A brand ambassador program is a fantastic strategy for expanding your reach and finding more customers. The best part? Your brand ambassadors largely manage the work of finding potential new customers and moving them through the sales funnel. You’ll just need to train your ambassadors, manage them, and track their efforts.
But building a brand ambassador program from scratch can be challenging if you don’t know where to start. Having an ambassador program template to work with can make the process a lot easier, and that’s why we’ve created this guide for you.
In this article, we will cover:
- What a brand ambassador program is
- Why you should start a brand ambassador program
- What a brand ambassador program template is, and why you need one
- What you should include in a brand ambassador program template
What is a brand ambassador program?
A brand ambassador program is a formalized program where you recruit people who love your brand to represent and promote your brand in the long term. These representatives help you expand your brand’s reach to a larger audience.
Aside from being loyal to your brand, brand ambassadors should ideally have authority in the same niche as your company, or have an audience that matches your own. A niche or audience match means that you’ll get to leverage an existing, good-fit fan following, which is already warmed up and ready to buy or go further down the sales pipeline.
Brand ambassadors will promote your brand online (such as through blogs or social media) offline (such as through trade shows and events), or using a combination of both online and offline channels.
An ambassador program standardizes how you work with all your ambassadors – how you want to engage with your brand ambassadors and how you expect them to promote you. You set goals, train ambassadors so they’re equipped to achieve these goals, and measure your results. Generally, brand ambassador programs are centered around achieving objectives like increasing brand awareness or reach, generating new leads, or increasing conversions.
Use our detailed template coming up later in this guide to help you formulate a successful brand ambassador program, from identifying and hiring exemplary brand ambassadors to tracking and measuring performance.
Why start an ambassador program?
At this point, you may be wondering whether it’s worth going through the motions of starting an ambassador program. Here are some compelling reasons why many businesses, regardless of size and scope, are choosing to create their own ambassador programs:
Ambassadors’ authentic promotions are trusted.
Potential customers will usually look for information about a product or service on social media, and check for authentic reviews, before they make a purchase. It’s also well-established that people trust the reviews and opinions of people they know over any kind of promotion your brand does. When an ambassador they already love makes that recommendation, they’re more likely to buy, because they see the recommendation as genuine.
Ambassadors have already built an audience for you.
Ambassadors generate warm leads by nurturing relationships with a network they’ve already built. When you start a brand ambassador program, a lot of initial legwork has already been done. Brand ambassadors expand your reach to a ready-made customer base without you having to build it yourself.
Ambassadors are relationship-focused.
Ambassadors also take the time to nurture their leads. Rather than focusing on generating a sale by any means necessary, they’re committed to fostering relationships with their audience first. This means their audience is warm and ready to buy.
Ambassador programs are cost-effective.
With an ambassador program, you only pay when you see results. Most marketing strategies require you to commit valuable dollars and resources at the outset, before you know how effective they’ll be or if your spending was worth it. You also have to go through the process of reviewing and adjusting your marketing campaigns to optimize for costs. Ambassador programs are a lot more cost-effective in the long run, as you can choose to only pay your ambassadors after their efforts bring in leads or sales. This way, you’re practically guaranteed a positive ROI.
What is an ambassador program template? Why do you need one?
A brand ambassador program template is your detailed plan that helps you develop a successful ambassador program. Think of it as a skeleton that enables you to flesh out the steps you need to take and how you will take them, before you launch your program or even look for ambassadors.
There are several reasons why a template is recommended for developing an ambassador program:
- Goal-setting: A template lets you map out your ultimate goals and pencil in the smaller milestones to help you get there. Having goals in place gives you concrete aims to steadily work towards. You can set goals specifically for program results, the types and number of ambassadors you want to hire, and your overall vision for how you want the ambassador program to function.
- Setting standards in place: An ambassador program template is where you pre-plan all the criteria for how you work with all your ambassadors, the operational aspects of your program, what your ambassadors are expected to achieve, and how they will achieve it. It can include things like how to ensure the messaging for your product or service is always on brand, and what ambassadors should avoid saying.
