Overlooking user-generated content is a huge mistake often made by business owners and marketers. However, there are many ways different kinds of user-generated content (UGC) can give a company an advantage.

In this article, you’ll find reasons why you should give more attention to UGC, learn all about its benefits, and, for some extra tips, take a look at some real-life examples of how renowned brands are using it.

What’s considered as UGC?

Whether you’re creating a new company website, upgrading your existing one, or building a progressive web app, you surely don’t want to miss out on UGC elements.

Before we jump to why the UGC game is more than worth it, it’s vital to understand what can fall under the ‘user-generated content’ category.

Here are the main points:

  • Feedback on products and services – These can be a given rating or a short review on a purchased item. The review is sometimes backed up by uploading or sharing the user’s own unique photos. Such reviews are left on specialized reviews platforms such as TrustPilot, in surveys, or submitted on the website of the company.
  • Testimonials & articles – Testimonials give a more in-depth point of view of a product or service. They can include an overview or a story outlining details on the user’s experience of using a purchased item, obtaining a service, etc.
  • Image & graphic content – This includes various photos, pictures, drawings or infographics with an item or brand image. Such content is often shared either directly on the company’s website or on various social media channels.
  • Video & audio content – User generated videos featured on organic posts, Stories, IGTV, YouTube, TikTok, etc, also count.
  • Blogs & social media posts about or featuring a brand – This includes feature articles or various listings, such as “Top 5”, “Best X”, etc.

Why is UGC beneficial for eCommerce?

User-generated content is an immensely powerful tool for various business types. However, for today, we’d like our primary focus to be on the online retail sphere. To be fair, many of the recommendations given on this page can be universally applied. So feel free!

Below we’ll overview the main advantages of implementing UGC in your marketing strategy and on your eCommerce site.

Let’s get started!

1. Build Trust & Brand Desire

When your business is a ‘no-name’, it’s going to be harder for customers to trust you with their money. After all, it can get tricky to convince someone to have confidence in your company, if they haven’t previously done business with you. Therefore, the first strong side of using UGC is to help build up trust in a company, brick by brick.

We can all agree that when real people share their point of view on something, their opinion usually outweighs any advertising glorification from the manufacturing company.  We all tend to lend an ear to what third parties have to say.

Therefore, it remains a major oversight to not turn up user-generated content to strengthen trust in your business.

Similarly, when people see how others are enjoying a product, or are happy with a received service, the desire to obtain the item rubs off on them too!

To present a real-life example, below is a screenshot taken on the official Nike website.

 

As you can see, the product page has a “How others are wearing it” section devoted to user-generated posts. These featured posts consist of all the tagged Air Jordan shoes pulled from social media.

This way, shoppers get a front-row opportunity to see the product worn differently by regular people, as opposed to seeing them only on models or on any other professionally taken photo in the website gallery.

Displaying such user generated content made by regular users on their own will is very beneficial for the brand. Not to mention the fact this is how you create trends.

For starters, by offering customers a chance to share their favorite look and mention the brand on socials (as done by Nike), a mutually advantageous bond is formed for all sides:

  1. The brand gets additional exposure in the eyes of the user’s followers on socials.
  2. The user gets extra exposure when their post is shown on the official website of the brand or when it’s reposted on the company’s own social accounts.
  3. Those who are yet to purchase the product yet are inspired to get it.

2. Influence Decision Making & Give Insights On What To Improve

Visuals are more effective for brand exposure and building trust. Reviews and ratings, on the other hand, are a “pot of gold” on impacting how a person makes up their mind ie. whether they want to buy something or not. This also applies to company partnerships or when signing up for various services.

Let’s face it, who else can speak better about the pros and cons of something if not a person who owns the item and can share their hands-on experience about it?

The power of reviews and testimonials given by users is extremely effective in both convincing people and in signaling the decision-makers from the company’s side on the product or service’s strong and weak sides.

This way, if you manage to effectively display the reviews your customers give, you can decrease the distrust level to your brand at least in half. At the same time,you get a better understanding of what you need to improve.

As a brand, you stand to gain!

Here are a few ways you can encourage your clients to give you feedback:

  • Surveys– For example, you can use email surveys from your brand’s mailing list.
  • Email requests – For example, in delivery confirmation mailers.
  • Call to action buttons– You can use call to action buttons on product pages.
  • Website pop-ups.

It’s wise to offer something in exchange for your customer’s review. This raises your chances of the customer actually taking their time to review your company or the item they’ve just bought.

Examples of incentives you could offer your customers can be an additional discount or free delivery for their next order.

Take a look at the product page of the official Victoria’s Secret website  captured in the screenshot below.

Their “Ratings & Reviews” section occupies a very large portion of the page. Since there is already an overview that summarizes the feedback from many people i.e, “83% of reviewers recommend this product”, it becomes easier for a person to make a conclusion about the item.

Apart from the star rating, we can also see that each review has several highlighted moments to prove the person as a “Verified Purchaser”. This includes some info on where they’re from and the selected “Fit Rating” regarding the size.

