Since the take-off of social media marketing, affiliate and ambassador programs have seen significantly increased publicity. It can be extremely beneficial for a brand to incorporate these types of influencer marketing. These methods of social media marketing involve recruiting influencers to post about your brand in exchange for compensation such as commission, a discount code or free product to use in posts. There can be different requirements or guidelines for the program based on specific brand needs.
Given that there's often some overlap with these two marketing processes, it can be a little confusing. How do you decide whether you should implement an affiliate or ambassador program? Let’s break down some of the differences, as well as the pros and cons of each of these programs.
What Are Affiliate Programs and Ambassador Programs?
Let’s start by reviewing the differences between affiliate programs and ambassador programs. An affiliate program is a collection of people who market your products in return for a commission when a product sells. There is no up-front payment. The affiliates make money only when they convert a lead. Companies that have affiliate programs use trackable links to monitor sales and pay commissions. Affiliates may pay for ads or set up sales pages for the products they promote to make sales. By contrast, ambassador programs do not pay commission. They may pay an up-front fee or reward brand ambassadors with free products, gifts or inside access to special events. Brand ambassadors can be loyal customers or influencers. Ideally, they are people who genuinely love your products and want to talk about them on social media or in person.
Affiliate programs can be very lucrative. One estimate says that up to 40% of Amazon’s massive annual sales revenue is the result of affiliate marketing. Here are some pros and cons to consider.
- You pay nothing to an affiliate unless they make sales. As a result, affiliate programs are cost-effective and a great way to expand your reach.
- Many affiliate marketers have lots of experience and can help spread the word about your products.
- Affiliate programs make it easy to attract new customers.
- You may not have much control over the quality of an affiliate’s marketing efforts, and poorly written reviews and websites can tarnish your brand’s reputation if you’re not careful.
- The customers affiliates attract may not be quality customers, in the sense that they may not turn into repeat customers.
- You’ll have to monitor affiliates’ performance and pay commission in a timely manner.
- Recruiting affiliates can be time consuming
The key to running an effective affiliate program is to vet your affiliates carefully and do what you can to maintain the integrity of your brand.
Like affiliate programs, ambassador programs can be very helpful for your brand. Here are the pros and cons to keep in mind before starting one.
- Ambassadors help put a human face on your brand and may make it easier for people to connect with you and become regular customers.
- You can have more control over the type of content you want them to produce.
- There is more flexibility when it comes to compensating the brand ambassadors (i.e. you can compensate in the form of product, discount, or monetarily)
- If an ambassador misbehaves or has a scandal, their tarnished image may end up affecting yours.
- When an ambassador isn’t a good fit for your brand, the expense may not actually be worth it.
- Recruiting and managing brand ambassador programs are time consuming.
If you want to run an ambassador program, make sure to vet ambassadors carefully to ensure that their followers are likely to become customers. Also, make sure that you put together a detailed document that outlines the requirements of the brand ambassadors and how your program works.
Keep in mind that you can also combine affiliate programs and ambassador programs to create more upside for your ambassadors. If you want to learn more about how Statusphere can help you start finding brand ambassadors and affiliates, click here.