5 Tips to Boost Your Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales

In 2018, more than 174 million Americans shopped from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday and spent an average of $335 per person during that five-day period. Thanksgiving Day brought in $3.7 billion in online sales, Black Friday brought in $6.2 billion and Cyber Monday topped out at $7.9 billion. 

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How can you make sure your brand is getting a piece of these whopping sales numbers? Black Friday is a great opportunity for marketers from every business to get out in front of the holiday buying season and maximize profit. 

From eCommerce to concert promoters — brands should engage their ambassador teams to help drive sales and create more organic impressions.

This is the chance to really create buzz around your products and get early bird sales rolling before the end of the year. 

Here are five ways to get the most out of the biggest shopping holidays of the year by utilizing ambassadors:

  1. Harness the power of word of mouth – Referrals work, plain and simple. Get your ambassadors engaged and ready to promote your upcoming deals and products out to their friends.
  2. Save money – Because organic referrals have the lowest cost of acquisition and the highest LTV of any other marketing spend, why not utilize referrals during this time when ad rates are at their highest?
  3. Think different – With brands like LuluLemon – they didn’t use famous athletes, they hired elite local yoga instructors to be ambassadors so the brand could take on a hyper-local neighborhood feel. You don’t have to break the bank to run an ad campaign this time of year, think about your audience, and find a way to reach them.
  4. Find your advocates – These are the “diamond in the rough” consumers. Every brand has them. They will talk about you wherever, whenever, however and to whomever, both online and offline. Utilize your advocates to drive organic content & create the strongest referral sales conversions. 
  5. Amplify your socials – When you have your ambassadors create or engage with content on Instagram or Facebook through SocialLadder, that’s money that stays in your pocket, not the pockets of a tech giant.

 

 

Sources:

Forbes – “Every Result You Need To Know From Black Friday, Cyber Monday And The Holiday 2018 Season So Far”

Washington Post – “Black Friday’s not dead yet: 70 percent of American adults shopped Thanksgiving weekend”

What is an Ambassador?

The word ‘ambassador’ can mean a lot of different things to people. We’re going to break down the different types of ambassadors to help you identify the best strategies to get the most out of your word of mouth marketing strategies. 

What is an ambassador

 

1. Street Team

These are people who are paid to rep your brand in the real world primarily creating physical impressions. They’re doing things like hanging flyers, or passing out samples, or even hosting events. And they live 100% offline to drive awareness, which is why we’re completely integrated with Google Maps so you don’t lose track of your street teamers. 

2. City / College Reps

These are the key opinion leaders who you gain access to their circle of influence in the real world. They have some online presence, but are hyper-local and really help your brand develop a pulse in the real world, with REAL people. Building relationships with your reps is huge because they want to feel like they’re a real part of the team. 

3. Advocates

Your “diamond in the rough”  consumers. Every brand has them, and every brand should be tapping into them. They will talk about you wherever, whenever, however, and to whomever. Both online and offline. They’re your organic content drivers and generate the strongest referral sales conversions. 

4. Influencers

With this group, we start to move into the digital space. From nano to macro, these people have influence over a specific audience. 

5. Affiliates

Living 100% online, your affiliates typically have a broad audience and they use their platform to drive leads and referrals. Often getting paid per click or conversion, their main purpose is driving awareness to your brand.

Looking to boost referrals or simply learn more about the benefits of an ambassador program? Request a demo to see how SocialLadder can help you achieve your goals. 

 

5 Tips for Building a Campus Ambassador Program Without Losing the Human Touch

Looking to tap into the nearly $574B spending power that 21.4M college students have? With school back in session, college students are a great way to expand your brand’s footprint & discover a new crop of brand loyalists–the key to success is building a campus ambassador program.

Whether it’s flyering around the dorms, hosting events on campus, or driving social engagement, college ambassadors can help you increase brand awareness and sales with the target Gen Z audience.

 

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Check out some of our best tips & tricks for activating your brand on campuses.

1. Choose the Right People

Hiring students who are naturally motivated to talk about your brand to their friends is important. Your brand has an identity, so the people who represent it in the real world should share some of its qualities and the brand should seem like it authentically fits into the ambassador’s lifestyle. 