- Measuring your marketing success: Successful marketing takes planning and measurement. Are your results measuring up to your goals? A template provides the framework for your program and a place to define your goals, so you can better gauge success when the program is live and know if it’s working how you expected.
Download our free brand ambassador program template
Ready to plan out your own brand ambassador program? Use this free downloadable template to fill in all your essential details, so they’re organized in one place.
Refer to the sections below if you need more details on what to cover.
What to include in a brand ambassador template?
Now that we’ve defined a brand ambassador program template and why you need it, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what it should contain.
Your overview should ideally include a timeline of when you want your program to launch. It should also outline all the elements that you’ll need to have in place before you launch.
While an overview isn’t always necessary, having a bird’s eye view of the structure you’re trying to create is recommended. It may be more viable to come back to develop your overview once you’ve worked through the entire template and have more details established.
2. Goals and KPIs of the program
One of the most important aspects your brand ambassador program template should cover is your goals, supported by measurable KPIs. Your goals may vary, but at the end of the day, make sure you clearly define and establish these objectives in your template.
Some examples of common ambassador program goals are:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Generating new leads
- Expanding your reach
- Promoting specific products
- Encouraging customer loyalty
Unless substantiated by KPIs, defining these goals on their own can make it hard to determine how far you’ve come along in achieving them. So at this point, determine how you will further refine these goals with KPIs. KPIs can be individual to your business, but here are some examples of KPIs to help you get started:
- Post impressions: This is how many times an ambassador’s content gets displayed in front of your audience. Another way of looking at this is ‘post reach,’ which is the total number of people who see the content.
- Post engagement: Engagement is how many people have interacted with an ambassador’s post. It can come in the form of likes, comments, or even shares. This is a good indication of how many people connect with your ambassador.
- Leads, based on who clicks an ambassador’s link: If you give ambassadors links to your site, it’s easy to track which prospective clients gave their information, and want to engage further with your brand.
- Conversions: Conversion refers to a specific action that a prospective customer takes – in this case, as a result of ambassador marketing. You decide what the term conversion means for you, whether it’s a purchase or a lead giving their information.
- Revenue from ambassador referrals: How much are you actually earning through the ambassador referral process, relative to other channels?
3. Plans for ambassador tracking and software
An ambassador program is only as good as its tracking and measurement capabilities. How will you quantify the results of your program and see how they stack up against your goals? What system do you plan to have in place for this purpose?
You could manually track your ambassadors’ marketing efforts using spreadsheets, but that can be time-consuming, and there’s always the potential for human errors. Not all actions lend themselves well to being tracked manually, and compiling the data and interpreting it in the form of business intelligence can be a complex exercise. Also, when multiple people handle your spreadsheets, conversion tracking can pose a significant challenge.
The recommended alternative is automation, in the form of brand ambassador software.
There’s much more to this type of software than merely automating mundane, repetitive tasks, and getting rid of errors, delays, and missing information. You will have access to powerful tracking features in a centralized format that makes it easy for you to understand, at one glance, how your ambassadors are really doing. Campaign performance analytics is your best friend when it comes to figuring out whether you’re achieving your goals and identifying stumbling blocks.
With brand ambassador software, you can create trackable links, and attribute every lead and purchase to an individual ambassador. The software will also track the specific actions that ambassadors have taken during the referral process, reward ambassadors, and provide thorough campaign performance analytics. Some software can even be integrated with your other favorite tools from your marketing stack. This makes it easy for you to organize your marketing efforts, plus gain granular insights from individual marketing systems without missing a beat.
Referral Rock software can help businesses of any size to set up ambassador tracking in days. It’s also a tool that’s flexible enough to run referral, affiliate, and partner programs. Overall, it’s a great brand ambassador software if you’re looking for ease of use, extensive features, comprehensive metrics, and excellent customer support.
4. Type(s) of ambassadors you want
Next, which types of ambassadors do you plan to recruit? There are many types of brand ambassadors to choose from, and not every type can and will suit your business.
