How to Create a Brand Ambassador Program
When it comes to launching and running a successful brand ambassador program, partnering with an array of creators, consumers, and employees helps a brand to reach a broad yet loyal new audience. Brand ambassador programs are a great way for brands to grow brand awareness, drive sales and revenue, and generate research insights – all while connecting with a broad audience as the result of creator collaborations.
Just as brand ambassador programs are beneficial for the brand, they also provide valuable incentives for creators to participate. People join ambassador programs for the opportunity to represent a brand they love while being compensated for their content creation efforts. This compensation can include anything from cash to discount codes to products to event access.
Let’s dive into more about ambassador program benefits and how brands can run their own.
What Is An Ambassador Program?
An ambassador program is a brand-curated opportunity that enlists influencers, customers, and employees to create content about the brand and is rewarded with monetary payment, discount codes, products, and more. They could be a content creator, a brand employee, or an ordinary consumer.
Ambassador programs for brands are vital to influencer marketing strategies because they are a great source of social proof and credibility. While we’re used to seeing celebrity brand ambassadors represent household names, most ambassador programs today take a community approach to their strategy.
Lululemon’s ambassador program is a great example. It used a localized strategy and partnered with trustworthy people close to its stores.
Benefits Of A Brand Ambassador Program
Brand ambassador programs help brands build a strong community of loyal advocates on social media and in real life. Because a brand ambassador has an organic connection with their audience, brands can use ambassador programs to capitalize on a broader audience reach.
Ambassador programs have a host of benefits that help both brands and the ambassadors capitalize on a mutually beneficial relationship. Some of these benefits include long-term influencer relationships, brand affinity and community growth, and influencer and consumer research.
1. Ambassador Programs Curate Long-Term Influencer Relationships
Ambassador programs focus on building long-term relationships. When brands have a group of trusted content creators to select from, it helps to streamline the creator sourcing process in future campaigns. These creators can be reactivated in future campaigns with the confidence that they will create high-quality content on a consistent basis while driving authentic brand awareness and engagement.
2. Ambassador Programs Drive Brand Affinity & Community Growth
Consumers will be repeatedly exposed to positive branded messaging by brand advocates with strong credibility and influence. Because content creators, particularly micro-influencers, typically have a loyal, engaged following, brand ambassador exposure has the ability to positively impact business sales among a brand’s target audience. That’s social proof at work!
3. Ambassador Programs Generate Influencer & Consumer Research Insights
Ambassador programs can be used to fuel influencer and consumer research. Collaborating with content creators for a campaign brief, a new product launch, or a marketing initiative concept can add an invaluable perspective to any project. This also increases the commitment the content creator has to the project and overall brand.
How To Find The Ideal Brand Ambassador
If you want to get ambassadors for your brand, the first step is to source and activate ideal candidates that align with your brand’s mission and identity. Brands looking for ambassadors should prioritize creators who have a personal connection to your brand rather than someone who may just be in it for a paycheck or free products.
Characteristics of a Great Brand Ambassador
Not everyone is going to fit the criteria for an outstanding brand ambassador! Follow this checklist to make sure the creators you partner with will be the best fit:
Are They Passionate & Relevant To Your Brand?
Your ideal brand ambassador will feel passionate about your company’s mission and your products and/or services! Ideally, they would be apt to purchase from you as a consumer, as they would hopefully have the same interests and hobbies that would endear them to you organically.
Are They Active & Engaging On Social Media?
Your ideal brand ambassador should have a loyal following unto themselves and a flourishing social media presence. They should be dedicated to their personal brand; it’s a strong indicator of how they’ll perform for you.
Are They Professional & Consistent?
Additionally, the individual you select for your brand ambassador program should be a self-starter with a strong sense of discipline. A responsible creator partner should follow through on their commitments, fulfill the creative brief, and deliver all touchpoints on time.
Where To Find Influencers
It can be challenging to find and engage with creators to participate in your brand ambassador program. Luckily, there are plenty of influencer marketing software programs available for your brand to pursue – including Mavrck. Influencer marketing technology like Mavrck helps brands build a viable index of creators to work with on campaigns, ambassador programs, and more.
