This blog post combines two top marketing strategies today: referral marketing and brand ambassador programs.
If you’re not familiar with brand ambassador programs, they are a type of customer loyalty program with benefits for everyone involved. To start, they establish long-term relationships with your best customers and build brand trust and credibility. They also generate positive buzz about your brand in the form of user-generated content and reviews.
When you combine a brand ambassador program with other kinds of marketing strategies, you see even more powerful results.
This guide shows how you can leverage referral marketing for maximum exposure while boosting your brand ambassador program at the same time!
What Is Referral Marketing?
These days, consumers are tired of being bombarded with in-your-face ads and banners. Although ads perform well, especially when implemented correctly, they do not always give the best user experience. According to a CMO survey, 74 percent of people think there are too many ads, and among people 35 and older, 51 percent find ads irrelevant to their wants and needs.
The point is, consumers listen to the people they know and trust, including family, friends, and others in their networks, such as those they follow on social media.
This brings us to the power of referral marketing — a strategy that leverages advocates and passionate customers to refer their network to your brand. This strategy gives brands the means to manage and scale the organic nature of referrals, benefiting from a consistent stream of high-quality, authentic referrals.
A solid referral marketing strategy can drive new customers and significantly increase brand awareness while supporting ambassadors when done right. Although there are different ways to build referral programs, the most successful brands automate this process using an all-one brand ambassador management platform.
Brand Ambassadors Fuel Referral Marketing
As Scott Bedbury, an American branding consultant and coach, said, “A brand is a story that is always being told.”
How others perceive a brand will directly influence the company’s reputation and revenue, based on what consumers say. When brands harness this power, everyone wins — both the brand and its ambassadors.
After all, when someone loves something, they talk about it and those who remain loyal to a brand should be rewarded.
Whether you recently stayed in an incredible Airbnb, enjoyed a new local restaurant or purchased a product you can’t get enough of, you naturally bring it up in conversation. You act as an ambassador for that company or brand — and that’s why this approach is so powerful. Word of mouth travels fast.
That is why a well-managed brand ambassador program is so beneficial. By rewarding loyal customers for their support, brands build a network of satisfied consumers to speak on their behalf. When brands nurture their relationships with their most valuable customers, they develop a mutually beneficial relationship.
The Difference Between a Referral Code and Discount Code
It’s important to differentiate between referral and discount codes before diving into how referral codes can be shared across various networks.
- A discount code is a code that unlocks discounts for brand ambassadors and is set up for multiple uses. For example, an ambassador will be given a custom code to shop with the brand they represent. This code will typically represent a discount of the brand’s choosing, such as 20 percent off. However, loyalty programs vary and so do the rewards.
- A referral code is a unique code that each brand ambassador gets. No two ambassadors will have the same code. Ambassadors are encouraged to promote this code. These codes fuels sales for your brand and in return, the ambassador earns commission from their unique code’s sales.
So, the main perks of being an ambassador are discounts on products they purchase and the potential to earn money when they successfully get people within their network to make a purchase using their personalized referral code or link.
Many industries benefit from sharing referral codes with ambassadors, especially online brands and eCommerce businesses. From fashion to food, fitness to travel, online brands are investing heavily in referral campaigns—and for a good reason! However, referral programs are now popping up across industries ranging from hotels and restaurants to car rental brands.
Where to Share Referral Codes as a Brand Ambassador
So, once an ambassador has a referral code — now what? Where do they share that code?
An Ambassador’s Instagram Bio
You likely see this all the time when you visit Instagram profiles. People become ambassadors for brands that align with their values or lifestyle every day. Then, they showcase the relationship in their bio. By adding a referral code to their bio, they vouch for the brand and encourage their network to become customers themselves.
A prime example is Skirt Sports. This women’s apparel brand always makes customers feel welcome, no matter who they are or where they come from. In the beginning, their ambassador program consisted of a few super fans and bloggers. They now have hundreds of dedicated ambassadors and even host an annual ambassador weekend retreat.
Ambassadors are proud to be a part of this community, showcasing their involvement in their Instagram bios. As an ambassador, anyone who follows you or finds your profile based on your posts and hashtags will see the referral code. It’s an excellent way for consumers to support brands that care about their community.
Anyone can be a YouTube product reviewer or start a YouTube channel. Based on the increasing popularity of video, many brands seek those willing to promote their products/services with their viewers.
Izzy and Liv is one such brand, seeking confident, stylish, inspiring women to join their #ILSquad as a #BrownSugarBabe. By spreading the word on YouTube, ambassadors earn free products and receive discounts. With their referral program, friends or viewers get a $5 coupon and, once they make a purchase, ambassador gets a $5 off coupon as well.
As an ambassador, you could review your top ten favorite products right now, recommending clothing, accessories, beauty products or home decor products from Izzy and Liv. Your viewers follow your channel for a reason — they like what you like! Be honest and transparent. Then, those looking to purchase the type of products you recommend will use the code you provide.
In September 2021, TikTok reached one billion monthly active users across 150+ countries globally. That is no small feat.
Being an excellent place for ambassadors to share their appreciation for the brands they love, TikTok leverages the power of video — but, unlike YouTube, it is designed for mobile devices. Also, instead of long videos, TikTok is all about short bursts of action. Anyone with an engaging personality and something to say can rapidly grow a following on TikTok. Engagement rates are high on TikTok, which is excellent for both ambassadors and the brands they support.
Kaged Muscle is an exceptional example of how a well-managed ambassador program can build a community that drives sales and supports a brand’s greatest fans. Kaged Ambassador focuses on social media channels, including Facebook. With 70,000+ active members in the brand’s Facebook Group and 400 ambassadors, Kaged Muscle brings in more than $10,000 a month in referral sales.
The Kaged Muscle ambassador program caters to fitness gurus, health nuts, gym rats and those who want to make a difference in the fitness industry. Unlike influencer programs, which often require you to have a large following, ambassador programs, such as the one offered by Kaged Muscle, focus more on authentic individuals who collectively make a difference. Tristan is one such ambassador. He shares his unique code on Facebook, allowing his followers to receive 15 percent off their orders.
Bloggers continue to seek out ambassador referral programs because they provide opportunities to make continuous income based on the types of targeted posts they publish. These ambassadors effectively recommend products they love without being overly pushy. Again, it’s all about being transparent and authentic. Referrals links can be included within the content, so if a reader makes a purchase, they will be compensated.
Inner Fire is just one brand that has focused on blogging within its ambassador program. This eco-friendly clothing brand earns $12,000+ in monthly referral sales across social media, Amazon reviews and blogging.
A referral program often goes hand-in-hand with email marketing.
As an ambassador, you don’t need thousands of subscribers to make money. The key is attracting subscribers that trust you and your recommendations.
Perhaps you have built a successful online podcast or coaching business. If so, you may have a fairly impressive subscription email list in terms of conversion rates. As a brand ambassador, you can share your referral code with your subscribers, incorporating your unique code or link in your monthly email.
Mailchimp shared several brands who nailed this strategy, attracting ambassadors that fueled their growth. In exchange, ambassadors received rewards, such as free storage provided by Dropbox and a range of rewards offered by Harry’s, the shaving brand.
How BrandChamp Can Help
Ready to take your brand ambassador program to the next level?
If so, BrandChamp can help you boost referral sales and increase brand awareness. Our platform is compatible with all kinds of marketing programs, including hybrid programs and multiple programs.