Did you know that, according to the Nielson Consumer Trust Index, 92% of consumers trust user-generated content (UGC) more than traditional advertising? If this statistic has sent you into a panicked frenzy at realizing what your e-commerce marketing strategy might be missing, don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
At Great White Media, we’ve taken many an e-commerce business from zero to hero.
By the time you get to the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what user-generated content is, and what the undeniable benefits of user-generated content are. We’ll even give you a step-by-step guide on how to implement UGC into your e-commerce business to level up your marketing efforts and skyrocket your success.
Understanding user-generated content
Consider user-generated content a cornerstone in the digital retail landscape. It represents any form of content created by users of a product rather than by the brand itself.
In terms of e-commerce, this translates to customers voluntarily sharing their personal experiences with products through a range of mediums, bridging the gap between online shopping and the physical experience of a product.
Originally limited to simple reviews, the rise of digital and social media platforms has seen UGC develop into more dynamic forms, including unboxing videos, detailed customer testimonials, and photos of a product in use.
Each form of user-generated content can offer a unique perspective to a target audience and add a layer of authenticity and trust that simply can’t be achieved with traditional branded content.
Benefits of user-generated content
As you’ll discover below, the benefits of consumer-generated content in e-commerce go far beyond word-of-mouth marketing:
1. Encourages engagement
A brand that dabbles in UGC naturally invites more interaction from its customer base. Whether it’s through sharing, commenting, or simply encouraging users to create content, the brand can enhance its connection with its customers.
This play on engagement through interactivity not only helps a brand maintain the interest of its existing customers but also helps attract new customers by offering a sense of intrigue surrounding its active community.
2. Builds brand loyalty
One of the undeniable benefits of user-generated content is that it has a special way of fostering brand loyalty. Ultimately, people want to be seen and heard. So, when customers see their content being valued by a brand, it gives them a strong sense of recognition and belonging, which, on its own, can convert a one-time-purchase customer into a devoted brand advocate.
When a brand allows its customers to contribute to its narrative, for instance, through social media posts, it creates a cycle of positive experiences and interactions that continue to strengthen their brand loyalty.
3. Reduces marketing costs
Integrating UGC into an e-commerce brand’s marketing efforts is a one-way ticket to a consistent stream of diverse and authentic content, without the associated price tag. This marketing strategy capitalizes on content created naturally by customers, which can reduce the resources typically dedicated to content production.
UGC, for example, user-generated videos, can be especially powerful in digital marketing campaigns, where content created by real product users often resonates with a target audience far better than traditional branded content.
4. Gathers valuable insights
When it comes to gathering valuable insights directly from customers, user-generated content is an absolute goldmine. A brand can acquire an in-depth understanding of its customers’ challenges, wants, needs and experiences by analyzing their reviews and social media posts. These insights can tailor product development, refine marketing strategies, and enhance the overall customer experience.
Essentially, UGC serves as a feedback loop, offering actionable data in real-time that can drive strategic decisions.
5. Increases conversion rates
User-generated content directly influences sales in e-commerce. Nearly 70% of online shoppers typically read between one and six customer reviews before making a purchasing decision. Why? Because, as humans, we rely on social proof to guide our decisions. So, it goes without saying, that when prospects see real-life examples and honest reviews of products, they’re far more likely to make a purchase.
Social proof aside, when actual product users create content, it often highlights the practical applications and benefits of a product, helping prospective customers visualize how they might use it themselves. This, in itself, can be a driving factor in their purchasing decision and turn their browsing into buying.
A UGC success story
A great example of the power of user-generated content in e-commerce is the case of GoPro, the US company known for its action cameras. In 2013, GoPro invited its customers to share the adventures they captured with their GoPros to be featured on the company’s YouTube channel.
Just one UGC video alone (of a firefighter saving a kitten) collected over 5 million views, making a significant impact on the company’s visibility. That year, GoPro reported a revenue of $1.185 billion, a monumental increase from prior years.
This case study is a perfect illustration of the impact user-generated content can have on a brand’s visibility, customer engagement, and overall growth.
Effective ways of initiating UGC
Taping into the incredible benefits of user-generated content requires effective strategies that initiate customer participation. Below, you can explore four proven approaches:
1. Leverage email campaigns
You can effectively encourage customers to submit reviews, photos, or video testimonials by sending post-purchase follow-up emails. In these emails, you can include a direct link to your review submission form or, for example, invite your customers to share their experiences in a social media post that tags your brand.
This strategy is an awesome way to capitalize on the increased engagement we often see in post-purchase communications and is an extremely effective way of gathering invaluable UGC.
Pro tip: You can boost engagement through the personalization of these emails. For example, you can use the customer’s name and refer to the product they purchased to increase individualization and relevancy.
2. Utilise SMS marketing
Through SMS marketing, you can enjoy the power of immediacy and high open rates to prompt fast feedback or to invite customers to share their more detailed experiences with your product. For example, upon delivery of the product, you might send them an SMS asking them to send a photo of them using the product.
SMS can be notably effective for time-sensitive requests, seizing in-the-moment reactions that are both credible and contribute significantly to highly engaging user-generated content.
Pro tip: You can increase response rates by keeping your SMS messages short, sweet, and to the point.
3. Social media contests
Another great way to engage your audience and generate UGC is by hosting contests or challenges on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. This may include asking your customers for user-generated photos or videos that tag your brand and incorporate one or more unique hashtags. You may do this in conjunction with offering a reward, for instance, the opportunity to go into a draw to win a prize.
Doing this is a fantastic way to gather user-generated content and can also have a significant positive impact on your brand’s engagement and visibility across social platforms.
Pro tip: A great way to maximize participation is to ensure the instructions for entering the contest are simple and the reward is enticing.
4. Customer loyalty programs
Customer loyalty programs are renowned for boosting the lifetime value of a customer by driving repeat business. These programs become even more powerful when you blend them with UGC. This might look like offering rewards, points, or other special benefits to customers who leave a review, refer a friend, or share their experience with your product on social media after making a purchase.
Beyond just gathering valuable content and insights, these programs, especially when combined with user-generated content, play an important role in broadening your brand’s community.
Pro tip: You can publicly acknowledge and appreciate your customers’ efforts by regularly featuring a standout contribution, whether in your marketing materials or on your social media channels.
As you can see, the world of user-generated content is multifaceted, and its role in e-commerce is nothing short of transformative. Through user-generated content, you not only have a golden opportunity to gather valuable insights and enhance credibility and trust among your target audience, you can also significantly boost customer engagement and, ultimately, increase your bottom line.
And the best part? You don’t have to go it alone.
At Great White Media, we do the heavy lifting for you. We specialize in leveraging the power of email and SMS marketing, making us the ideal partner to level up your UGC strategies.
We’re not just any old agency, either. We’re certified, award-winning, experts in the field, with fluency in customer communication and engagement. Our proven methods and 100% tailored approach ensure that your email and SMS campaigns aren’t merely reaching your audience, but driving them to actively participate. If you’re serious about your success, take the next step. Book a COMPLIMENTARY discovery call today!