You spend weeks (if not months) finding the best brand ambassadors. But your job isn’t over yet. Managing ambassador relationships is crucial for retaining ambassadors and getting a positive ROI on your ambassador program.
After all, creators can rarely commit to more than 1-2, maybe 3 ambassador programs at once. You need to make sure you’re the best choice for their creator business.
Without good management, even if your brand ambassadors don’t churn, you aren’t able to scale your efforts. The more ambassadors you onboard, the heavier your admin load gets.
In this article, I’ll share tips for managing brand ambassadors effectively and improving your relationship with them.
The 3 core aspects of managing brand ambassadors
Keeping your brand ambassadors happy boils down to three things:
1. Keeping your ambassadors engaged and active so they become your brand partners for the long haul
2. Getting the best out of your best ambassadors to improve the ROI of your brand ambassador program
3. Improving your team’s efficiency so you can scale and collaborate with more brand ambassadors without burning out or compromising quality
Let’s explore what you can do to tackle the above pointers.
5 ways to keep your brand ambassadors engaged and active
Often, brand ambassadors start with a bang and shimmy down to a bare minimum, lackluster performance. It’s avoidable by following these five practices:
1: Add a flat fee on top of commissions
Commissions alone might not be good enough for ambassadors to put their best foot forward. Why? When you compensate ambassadors only for the sales they bring in, brand ambassadors bear the risk of not getting a single penny out of the content they spent hours creating. Adding a flat fee reduces this risk and incentivizes brand ambassadors to get “extra” money in commissions.
No wonder 53% of respondents in our survey use a mixture of flat fees and performance-based commissions.
If paying a flat fee for every type of collaboration isn’t feasible for you, pay an activation fee to kickoff the partnership. Pay only performance-based from there.
Tanja Milicevic, Affiliate Manager at Donnerberg, did this: she paid YouTubers a flat rate for a single video and offered additional performance-based commissions on top. The result? She onboarded the creator of the YouTube channel Fisiolution, with over one million subscribers.
After the first video was successful, ambassadors were motivated & continued to mention Donnerberg afterwards for performance-based compensation (no further flat fees).
But while a wad of cash is the best reward for your ambassadors (nothing else pays the bills), it’s not the only choice.
2: Provide free merchandise and event invites to your ambassadors
While creating your brand ambassador program, evaluate if you can send free products to brand ambassadors every month without breaking the bank.
If you sell items like jewelry or food or skincare, providing free products is an excellent choice to keep your brand ambassadors happy. Sixty percent of marketers in our study do it. But what if you sell a pricey, high-value, or luxury item? You can’t afford to ship your product away for free to many brand ambassadors.
Look for other incentives that’d be useful for your ambassadors, like:
- Store discounts for friends & family
- First dibs on newly launched products
- Exposure via your brand’s social media & newsletter
According to 35+ marketers we interviewed, invite to communities or events (40%) and access to limited edition or exclusive products (23.3%) are popular non-monetary choices for incentivizing brand ambassadors.
The cherry on top for invitation to company events: your ambassadors will post about it on social media — increasing the buzz around your brand.
For example, Sweden beauty brand, Löwengrip, invited its ambassadors to test their new products and provide feedback.
⚡Pro-tip: remind brand ambassadors of these benefits when communicating with them. It’s easy to forget to encash a discount code or an invite to an exclusive event.
3: Set up contractual obligations
The easiest way to keep your brand ambassadors engaged is to build obligations inside your brand ambassador program.
For example, ProtoPie requires its brand ambassadors to commit to a posting cadence and follow its code of conduct.
It also highlights that brand ambassadors who don’t meet these requirements will lose their status as ProtoPie ambassadors.
Regularly engaging with your brand and its products keeps your company top-of-mind for ambassadors. It also helps you weed out the ambassadors who are flaky or aren’t truly committed to your brand.
You can mix this pointer with the first one and offer a flat fee in exchange for a minimum amount of content or activity. Even if you provide other incentives, you can set up obligations for brand ambassadors to meet if they want to remain a part of your ambassador program.
4: Create an ambassador group or newsletter
Find a way to communicate with all your ambassadors in bulk. This can be a Slack group, an email newsletter, an Instagram group chat — anything. The critical bit is carving a way to stay in touch with your brand ambassadors.
Regularly communicating will ensure brand ambassadors stay engaged and have a place to brainstorm ideas or ask questions.
KodeKloud also highlights how ambassadors can use this Slack channel to create an impact.
If you create an online group of your brand ambassadors, you also open them up to meet other like-minded ambassadors. A community can act as an attractive magnet and encourage ambassadors to show up regularly. This positive review of a Bumble ambassador is proof:
Other things you can communicate via your ambassador group:
- Announcements like new product launches or upcoming events
- Highlighting top-performing posts from a month
- Sharing tips & resources to help ambassadors
5: Pay ambassadors on time and communicate regularly
It may sound trite, but half of keeping your ambassadors happy is getting the basics right:
- Pay them seamlessly and on time
- Ask them about their life, learn their goals, and help however you can
- Answer any questions they have promptly to enable them to do their best work
Being an easy-to-work-with client for your brand ambassador is the simplest way to stay in their good books. If their messages go unread, payments come late, and work doesn’t get recognized — they’ll churn the minute they find a comparable offer.
