Video marketing, digital marketing, content marketing—there are plenty of marketing tools you can use for your e-commerce business.
But user-generated content (UGC) remains one of the most potent marketing tools that’s often overlooked. When you apply the right strategy, UGC becomes one of the most effective marketing tools among all available options.
In fact, about 45% of consumers get inspiration to buy new products from friends and acquaintances. It goes to show how product recommendations from peers can influence consumers’ buying decisions.
What is UGC?
User-generated content is original and brand-specific content created by an unpaid contributor—mainly customers—and published on social media and other channels. It can be a review, picture, video, or even testimonial.
It’s a customer-centric form of marketing that carries valuable benefits that can help your business succeed in the e-commerce world.
But the benefits of UGC go beyond just driving many conversions for your brand.
When a user creates content, they position your products from the perspective of a consumer. They know which features matter, the pain points your product solves, and more.
So, a well-thought-out UGC marketing strategy can:
- Build brand awareness, which can fuel your lead generation.
- Provide you with valuable customer insights that can help you improve customer experience and increase customer lifetime value (CLV).
- Humanize your e-commerce business and build a strong community, increasing brand loyalty.
- Reduce your marketing costs.
Let’s get into the details of why a UGC marketing strategy should be a priority for your e-commerce business.
5 Benefits of UGC Marketing for Your E-commerce Business
Now that you know why UGC marketing is so critical for your business, let’s take a look at the various advantages of UGC marketing for your e-commerce business.
1. Boosts Your Reach and Engagement
Building brand awareness is the first step toward customer acquisition. Before you can get people to buy from you, they need to know about your e-commerce store in the first place.
How does UGC marketing help you create this awareness? Through its high level of authenticity.
Although marketers believe that brand-created content has a wider reach, UGC appeals to more customers when they are deciding to try a brand.
Image via Nosto
Additionally, UGC content is created by a person who’s used your product or services, so it’s perceived as more authentic.
Unlike polished brand photos and videos, UGC is content customers/shoppers can relate to. They see it as raw and true, and are more likely to engage with it as they would with any other post from a friend.
This gives UGC a high potential to go viral, which gives you a wider reach and boosts impressions.
Case in point—LUSH’s use of user-generated images instead of similar branded images brought a 1340% increase in their total reach. They experienced a 53% increase in clicks, and a 183% growth in new profiles reached.
2. Increases Conversions for Your Ecommerce Business
Consumers look for trust signals when making an online purchase. And reviews are one of the most important ones they look out for.
When consumers see your products through the reviews of happy customers, it helps them understand the credibility of your e-commerce business.
These real and raw experiences of your customers give them the confidence to buy from you. And this trust invariably leads to greater conversions, thus driving your revenues.
Besides building trust, UGC marketing gives customers a powerful visual impression of your products.
E-commerce shopping has become popular in recent years. However, it’s still not able to replicate the complete traditional shopping experience.
Customers will always have questions about the true size of a product, whether it works or not, and a lot more.
Seeing the product in action through a fellow customer’s review gives potential buyers concrete evidence that your product will solve their problem. And that’s exactly what gets them to buy from you.
See this UGC by Keds, for instance. They’ve shared content created by their customers on their Instagram profile. The shoutout motivates their customers to create these posts and also to use their branded hashtag #WearYours. The comments show how others are already showing interest in the product offering.
Image via Instagram
To make the most of the influence that UGC content carries to drive conversions, use shoppable posts. A shoppable post is content, such as a video, image that consumers can click on to make a purchase. It makes it possible for customers to shop directly on the user-generated post and complete the transaction on the platform itself.
Use right hashtags generator tools to create relevant hashtags for your shoppable posts and reach out to a larger audience. Back to our example of LUSH. Adding a “Shop Now” button in their UGC content saw 2% of visitors take an action.
3. Provides Valuable Insights Into Your Audience
When customers involved in a research were asked to rank the most important aspects of customer service, getting their needs understood was their priority.
Image via Genesys
It goes to show how important “feeling heard” is to today’s customers.
In line with this, encouraging customers to create UGC gives you deep insights into what your customers’ needs are. As you monitor mentions of your e-commerce business, you learn the motivation that drives them to buy your products.
Based on what users are saying and posting about your e-commerce business, you can learn things like:
- How your customers perceive your e-commerce business
- How they interact with your products
- What makes them buy from you
- Which features they love and which features they’re struggling with
- Their sentiments about your customer service
- What features they want in your products
- What they think about your order fulfillment
This way, UGC acts as a direct line of communication with your audience.
While you may not republish negative content, you can always take the time to respond positively and create necessary improvements.
Take this tweet by a disappointed customer of National Trust South East, for instance.
Image via Twitter
The e-commerce business takes the criticism positively, promises to make improvements, and even offers a free treat to make amends.
Image via Twitter
When you make customers feel heard and give them what they want, it builds loyalty and increases CLV. This makes UGC marketing critical to growth and brand longevity.
4. Humanizes Your Ecommerce Business
UGC makes your brand’s marketing more human-oriented. It changes the marketing approach of your e-commerce business from branded advertising to authentic information sharing. That’s because you’ll be amplifying the voice of your customers.
