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Homeschool Influencers, Brand Ambassadors, or Affiliates: A Glossary and Guide for Marketing

Homeschool Influencers, Brand Ambassadors, or Affiliates: A Glossary and Guide for Marketing

Jargon can be bewildering, especially when people use the same terms in different ways. Here’s a trio of words associated with social media marketing that can cause confusion: 

  • influencer
  • brand ambassador
  • affiliate

These three roles are similar in a few key ways and can often overlap, so it’s no wonder folks mix them up. Let’s clear up the differences among them with a handy glossary and then outline which role is best for your business.

1. Homeschool Influencers

What Is a Homeschool Influencer?

Sometimes people use the terms blogger and influencer interchangeably. Yes, a blogger is a type of influencer, but there are other types, too. 

An online homeschool influencer is any person who has an audience of homeschool parents (mostly moms). That audience could be via any one of these online avenues:

  • a blog
  • a YouTube channel
  • an email list
  • an Instagram account
  • a Facebook page
  • a Facebook group

Typically an influencer has multiple points of audience contact although there are some who are only on YouTube or only on Instagram.

What Does a Homeschool Influencer Provide?

A homeschool influencer basically gives you access to her audience by vouching for you on one of her platforms. That recommendation could be in the form of written content, images, video, or any combination. That content is usually provided by her if she is a content creator. Other influencers are more brokers of their audiences and will simply distribute the messaging you provide.

What Investment Is Associated with a Homeschool Influencer?

To work with an influencer, you typically need to provide free product (or access to your service). 

Beyond that bare minimum, the influencers who are more skilled at their craft and have larger audiences will require compensation for their time. This can range as low as $75-$200 and can cost as much as several hundred dollars.

The amount of additional support you provide the influencer will depend on the creativity of the influencer and your own goals. If you have specific messaging, deals, graphics, etc., most influencers are open to sharing them or weaving them into their work for you. A highly skilled content creator will need little input from you behind the product itself. She will put her own spin on the recommendation, taking original photos and documenting her personal experience with the product. 

If you’re working with an influencer who is putting a lot of the burden on you to provide messaging, copy, graphics, etc., this is more of the broker type influencer who has a big audience but is not a content creator who personalizes her promotions. You may like this amount of control in the process or you may find it wearisome. 

My preference is for content creators who weave your offers into her own personalized messaging

The Law for Homeschool Influencers

Influencers always have to disclose any material connection with a client (as per FTC law), including even free product. 

Is a Homeschool Influencer Right for Your Business?

In short, yes! Unless a brand is in the start-up phase and has no product for sale yet or otherwise is in the midst of some rebranding or site redesign, yes! There’s no reason not to work with homeschool influencers and dozens of reasons to say yes. The investment is low, sometimes as little as free product with a single influencer. 

Getting Started with Homeschool Influencers

Experience is the best teacher. Just do it! Reach out to a few micro-influencers with an offer for free product. Ask for media kits and rates. Start small with two or three and tweak your approach based on results. 

If you want to outsource the entire process, contact Jimmie at iHomeschool Network <jimmie@ihomeschoolnetwork.com>. Jimmie will serve as your middleman, erasing all the back and forth emails and follow up with bloggers. Her streamlined process will match you with 10 or more bloggers who will create content around your brand. You provide product, compensation, and answers to a detailed questionnaire. Jimmie does the rest. At the end of the process, you get a list of URLs from your campaign, branded content to use in Facebook ads, and a list of action steps for maximizing the campaign afterwards. 

2. Homeschool Affiliates

What Is a Homeschool Affiliate?

An affiliate is an individual who applies and is accepted into your affiliate program and then uses the links and assets you provide to promote your brand. She receives an affiliate commission (cash, not store credit) only when people purchase via her affiliate link. 