If influencer marketing technology isn’t in your budget, organic scouting on social media platforms like LinkedIn, or on sites like Yelp or Consumer Affairs, can be an alternative option.
Regardless of how you recruit creators for a brand ambassadorship, make sure to closely review your applicants using the above criteria. Be selective; if your current cohort doesn’t fit your needs, hold out for someone who will.
Example of Successful Ambassador Programs
We know that brand ambassador programs work – but don’t take it from us. Learn about how brands you know grew their business by activating brand ambassadors in a long-term campaign.
Express Ambassador Program
Express is a retail clothing brand focusing on men’s and women’s fashion. It identified and activated relevant influencers, employees, and consumer ambassadors to redefine professional dress and styling with social media content.
To increase efficiencies within the program, Express focused on enhancing its ambassadors’ experiences through intentional community-building activities, like private Facebook groups and webinars, to garner authentic brand affinity and connection.
Additionally, Express aimed to improve its communications with its ambassadors by focusing primarily on response timeliness and personalization at scale.
Express successfully scaled its ambassador program by 11x. The brand added more than 3,000 new ambassadors to the program which resulted in the creation of 421x more content than the previous year. The content results totaled over 65 million impressions, 7.5 million engagements, and an average engagement rate of 11.5%, which was 1.98% higher than the previous year.
Learn more about Express’ ambassador program drove 168% ROI with brand ambassadors.
Rosefield Ambassador Program
Rosefield is a watchmaker and jeweler focusing on women’s fashions. One key component of its always-on recruitment strategy was to attract a more robust international creator cohort. By leveraging Mavrck’s influencer marketing platform, Rosefield curated an inclusive ambassador community comprising of consumers who loved the Rosefield brand across international markets without compromising its signature brand aesthetic.
In addition to incentivizing influencers with exclusive access to new products, Rosefield rewarded high-performing influencers, advocates, and referrers with points, which were managed and redeemed for store credit via the Rosefield community microsite on its brand.com.
Rosefield’s strategies expanded its ambassador network to total over 45,000 international creators in just three months. As a result, its influencer activations increased 4x and the sales attributed to influencer marketing increased by 400%.
Learn more about how Rosefield’s ambassador program grew its international strategy and drove 4x more activations.
Kraft Ambassador Program
Kraft is a food brand with a strong presence in the retail space. It executed a tiered influencer campaign strategy to identify the top influencers for the Kraft Heinz brand family. Kraft first recruited micro- and macro- influencers who are parents to showcase Kraft products and recipes on Instagram. Next, Kraft worked with Mavrck to identify the top performers across these campaigns based on content quality and adherence to brand standards. Kraft then invited them to apply to the #LoveforKraft ambassador program for the Kraft brand family.
Kraft accepted micro- and macro-influencer ambassadors who were then instructed to purchase their favorite Kraft products to feature in their posts and compensated with a $75 gift card. Influencers created a static Instagram post twice per month with the hashtags #LoveforKraft, #FamilyGreatly, #Ad, the name of the product featured, and the @kraft_brand tag.
Kraft’s ambassadors generated 46 Instagram posts, which resulted in 2.3 million estimated impressions, over 186,000 engagements, and an average cost per engagement (CPE) of $0.09.
Learn more about Kraft’s ambassador program and how it drove 2.3 million impressions in its influencer marketing campaign.
How To Start A Brand Ambassador Program
There are seven important steps to get your brand ambassador program up and running. With these brand ambassador program best practices in mind, you’ll have a comprehensive plan ready to go that sets your brand up for success.
1. Set Brand Ambassador Program Goals and KPIs
The first step in launching your brand ambassador program is to determine your program goals and KPIs. Some brands like to track the number of ambassadors in their program, their ambassador engagement level, their brand awareness improvements, their ambassadors’ content volume and quality, and the resulting purchase intent. We recommend vetting effectiveness with the following related KPIs:
Ambassador Quantity KPI
- Record the number of members recruited into the ambassador program and its growth over time
Ambassador Engagement KPI
- Detail the number of brand-to-ambassador interactions and the quality of those interactions
- Keep track of the number of ambassadors that successfully completed the required steps
Brand Awareness & Impressions KPI
- Record the volume of social media posts mentioning your brand
- Note the brand awareness lift among your ambassadors’ followers before and after your campaign
Content Volume and Quality KPI
- Track the number of repurposable content
Purchase Intent KPI
- Compare the changes in purchase consideration among the ambassadors’ followers before and after the campaign
- Measure the clicks to the brand URLs before and after the campaign’s launch
2. Determine Your Payment Strategy
Your incentive budget, payment methods, and logistics will require their own strategies.