Here are some of the most common types of brand ambassadors:
Student ambassadors: Student ambassadors are perfect if you’re trying to find more customers in the 18-25 age group. These ambassadors promote your brand on a large scale throughout their college campus, more intimately through smaller student associations and networks, and online to their audience of peers on social networks.
Employee ambassadors: Who better than your own employees to promote your brand? They know your brand inside out and understand your brand culture and vision. These ambassadors will usually promote you to their circle of friends, family, and associates. One risk of employee ambassadorship, though, is it could come off as too salesy.
Customer-ambassadors: These ambassadors are your best customers, handpicked and trained to promote your brand more formally. Unlike employee ambassadorship, which can come across as inauthentic unless carefully moderated, customer-ambassadors are usually seen as much more believable and legitimate. A new customer would always prefer to buy if they see that a peer has endorsed the brand.
Experts in your field: As field experts are the go-to people for advice, tips, and information in their niche, an endorsement of your brand from a related authority speaks volumes. It’s a great form of brand ambassadorship to target if you want the validity and credibility that comes with being associated with an expert.
Authorities among an audience (includes, but isn’t limited to, celebrities): Audience authorities are not as knowledgeable about your niche as bona fide experts, but they have significant audiences who trust them wholeheartedly and who align with your own target demographic. Celebrities can fall under the audience authority category. But it’s usually easier to work with authorities who have a smaller (but still sizable and trusting) audience – like content creators.
Social media personalities (content creators): Social media influencers and content creators come with their own followership that can vary in size depending on their popularity. They’re already experts in online promotion, and have an audience that regularly engages with their content and hangs on their every word. So, if they’ve already shown love for your brand more informally, they can be an invaluable ambassador type.
Affiliate-style ambassadors: Affiliate marketers are a force to be reckoned with. If you haven’t considered affiliate-style ambassadors yet, they’re definitely worth looking into. Affiliate ambassadors promote your products or services in exchange for commissions or other incentives. They’ll offer a unique discount code to audiences, which tracks all the purchases that the affiliate ambassador encouraged. Remember to choose affiliates within your niche, and who have an existing audience that matches yours.
Event-based ambassadors: These specialist ambassadors might come into the picture when you want representatives to kick off or significantly scale your offline marketing efforts. These ambassadors leverage event-based experiences (such as conferences and guerilla pop-ups) to create and build relationships with your target customers. For this reason, they function as the face of your brand. When choosing an event-based ambassador, ensure their core image and personality align with your brand values.
5. Expectations for ambassadors
Now, nail down your expectations for your ambassadors. What do you want them to achieve? The more specific, the better.
If they’re promoting you online, determine the ideal platforms they should be using, how many promotional posts they will make, the nature of these posts, and the time frame they’ll need to be published within. Also. work out how you will track ambassadors’ efforts, whether that’s by distributing tracking links or by sharing discount codes.
If they’re promoting you offline, determine what types of events they should be promoting you at. Will you require them to plan the actual events or guerilla marketing efforts? Or will they just represent and talk about your brand at events planned by others?
6. Rewards and benefits for ambassadors
Next up, determine what types of rewards and benefits you will provide to your brand ambassadors. These rewards must be highly motivating and appealing to your ambassadors, and worth the time and energy that ambassadors are investing in your brand. At the same time, the rewards should be sustainable for your brand to pay out in the long term.
To identify the best rewards, ask your brand ambassadors what they would appreciate the most. In general, cash is a great motivator. But aside from cash, you could also offer free products or product upgrades, or provide credits or coupons to be used towards your products. You can even give out branded swag. Some ambassadors may be willing to work for your brand without compensation in exchange for being publicly recognized partners. But compensation properly recognizes ambassadors, so every ambassador should be paid in some way.
Next, consider when and how you will transfer these rewards to your brand ambassadors. Do you want to reward ambassadors at a set frequency? If so, you’ll want to give a reward at least monthly, but twice a month can be a welcome gesture. Some businesses opt to pay out more frequently, such as once a week. It can be a great motivator to have weekly payouts.