Referral programs allow customers to refer friends and receive store credit. An affiliate relationship is different in that affiliates earn cash and may not even be customers or users of your product. While an affiliate could be a mom with a homeschool co-op group or some other in-person sphere of influence, typically affiliates are digital influencers

The bar to being an affiliate is usually very low. For the most part, you accept anyone who appears to have any relevant avenue of promoting you.

What Does an Affiliate Provide?

There is no obligation for an affiliate to do anything. Her actions are completely voluntary. She may take some of the same actions an influencer would, but there’s not even an informal agreement, much less a contract, to bind her to act. 

For this reason, most affiliates who sign up will not be productive for your business. You will find that 80% of your affiliate commissions come from just a handful of active affiliates. 

What Investment Is Associated with a Homeschool Affiliate?

You’ll first need to work with your web developer to install and set up affiliate software. Or you can use (more expensive) third-party software services to manage your program. 

In addition, you will provide:

  • creative assets (graphics in various sizes), updated at least annually
  • support and education for affiliates, typically via an email onboarding series
  • communication to affiliates of time-sensitive deals and offers
  • commissions, paid regularly

Is a Homeschool Affiliate Right for Your Business?

The initial set up can be time- and resource-intensive. If your brand has a strong name among homeschoolers and influencers are talking about you already, an affiliate program may be a great way to incentivize more promotion. If you are relatively unknown, an affiliate program may be an uphill climb since you’ll also have to recruit affiliates to sign up both initially and on an on-going basis. 

If your profit margins are thin, you may not have the funds to pay affiliates who do perform. But on the upside, you are only paying when those affiliates send sales your way. If you have plenty of time and tech/graphics know-how to set up an affiliate program yourself, you may find affiliates a low-risk way to get more backlinks and exposure. 

The Law for Homeschool Affiliates

Affiliates always have to disclose their material connection with a client (as per FTC law). 

Getting Started with Affiliates

If you are considering an affiliate program, I suggest launching it in tandem with an influencer campaign so you get a two-for-one—influencers in the short-term and affiliates for the long-term. Email jimmie@ihomeschoolnetwork.com to learn how to merge affiliate sign-ups into your influencer campaign at no extra cost.

If you solely want to recruit affiliates (without an influencer campaign), reach out to us here at homeschool.marketing <info@homeschool.marketing>. This is a service we provide along with affiliate onboarding/education email sequences and affiliate management. 

3. Homeschool Brand Ambassadors

What Is a Homeschool (Brand) Ambassador?

A homeschool brand ambassador is basically an influencer with a closer relationship to your brand. While she does the same work as an influencer, the quantity and quality is typically more intense in terms of time, personalization, and possibly exclusivity.

Instead of a one-off promo, a brand ambassador engages in a long-term (3 -12 month) partnership with you that may be quite broad, encompassing multiple avenues of influence on all her different platforms (email, blog, video content, Facebook groups, Instagram stories, etc.).

An ambassador has a special connection to your brand. Her recommendations go beyond the “check this out” kind of messaging to a full-fledged, hearty endorsement backed up by a stream of demonstrations over many weeks of how your product makes a real difference in her homeschool experience.

The bar to being an ambassador is high. You will invite only those influencers who have proven that they have an affinity for your product and the skill to engage their audiences on your behalf—influencers who create content in a style that matches your brand and drives results (engagement, clicks, traffic, leads, sales).

What Does a Homeschool Ambassador Provide?

What don’t they provide? The sky’s the limit, so you’ll need to spend time negotiating a list of promotion avenues along with a timeline, the quantity, and the compensation/product you are providing. This process can take a while to iron out. 

Take your time to get it all in writing with as much specificity as you can. I can’t tell you how many times a detailed brand ambassador agreement has saved the day when I ask the influencer to fulfill missing items or correct certain omissions. When it’s in black and white, both sides are clear on expectations.