At the end of the day, if your potential customer wasn’t sure whether it’s worth buying the item or whether the product will meet their high expectations, the reviews of others can surely help them make a choice.

If it’s to your credit, up goes your sales!

3. Expand Your Online Presence

Being active on various online channels is crucial for businesses- it increases your viewership!  Every marketer knows that it takes a little bit more than just getting featured on company registries, Google Maps, and other listings.

Apart from your actual website, social media is the next crucial user-generated content building block that deserves your attention.

For starters, by cross-linking content on your official social media accounts and your website, you ultimately enhance and boost your content plan.

It becomes less difficult to manage your accounts and keep all the news readily available across multiple channels as opposed to only your website. Your customers and followers can help you create content and grow your presence online.

Like we’ve mentioned, when users share unique content that features your product, tags your business account and/or uses a required brand hashtag, your brand gets viewed by a whole bunch of new people who follow your customer.

As a result, your viewership coverage grows. Speaking of viewership coverage, Social Media Marketing (SMM ) specialists are always striving to get more people to follow their accounts.

Giving customers the green light to craft their own unique content and tag you is another way to enlarge your number of followers on social media.

Below is a screenshot of a UGC section on the official Skechers website.

It’s pretty clear that the posts that made it to the official website were drawn from social media accounts like Instagram.

As you hover over a post, you are able to see the number of Likes. If you then click on the photo, it opens in gallery slider format offering a “Shop the look” functionality that gives a short link to the product page of the item shown on the picture.

4. Grow Organic Traffic

Social commerce is a big thing. Just think of how enormous its reach is!

Just as user-generated content is capable of attracting the attention of users directly on the website, then move them to the product checkout page, it can also allure users to the store checkout from your social media accounts.

The simplest and most obvious way this happens is when your social media accounts have direct links to your website.

As a rule, such links should be clearly visible and placed towards the page header. But how else do you get users to come to an eCommerce site from their favorite socials?

The answer?

Plugging shopping functionality into your social media accounts.

Instagram Shops, Facebook Shops, Pinterest Shops, for instance, have been extremely popular for attracting organic traffic and driving extra sales. They’re especially handy for eCommerce.

Additionally, organic website visits are really important in improving your website’s positions and trust rating. Just ask any SEO specialist!

Mention the content for your shoppable posts on social media shops, instead of only using the photos  you make yourself. You can, for instance, use pictures and videos made by your customers and tag the products featured on such pictures.

As long as you credit the customer and have their permission to use their content for your own commercial purposes, you’re good to go. The same applies to content created by various influencers.

To show you how social media shops work to boost organic traffic growth and sales, here are screenshots of a post made on the official Guess Instagram account.


As you can see, this post has a “View Products” button that highlights the item tagged on the photo with its price “Originals Striped Logo Dress -… $79”. When clicking on the product tag, the pop-up offers a “View on Website” button that takes the user from Instagram to the product page of the dress on the official website.

You can also see the people shown on the picture are tagged using their official accounts i.e, @samameshek, @nicolaimarciano and @miahewett .As we’ve mentioned before, it is essential to give them credit.

5. Boost Customer Retention

We all know it’s much easier to sell  to a customer who’s already done business with you in the past.

Since convincing new clients to buy from you is not an easy task, overlooking customer retention is unacceptable. A crucial benefit of implementing user-generated content lies in the fact that you can get clients to return to you.

Let me explain further while bringing up our earlier conversation – Asking your customers to leave a review in return for an incentive.

By giving a discount or delivery perk to be used in a future purchase as a reward for giving feedback, you provide additional grounds for the person to come back to the store and buy something.

After all, who’d not want to take advantage of a great offer?

Just to mention other customer engagement “moves” for retention purposes, you can run various contests and giveaways that have a content creation requirement.

On one hand, you’re inspiring clients and their creativity, and on the other hand, you’re also gaining a lot. You’ll need to sacrifice a great prize that’ll be worth fighting for. Worry not, you will get a lot of publicity in return. Win win.

As seen below on the screenshot from the official MAC Cosmetics website.
The user-generated content block called “Social Skills” presents a gallery made up of various images created by regular MAC users. Many of the posts were created in the MAC Artist Challenge, which had users add a proper hashtag to the post (#macartistchallenge) as one of the conditions to participate.

That’s how you do it!

Final say

Summing up, user-generated content is a mighty thing to use for business growth.

Among the major gains of using user-generated content include: boosting the interest and trust in a brand, persuading potential customers to make a purchase, having a stronger presence online, as well as leading more people to the website organically and retaining clients.

The overall best thing?

It practically costs you nothing!

As a business owner or marketer, make sure not to miss out on UGC.

 

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Author

Johannes holds a Masters degree in Business IT. He has more than 7 years of experience in online marketing and holds certifications from Google. Additionally, has helped to develop several start-ups. He enjoys good food and feels slightly awkward talking about himself in third person.