Lululemon, for example, when they built their ambassador team, they wanted the brand to feel like it had a hyperlocal feel, so instead of paying for traditional endorsements with celebrity athletes, the yoga-focused brand built an ambassador program of local influencers, elite athletes & top-notch yoga instructors who create a community, provide feedback on product and partner with the brand for social impact programs. 

By fostering more on a grassroots model the ambassadors feel connected to HQ and therefore take pride in their role. For example, if you have a women’s clothing brand you probably don’t want members of a men’s basketball team representing you on their campus.

2. Clearly Outline a Path for Success

If you don’t have a strategy with a quantitative plan in place — with clear expectations mapped out —  managing hundreds or even thousands of college students will immediately feel like herding cats. Don’t forget — their #1 priority is being in college — so don’t make it complicated for them to spread the word about your brand.

Once you have hired the right people, you should make sure you give them a clear checklist of what they will need to do and give them tips and tricks on how to be successful. By being transparent about the standards and the goals you have for the program your ambassadors will be more likely to stay engaged. Checklists and leaderboards will help you keep everyone on track. 

For example — if your ambassadors are expected to hang 50 door hangs, ask them to submit evidence and then automatically verify via photos and Google Maps that they completed the task.

Once you have your foundation tasks in place, give ambassadors easy ways to unlock more rewards / payment in exchange for creating increased value for your brand. For example — if your #1 goal is new subscribers, increase the compensation model for your ambassadors to get more emails/downloads/sales. 

3. Establish Expectations

Don’t forget that most college students have never been salespeople — in fact, most have probably never had a boss or even a job (other than maybe walking dogs or mowing lawns) — so you need to give them the tools and training they will need to be successful critical thinkers and problem solvers who can — most importantly — meet deadlines, without losing the human touch between you and the ambassador. 

Create an onboarding experience that clearly communicates your expectations so you can get them set up to succeed from the start.  For example, use calendar reminders for important deadlines or create forms for them to fill out that makes it easy for you to collect important information rather than going back and forth via email.

For teams really looking to scale, identify Team Leads and empower them to take ownership of managing the ambassadors on their teams and then compensate the top-performing Team Leads when they deliver great results. The key is to continuously reinforce the ambassadors and what they are contributing to the business so they feel that they have ownership in the process and help to validate that their relationship with you — the brand — is priceless.

4. Streamline Communication

“I don’t want to lose the relationship we have with our ambassadors, our program needs a human touch,” and we agree. But this doesn’t mean that your brand’s full-time employees need to be bogged down with every individual request that comes from an ambassador. Trust us, it’s a slippery slope and it actually means your ambassadors are confused if they keep reaching out with questions.

Use community-focused tools like group chat, message boards, and Team Leads to help keep your ambassadors engaged.

Put everything in one place — like a Google Drive — so they can easily find answers and get back to repping your brand in their voice. By giving them access to things like up to date logos/brand guidelines, knowledge banks / FAQs, articles, receipt folders, event recap forms, templates, and approved sales language, you are empowering your team to quickly discover the resources they need.

This will give ambassadors an easy path to get their questions answered quickly and your brand team time to focus on the overall strategy of the program. 

5. Empower the Team to be Creative

Now that you have your team selected, on-boarded and have clearly communicated expectations — unleash your team and challenge them to tell you what will work on their campus. For example for a Big 10 School, a tailgate for a homecoming football game might provide the perfect backdrop for your brand, but for a Northeast city school a St.Patrick’s Day event might create a bigger impact.

Create event forms for ambassadors to fill out. When approved, set a budget and set them loose. Just remember to make sure you give them the checklist of things you need in your event recap at the end like photos, surveys, etc.

Always remember, campus reps are there to give you feedback about your brand. Listen to them. They know what will work with their friends so trust them to meet your expectations. This way your brand’s persona will match what works on their campus vs trying to give your ambassadors a “one size fits all” list of tasks that work for your brand. Ultimately this will feel more authentic which will result in more conversions & organic impressions.