Discuss exclusivity during your brand ambassador term. Sometimes a brand is surprised to see an ambassador promoting a competitor even though exclusivity was not part of the agreement. Influencers often don’t see a problem with promoting two competitors simultaneously. If you do see it as an issue, then address it upfront during the negotiation process. Note that some influencers will require more payment or other perks in exchange for exclusivity clauses.

What Investment Is Associated with a Homeschool Ambassador?

An ambassador is an influencer on steroids, so your compensation package is going to be larger, too. In short, be prepared to send products and pay a few to several hundred dollars for the long-term relationship.

Is a Homeschool Ambassador Right for Your Business?

Yes, homeschool brand ambassadors are a good step once you’ve had some success with influencer marketing and have identified a few content creators who are a good fit. You wouldn’t want to start your influencer marketing with brand ambassadors. That’s like proposing marriage via an online dating app! Go on a few dates via one-off projects, narrow your potential mates, and then pop the question to your favorites. 

The Law for Homeschool Ambassadors

Ambassadors always have to disclose any material connection with a client (as per FTC law), including even free product. 

Getting Started with Ambassadors

Start with influencers on one-off projects. See who does work that resonates with your brand and sends traffic/conversions. Monitor the engagement on the infuencer’s work. 

Once you’ve zeroed in on your ideal influencers, open a conversation about taking the relationship to an ambassador role. Getting on the phone may be helpful and lends a personal touch that many influencers like. But don’t be overly pushy. Let them tell you their preferred way to communicate.

If you work with iHomeschool Network for an influencer campaign, you get an easy start for vetting potential ambassadors. Reach out to your favorites one-on-one and see where it leads you. 

The Differences and Commonalities

To put it all together here are a few facts:

  • Affiliates are almost always influencers of some sort.
  • Ambassadors are influencers with longer terms and a closer relationship. They may also be affiliates!
  • In terms of affinity, depth of relationship, and level of vetting, the spectrum ranges from low to high in this order: affiliate (low) — influencer (moderate)— ambassador (high).
  • You provide products to influencers and ambassadors but not to affiliates. 
  • You provide cash payments to influencers and ambassadors based on the content they create (not on results). 
  • You provide cash commissions to affiliates based only on sales they send via their affiliate links.
  • You have an agreement with clear expectations for both influencers and ambassadors.
  • Affiliates are free to promote you (or not) according to their own timeline and preferences. 
  • In all cases, the laws of the FTC require that affiliates, influencers, and ambassadors always disclose material connection to your brand (including free product).
  • Homeschool dot Marketing can help you recruit affiliates and influencers. Based on their performance, you can then identify potential ambassadors. Email us at info@homeschool.marketing or request a free 20-minute call.

Facebook Ads Case Study: From Losing Money on Ads to Nearly 10x Return

Facebook Ads Case Study: From Losing Money on Ads to Nearly 10x Return

In late 2018 a client approached us about marketing via Facebook ads. This case study outlines the results that client saw from our efforts in early 2019. In short, their ads generated 16.28 ROAS and the entire campaign resulted in 945% ROI.

About the Client

This client sells a physical product via an ecommerce website.

This client, prior to enlisting our services, had a cumulative ROAS of .31 on their Facebook ads. This means they were losing money on ads. For every dollar spent, they earned only $.31 in revenue. They were pushing single sales ads to a cold audience based only on interests/personal demographics.

The Successful Ads Campaign: 16.28 ROAS

After Homeschool dot Marketing’s implementation of a complete Facebook ads strategy, this client saw a dramatic turnaround in results, garnering over $16 in revenue for every dollar of ad spend (16.28 ROAS).

