Marketing has always been a game of adaptation, especially in the digital age. Just when you get the hang of new ad features and algorithms - BAM! Something changes. And in 2021, that change was a doozy. Everyone working in digital marketing was affected by Apple's new iOS 14.5 update, which took away a lot of the data and control you have regarding who sees your ads.
Google is set to do something similar in 2024, meaning brands need to prepare. And fast.
The major updates regarding third-party data come as a huge win for consumers. With growing concerns about online privacy and how much information is given to companies, it's important to have easy-to-find options to control this. And that's exactly what Apple now offers in the way of an opt-in feature, requiring users to explicitly permit companies to track their interactions with advertisements.
While this is a great step in the way of privacy control, it does present a host of new challenges for brands that rely on digital marketing. But you're no stranger to a good challenge.
What the Death of Cookies Means for Advertisers
The iOS 14.5 update meant brands began flying blind in terms of targeting ads to many iOS users. With far less information on the demographics of those interacting with ads and no way to target specific demographics among those who opted out, it was back to the 'ole throwing-spaghetti-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks trick. But when you do this, you waste a lot of spaghetti (or in this case, resources like time and money).
It's always a good idea to diversify your approach to digital marketing. Enter brand ambassadors. Creating a community of ambassadors is not only an excellent form of marketing that can help you improve customer conversion and expand your social reach, but it provides a unique opportunity for brands to gain a collection of user-generated content while overcoming some of the new challenges caused by the death of cookies.
Here are 6 ways ambassador marketing can help you restrategise as privacy setting tighten.
1. Target Ideal Customers Using Any Device
One day you can easily track your customers' interactions with your ads, the next day, half of that data vanishes into oblivion. When someone who has opted out now clicks an ad, you are given limited information regarding their demographics, behaviours, and interests. This makes it increasingly harder to target content to your ideal customers without excluding iOS users entirely.
When android systems implement the same privacy controls in the future, the slight grasp of control brands have will slip further still.
By inviting your existing customers, followers, and fans to represent your brand, you control not only the representation but the audience as well. Just like Instagram-stalking an ex, you have the opportunity to inspect the followers of your potential ambassadors.
But don't just check your ambassadors' audiences! Make sure to investigate who is actually interacting with them as well. This will show you the demographics that are most likely to interact with, and consider, content your ambassadors create for your brand.
Having control over who is exposed to your brand is crucial to maintaining high levels of conversion. Ambassador marketing helps you regain a lot of this control.
2. Ambassador Content Is More Trusted Than Ads
People want to find products and brands they align with. But with the incredible amount of ads pushed on social media, consumers get wary. People join social media to connect with other people, get inspiration, and share pieces of themselves. But as of 2019, many users reported seeing as many as one ad for every three organic posts on Instagram. And not everyone is happy about that.
Ambassador marketing allows you to activate customers who already love your product. Your ambassador community should be made up of fans who are so enthusiastic about your brand that they've already been creating reviews and gushing about your products with their friends, family, and followers without incentive.
This authenticity builds trust around your brand. It's like a consistent flow of customer testimonials! Prospective customers love to hear about positive experiences that other consumers have had with your brand. Utilising your ambassadors also offers you the opportunity to provide their followers with exclusive discounts and giveaways, making conversion more likely.
Of course, this only works if your ambassadors are genuine, so it's important to avoid taking on ambassadors who are simply looking for a freebie.
3. You Can Track Interactions
An important feature of Facebook ads is the ability to track interactions with ads. Now, for anyone that has opted out of ad tracking, this feature has become quite limited and certain data points are lost.
With ambassador marketing, consumers are interacting with posts created by your ambassadors, not with ads. Because of this, you're still able to track interactions with ambassador posts. This not only includes actual sales, but comments, likes, and social reach as well.
This information is crucial to understanding what types of marketing campaigns are effective, what demographics are responding to content about your brand, and which of your ambassadors are providing you with the most value.
With Brandbassador's ambassador marketing platform, these insights are gathered for you, making it easy to track these interactions and use them to inform future ambassador marketing campaigns.
4. You Can Reallocate Time and Money
This one is HUGE for small businesses! While ambassador marketing isn't free (you've got to reward your ambassadors for their contributions), it does often provide a greater ROI than traditional ads. In fact, fashion and apparel company In God We Must has seen a 6-7 figure ROI since beginning their brand ambassador journey.
Ambassador marketing also gives you amazing user-generated content that you can reshare such as photos and videos without the costs of videographers, editors, models, actors, and more.
This means you have more money to devote to working out the new kinks in your paid-ads strategy caused by the loss of third-party data. For brands working with a smaller ad budget, this is a game-changer.
Ambassador marketing can also save you a lot of time if done correctly. Be aware that while manually managing your ambassador community is an option and can still produce excellent results, the larger your community grows, the more time consuming it becomes.
If you're interested in scaling your community without adding a huge time commitment, consider using an ambassador marketing management platform. These platforms offer brands a variety of tools and resources to help brand marketers communicate with and coordinate infinitely scaleable communities without sacrificing unreasonable amounts of time.
5. Ambassador Marketing has Unlimited Reach Potential
Reposting and sharing content is a massive aspect of social media culture. But people share content far more than they share ads. If your ambassadors' audience shares their content, your brand gains further reach. You even have the potential to go viral! Some brands have started using features on TikTok such as 'stitching' and 'dueting' to allow more people to add to their ambassadors' content. This allows for more dynamic engagement with posts, as well as the potential for increased reach.
Ta-Ta Towels' ambassador Emily Rainey created a video that resulted in 31.8 million views. With each viral video, the brand witnesses an explosion in sales, and over time, they've seen their ROI more than triple. Want to know more? See the magic that happens when .
6. Ambassador Marketing Allows for More Creativity
The amazing thing about ambassador marketing is that it doesn't just have to stick to social media. Yes, ambassador marketing can help you navigate the challenges that have sprung up from Apple's update, but more than that, it can transform your marketing across the board.
Many brands use ambassador marketing to get in-person buzz that they then expand to social media. For example, Daniel Wellington - a popular watch company - had their college-student ambassadors host on-campus scavenger hunts. While social media played a role in the campaign, it created a ton of offline noise as well.
In an incredible feat of word-of-mouth marketing, high-end leisurewear company Onepiece managed to get their products into a prestigious department store in London by activating their brand ambassadors offline.
Where To Next?
It's time to regroup and restrategise! As consumers become more distrustful of ads and are given more control over what information is given to advertisers, using paid advertisements becomes more costly, both in time and money. Brand marketers must begin considering other methods of building brand awareness and social buzz. If done right, ambassador marketing is an incredibly effective strategy for getting your brand in front of the people it would most benefit.
UGC cover image: @fitmander_ for IDEAL OF SWEDEN. Second image: @rebeccavandenhoek for PopSockets.