Set systems in place to ensure a smooth workflow before you start onboarding ambassadors. Don’t give your ambassadors a chance to complain. Reputation tarnishes fast.
Pro tip 💰: When you're managing hundreds of ambassadors, the volume of invoices your finance team handle becomes overwhelming. Leading to late payments & creators complaining. You can avoid all of that with an influencer payments platform. It makes sure creators are paid on time & in their preferred currency.
5 ideas to get the best out of your ambassadors
Brand ambassadors are experts at what they do. But that doesn’t mean they can’t use your help. Enabling your ambassadors to do their best work should be a non-negotiable part of your influencer marketing strategy. Here are five ideas on how to do that:
1: Create ambassador challenges or multiple tiers of commission
Ambassador challenges hit two birds with one stone:
- They help you recognize and appreciate your top performers
- They incentivize your low-performing brand ambassadors to do better
Take Deeper Sonars. They have several tiers for their brand ambassadors. It starts as a “newcomer” with limited benefits and scales up to “expert” with the most exclusive benefits. The discount voucher percentage also increases as you move up the tiers.
They also take it a step further and do monthly challenges with their ambassadors to keep them entertained and on their toes.
And Deeper Sonars isn’t alone: in our survey, 52% of marketers have multiple commission tiers to reward their top performers. It’s a clear incentive for any brand ambassador to improve their performance. You can replicate the same thing by offering a $XXX bonus for every milestone. Or send expensive products like Pura Vida.
You can get creative with ambassador incentives. Here are a few ideas:
- Have a “sales leaderboard” where other ambassadors can see who’s performing the best — via a newsletter, their dashboard, or any place you run your ambassador community.
- Put a spotlight on ambassadors performing exceptionally well on social media or your brand ambassador community.
- Setting personal sales goals for each ambassador on their dashboard — like “aim to sell five products in your first week and get [XXX] reward” and giving a reward (like a free product) in return.
- Having a seasonal sales contest. Incentivize creators with exclusive offers around the holiday season or any major day or event — like “the brand ambassador who sells the most on Mother’s Day earns an extra $200.”
Think of incentives that are redeemable in the long-run. For example, “after one year of being our ambassador, you get a bonus of $500 and XYZ products.” If an ambassador knows you will be a source of their income for a long time, it takes a lot of stress off their mind and helps you avoid disengaged or inactive ambassadors.
2: Help them flourish in their business
Brand ambassadors are running a business of their own. One of the best ways to keep ambassadors motivated is to help them move the needle toward their career goals.
It doesn’t have to be extreme:
- Share their posts on your social media account
- Introduce them to someone you know who could benefit from their services
- Help them improve their skills by connecting them with in-house social media experts
For example, 1st Phorm provides its ambassadors with access to their marketing team and 1:1 coaching to help its ambassadors build a personal brand.
You can also simply ask your ambassadors, “What are your business goals for this quarter? How can I help you achieve them?”
They’ll appreciate the gesture and might share ideas on how you can chime in. You can use ideas from one ambassador to help another one of your ambassadors too.
3: Provide content feedback and performance metrics
Brand ambassadors have a lot of plates spinning at once — which can make it difficult for them to continually come up with fresh ideas and stay on-brand. What if you helped brand ambassadors by providing actionable feedback?
Beauty brand CharlotteTilbury’s ambassadors get real-time performance tracking and reporting to help them understand how their posts are performing.
You can replicate this by sharing performance metrics. But go the extra mile and also provide as much feedback as you can on individual ambassador posts — which post is doing the best? Why do you think it clicks? Which posts aren’t performing as well? What could be improved to boost conversions? This feedback can be brand-specific or generic:
- If you notice an ambassador using a word or phrasing your brand avoids (or says differently), point that out for them so they can avoid it in the future.
- If you think the lighting is off on a post or the video copy isn’t enticing enough, offer improvement pointers to help your ambassadors sharpen their content creation skills.
When you go the extra mile by investing the time in providing feedback, your ambassadors learn more about your brand and expectations. And the longer you work together, the less feedback they need to stay aligned with your brand voice.
4: Create thorough briefs
Whenever you ask an ambassador to post about you, provide them with a thorough creative brief. Share details on what they should write in the caption, how they should display the paid partnership label, shooting tips, words to avoid, and anything else they might find useful.
Handing in a thorough brief every time ensures no nasty surprises and a post that aligns with your expectations. It reduces errors and edits on the ambassador’s end, decreasing the back-and-forth communication to land on an ideal post.