3-month Facebook ads results (Feb. 9 to May 10, 2019) are pictured in the screenshot below:

$3,663 spent on ads (approx $1200 per month)

$59,629 revenue from those ads

16.28 ROAS … or 1628% return on ad spend… For every $1 spend on Facebook ads, this client generated $16.28 in revenue.

Click to enlarge

Other metrics of interest

  • 2291 link clicks
  • $1.60 CPC (cost per click)
  • 0.69 CTR (click through rate)
  • $5.20 cost per purchase

What We Did for This Facebook Ads Client

Beyond the ad spend paid directly to Facebook ($3,663), this client also invested $2,650 in the services of Homeschool dot Marketing:

  • ad strategy—campaign funnel outline {5 campaigns • 12 ad sets • 16 ads}
  • ad creation—research, copywriting, and video/graphics creation
  • custom audience set up
  • 2 lead gen offers —In this particular case, the client had no existing lead gen offers. So we helped the client not only with the ideas for two offers but also helped the client create them, including the lead gen offers themselves, copywriting and graphics creation, and landing page copywriting. (In this case, the client did their own landing page set up, connection to EMS, and email follow up sequence.)
  • 3 months ads management—monitoring and tweaking as necessary

Numbers Overview

$3,663 TOTAL AD SPEND DIRECT TO FACEBOOK

$2,650 TOTAL CONTRACT LABOR TO HOMESCHOOL DOT MARKETING


$6,313 TOTAL SPENT ON THIS CAMPAIGN

$59,629 revenue / $6,313 TOTAL SPEND = 9.45 ROI •  944% return

For every dollar this client spent on the campaign (ads and labor), they saw $9.45 in revenue. The client saw a return of almost 10x.

These ads are continuing to generate revenue for this client without any added cost for services from Homeschool dot Marketing. Once we set them up and monitored them for three months, we passed the baton to the client.

How Can You Get These Results?

Of course, every client is unique, and we cannot guarantee a 16 ROAS for every project. But we can probably increase your Facebook ads revenue, especially if you are below 4 ROAS. Before getting started, we’ll assess your Facebook ads account and let you know if we think we can achieve better results for you.

What do you need to get started? There are a few prerequisites to launching a Facebook ads campaign.

  • A product of interest to the homeschool market
  • A few customer testimonials
  • Facebook Ads Manager (or Business Manager) account
  • Facebook pixel installed on your site with conversion tracking connected
  • A Facebook ads budget of at least $1000/month plus budget for our services
  • EMS (email management system such as MailChimp or Hubspot)
  • A way to create landing pages that integrate with your EMS and redirect successful leads to a success page

When you are ready, reach out by emailing info@homeschool.marketing or by scheduling a 20 minute appointment here.

CAVEAT

This case study is presented as an example of one particular campaign with one particular client. Strategy varies from situation to situation, and our rates may change at any time. This case study is not a rate sheet, a price quote, a proposal, or guarantee of similar results.

When Homeschool Marketing Backfires

No one hires a marketing consultant or launches a campaign with an expectation for failure. Yet sometimes marketing ventures do flop.

Even worse, some efforts may backfire, putting your business on worse footing with homeschoolers than it was before! Here are mistakes I’ve seen that cause a marketing project to backfire. The good news is that every single time, these problems are avoidable!

When You Are Too Optimistic with Timelines

Optimists are wonderful people to be around! They smile, they look on the bright side, and they encourage you when you’ve done something stupid. I love optimists! But optimists should not be the people setting work timelines. Why? Because they tend to underestimate how long things will take to accomplish.

  • The website will not launch on the projected date.
  • The products will not come back from the manufacturer when promised.
  • Your plans to work on some aspect of your business will get dashed by a case of the flu, a broken dishwasher, or a family crisis.
  • Your graphic designer can’t get those ads done as quickly as you’d like them.

Whatever timeline you are thinking, add another few weeks to it. It’s better to have things done sooner than you promise than to keep going back to the folks in your marketing project with delay after delay.

When You Don’t Follow Through on Promises

Holding a contest or giveaway? Makes sure you follow through on what you promised. Winners expect their prizes, and when you don’t fulfill them as promised, they become instant enemies of your business.

If your free trial offer promises not to automatically renew or charge the credit card, but it does anyway, you’ve just created a customer who is now a hater.