By giving users a platform to share their experiences, you build a direct relationship with your customers. You expose your audience to the real experiences, thoughts, and emotions of other customers. There’s always a face behind each marketing message too.
It shows potential customers the community you’ve built and the culture around your brand. This makes them want to be associated with your business.
You can fire up this community spirit by reacting to comments and messages promptly. This helps elevate the aspect of community spirit for your e-commerce brand.
As you share the UGC, caption the content in a language that resonates with your audience, perhaps even humorous. Aim to be personal, approachable, and engaging.
GoPro, for example, is known for its UGC content. It has created a community of outdoor adventurists and adrenaline junkies with it. And its captions are anything but boring.
Image via Instagram
5. Reduces the Resources You Spend on Content Creation
Creating branded content for multiple marketing channels takes a lot of investment in research, content creators, and more.
A professionally-created two to three-minute brand video, for instance, can cost a whopping $2,000 to $7,000. It may cost less with a free video editor, but there’s still some cost attached to it. But that’s not the case with UGC.
With UGC marketing, your customers do the creative video production for you. You don’t have to pay to create content.
You can showcase your products in different environments, with different people, under different lighting—all at little to no cost.
The expenses saved from content production, can be reallocated and the resources you save can be used towards other marketing channels like content marketing and SEO.
All you have to do is encourage your customers to share videos and images with your products.
You can then create a buzz around your e-commerce business as Coca-Cola did with their “Share a Coke” campaign. A quick search of the hashtag #shareacoke shows over 600,000 posts on Instagram.
Image via Instagram
You can then republish the most engaging and high-quality content that users create to gain more traction.
3 Tips to Leverage UGC for Your Ecommerce Business
A well-crafted UGC marketing strategy will help you create a successful campaign that brings in these benefits.
Here are a few tips to guide you.
1. Analyze Your Target Audience
Identify the target audience of your e-commerce business and find out the platforms they use the most.
Who is most likely to be interested in your products? Find their gender, age bracket, interests, and other demographics that distinguish them.
You can get this information from the customer data in your lead generation software.
This information will help you come up with an effective UGC marketing strategy, as you’ll be able to:
- Choose the platforms to focus your UGC marketing based on where your target audience likes to hang out. For instance, data shows that most 18-29 year olds use TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat while 50-64 year olds prefer Facebook and YouTube.
- Set the tone your audience uses to communicate. This will help you sound relatable to them.
- Understand their buying behavior, pain points, and lifestyle preferences. It’ll help you choose a theme for the UGC campaign. For instance, most of Dove’s UGC campaigns involve taking a stand against unrealistic beauty standards, which is a challenge their target audience—women—faces.
Image via Instagram
Knowing your target audience will also help you choose the right influencers who can complement your UGC.
2. Make it Fun and Rewarding
You need to engage and entertain consumers to encourage them to share more content. And gamifying your UGC strategy is a great way to achieve this.
For instance, customers can earn points for every post they create, which they can later exchange for coupons and discounts.
Similarly, you can run hashtag contests with rewards. These contests encourage consumers to interact with your e-commerce business and generate UGC.
Here are some tips to create effective contests:
- Have clear rules to avoid confusion
- Make your contests mobile-friendly
- Add an urgency factor, such as a deadline, for the contest
- Make the rewards exciting
Here is an illustration of a UGC contest from trivago. The rules are clear, the timeline is provided, and the reward is a pretty good sum of $500.
Image via Instagram
Finding ways to make the UGC fun will inspire users to create content.
Something as simple as featuring certain UGC creators in your email newsletters or mentioning them on your profile can motivate customers to participate in your planned activities..
3. Repurpose the UGC
One of the advantages of UGC marketing for your e-commerce business is that the content created by users can be repurposed.
You can adopt the UGC to suit other marketing channels and increase your ROI.
For instance, you can:
- Use UGC in cart abandonment emails to give shoppers the confidence to go back and complete their purchases.
- Increase conversions by using it on the landing pages of your e-commerce website as social proof.
- Boost the performance of paid ads with UGC from a customer combined with a testimonial video from an influencer.
See how oVertone Haircare repurposes their UGC to act as social proof on their homepage.
Image via oVertone Haircare
Each post has a “Shop Now” button that website visitors can use to shop the product directly.
Image via oVertone Haircare
Only repurpose your top-performing UGC. And always get explicit permission from the creator before repurposing content, and make sure you give credits to them.
In the case of contests and giveaways, ensure the user has opted-in.
Finally, don’t forget to make small changes to the UGC to optimize it for the platform you post it to. Different social media platforms, for instance, have various size and aspect-ratio requirements for images and videos.
Launch Your UGC Marketing Campaign
You cannot ignore the, increased conversions, higher brand awareness, and brand loyalty a UGC marketing strategy can bring to your e-commerce business.
And this involves minimal efforts from you as a business owner since UGC is entirely customer driven.
Come up with a fun and rewarding campaign that targets your customers, then sit back and watch valuable UGC trickle in. Make the most out of this content by repurposing it for all customer touchpoints.
Author Bio – Gaurav Sharma
Gaurav Sharma is the founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. Grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years | 10X leads | 2.8X conversions | 300K organic monthly traffic. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Business 2 Community, TechCrunch, and more.