A guest post by Kate Parish.
User-generated content (UGC) is an effective and irreplaceable tool for any online store owner which provides many different business benefits. You could be missing out on growth opportunities if you fail to take advantage of content created by your clients: reviews, photos, posts, and more.
This article discusses why you should pay attention to UGC. You will learn about its benefits, get some valuable tips, and see how different brands use it.
What Is UGC?
Before explaining why UGC is so powerful, it's necessary to understand what exactly falls under the category of "user-generated content". Here are the main points:
- Reviews on goods and services
These can include giving ratings of purchased items or brief reviews. Sometimes feedback is supported by photos taken and uploaded by customers.
- Recommendations and articles
Recommendations represent a more profound impression of a product or service. It can be a narrative about the customer's experience with the ordered service or product.
- Images and graphics
This point includes various photos, pictures, drawings or infographics with the product or brand image. This type of content is usually sent by clients directly to the company website or is shared on social networks.
- Video and audio content
This kind of content includes works that users upload to posts and stories on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc.
- Blog and social media posts
This category includes various publications, such as "top 10", "the best of 2021", etc.
Benefits of UGC for online stores
User-generated content is effective for many different kinds of businesses. However, today we will focus directly on eCommerce, although many of the recommendations presented are versatile.
Below we have listed the main benefits of implementing UGC in your online store’s marketing strategy. So, let's begin!
1. Gaining brand trust
The first advantage of using UGC is to help build brand credibility. After all, it is undeniable that opinions of real people are more weighty and trustworthy than any advertising.
When people see others enjoying purchased goods or services, it encourages them to trust the company and place an order or contact for services arrangement.
You can see a real-life example in the screenshots below, taken from the Angara official website.
The product pages display customer reviews, many of which include photos. It helps visitors ensure the high quality of the brand's jewellery and make the right choice. The section on the right shows the brand rating, which proves the high quality of the service.
2. Help in making a decision
UGC is an effective tool which has an impact on a person's decision-making. After all, who is better than an actual user of a product or service? Especially if they can tell a real story about their experience and convince others to use it too.
The analysis of feedback helps identify both the strengths and weaknesses of a company's service. This is why it's so important to get as much feedback as possible from your customers.
Let's talk about a few ways to stimulate clients to write reviews.
For example, you can email your customers a questionnaire or include a request in the delivery confirmation email.
- Call to action buttons
You can use them on pages with descriptions of products or services.
You can ask customers to leave feedback in a pop-up box on the site.
It is advisable to offer the customer something in exchange for taking the time to write the best helpful review. For example, it could be an extra discount or free shipping on the next order.
It is also essential to display the site's reviews section correctly so visitors are comfortable using it.
Take a look at the product page of the Barnes & Noble website captured in the screenshot below.
The reviews section takes up most of the screen at the bottom of the page. You can see both individual customer reviews and the overall rating of the book. The Rating Snapshot section displays the number of reviews for each of the ratings.
There is also a sort of reader rating next to the buyer's nickname (the number of reviews and votes left by the user and his Reader Type). It helps other users to believe that genuine buyers left the reviews.
3. Expanding your online presence
A business needs to be present in different online channels because this increases the number of people who discover it. So, in addition to having a website, social media, registration in Google Maps, and other things, you should also implement the UGC representation on the website.
The fact is that when users share unique content about your products and services, tagging your account, a large number of new users learn about your company. It helps to connect your marketing channels and, as a result, to increase the number of new subscribers to your social networks.
As an example of an excellent representation of the UGC section, below is a screenshot from the official Sephora page.
As you can see from the screenshots, the site pulls up user posts from Instagram. When opening a photo from the gallery, you can see both the post itself and the "Shop This Photo" section, where the products used by the user are listed. From there they can be added to the cart.
4. Increase organic traffic
User-generated content is not only able to attract the attention of users on the site, encouraging them to proceed to checkout, but also to motivate them to go to the website from your social networks.
The easiest way to attract users to your site is to provide direct links on social media accounts. Links should be visible and placed close to the header of the site.
But how else can you use social media to attract customers to an online store’s site? Remember to use the shopping features social networks provide.
Use customer-created photos and videos for your shoppable posts to attract organic traffic and boost sales. Tag the products used in the posts and attach links to those product pages on your site. Ask your customers for permission to use their photos and videos, as well as tag them. The same goes for using content created by influencers.
To see how stores on social media help increase traffic to the site, check out the screenshots from the Lulus Instagram account.
The photo in the post, provided by a girl who is wearing the Lulus sweater, has a "View Shop" button that leads to the item's card. There you can see the price and description of the product and the button "View on website" leading to the official site page where you can buy it.
It's also worth noting that the account of @savrosee, who shared this photo, is mentioned below. It's essential to credit a person who created UGC.
5. Increase customer loyalty
As you know, it is much easier to sell something to people who are already familiar with your business. Since attracting new customers is not easy, you should not neglect customer retention methods. An important advantage of UGC is the ability to encourage customers to deal with you again.
Consider what bonuses you can offer your customers to increase their loyalty. In addition to the mentioned above discounts for reviews and other similar bonuses, a great idea would be to hold contests and giveaways. The condition of participation in such events would be creating photo and video content by your users.
By inspiring customers and giving them different rewards for their creativity, you can strengthen their loyalty. In addition, you'll get a lot of unique content as an added benefit, and you'll expand your audience reach.
The official Fenty Beauty website has a great example of interaction with fans.
The UGC content block is named "You did that.". Users can upload their photo through the site or make an Instagram post with the hashtag #fentybeauty and tag @fentybeauty for a chance to be chosen to be published on the site for a month, receive gifts from the brand and be featured in stories on the Fenty Beauty Instagram account.
Would UGC work for you?
In short, user-generated content is an essential tool for the growth of an eCommerce business. Among the main benefits of its use:
- increasing interest and trust in the brand;
- encouraging potential customers to choose your company among others;
- expanding the online presence of the business;
- attracting customers to the site;
- and growing customer loyalty.
What's another significant benefit of UGC worth mentioning? User-generated content costs you almost nothing! So start paying enough attention to such an important marketing tool as UGC if you're still neglecting it.
About the author
Kate Parish, chief marketing officer at Onilab with 8+ years of experience in Digital Marketing and website promotion. Kate always strives to stay in pace with the ever-advancing online world, and the sphere of using Magento PWA Studio. Her expertise includes in-depth knowledge of SEO, branding, PPC, SMM, and the field of online sales in general.