“I truly believe that [driving social sales] is the future of marketing. Now that I can show a guaranteed revenue stream from customers’ social posts, I’m going to shift my budget away from running ads that don’t work to growing our ambassador program.”Jon, e-comm brand founder
Today’s consumer has grown immune to traditional marketing tactics online and offline. People are turning to more trusted resources for brand and product recommendations – friends, family, and trusted creators – that post organic, authentic content across social platforms. Innovative brands are taking advantage of this type of social selling through ambassador marketing, the most leverageable strategy to reach a target audience authentically. Driving social sales through ambassador programs is the most effective, measurable, and profitable form of advertising in the digital space.
Incorporate ambassador marketing by connecting with your supporters and building relationships to start creating your brand community.
We’ve reviewed some of the most successful types of ambassador programs across LoudCrowd and we’re sharing best practices. There are several types based on market influence, brand goals, and even the kinds of creators.
Building a successful ambassador program that drives social sales takes resources and focus. But early results will show, the marketing ROI of social selling is exponential compared to several of the tired ways marketing has been advertising. Below we detail the top 5 most popular brand ambassador program types.
For more, read the attached case studies with details on ROI and other metrics your team needs to be reporting.
READ MORE: Brand Ambassador vs. Influencer: Which is a Better Fit?
All Customer Brand Ambassador Program
Incentivize all customers to post across social media about your brand – while also making them feel like a valued part of the brand.
DEFINED: A customer ambassador program is a loyalty or rewards program where customers who consistently make purchases from a company are given special perks or incentives. These perks may include discounts, exclusive access to products or events, or personalized support. The goal of a customer ambassador program is to encourage customers to continue doing business with the company and to spread positive word-of-mouth about the company to others.
The best place to begin your brand ambassador journey is with an ‘all customer’ program. The initial impact will bring a wave of engagement, sales, and goodwill touchpoints. From there, you can easily assess the next steps. The data from an ‘all customer’ program can easily inform your next marketing event, product launch, and future ambassador programs. Consider the immediate real-world feedback you can get when you open those channels of communication and engage at a deeper level with the people who know and love your brand better than anyone!
Customer ambassadors can:
- Leave positive reviews on your website
- Spread organic word-of-mouth buzz to their own family and friends
- Provide real product feedback
- Create user-generated content that can be repurposed for advertising
Ways to reward customer ambassadors:
- Welcome gifts such as merchandise and gift cards
- Quarterly product samples
- Site credit for referrals and UGC creation
Customer Journey Program
This is another type of ‘all-customer program’ that incentivizes customers to show off their lifetime journey with brand products.
READ MORE: How to shift your influencer marketing strategy to a customer-based UGC program
DEFINED: A brand ambassador program involves selecting and training individuals to represent a brand and its products to customers, creating a positive experience and building loyalty. Brand ambassadors interact with customers at events, on social media, and in-store, acting as advocates for the company and shaping customer perceptions of the brand.
Maybe your brand was built on one flagship product and you’ve grown from there…how do you find the customers who went from wearing your custom bracelets to your fine jewelry? Or who were the people around when you had one lip balm and now you have an entire makeup line? The customer journey program can help you find those loyalists. Then it opens up communication to engage with those who can help you take your brand to the next level. An open line of communication allows for “training”, asking customers to post in a particular way or with particular products. There’s events, audience building, and so many more opportunities.
Customers in a customer journey program can:
- Help co-produce ideas and products for the brand
- Be lifetime advocates through a referral program
- Continue shopping from the brand at least once a month increasing their lifetime sales amount
Reward them with:
- Ambassador of the month feature on your socials and site
- Commission opportunities
- Invitation to invite-only groups, exclusive events, and close friend’s story
Student/Athlete Brand Ambassador Program
Seizes brand presence across campus or within a team.
DEFINED: A brand ambassador student or athlete program, also known as a social sales program, involves selecting and training students or athletes to represent a brand’s brand and products. These brand ambassadors, whether they be college or high school students or amateur or professional athletes, are chosen based on their influence and popularity to act as representatives for the company through social media, events, and other channels. The ultimate goal of a brand ambassador student or athlete program, or social sales program, is to increase brand awareness and loyalty among students or athletes while utilizing the brand ambassadors’ influence to reach a wider audience.
The strongest selling point for building an ambassador program with LoudCrowd is that you can gain the ability to truly understand your customer and how they behave across the greatest advertising platforms of today, social media. Building a student or athlete-based program can produce the greatest ROI of all program types. Why? Because you’re starting with an engaged audience already bought into an organization or community – an invaluable starting point. A few key brands found TikTok virality during the ‘Bama Rush’ trend that spread like wildfire through campuses. With this, the opportunity to build a ‘student program’ to keep the momentum going!
Student/Athlete ambassadors can:
- Spread brand awareness across an entire campus or sports team
- Increase referrals within their campus groups and share the opportunity to represent your brand
Reward them with:
- Paid sponsorships (NCAA restrictions have been lifted – leverage NIL)
- Cash payouts and affiliate rewards to help out with school
- Advertising campaign features
Enable your customers to earn commission on top of your social rewards structure.
DEFINED: An affiliate program is a marketing program in which a brand rewards affiliates for each customer or sale that is referred to the company through the affiliate’s marketing efforts. Affiliates may be individuals or organizations that promote the company’s products or services in exchange for a commission on each sale or referral. The affiliates may use a variety of marketing techniques, such as placing ads or links on their websites, social media accounts, or email campaigns, to promote the company’s products. The goal of an affiliate program is to increase sales and exposure for the company and to provide affiliates with a revenue stream.
When an affiliate program is the best option for your brand, building rapport and strengthening engagement with program members is key. An affiliate program through LoudCrowd can help you generate, manage and track affiliate links. Then the most important part is to engage affiliates where they create – social media. Make sure you have a messaging strategy in place for every post, and every brand tag, by an affiliate so you can continue to strengthen their interest in the program and the ROI back to your brand.
Affiliate ambassadors can:
- Capitalize on customer conversions into sales
- Drive brand traffic directly to your social pages and site
- Integrate products into their social posts and blogs
Reward affiliates with:
- A piece of the profit from their sales
- Discounted products
- Bonuses and special invites for the highest earners
This program is based on the hierarchy of your customers, making them a type of influencer but within brand standards.
DEFINED: An influencer program is a marketing program in which a brand partners with influencers to promote its products or services. Influencers are individuals who have a large following on social media or other online platforms, and who have the ability to influence the purchasing decisions of their followers. The influencers may be asked to create content featuring the company’s products, such as sponsored posts on social media or product reviews on their blogs, and to share it with their followers. The goal of an influencer program is to increase the company’s reach and sales by leveraging the influence of the influencers.
Though we proudly proclaim to be anti-influencer, we do believe in the power of social sales influencers who are your customers! When an influencer program is best for your brand, ensure you’re finding the best people, with strong engagement and audience reach, by starting with your customer base. As soon as you connect social accounts to LoudCrowd, you can immediately see the top-performing posts. Then use the platform to reach out to micro and nano-influencers and build the foundation for your influencer program.
- Provide the ultimate social proof and boost engagement/following on the brand’s account
- Create high-quality content to be repurposed for a brand’s marketing channels
- Incentivize and reach a large audience of potential customers through their following
Reward influencers with:
- Cash payouts
- Media exposure by resharing on your social pages
- Free products and PR boxes
- Invite on trips and product launch events
Which program will be best for your brand’s needs when shifting your marketing strategy from influencers to ambassadors, from social ads to social sales, or from content creation to creators?