A college ambassador program can act as a powerful tool for all kinds of businesses– festivals, consumer apps, retail brands, political candidates, privatized campus housing, and more. And the best part is that there is mutual value because college students are hungry to learn and to improve their skills. By giving them a meaningful introduction to the world of business — and more importantly, teaching them the fundamentals of sales process & entrepreneurship– you can develop a network of lifelong brand advocates–and potential new employees after graduation.

Get Familiar with our Custom Feeds Feature

Are you familiar with SocialLadder’s feeds feature? 

Your ambassadors are constantly on social media, spending countless minutes scrolling through various newsfeeds. This is where they’re used to finding the latest trends and the next big event, so it’s a no-brainer that this is where they’ll be looking for more info while in your program. 

Below we’ll share three great ideas for how you can make the most of your feeds and engage with your ambassadors in whole new ways.

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1. Scheduling 

Need volunteers to work an upcoming event? Or maybe you need to track volunteer shifts? With our Google Drive integration, you can upload a link to a shared calendar to the feed and have ambassadors sign up directly through the SocialLadder app. 

2. Segmenting

As your ambassador program grows, knowing the details about each member is increasingly important. You can segment your ambassadors by creating a feed that requires them to input certain information, like their location or college, or even follower count to segment between micro- and macro-influencers. Ambassadors will automatically get tagged with the appropriate information and add them to the right segment, taking one more step off your plate. 

3. Flyering

Physical promo is still one of the best ways to get your brand out there, but coordinating flyer or sticker pick-up can be a logistical nightmare. Now you can create a feed that links to an email that ambassadors can easily click on to request promotional materials. 

Check out more about our custom feeds feature here

Enhanced Instagram Features Perfect for Managing Your Influencers

Ambassadors Can Earn Credit for Photos & Videos Previously Posted to Instagram

We just released a new feature that makes completing Instagram challenges even easier. SocialLadder mobile-app users can now select from their past Instagram Gallery posts & videos to complete their Instagram challenges on SocialLadder.

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SocialLadder allows influencers, ambassadors, & all users to complete Instagram challenge by choosing from Instagram gallery, video, or carousel posts that have already been published to their Instagram page.  

Users no longer need to post their content through the SocialLadder app in order to get credit for their Instagram promotions. This is ideal for influencers who are creating high-quality content and sharing from desktop. 

For example, a brand influencer can post directly to their Instagram account from anywhere & submit their user-generated content to their brand managers via SocialLadder Instagram challenges. SocialLadder will instantly verify the content is posted. This allows the influencer to get credit for their required social posts while the brand manager can easily track the social media tasks & engagement history for content created by their influencer team. 

Check out the new feature here 

Contact us for a free demo to see how your influencer team can benefit from this product enhancement.

New SocialLadder Feature: In-App Chat

We’re happy to announce the launch of our latest in-app feature – SocialLadder Chat

This new feature helps to further streamline communication by making it easier for program Admins and app users to communicate with each other directly through the SocialLadder app. As an Admin, use the Chat to share important information with your team, provide support for any questions asked, and connect with your team in a more direct and personal setting. 

To access the Chat feature on the SocialLadder app, click on the message icon next to the bell icon at the top right-hand corner of your program area. Create a new message, select the user(s) you’d like to message and begin your conversation within seconds!

 

 

The In-App Chat supports:

  • Direct message and group message chat from app to app
    • Program Admins to users
    • Users to users
  • Standard emojis
  • Ability to see other users typing 
  • Time-stamped message tracking
  • Search users by name when creating a chat
    • Sorted by Admins, Friends (your friends in the program), and Everyone else
  • Notifications
    • In-App notification in the program area
    • Push notification of message details when outside of the app
  • Share and open direct links from conversations
  • Service required to view past conversations

For more information about the SocialLadder Chat capabilities, Request a Demo.

Streamlined Communication for Success

Good and effective communication is an essential tool in achieving productivity in any ambassador program and is crucial for maintaining strong, lasting relationships with your individual ambassadors. Marketers who commit to establishing clear and streamlined communication with their ambassador teams will surely succeed at building trust, maintaining accountability, and growing the community in an organic and meaningful way.  