But, sometimes, having a set frequency may not be the ideal solution for your business. Another method is to pay based on very specific goals brand ambassadors have achieved. For example, would you rather pay or reward your brand ambassadors once they’ve achieved specific outcomes, such as the delivery of specific content or the completion of a given action?
Alternatively, you can choose to give a reward whenever a sale has been attributed to a brand ambassador’s efforts. For example, should they be paid after a customer has purchased through the tracking link?
You may also want to layer your rewards so they’re even more motivating for your ambassadors. If so, plan how you will reward ambassadors as they reach higher levels of performance. For example, you can offer extra bonuses to the best-performing ambassadors at the end of each month or quarter. You can also look at increasing the value of the base incentives once an ambassador has surpassed specific lifetime goals.
Last but not least, look at other less tangible rewards outside of traditional reward structures to sweeten your recognition systems. For example, personalized thank you notes or emails are a great gesture. In addition, consider using leaderboards where ambassadors can see how their performance stacks up. If you go this route, be sure to publicly recognize top performers with spotlights, and give them added incentives.
7. Screening potential ambassadors
How will you screen and select potential ambassadors? It’s worth taking some time to decide your must-have, good-to-have, and/or optional brand ambassador skills and qualities. Ask yourself, what would make an ideal brand ambassador for your program? Make sure that every ambassador is a good fit with your brand values. The ideal candidate should also be a brand and relationship fit, someone with whom you could potentially engage for the long term.
In terms of numbers, maybe you’re looking for a minimum amount of followers, impressions or engagement? Also, review their follower base to research the type of audience they have. Is their audience a match to your target audience?
Next, you want to look at experience. If you’re not picky about the experience they have, you’ll want to chat with a potential ambassador to see if they have the potential and are trainable. If not, look for specific expertise in promoting brands or working at events, and find out what results they’ve been able to deliver for those brands.
You could research if potential brand ambassadors have promoted your brand on their own before, in an informal way. It’s a good indication that they’re already fans or loyal customers, who will authentically share their love for your brand.
Once you have a rough plan of how you want to go about your screening, figure out how you’re going to set up your selection process, including the questions you’ll ask ambassadors and how many ambassadors you aim to recruit. One option to consider is using any of the free tools that are available online to set up a screening questionnaire with a sharable link. In this case, you’ll ask all applicants the same questions via the questionnaire and shortlist candidates based on their responses. You can also choose to meet your candidates through online meetings before finalizing your choices.
8. Finding potential ambassadors
Brainstorm and finalize how you’ll find your potential brand ambassadors. You’ll be developing a plan to recruit the ideal people to promote your brand.
If you’re a small business, it may be better to hunt for potential candidates yourself. One way to do this is to review your customer database and look up their social media profiles. See who’s been raving about you and appears to have influence in their circle. Another option, somewhat similar to this, is to look up brand hashtags and identify potential influencers.
You could also leverage software and use databases to find more candidates. For instance, you could use a brand mention software that does the legwork of finding out who’s been talking about you or your brand online. You could also use pre-vetted influencer and ambassador databases available online that share information on their reach and engagement.
If you’re reasonably well established, you may want to consider setting up an application process online for potential ambassadors to apply if they have an interest. The content that leads into your form should provide everything a candidate would want to know before applying. Talk about your brand, what’s on offer, how and when they can expect to get paid, and other important information. If you have specific requirements for your ambassadors, make that clear on your invite. Remember to make the invitation enticing and exciting so more people will want to apply.
9. Recruiting ambassadors
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to find your ambassadors, the next step is deciding how you’re going to recruit them. Aside from using your application form, think about how you will invite and entice your top-pick prospective ambassadors to join your program.
- How will you contact them, whether that’s via a brand ambassador outreach email, social media, Zoom, or other channels?
- What will you say to them that will convince them to sign on?
- How will you reward them in return for promoting you?
Here’s one example of what you could tell them in your initial message: