As brands turn to ambassador programs as a key component of their influencer marketing strategy, defining and reporting return on investment becomes an integral part of retaining your internal resources and measuring the success of the program. This blog digs deeper into defining ROI in a way that doesn’t just make sense to your industry, but to your brand specifically.
First – What’s a Brand Ambassador Program?
An ambassador program differs from regular influencer marketing campaigns in that it’s intended to create lasting partnerships with existing brand fans and customers.
Through an always-on application, employees, nano- and, micro-influencers can opt-in to being a vocal ambassador for your brand. Usually, through monthly challenges or campaigns, brands can activate ambassadors around specific messaging, purposes, and content.
Why Do You Want to Create a Brand Ambassador Program?
This is a question that marketers need to ask themselves in order to define the best KPIs for the program. Why are you investing in an ambassador program and what do you hope to accomplish with it? How does it support your company’s key business objectives? Goals vary by industry but some include:
- Grow your market share by expanding your target market
- Increase brand loyalty and retention to prevent customer churn
- Increase awareness of a new product launch
Whether it’s brand visibility or breaking into a new market segment, answering the questions above will help define what success looks like for your ambassador program. While it’s good to have parameters around the size and desired goal metrics of the program, KPIs that don’t directly ladder up to your overall business objectives will only make your job harder when you’re asked to prove the value of your ambassador program.
A common mistake brands make when launching an ambassador program is forgetting to define the purpose of the program and the objectives by which to measure success. Too often, objectives for these programs revolve around campaign metrics – “we want one million impressions” or “we want an 80% completion rate for each monthly campaign.”
These metrics on their own are not indicators of a successful ambassador program. However, their measurement and change over time could be. When we think of metrics like these in tandem with the desired business outcomes, they become powerful. Determining KPIs that map to a desired business outcome will help you more accurately understand and define your ROI.
For instance, CPG brands often view repeat purchase as an important indicator of loyalty. Therefore, if a brand’s business objective is to have 60% of purchases made by repeat customers, then the ambassador program should be created with that goal being top-of-mind. It should also work hand-in-hand with existing loyalty or subscription programs that may be in place. In addition, marketers should think about what that messaging looks like, what type of influencers to recruit, and which audiences they want to reach.
Activating Influencers Based on ROI Definition
Continuing with the CPG example, having brand ambassadors actively participate in loyalty and perks programs could help contribute to customer retention and repeat purchases. In addition, providing unique tracking links for influencers to share with their audiences will give you more granular detail into how influencers are performing when it comes to driving conversions. Based on this information, your team can better evaluate ambassadors to determine which top-performing influencers you should maintain a long-term partnership with.
No matter the category or industry, your messaging needs to be true to your brand while allowing influencers the flexibility to engage with their audiences in their own unique and authentic way. Looking for influencer partners that already have content that aligns with your brand’s voice or values is key. However, be careful not to pigeonhole your brand into a specific box; regularly recruit new influencers into your ambassador program, from different social channels and platforms, to better spread your message. Diversity across channels enables your brand to make the best business decisions for your ambassador program regardless of what’s going on in the world. Think Facebook boycott. Having a diverse group of influencers to activate only increases your brand awareness to new audiences. Racial diversity, as well as diversity of influencer size, will maximize your reach and enable you to get the biggest bang for your buck.
A suggested cadence for communication with influencers can be found here.
Embrace Flexibility with Your Program
In a time of a pandemic, continued racial injustice, and a constantly shifting news cycle, one thing remains paramount: you must be flexible. Ambassadors and marketers alike need time to process and react to what’s going on in the world around them. Pausing your programs, adjusting messaging, or pushing back due dates are all actions that are expected this year. Don’t be too rigid and instead ask yourself which requirements and deadlines are truly necessary to meet your objectives. The amazing thing about an ambassador program is that the influencers will be repeatedly talking about and creating content for your brand, and a little goodwill will go a long way. One key benefit to ambassador programs is that you’re able to build stronger, more personal relationships with these influencers you’re activating over a longer period of time. With this comes increased mutual trust, so if you do have to shift campaigns or projects around given things going on in the world, they will be more understanding.
Flexibility also needs to apply to your KPIs and expectations for your defined ROI. While you should maintain clear goals and have concrete expectations for yourself and your team, life happens. Make a point to learn from what’s working and what’s not, and adjust goals and tactics for the program on a consistent basis – we recommend evaluating your program at least quarterly.