The most overlooked marketing asset? Brand ambassadors
As a business owner or marketer, you understand that convincing your customers is one of the biggest things you have to do. You have confidence in your products, but that doesn’t mean a thing if customers aren’t interested in what you’re providing to the market.
Influencing and convincing are two of the first ways you get a potential customer into the sales funnel: a customer sees you have a product that they’re interested in, and they decide to do further exploration. But how do you push them through the funnel to the sale? Let’s say you’re even having trouble getting them into the funnel to begin with. How do you rope them in?
This is where marketing steps in. Tools like affiliate tracking software make it easy to develop affiliate campaigns, which can refer customers to your business. While affiliate marketing strategies can greatly help your business succeed, all at little cost, there’s another performance marketing strategy that requires consideration: brand ambassadors.
Why brand ambassadors rock
Brand ambassadors can come in many different forms, but this is the most common:
A serious fan, who has a notable digital following and who promotes your brand to their followers — often for free — at least, monetarily. Examples include CrossFit athletes who receive supplements for free for promoting a nutrition brand on their social media feed; long-distance runners who receive shoes and clothing for wearing a company’s gear during races and in Instagram posts; and so many more.
There’s a trade taking place, where a company often supports a person’s lifestyle for the promotion of their brand and products. Your first thought might run to using big-name influencers, but that’s unnecessary. Sometimes you can get the most out of smaller accounts that have a dedicated following — often referred to as nanoinfluencers.
But how do they work to your advantage? By offering them something in return, they can easily promote your brand to their followers in the following ways.
The never-ending value of word of mouth marketing
Word of mouth marketing will never go out of style, and for good reason. Customers want to know a product they’re purchasing is graciously reviewed. They can learn that on the internet, but knowing someone they trust has faith in their brand means that much more.
Increase and promote authentic, relatable content
Similarly, one of the most difficult parts of developing content, as a brand, is producing marketing content that feels natural to customers. Authenticity matters and brand ambassadors provide you with just that. They will speak for your company in a way you can’t: as a customer. This means they’ll be speaking directly to your target customer base, allowing you to sell products with ease.
Increase organic visibility on social media
Authentic content goes a long way in the world of marketing, but the referral process matters most of all. Why is that? Customers often don’t want to feel marketed to. It’s better for them to feel as if they are the ones directly stumbling onto a brand or finding out about it through a friend. Brand ambassadors provide customers just that, allowing them to engage with your brand in an authentic way, finding your products through the words of a good friend or a social media user they deeply trust.
Build social proof
The above all work in conjunction to build your company one simple thing: social proof. Customers see real reviews, which leads to them gaining trust in your product. They take a chance, try your product, and are converted at the same time. That leads to further word-of-mouth marketing, and the process continues.
How to best use brand ambassadors
But how do you put brand ambassadors to use? You do so by letting them speak their truth, allowing them to market your product as they see fit. This manifests in numerous ways:
- Give them the freedom to market your product as they want to.
- Value their voice and style; share it within your own network.
- Provide them with baseline content to work off of, to give them an idea to start from.
- Incentivize them to spread the word further, whether it’s by giving them other products or rewards.
- Get them to recruit other brand ambassadors for you, to continue building your customer-to-ambassador pipeline.
Make the most of brand ambassadors
Want to get started with a brand ambassador campaign today? Find the right platform that helps you recruit and activate your company’s first ambassador. Niche bracelet crafter Pura Vida (a Refersion customer) saw exceptional growth, thanks to their brand ambassador platform. They were able to develop an incentive network for brand ambassadors that also allowed them to more accurately track affiliate links. Refersion helped them analyze their existing structure, making improvements relative to the data they received. Now, Pura Vida has seen growth beyond its own expectations. Since their relaunch, they have seen:
- 3x traffic to their site
- 126,000 North American brand ambassadors as of 2020
- 590% increase in annual revenue
Similar to Pura Vida, you’ll know how much brand ambassadors rock once you see the return on investment received from the strategy.
Raj Nijjer is the CMO of Refersion, a leading performance marketing platform for e-commerce brands. Prior to joining Refersion, Raj led brand marketing at Yotpo, and previously at Yext in multiple leadership roles through its IPO in 2017. Raj also spent nine years at GoDaddy in leadership roles launching innovative product lines with over nine patents issued and leading to a buyout, inclusive of an eventual IPO.