Over the course of being flooded with content (fake or otherwise), consumers have become quite discerning when it comes to readily trust what they’re being fed. Users have also developed an innate skill to tune out sponsored content. These have inevitably led to peers being trusted far more than brands.
Below, we discuss how user-generated content (UGC) can be one of the most reliable tools you can use for e-commerce marketing.
First Off, What is UGC?
UGC is any kind of online content created by unpaid users. Any type of content not made or sponsored by a brand can be considered UGC.
Types of UGC
In today’s highly digital and creative world, different types of UGC have sprouted. But the main types include images, feedback, ratings, and reviews.
- Images – These include anything from photos and videos to gifs and memes. An effective use of user-generated images is Coke’s “#ShareACoke” campaign.
Coke created labels with popular first names. And while that seems simple enough, it led to a deluge of users sharing photos with bottles bearing their names. Of course, the only way they could do that was if they bought the product. This led to a boost in US sales for the first time in over a decade. (image)
- Feedback, Ratings, and Reviews – Social proof has become one of the more powerful tools in marketing. How many times have you browsed for a product you were interested in only to go straight to the reviews? No doubt that when it comes to buying a product, the most trusted advice comes from real-life experiences.
What can you gain from tapping UGC in your marketing campaigns? Here are five ways your brand can benefit from it.
- Boosts Brand Engagement
Trust is such an innate element of UGC. Based on a Reevoo infographic, 70 percent of people trust images taken from “people like them” over brand-created images, while 61 percent would be more likely to engage with an ad if it contained UGC.
- Saves Time on Content Creation
GoPro’s videos are awesome. Everyone agrees, so much so that that brand has come from being a small online retailer to a word synonymous to action cameras. But you know what’s more awesome than GoPro-produced videos? You guessed it, UGC.
By simply making it easy and convenient for users to share their GoPro videos, the company has managed to save countless hours (and money) on producing content. With around 6,000 videos uploaded every day, GoPro has become one of the hippest, most well-known brands in the world.
- Increases Conversion Rates
UGC doesn’t always have to stand alone. Data has shown that UGC can increase click-through rates for Facebook ads by up to 300 percent, resulting in a 50-percent drop in cost-per-acquisition.
Take this example from Perfect Locks. By adding a five-star rating, and a name and review from a real customer, along with a mention that its hair extensions have been voted number one by stylists worldwide, the brand makes an extremely convincing case for its products.
- Builds Credibility and Trust
This has been alluded to earlier, and it’s because it’s an integral component of UGC. Say you stumble upon an e-commerce company selling on Instagram. When you see a number of fellow users giving good reviews of both the brand’s products and customer service, how would that make you feel about that brand?
Ninety-two percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they don’t know over branded content. Consistently good feedback inevitably breeds trust. That’s just how it goes, whether in real life or online.
- Boosts Sales
Depending on your goals, there can be a huge difference between conversions and sales. Conversions can be as easy as getting an opt-in for your emails or getting users to like and subscribe to your channels.
When it comes to sales, 82 percent of shoppers say that UGC is extremely valuable to them when making a purchasing decision. Going back to the Coke example, the campaign may not have pushed people over the fence (they may not have even thought of buying Coke), but UGC did an excellent job of boosting sales nonetheless.
How to Create UGC that Converts
- Establish Goals
Because conversion can mean a lot of things, it’s important to clearly establish from the get-go your goals for leveraging UGC, whether it’s brand awareness, building your audience, improving click-through rates, or boosting sales. This will allow you to determine how a campaign is faring and allows you to implement necessary improvements as you go along.
According to Neil Patel, UGC fits in the inbound marketing cycle in a number of ways. Whether it’s to attract, convert, close, or delight, UGC plays a key role in all of them. Make sure to consider these when establishing your goals.
- Optimize Your Website for Search Engines
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It may not seem related, but SEO also plays a big part in the success of UGC campaigns. People innately turn to Google when they’re looking for help with purchasing decisions, which makes improving your website’s relevance crucial. In fact, 25 percent of search results for the world’s top 20 brands are links to user-generated content.
Using any number of available tools, you can keep a note of the topics your users frequently discuss. This will also give you an idea of UGC common phrases, which you can implement via long-tail keywords in future content.
- Ask For It!
The best way to get something is—and has always been—to ask for it. The same goes for UGC.
Proactively ask your customers to give feedback and share their experiences about your brand. For social channels, you can make it easier on both the users and yourself by creating a specific hashtag like Coke’s #ShareACoke campaign. On other channels like your product page and emails, add an enticing call to action to further encourage feedback.
Encouraging UGC has never been more important than at a time when a brand’s organic reach is continually dwindling. Tapping into your audience’s individual networks can offset the algorithm challenges.
- Make Shopabble UGC
Eyeglasses can be deceivingly hard to shop for. A frame that might look good in a product shot doesn’t always mean it’ll look good on you. GlassesUSA eases this problem with its “Social Shop,” which highlights images of satisfied customers worldwide.
On the page, the images are tagged with the corresponding products, making it easy for customers to purchase something that catches their eye, while giving them a visual of how it would look like on their face.
This is an excellent example of how brands can make UGC shoppable, while also incorporating the trust bred by fellow user recommendations.
- Incentivize It
For e-commerce sites, a simple way to encourage UGC is to offer a special discount on the customers’ next purchase in exchange for providing a product feedback.
This is what Tesalate, an Australian beach towel brand, does in the email below. This works in a number of ways. Satisfied customers will easily be encouraged by the $10 coupon for another purchase. It also gets valuable product feedback. And if it’s not a positive review, the brand gets an idea of how to improve its product. Win all the way!
- Manage Bad Reviews
Of course, not every review is going to be in your favor. It may be difficult the first few times (or always), but bad reviews are part of the territory. The most important thing is to keep your calm and not get too emotional.
Here’s how to deal with a stinging review of your brand, product, or service:
While getting bad reviews can trigger emotional reactions, how you respond is crucial in this kind of situation. Calm down so you can deal with the facts, instead of how you initially feel about it.
Assess the feedback:
Find out if the review is even real. Some reviews are made by dodgy competitors or just some random trolls. Check your records if the person who left the feedback is indeed a customer, and if it happens to be fraudulent, flag it.
Preferably within 24 hours. This shows your commitment to serving your customers.
You’ve seen bad reviews. How did it make you feel when you saw the company responding to it in a reasonable manner?
You can’t please everyone, and a lot of companies make mistakes. How you respond to negative feedback is what matters.
Correct the problem:
If it’s a real complaint, address it. Do not, under any circumstances, make any excuses. Instead, offer concrete solutions to fix the problem (even when the review is probably the result of one customer having a bad day).
Take control of the situation:
If it’s a fraudulent review, check if it was removed. If it’s a legitimate complaint, make sure you follow your resolution through. A bad review may not ruin your brand, but a bad review that you’re able to turn around can do wonders.
By now, you must have a better understanding of how UGC can work for your brand in a myriad of ways. While conversion is certainly the bottom line, even it doesn’t directly lead to that, you’ll be building strong connections with your customers along the way. And that’s never a bad thing.
If you haven’t started incorporating UGC to your marketing strategies, there’s no better time to start than now.