Brand ambassadors and loyalty referral programs are a great way to improve the relationships between your business and customers while simultaneously boosting sales and increasing brand awareness. In a cost-effective marketing strategy, using brand ambassadors and referral programs can not only help grow your business but also build trust, loyalty, and a sense of community between you and your consumers. Let’s dive into how introducing brand ambassadors and loyalty referral programs can improve your business.
What Is a Brand Ambassador?
Brand ambassadors are often considered and commonly referred to as the “face” of a business. Their responsibility is to represent a company and use their platforms to promote products and services to increase awareness and boost sales. Ambassadors use promotional strategies to draw the attention of their like-minded followers to a business, transforming viewers into purchasers.
Though brand ambassadors don’t necessarily need to be influencers, they typically have established networks and strong relationships with their following to successfully promote a brand through Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and other platforms. Often, these ambassadors are incredibly skilled in and savvy with social media, and they are referred to as “micro-influencers.” Though they may not have as large of a following as influencers, they can still successfully market to their like-minded following and build a strong sense of customer loyalty.
Brand ambassadors are also different from influencers in that they are not always hired by a company to promote their business or products; ambassadors can simply be customers who are passionate about a company.
Brand Ambassadors’ Impact on Businesses
Brand ambassadors can significantly impact a business’s performance, first and foremost, because they increase brand awareness while simultaneously building trust among customers. A fundamental part of being an ambassador is incorporating promotional strategies into their posts to establish a trustworthy customer service relationship. They provide a level of trust between their followers (potential customers) and a business, as their marketing efforts reflect that they shop at and support this brand – and have had a positive experience with their products or services.
Around 84% of customers trust to purchase products and services recommended by people they “know” instead of ads and advertising campaigns. Because of this, customers are much more likely to purchase from a brand that is endorsed by someone influential they follow. As a result, brand ambassadors can significantly boost sales by converting their followers into purchasers. A major reason for this is that they ensure that the brand they represent reaches the right customers; people who would have an interest in or a need for a brand’s products or services.
Ambassadors can also help prevent the circulation of bad press since one of the most important parts of a brand ambassador’s job is to paint the brand they represent positively. All brands will face criticism or negative commentary, which, unfortunately, can hurt sales and customer-to-business relationships. Brand ambassadors, in this case, can use their platforms to defend a business against negative reviews, comments, or public perceptions. They, essentially, address and suppress any negative attention by re-orienting the narrative from their positive experiences engaging with a brand.
When it comes to building a sense of community, ambassadors can introduce a brand to a niche group of individuals who are often like-minded and have a shared interest/need for their products or services. Because they function as the voice of a business, they attract, introduce, and invite customers to a greater community of consumers in a personable and friendly way.
Brand ambassadors can be much more cost-efficient when compared to other means of marketing strategies and campaigns. Oftentimes, ambassadors will accept free products, promotions, and special offers and discounts as compensation for their work. As a result, outsourcing them may end up saving your business time, money, and resources.
How to Choose a Brand Ambassador?
An ideal brand ambassador should be someone who is somewhat influential online and skilled in social media. The reach of their network and ability to navigate social media platforms will determine how successfully they promote your brand’s products or services.
The ideal brand ambassador should also be someone who shops at and is passionate about your brand. More and more, brands are encouraging their customers to become ambassadors.
Loyalty and Referral Programs for Lead Generation Marketing
Loyalty and referral programs offer customers rewards for their loyalty to the business with the goal of enticing purchasers to buy more so they can earn more. Like brand ambassadors, loyalty and referral programs help build a strong connection and relationship of trust between consumers and businesses. However, these two programs have a few key differences that are important to note.
Loyalty programs are offered to returning customers to encourage repeat purchases and long-term loyalty to a brand by providing rewards and incentives to continue shopping (free gifts, discounts, points to put toward future purchases, etc.). In fact, there are six types of loyalty programs:
- Point-based. As the customer shops, they earn points that they can put towards discounts on future purchases or free products.
- Tiered. The program begins by offering smaller rewards that increase in value as a repeat customer continues to purchase.
- Paid. The customer will usually pay a one-time fee for something like free shipping on all future orders.
- Value-based. This program is dependent on and oriented toward a target audience, functioning to show loyal customers your program offers value in unique ways (besides free shipping, free gifts, and discounts).
- Coalition. This loyalty program is best for companies who have existing partnerships, as their rewards are provided by the partnered brand.
- Game-based. These loyalty rewards come in the form of sweepstakes, contests, or giveaways.
Referral programs are a completely different strategy, and it’s important to not confuse them with loyalty programs. These encourage and incentivize customers to recommend a brand to people within their immediate circle (friends, family, followers, etc.) by offering them a reward in return. An example of this could be something like, “Refer a friend with your special code, and earn $5 off your next purchase.” This is also known as “word of mouth” marketing.
The strategy behind referral programs is to use previous happy customers who enjoyed a product or service to share this with others and benefit from doing so. Simultaneously, referral programs strive to keep these happy customers shopping and purchasing with your brand by incentivizing them with an offer that will make them want to purchase from you again.
Essentially, a previous customer becomes an advocate for your brand through incentives like gift cards, discounts, free products, or credits for future purchases. Actually, referral marketing was rated the most effective strategy for marketers at every stage of the sales funnel. This is because new customers earned by a referral already have trust in your brand since it is coming from someone they know and accredit. Statistically, 92% of consumers will trust recommendations over traditional advertising methods. Some websites even saw an increase in conversion rates from referrals from 2.4% in 2018 to 3% in 2019, making this the highest-converting customer acquisition channel.
While loyalty and referral programs may be much more small-scale compared to the work of a brand ambassador, they serve a couple of purposes. First, they reward the loyalty of returning customers and strengthen the relationship between them and the brand. They also function to reach new audiences and potential new customers. Like the work of brand ambassadors, the goal is ultimately to increase awareness and boost sales.
No One Does Marketing Like ZGM
Navigating digital advocacy initiatives can be tricky, and it can be hard to understand which strategy is best for your brand. At Zero Gravity Marketing, our expert team is skilled in digital advocacy initiatives and understands how to implement these resources and strategies to grow your brand. Contact ZGM today to learn more about how we can help your business optimize marketing strategies to increase awareness and boost sales amongst your consumers.