Grow Your Business with Brand Ambassadors
Ecommerce marketing isn’t easy, but it has never been easier. Over the past year, thousands of e-commerce businesses have popped up online. Many of these have leveraged social media to grow month after month.
What are they doing that’s so special? We can’t sit down and analyze every business model out there. But, we can look at one tried and true approach that many of these e-commerce empires are using: brand ambassadors.
In between fans of the brand and influencers lies a group of people who value your brand and would make great representatives.
This loyal group of people is the string that leads to brand awareness, growth, recognition, and sales.
What are brand ambassadors?
Brand ambassadors or brand representatives are people who represent your brand by sharing your products online. They can also host in-person events, but that’s an old-school method that is more or less gone. The social media route provides more opportunities.
Working with ambassadors can result in a huge return on investment (ROI). This can happen for multiple reasons.
First, ambassadors provide low-cost content for your brand. We’ll get to this in a minute, but they typically provide images and videos that you can then use to populate your own social channels. This frees up a lot of time you would’ve otherwise spent making content.
Second, brand ambassadors increase your brand value, awareness, and visibility. The internet has billions of users. One person shares a cool product with their followers, and then one of those followers shares it… it’s a domino effect.
Finally, it allows you to make relationships with people who love and respect your brand, which is always a good thing.
When it’s time to work with a brand ambassador
Business milestones all have one thing in common: it never quite feels like the “right” time. Whether it be hiring your first employee, investing in a resource, or adding a new type of product, we often have to close our eyes and make the jump.
These leaps usually pay for themselves tenfold, but that doesn’t make the act of taking the risk any less stressful!
There are a few signs that you can look for that will help instil confidence around working with ambassadors. If any of these things apply to your brand, it probably is the right time.
1. You have repeat customers
Repeat customers are a sign that your business is on the right track. Less than half of shoppers will buy from a brand after having a bad experience. With each repeat order, these customers are becoming more and more loyal.
2. Your sales are climbing
An increase in sales is a sign that you’re doing something right. Why not take it a step further with ambassadors?
3. Your online engagement is good
An active and engaged online audience helps to build brand loyalty and creates a brand that people can get excited about and involved in. Think Glossier, Nature Valley, or Vans. All of these brands have built incredibly engaged followings online, and that engagement drives their brand reach even further.
4. Customers are asking to rep your brand or collaborate
This is a direct sign, and it’s a good one! If you have people asking to represent your brand, you’re obviously ready for ambassadors.
5. You don’t have time to create content
As your business grows, you may be finding it more and more difficult to keep up with sharing content. The life of a social media post is not long, and staying relevant and seen requires frequent updating. It can be hard to keep up! Brand representatives help with that.
Hiring your first brand ambassador is its own milestone. Though it’s one that doesn’t cost a ton of money, it’s still a jump, and it’s still worth celebrating!
Where to find brand ambassadors
Ambassadors are made up of all types of people, and they typically share a few characteristics.
- They like to be authentic and share about brands that they truly love
- They’re reputable and trusted among peers
- They have an interest in curating content
- They have a skill for taking and sharing high-quality photos
So where do you find those that are perfect for your brand? It’s simple – start by looking within.
Have you created an engaged community online? Do people show support for your brand with likes, comments, shares, excitement, repeat purchases, etc.? Turn to them.
A customer who has bought from your brand repeatedly or actively engages online is one that values your brand in some way.
Working with these people is great because they’re genuine fans and customers who already rep your brand. Nothing is forced or feels fake — they already love and use your products!
Take the time to go through your followers and look at their profiles. Make a note of anyone who:
- Demonstrates the qualities listed above
- Has aligning values (they’re representing your brand, so they should align with who you are)
- Has an engaged audience (remember, more followers is not always better!)
- Is active on their account
- Shares their personality
- Shares high-quality photos and content
Start reaching out to them!
How to work with brand ambassadors
You can work with ambassadors in a few different ways.
The influencer method involves paying a person to share a certain number of posts, stories, videos, etc. about your product or brand.
Brands typically work with influencers with large audiences. However, more and more are beginning to work with “micro-influencers” who have much smaller amounts of followers (think 1 or 2k). Because this working relationship is transactional, it doesn’t always feel genuine.
The commission method involves giving the influencer or ambassador a custom sale code that they can share with their followers. Rather than paying them per post, they are paid a commission when someone uses their code to make a purchase.
You’ll see a lot of clothing brands using this method, and it usually feels more genuine than influencer-style posts. These relationships often involve the commissioned product ambassador sharing photos of themselves wearing the clothes, tagging the brand, and providing the code. It shows how they actually use the clothes or products and feels more authentic than someone doing an unboxing on their story.
Ambassador rep style
The ambassador rep style involves sending the ambassador gear or products in exchange for content.
This is why it’s important to work with ambassadors who already love your brand. When they share your content and “rep” your products, it’s going to feel natural! The content they create will be genuine.
Interestingly enough, people trust someone’s opinion more when they’re not being paid to share the product. A brand ambassador is likely to be trusted over an influencer when it comes to the same product.
Planning a campaign with ambassadors
Let’s work through planning a campaign for an upcoming product launch.
First, you may want to use some sort of affiliate program app. There are many available through Shopify that allow you to communicate directives, track results, issue payouts (if that’s a method you choose to utilize), collect user-generated content (UGC), and more. Shopify has just acquired Dovetale and I recommend using it for any of your brand ambassador programs, it also free now.
Set up the directives in your affiliate app of choice. This will tell the ambassadors what’s needed during the campaign.
Then, set up your tracking methods. This is anything you want to measure throughout the campaign. It could include engagement, traffic brought to your site (if ambassadors are providing custom links), sales generated, etc. You can really track anything! It may be easiest to stick to one main point of tracking and test others during other campaigns.
Choose a time to start shipping the new products to the ambassadors. Direct them to the app, and don’t forget to give them ideas to post about! They can post about anything, but prompts are often useful. These can include:
- Product quality
- Real-life color
- Shipping speed
- Customer service
- How they use it in their daily life
- Why do they value it
- Why they would choose it over competitors
Once they start posting, share it! Repost to your feed, stories, etc. This not only provides content for your brand but also assures the ambassadors that what they’re creating is valuable. Encourage them to keep it up by sending them rewards like more free products, commission, payments for posting, discounts codes, etc. Treating ambassadors well encourages them, creates excitement, and keeps them involved.
Get the ambassadors’ input at the end of the campaign. Learn what they liked and didn’t like, and take that into account during the next one. After all, you want the ambassadors to enjoy working with you.
Working with ambassadors can be so rewarding for your brand. It helps you build relationships with loyal customers, gets people excited about your products, and helps create brand awareness. If your sales are looking good and you’re ready to move to the next level, brand ambassadors could be the key.