador program .

Furthermore, some brands might not have enough of a following or a large enough customer base to ambassadors from, making it difficult to recruit. You don't have to be the biggest player in your industry, but brand recognition is crucial when starting an ambassador program.

Brands that aren't ready for a program will find that recruiting is a challenge, that engagement is low, and that their efforts aren't yielding all of the benefits an ambassador program can provide.

How to Avoid this Mistake

If you are unsure if your brand should start an ambassador program, check to see if you have the following:

  • A product or service with proven traction - ideally a minimum of $500,000 in annual revenue
  • An existing audience that you can recruit from - at least 10,000 email subscribers or 30,000 Instagram followers
  • A dedicated marketing manager
  • Bandwidth to dedicate 1-2 hours a day to program management

Some brands might take on more than they can chew and will result in a disorganized program and an unengaged group of ambassadors.

If you are unsure if your brand can dedicate the time necessary to hosting the program, hold off until you are in a better place!

Mistake #2 - Your Affiliate Program Is Complicated and Ambassadors Don't Make Referrals

Most of the time, being an ambassador is a side gig or hustle that offers an additional stream of revenue while supporting a brand they love.

But, if your affiliate program is complicated or unpolished, your ambassadors will likely not invest time into the program and share their code with friends and followers.

And affiliates know that they can make good money working with brands, with 35% of affiliates making at least $20K in annual revenue from their affiliate marketing efforts.

What leads to a complicated affiliate program:

  • Unclear expectations or guidelines - what % commission do they get, do referees get a discount too, how to payouts work, etc.
  • Do they get paid per sale, per lead, per click - you're not clear with how they earn commission
  • Having unrealistic quotes - it's a side gig for many
  • Not having a system in play where they can track their sales

How to Avoid this Mistake

Create clear guidelines and communicate them with your affiliates. Starting from day one, tell your affiliates how much they will get in commission, the discount their referees will get, and how payouts work.

Be sure to offer ambassadors a platform or tool where they can easily track their revenue. Transparency is a must when working with affiliates!

Mistake #3 - Your Program Tooling Isn't User-Friendly

Glitches, bugs, and unpolished UX/UI in your tooling can turn anyone away from your program.

We have heard it from several ambassadors on CrewFire - they were brought on as an ambassador for a brand, but due to the tooling and platform (or lack thereof), they decided to drop the program to save themselves the headache.

How to Avoid this Mistake

Offering your ambassadors and influencers a tool that is streamlined, easy-to-use, and that keeps them coming back for more will keep your engagement at an all-time high!

Try to avoid multiple platforms (which we will get to in the next mistake) and make the program as simple as possible. An ambassador program should be fun, so having your tooling streamlined will make the experience more enjoyable for your ambassadors.

Mistake #4: You're Using Multiple Platforms to Host Your Program

Most people will agree - managing several different platforms/tools can feel overwhelming and cause unneccessary stress. This needs to be applied to your ambassador program.

If you are hosting an ambassador program on 2 or more platforms, then you are likely to cause burnout with your community and your ambassadors have a higher chance of missing important program updates and information because they are juggling several different platforms.

We have seen in one too many times - a Facebook group, a platform for tracking affiliate, a Google sheet for submitting UGC, it's too much!

How to Avoid this Mistake

Keep it simple. Bring your program onto one or (MAX) two platforms. Find an all-in-one platform where ambassadors can track their referrals, get new products/rewards, engage with their fellow ambassadors, and submit their UGC for points! Less stress is best.

Mistake #5: You Aren't Investing in Your Team

Many ambassadors will say that one of the biggest selling points for joining a program is the chance to learn and grow alongside their favorite brand(s).

Ambassadors can get the unique opportunity to meet founding members, influential company heads, and grow in a community of like-minded people.

But, if you are inviting ambassadors to join your program but aren't investing time into your team and your community, then your ambassadors will likely feel disappointed and the program will be lackluster.

Ambassadors can provide genuine product feedback, and help you shape your roadmap in an extremely meaningful way, you just need to provide them the space to use their voice!

How to Avoid this Mistake

Invest in your community, and ambassadors will show up. This goes back to point one - if you don't have enough bandwidth or a dedicated program manager, your program will fall flat.

Don't post and ghost; you can't hold high expectations for your ambassadors but not invest time into them, it needs to be a two-way street.

Mistake #6: You Don't Keep Your Program Fresh

If you aren't keeping the program fresh, ambassadors will lose interest and engagement will plummet.

Ambassadors want to help you create content and genuinely promote your brand, but if you aren't providing them with a new challenge or exciting activities, they will get bored and will drop the program.

That's why keeping your program fresh and exciting is essential.

How to Avoid this Mistake

Best practices for keeping your program fresh:

  • Create new activities weekly
  • Think of inventive ways to generate more UGC
  • Understand the platforms most relevant to your population and utilize those
  • Incentivize them - for example, a chances to be featured on your website/social media or opportunities to meet the team
  • Reward them for their work! Commission, interesting rewards, free products, etc.

Mistake #7: Your Brand Doesn't Have the Bandwidth for a Program

Ambassador programs aren't simple. You should expect to spend 1-2 hours a day or at least 10 hours a week solely dedicated to program maintenance.

Brand ambassador programs entail the following (if not more):

  • Create new activities
  • Check UGC
  • Maintain and support the community
  • Monitor referrals and send payouts
  • Fulfill rewards
  • Recruit and find new team members
  • Housekeeping and community management

If you don't have enough bandwidth, then one or several of these items will go unchecked and it will leave ambassadors feeling unmotivated and uninspired, leading to a drop in engagement and a high turnover rate.

How to Avoid this Mistake

Make your brand ambassador program an extension of your marketing program, and have a designated team member who is responsible for community management, monitoring the program, answering ambassador questions, and recruiting.

Conclusion

Are you ready to start an ambassador program? If you check all the boxes in the program readiness checklist, then you are in a comfortable spot to make 2021 your best year of growth yet with the help of your ambassadors!

Ready to turn your customers into your army 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/ Alan (Founder/CEO - CrewFire):

Free Ebook!

The Ultimate Guide to Brand Ambassador Marketing.

We distilled years of brand ambassador marketing experience to show you how to promote your content, reach more people, and grow your brand with brand ambassadors.
Thanks! The ebook is on it's way to your inbox!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

WRITTEN BY

Alan VanToai

Co-Founder of CrewFire