When your name comes up in a Facebook group of homeschool moms, guess what these two disappointed people are going to say? They won’t say a word about how great your product is (even if it is). All they will remember (and share) is how dishonest you are.

“But it wasn’t dishonest! It was an honest mistake!” you cry. Sorry, Charlie. To the customer, you are sneaky and a liar. In case you didn’t know, people are highly suspicious of being taken advantage of. Their radar is up, so you don’t want to send any signals that you might be less than 100% honest.

When You Lack Email Follow Up

I get it! You’re excited! You want to tell the world about your amazing product. You want to collect subscribers, too! That’s all smart. But make sure you have your email follow up in place before you even begin collecting emails.

Email subscribers are milk not yogurt. Milk lasts in your refrigerator for about a week while yogurt will last for a full month.

Email subscribers are milk not yogurt.

They expire if you don’t follow up 
immediately.

You can’t stockpile email subscribers for some future date when you get your act together to start sending them messages. Just like milk, if you let them sit too long, your email subscribers expire,

  • forgetting who/what you are
  • not remembering ever signing up for your emails
  • no longer caring who/what you are
  • becoming irritated that some stranger is emailing out of the blue

What happens when you email a list of rotten milk subscribers who have never heard from you before? They delete your message, they unsubscribe, or—worst of all—they mark your message as spam. When your emails are marked as spam, your deliverability decreases even for the people who do want to hear from you.

The solution is to have your follow up sequence (or at a bare minimum an effective welcome email) in place and ready to fire as soon as you add new subscribers. To clarify, as soon as means immediately upon sign up—within seconds.

When Your Landing Pages Are Weak

Facebook ad campaign? SUPER! That’s a great place to reach homeschoolers. But an effective Facebook campaign is about a lot more than what you put on Facebook. You can create custom audiences and have incredible ad copy and creative that’s reaching all the right people, but if when they click to your landing page the experience is poor, you’re wasting your marketing dollars. And worse, you’ve just given potential customers a bad impression.

The biggest culprits with poor landing page experience:

  • bad mobile experience
  • too text-driven with too few visuals
  • unclear messaging
  • typos and grammatical errors
  • language that turns off homeschool parents
  • distractions that keep visitors from taking the one action you have in mind

You got exposure from your Facebook ads, yes. But the ultimate opinion based on that exposure was negative. Your Facebook ads campaign just backfired.

For this reason, we require all our Facebook ads clients to first go through a personalized marketing strategy assessment and design so any weaknesses can be corrected prior to launching a marketing campaign.

When You Treat Bloggers Poorly

Let’s say you are working with a team of 12 bloggers, and your project goes sideways. You make extra demands mid-stream, inject a few delays, ship the wrong products, don’t follow up on customer service requests, and ignore the team’s constructive feedback.

You may think, “Well, it’s just 12 homeschoolers. Who cares? There are thousands more out homeschool families out there.”

Wrong. These are influencers. That’s why you wanted to work with them in the first place. They have a voice that people listen to. If you turn them off, you can guarantee they are not saying positive things about you. They may even publish a positive blog post, but in private groups, they are telling folks how you were hard to work with, didn’t follow through on your promises, had poor customer service, etc.

Bloggers talk. Homeschoolers talk.

Making 12 homeschool bloggers upset means you just moved backwards in your marketing game—do not pass go, do not collect $200. It backfired.

Aim at and Hit Your Target

Don’t let your marketing efforts backfire. Take your time to think through the campaign from start to follow through… even 6-12 months after the work of the campaign is complete. Think through all the elements that need to work synergistically to bring your desired outcome:

  • email
  • social media
  • influencer content
  • free trials or other free opt-in offers
  • landing pages
  • ecommerce
  • product fulfillment
  • customer service

If you need help seeing the big picture for homeschool marketing, that’s what we do. Get started here or here. Then ask for a free 20 minute call to discuss the details of working with Jenn and Jimmie.