There are a few challenges when it comes to establishing a good foundation for effective communication. For one, tracking a conversation or action item can become a logistical nightmare. The standard manual and digital tools that companies may use to communicate with ambassadors often lack the ability to successfully track the progress of individuals while also allowing them to assign new tasks. This can be overcome by investing in a solid analytics and reporting tool that tracks and measures the progress of ambassadors, while simultaneously giving the ambassadors themselves an easy way to collaborate and demonstrate that their tasks are complete and successful.

Streamlined communication also requires welcoming feedback and suggestions in addition to praise. Communication in ambassador programs for many companies is one-sided, possibly relying on generic emails or static newsletters. So yet another challenge is to maintain an organized program while giving ambassadors the sense that they are part of a collaborative community, and working on behalf of a company that values their ambassadors’ unique engagement and feedback. 

Brands should consider providing a forum for an open dialogue between the brand and its ambassadors to help build and maintain rapport between HQ and the team. Opening a two-way communication channel with your ambassadors will help brands create a strong sense of belonging within the community. Such a channel also offers direct feedback and a flow of creative ideas that will keep your ambassador program innovative and on message.

SocialLadder includes the following features to achieve streamlined communication and to make sure your brand ambassador community is thriving and not dying on the vine:

  • In-App Ambassador newsfeed with real-time activity & conversation
  • Push Notifications linked to challenges, rewards, & pertinent information
  • Quick access to information like handbooks, Google drive documents, videos, and more
  • In-App Chat Feature

It’s with these tools that running a successful brand ambassador program becomes possible-providing a solution for streamlined communication, and giving your community the power to deliver your message while communicating with each other. 

 

Coming soon…SocialLadder Chat

Launching August 2019

Communication is the key to any successful community, so SocialLadder is excited to announce the launch of SocialLadder Chat. 

This new feature helps to further streamline communication by making it easier for admins, team leads and ambassadors to engage with each other directly through the SocialLadder app and record all conversations in the admin portal.

Ambassadors can communicate with each other, reach out with questions directly to admins, and even create group messages right inside of their SocialLadder app! Admins can initiate chats with their teams directly through the app as well.

 

 

Turning Your Early Birds Into Your Top Advocates

5 Tips for Turning Your Buyers into Sellers

With all of the noise out there, consumers trust “marketing” less and less, so if you don’t know who your best customers are and then are turning them into your sales engine, you are missing out.

Let’s use the live event space to paint the picture. Buying an early bird ticket certainly has its advantages for music fans especially because it locks in the lowest price. For event promoters, it means they have fans who are committed to attending.

Being an “ambassador” might not feel like the right fit for everyone. But marketers who ease their audience into ambassador programs by building trust with their biggest advocates tend to have the most success.

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Here are the five keys to a successful early-bird campaign with SocialLadder:

1. DELIVER A GREAT PRODUCT 

This is the first thing, and the only thing to focus on. Without it, your customers won’t trust you and if there’s no trust, in the long run, there will be no product.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR ROCKSTARS 

Every great brand has a rockstar customer. The ones who adopt early and then spreads the word quickly. They are your “diamonds in the rough”. These are the people that trust your brand so much that they don’t even wait for the festival lineup to drop or for a celebrity to endorse it.  These are the Talkers and Planners … and they like to talk … A LOT. Marketers who can identify these people early will win big because they will help organizers expand their reach & drive awareness without cannibalizing sales.

3. BUILD A RELATIONSHIP

Understanding the needs and values of your buyers is important because it gives you the ability to create experiences for your fans. Fans who engage authentically and commit to ticket buying early will be a good temperature gauge for what to expect against your overall sales results. By getting up front real-time data you can inform other marketing efforts with the insights you gain through advanced reporting. Imagine the targeting you could do if you knew all of the brands or artists your fans were following?

4. ENHANCE WITH EXPERIENCES NOT CASH

Once in a lifetime fan-focused experiences will keep fans intrinsically motivated to spread the word about your lineup, onsite experiences & ticket price increases. Come up with rewards that will be a true motivator for your fans, but keep in mind that the greatest rewards can be something that shows the appreciation you truly have for your fans. Beyond Wonderland — for example — offered Insomniac fans a chance to hang backstage with their CEO Pasquale Rotella.

