How to Start an Ambassador Program for an Outdoor eCommerce Business
Do you want to know how to start an ambassador program for your e-commerce business?
If you have an outdoor e-commerce business struggling to generate sales, it might be because you lack a community. A community of loyal fans will significantly impact sales, especially when you release offers and new product lines.
One of the best ways to quickly build a community is to start an ambassador program for your business. Ambassadors are like having marketing employees who work for very little. You do have to give to make being an ambassador special, but the rewards you reap in the end make it worth it again and again.
But the common question is when and how do you start an ambassador program? In this guide, I will show you all the basics (and some advanced stuff) on how to start an ambassador program for your outdoor e-commerce business today.
Why Start an Ambassador Program for your Business?
As I said above, it’s like having a marketing team who works for very little.
Generally speaking, those invited to ambassador programs understand what will be expected of them. They are to promote your business and products while getting something special.
Many people chosen as brand ambassadors are social influencers in some way or another. They often promote your product to their fans and followers.
So, it’s important to create a set of guidelines and requirements to be an ambassador of your business.
You want to ensure your ambassadors fully understand the commitment you require them to undertake. You shouldn’t ask for the moon, but asking them to be fairly active is okay.
But with that being said, you have to make sure the benefits and rewards of being an ambassador of your brand make it worth being active for.
After you start an ambassador program for your brand, your market exposure could significantly increase without you having to do any of the work aside from keeping your community satisfied.
When to Start an Ambassador Program?
Don’t do it right away.
If you’re starting a new business, try to focus on building a brand and reputation in your industry.
After making your first sales, pay attention to who is buying your product and if they’re openly discussing it on social media. One thing I recommend doing is adding Google Email Alerts using your company and product names. If someone mentions them online, you’ll get an email with a link to where it was mentioned.
You can also subscribe to hashtags on many social media sites or search for these keywords that are directly related to your business and products.
The customers who are promoting you are the ones you should keep an eye on. These will be potential first ambassadors of your upcoming ambassador program. Thank them openly in public, follow their social media pages, and start to develop a friendship with these people. It’s how you build a loyal community.
Now make sure you aren’t being selective over vanity metrics. What I mean by this is if you choose to engage with “Joe” because he has 10,000 followers but not “Jane” because she only has 100 followers, but both Joe and Jane promote your products constantly, then you’re doing it the wrong way. You should engage with both and consider both future ambassadors. It shows you care about all of your customers.
The best time to launch your program is when you’ve observed about 5 to 10 of these potential ambassadors and your sales are steady enough that you’re making a profit.
What to Offer, What to Require, How to Measure
When you start an ambassador program for your brand, offering the right benefits is important; otherwise, you might not get any interest.
If you can afford it, the best thing to do is offer your product for free.
Give your ambassador a cycling kit if you’re a cycling apparel company. If you’re a hiking backpack company, give each one a backpack. It will be even more special if you make products for ambassadors and give them out. If that cycling kit or backpack has “ambassador” printed on it, it will be special because it’s unique and limited.
If you can’t afford it, give generous discounts on your product for the life of their role as an ambassador. I would try to offer more or at least 50% off. Try to give a discount that’s better than anything you offer regular customers. It’s going to make your ambassadors feel special.
Consider routine freebies and/or extra discounts. Some companies send welcome boxes with all sorts of goodies. This is why I suggest you start an ambassador program when you’re making sales and earning a profit because it’ll be easier to do things like this.
Another benefit is to showcase your ambassadors. Post about each one on social media and promote their social links and projects. Make a special page on your website that shows photos of your ambassadors and some bio details with links to their socials.
And you should also create events, whether in-person or virtual. The events should be geared to get ambassadors together to have fun and get to know each other. Some ambassadors might collaborate and share your product, which is a good kind of exposure for your brands.
Then there are requirements.
You have to have requirements. You need to require a certain amount of activity and type of activity. You need to require ambassadors to continue engaging with you and other program ambassadors. Everyone needs a common way to communicate and engage.
I suggest you or someone else is the dedicated coordinator for the ambassador program. This person is going to have to give ambassadors a lot of attention. They will help keep the group actively involved, and they can monitor each ambassador to ensure they’re giving what is expected.
Most ambassador programs require ambassadors to be active at least a couple of times a month or once a week. Being active includes engaging with the brand and other ambassadors and the marketing side of what they must do.
The marketing side is promoting your brand, products, or specific campaigns. You’ll usually ask ambassadors to do this through social media.
And the best way to track this commitment is to do it through hashtags. Create a brand and campaign hashtag. Require ambassadors to post social media promotions for your campaigns using the one or two hashtags you’ve created and tagging your page.
Keeping this simple of the top social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube is good.
Then you can actively engage ambassadors participating in the campaign in a private area made just for them. Most brands are going with Slack or even a private Facebook group.
One thing to add – it’s good to “refresh” your ambassador program annually. This allows you to remove those who are not active, continue to work with those who are active, and recruit new people who are showing love for your brand and products. Sometimes you do have to let go of some less active people. It’s hard to do, but it has to happen.
And that’s the basics for starting an ambassador program for your outdoor e-commerce brand. I want to repeat that you must make your ambassadors feel special. If you do that, they’ll be the most loyal customers and people you’ll ever interact with. Word our mouth is still a powerful tactic in marketing. Following the advice above, you’ll have no problems getting more customers. If you need specific assistance forming your program, I offer coaching services. Contact me for more information and a free consultation. If you enjoyed this article and want to see more tips, follow me on Twitter.
About the Author
Shawn Gossman has created content, blogged, ran online communities, and shared a passion for digital marketing for over twenty years. Shawn believes the best way to help content creators, businesses, brands, and marketers is to give away more than you sell. The same advice is recommended for the readers that follow this blog. Shawn also offers a variety of services for extra help in the area of content creation, blogging, forums, and digital marketing. Learn more about Shawn Gossman by clicking here.
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