User-generated content (or UGC) is any form of brand related content created by the consumer - things like reviews, star ratings, photos and videos, usually related to your products. Whilst it’s all valuable stuff, visual UGC is a particularly effective way to engage an audience and convince them to buy.
Sure, it doesn’t always have the polished finish of brand generated content and stock imagery, but therein lies its power. What it sometimes lacks in finesse it makes up for in authenticity, relatability and trustworthiness (and to be fair, today’s technology allows your average consumer to turn out pretty high quality content).
We could talk for hours on the benefits of UGC and why it’s so valuable to eCommerce brands. But what we really want to do is show you how to use it, so here’s a quick overview of those benefits instead.
UGC drives higher engagement: whether used on product pages, social media or in email campaigns, UGC is known to drive higher engagement than brand generated content. UGC results in 29% higher web conversions than campaigns or websites without it.
UGC generates trust: whilst text reviews and star ratings are vital for building trust with the consumer, visual UGC takes it one step further - seeing is believing after all. Consumers are 2.4x more likely to say user-generated content is authentic compared to brand-created content.
UGC sells the product experience: visual UGC shows a customer exactly how a product would fit into their life, increasing their desire to buy. UGC increases conversions by 10% when included in an online purchase path.
UGC is cost and time effective: creating your own content takes time and money, whereas you can collect quality UGC for very little investment.
In a nutshell, UGC helps lower acquisition costs, increases store traffic and drives conversion rates. What’s not to love?
Social media is the most obvious source of UGC, and a branded #hashtag is a simple way to get users creating their own product related content.
Think about all the touchpoints you can use to share a ‘call to create’ - product pages, packaging, post-purchase emails, your own social media content - there’s so much scope for encouraging customers to snap and share their purchases.
Encourage them to follow your branded #hashtag and you get more than just user-generated content. You get a brand community. And that’s really the key to this strategy.
It’s about bringing like-minded people together and giving them a centralized space to share their love for your products. In other words, it’s about turning content creators into a team of loyal brand advocates that essentially do your marketing for you.
So what about potential customers that aren't following your #hashtag? How do you get them to engage with your brand at the discovery stage? By repurposing UGC for you own social campaigns
Provided you have permission rights you can grab UGC from multiple sources to use as marketing material. The best way to do this is with a UGC collection engine - something that automatically pulls visual review content and Instagram tags and @mentions into a single content library.
From here you can pick and choose your favorite visuals and decide what to share where and how. When you consider that 49% of Gen Z consumers prefer to discover new products via Instagram Stories, a collection of user-generated product photos would work well here. Meanwhile, video reviews are perfect content for TikTok and Instagram Reels.
Just as UGC makes great material for organic campaigns, anything of high enough quality can be used to improve paid ad performance.
Instead of causing audience fatigue with the same generic, polished images, you can transform advertising into something that resonates and that viewers relate to. You’ll also have a continuous stream of new content to keep ads fresh and engaging.
As well as content they can relate to, customers today want a frictionless shopping experience, so one of the most effective ways to turn UGC into sales is to make it shoppable.
It works because you’re selling the product experience and building that level of trust right at the point of discovery. You’re then offering a one click solution to go through to the point of purchase, removing multiple steps from the traditional buyer journey.
Shoppable content is transforming the way customers interact with brands, so whether you post it to Instagram, publish shoppable UGC galleries across your store, or both, this is a strategy very much worth exploring.
You know those shoppable UGC galleries we just mentioned? You can also embed them into personalized email campaigns. It’s easy to do with our UGC feature and Klaviyo integration, and it really is a winning strategy for boosting sales.
That’s because it ticks three of the most important boxes for the customer - personalization, authenticity and convenience.
On the personalization front, you can pull in product specific galleries relevant to past purchase behavior. It’s not just a generic collection of UGC, it’s highly targeted content. It's authentic because it’s user-generated, and it’s convenient because it’s a one click journey through to the procust page.
We’re kind of stepping into influencer territory here but only with one foot. That’s because authentic UGC should really be organic, so we’re not suggesting you start up any paid partnerships (nothing wrong with that - it’s just a different topic for a different post).
What we are suggesting is that you foster relationships with customers who love your brand and have a high follower count. Maybe not in the millions but still high enough to have some influence. Connect with them, engage with their content, and if you have a loyalty program make sure they get the VIP treatment.
What you’re doing here is nurturing brand advocacy, increasing the chances they’ll create content around your products, share it with their followers, and drive new custom to your store.
Incorporating UGC into your marketing strategy is a smart move. Customers are inundated with meaningless content everyday, so if you want to stand out you need to offer them something different - content that means something to them because they identify with it.
A word of caution though - make sure you have tools in place to moderate that content. Anything you share needs to be appropriate and brand-friendly.
Our solution allows you to collate, organize and review UGC with ease. It also gives you user friendly tools for publication, helping you turn this valuable asset into sales. Try us out with a 14 day trial or check out our competitive, contract free price plans.