5. REWARD THE BIGGEST VOICES

So you’ve lined up fan-focused rewards and figured out who your Planners are, now it’s time to boost the organic chatter so you can pull back on your digital spend and get more REAL fans talking. Take the time to align your marketing calendar with your ambassadors and your word of mouth buzz will takeoff.  Imagine Festival, for example, generated over 3 thousand unique pieces of Instagram content, reaching nearly 4 million people. Imagine that!

Share the Love: 5 Tips to Boost Customer Referrals

The concept is simple: You have customers. Your customers have friends. Your customers’ friends probably “walk alike, talk alike.” In fact, they most likely like a lot of the same things — clothing, travel, social causes, Instagram posts, events etc.

You with me? It’s pretty simple. If your customers like your products, then their friends will too!

What do you think of when you hear “word of mouth marketing?” If you just said “social media” to yourself, you’re not alone, but it doesn’t start and end there.

Word of mouth is actually more powerful when it happens in the real world too.

In fact, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association found that two-thirds of all referred purchases come from real world recommendations, vs. one-third that are discovered online. Recommendations made by people are 10 times more powerful than impersonal ones. Need more convincing?

92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.

So why isn’t everyone doing it — and doing it well?  The truth is that “referral marketing” isn’t easy … and it’s so much more than automated referral links and pre-populated spammy messages for your customers to annoy their friends with on their social pages.

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But with a little planning, finding the right customers, and then giving them the tools to make referrals online AND <<drum roll please>> in the REAL WORLD … You will be able to turn your business into the next $1 Billion Brand.

Inspired by the book Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, here are 5 tips to get your customers talking:

  1. Talkers

Find your most authentic voices and actually talk to them. Understand why they love your product and how they talk about it to their friends.

I’m the talker in my friend circle. If I find something and it works, I tell everyone I know — and often who I don’t know — everything I know about it. All of my friends now subscribe to SunBasket, own a VitaMix, have been to Iceland, and wear Allbirds to work.

You don’t have to use discounts or product; things like early-bird access and newsletters often attract people like me who are authentically your most valuable customers and want to learn more or just support your brand. Using these “incentives” makes it easier to collect their contact information, which means you have a more personal way to engage them.

  1. Topics

Using real the feedback you get from real customers makes it easier to engage a larger audience more authentically. Create topics for your Talkers to organically talk about based on the topics they are interested in.

Niyama Sol ambassadors, for example, were asked: “Take a photo of yourself in your favorite place to do yoga on your personal Instagram.” Hundreds of real people shared their story to their friends and the brand saw lift quickly.

  1. Tools

Create an easy format for you and them.

Getting 10 customers to talk and spread the word about your brand to their friends is manageable; 100 customers a little harder; 1,000+ customers and it won’t scale unless you have the right tools in place.

One more time … MAKE IT EASY … You will thank me later.

Don’t complicate it for your customers. Add a sign-up link to your website and automate an invitation to join the ambassador program when a customer makes a purchase. Once they have joined, keep making it easy — give them access to your brand’s story, referral links, and topics to stimulate their storytelling about your brand.

Ensure that they are able to share their unique referral link or code and tell their story quickly on as many platforms as possible without any hassle. This includes social media channels like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and the like.

  1. Taking Part

Great. You have them talking the talk, now you need to show them that you can walk the walk … WITH them.

You want people to purchase your product without having to convince them. So the only way to do this is to make sure you are listening and engaging with your Talkers, and then rewarding them for authentically spreading the love about your product in the real world to their friends.

Make sure you make it easy for your Talkers to talk to you and encourage them to give you feedback. Big retailers like Sephora, Amazon and Nordstrom ask every customer to leave a review.

If they ask a question, you answer.

If they have a suggestion, you listen.

If they had a bad experience, you get a chance to fix it.

  1. Tracking

Understanding the data behind what is working and who is working the best for your brand is important.

You will find that some of the best Talkers don’t feel comfortable sharing a referral link online, but they will talk to anyone who listens in the real world. Or you may find that some of your customers are great content creators with high engagement, but they don’t see themselves as an “influence.”

Reward them & engage with them equally.

These are your “diamonds in the rough.” Love them and hold onto them dearly. They will intrinsically help you attract more people like them and are the best advertising investment you can make.