The most common types of payment strategies include awarding points toward store purchases or sharing gift cards and promo codes.
We recommend paying creators up-front if you’re running a small-scale campaign with only five to 15 creators. If you’re running a larger campaign with at least 50 creators, we recommend tracking creator progress and issuing payment after they’ve successfully posted content you’ve agreed on.
3. Identify And Invite Potential Ambassadors
When it comes to recruiting ambassadors, there is no one-size-fits-all model. Recruitment strategies will depend on the brand’s goals and objectives. We advise brands to recruit ambassadors in one of three ways:
Analyze Previous Campaigns:
Run a handful of campaigns to evaluate the top performers across each of the brand-specific campaigns. This helps to determine the first group to invite into your brand ambassador program. Do an in-depth analysis of the initial activation to determine who from this group you would like to continue partnering with based on their performance. To invite top-performing influencers to apply, brands can install an always-on application on their website to point top-performing influencers to a dedicated landing page with the program details.
Source From Your Customer Base
For brands that already have large and active audiences, try recruiting ambassadors from brand-owned touch points. To invite your customer base to apply, best practices include emailing your CRM, recruiting on brand-owned social channels, running paid advertisements within the application link on social channels, and/or running a referral program from current customers enrolled in the program.
Go For Brand Employees/Associates
A brand ambassador program can be created for employee participants. To invite employees/associates to apply, best practices include sending a company-wide email, posting on company-facing channels such as messaging systems, and/or running a referral program for current employees enrolled in the program.
4. Onboard Your Ambassadors
After determining your ambassador personas, invite potential ambassadors to apply and select a varied pool of candidates. Take time to onboard your chosen ambassadors and familiarize them with your brand and style guidelines, consumer research and insights, and relevant marketing campaign calendars. This can be done with a kick-off meeting, in-person or virtually, comprehensive communication drives buy-in and creative alignment before any campaign launches. Keep your ambassadors in the loop throughout campaigns and be sure to communicate any widespread edits or changes to your brand’s strategies or guides.
5. Launch Your Ambassador Program
It’s time to launch your program! Make sure you brief your ambassadors monthly (or on a different cadence of your preference) to keep them up-to-date on new initiatives.
When you’re ready to activate them for a new campaign, be sure to get their official opt-in before sharing your content brief. It’s up to you to either contract ambassadors for multiple engagements or simply invite them each month to continue your partnership.
But, if you contract creators for an ambassadorship that lasts several months or years, you’ll have to keep them accountable to post at the agreed-upon intervals.
3. Maintain Ambassador Communication
Because some of your ambassadors may not be traditional influencers, we find that the more communication, the better. Set up a communications cadence of your choosing that includes a welcome email with high-level expectations and initial deadlines, an email detailing creative briefs and content expectations, reminder emails that include the brief and associated deadlines, and a thank you email that acknowledges a successful content posting. Including a survey link to provide program feedback is always a plus.
6. Measure Your Ambassador Program Success
After you’ve successfully activated your ambassador program, revisit your goals and KPIs to measure the program’s success. We recommend using any current tools your brand has in place to expand your analysis of ambassadors’ performance and value generated.
In addition, analyze survey results from your ambassador thank you emails to help guide insights and improvements.
Are You Ready To Launch Your Ambassador Program?
Brand ambassador programs require up-front planning and strategic considerations to be successful, but the benefits far outweigh the lift.
If you’re ready to take your influencer marketing strategy to the next level, keep the momentum rolling by setting up ambassador-only groups on social media for your ambassadors to interact with their peers. They can also host regular webinars to share best practices, company updates, and new ambassador opportunities.
Furthermore, get excited about the progress to come. By leveraging an ambassador program, your KPIs will be sure to thank you!
Learn More About Brand Ambassador Programs and Influencer Marketing