⚠️ Remember: thorough briefs should provide any and every information an ambassador might need. But that doesn’t translate to limiting an ambassador’s creative freedom. Have loose guidelines and give them the power to execute however they see fit — they know their audience the best.
5: Move beyond transactional relationships
Building great relationships isn’t only about doing the transactional stuff right — it’s moving beyond that realm and forging a personal connection with the individual.
- What are they struggling with?
- What do ambassadors care about?
- What does their day-to-day life look like?
Knowing the answers to these questions is vital for strengthening the bond between you and the ambassador.
Whether it’s meeting for a coffee in-person or sending them a special gift on their birthday, focus on creating a positive experience for your ambassadors.
Take Freeletics. They have a dedicated “Meet our ambassadors” page with each ambassador’s story and Q&A. This isn’t the kind of relationship you build by collaborating on a few posts; it’s a strong bond between the brand and the individual.
Be easy to talk to, ask tidbits from their life, and remember there’s a human at the other end of every interaction. The more a creator likes you, the more excited they’ll be to promote your products.
5 methods to improve your team’s efficiency
Managing ambassadors is no easy feat. As you scale, you should have systems in place to make your team’s job easier. Here are five things you can implement today to make your workflow more efficient:
1: Make brand assets and info easily accessible
Ambassadors will often need product images and details about your product. Instead of giving them individually each time, host them on the ambassador dashboard or a separate website. This makes all the assets easily accessible without the back-and-forth communication with your team members.
Having these resources readily available speeds up the process for your team and your brand ambassadors.
You can also link to these brand assets in your creative briefs. Notice what your ambassador partners frequently ask for. Have one place to host all those resources.
2: Have an FAQs section to answer commonly asked questions
During onboarding, an ambassador will have many questions. How do they sign up to be a part of the Slack channel? How do they get paid? How is their commission calculated? The list goes on.
Have an FAQ section on your ambassador landing page and a separate FAQ list for the questions after onboarding, if required.
AdoreMe’s ambassador landing page is an A+ example. Not only does it have an FAQ list, it’s sorted in various categories.
Having an FAQ section means your team won’t have to answer these questions repeatedly each time a new ambassador comes on board. Your ambassadors will also be impressed because you’ve anticipated their questions and answered them before they even had a chance to ask you.
⚡ Pro-tip: the FAQ list isn’t a one-and-done deal. It needs to be updated as you scale and evolve your ambassador program. Your commission payouts or payment methods might change, and your FAQ section should reflect that to avoid confusion. And as you find new (but similar) questions popping up, add them to your FAQ list.
3: Automate content tracking
What task has the biggest slice of her team’s time? Monitoring ambassador content and providing feedback. And it’s no surprise: keeping track of ambassadors’ posts is easy when you have a handful of ambassadors posting a few times every week. But as you grow, content tracking manually becomes exponentially difficult.
As you scale, you can’t do it all alone as a small team. You have to use a software to increase your efficiency.
That’s what Deeper Sonars did when they started using Modash. It has an influencer monitoring platform for tracking all your influencer posts automatically — doesn’t matter if you have ten ambassadors or 100.
When all your ambassadors’ posts are collated in one dashboard, it’s easy to:
- Report on ambassador performance
- Grab ambassador posts for repurposing
- Identify your top-performing ambassadors
- Ensure all ambassadors are duly highlighting ad disclosure
Automating content tracking is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce the weight of your to-do list. Try Modash for free and see for yourself.
4: Have templates for everything
Running a brand ambassador program requires a lot of documentation. You have contracts to build, briefs to fill, and KPIs to monitor.
Templates can make preparing documents much faster. You only have to grab a template and fill it for your use case — something that’d take you half the time than it’d take building each document from scratch every time.
Here are some things you should have templates for to speed up ambassador onboarding:
- Instructions on using promo codes or discount links
- Guidelines on how performance is measured
- Examples of successful posts
- Ambassador contracts
- Ambassador briefs
- Welcome message
- Brand guidelines
Do this today: write down every single thing you need to do after onboarding an influencer. Find places where you can automate or templatize the process to become more efficient.
5: Communicate in bulk to share announcements
All your ambassadors need to know about product launches, company events, and changes to the ambassador program. Communicating about these things individually with each ambassador takes a lot of time and energy that your team can use on other things.
Use your ambassador group or a newsletter to share these announcements in bulk with all ambassadors in a single go. If you’re using a public group, ambassadors can also ask any questions in the same forum and your team can avoid answering that follow-up question again from other ambassadors.
Relationships are everything
You can ace finding the crème de la crème of brand ambassadors and your ambassador program will still flop if your creator relationships are sour. Invest time in managing relationships with your ambassadors and providing them with the best experience possible.
Pick any of the tactics from the above list and start implementing them. Layer more methods as you gain confidence; soon enough, you’ll be spending less time and getting better results from your ambassador program.