In an era where consumers have become smarter, how do you sell your products to your target market?
People no longer trust ads.
What do they trust then?
Content from real customers.
When it comes to making buying decisions, 93% of buyers trust the recommendations of families and friends.
A whopping 92% of consumers will even believe other people’s recommendations, even if it’s people they don’t know.
Even brands have taken notice. Surprisingly, 87% of brands are taking advantage of content produced by customers to appear more authentic.
This type of more engaging content has a name — User-Generated Content or simply, UGC.
Today, we’re going to talk about UGC, why it’s infinitely better in terms of conversion rates & cost production, and how you can use eCommerce user-generated content in your marketing strategy.
What is User-Generated Content?
User-generated content (UGC) is any content created by existing customers or any audience about a brand. It can be in the form of reviews, videos, stories, product images, or social media posts. Like this one.
Your customers can create the content out of their own will. Maybe they’re trying out your product for the first time. Or, they simply love it and want to share their experiences with their friends and families.
When this happens, you get free marketing!
Other times, UGC can be paid for. Brands can initiate the creation of user-generated content so they can incorporate it into their marketing strategies to drive users and increase conversions.
Yes, brands—especially those in the eCommerce space—have been shifting away from traditional marketing into UGC marketing. You’re about to find out why.
Why You Can’t Ignore UGC In Your eCommerce Marketing Strategy
Brands have been leveraging eCommerce user-generated content to market their products better.
Shopify reported that ads with UGC received 4x higher click-through rates and had a 50% drop in cost per click compared to other ads.
Why did user-generated content get so popular with eCommerce brands?
1. UGC is authentic
According to surveys, 75% of consumers say UGC makes content more authentic. This authenticity helps consumers visualize what a product would look like in real-world scenarios, driving consumers to make faster purchasing decisions.
Also, since customers create user-generated content themselves, it’s seen as real, raw, and true. Compared to “picture-perfect” brand photos, UGC is more influential to customers because of its more realistic feel.
On the other hand, only 19% of consumers relate and find authenticity from brand-created content.
2. UGCs create brand loyalty and trust
Leveraging UGC is like having people promote for you. They offer buyers an unbiased, third-party opinion of your products. This ultimately helps more users trust your brand.
In fact, 72% of consumers said that real customer photos and videos are what they want to see on eCommerce product pages.
3. UGC increases brand awareness
eCommerce businesses pay money to get their brands in front of their target users.
They use Facebook Ads, for example, to build a brand online awareness campaign just to get people to see or notice their eCommerce store.
At the end of the day, all they get are impressions and “likes” on their Facebook page, if they’re lucky. It’s not even money in the bank, but they’re allotting a budget for it, even if it can get expensive.
With user-generated content, you can build brand awareness at zero cost.
A good example would be Keds, who used the hashtag #fanfriday on Instagram to inspire users to post their own photos and tag the brand on their feed by free will.
Doing initiatives like this lets your customers spread your brand for you using social proof. Each has their own audiences, helping you put your brand out there for their loyal fans and followers to discover.
4. UGC is cost-effective
Brands generally spend $72,000 annually to create professional content. The amount and efforts allocated towards producing such content is no joke.
Imagine the number of staff involved in preparing the production set. There are models, directors, professional photographers, celebrity artists, and there’s also the location to rent.
Compare that to user-generated content. You can collect it for free when users tag you on social channels, do a #hashtag competition, or offer free trials.
UGC can also be acquired at a minimum budget. It only costs $30-$300 per post for nano influencers.
This is how user-generated content wins in terms of cost.
Overall, UGCs give consumers what they’re looking for, making it an unbeatable tactic in the eCommerce space.
Let’s now talk about how you can start your very own UGC campaign.
Jumpstarting Your UGC eCommerce Campaign
At this point, we know very well how beneficial UGCs can be for your eCommerce business.
The question now is, how can you use user-generated content in your marketing campaigns moving forward?
There are two ways: organic and paid UGC campaigns.
Organic UGC eCommerce campaign ideas
Let’s start with organic UGC campaigns you can try. You won’t need a huge marketing budget for these ideas. You or someone from your team can execute this.
To encourage more customers to share positive reviews or creative user photos, you can:
- Hold contests on social media platforms by sharing customer photos
- Give coupons, freebies, or prizes to other customers who will share the best product reviews
- Simply call on your followers to post photos with your product while adding a specific hashtag, ideally rooted in a good cause
We’d love for you to visualize this better, so we'll use real campaigns from Instagram posts.
Are you familiar with Starbucks’ campaigns that made use of hashtags like #UnicornFrappuccino...
Well, they won a silver IPA Effectiveness award for their 2018 social strategy. It has reportedly generated £4 in additional profit for every £1 invested.
Another one is Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign.
The #ShareACoke campaign became the #1 global trending topic on marketing channels—and a 2% increase in soft drinks sales in June 2014. People are still using it, generating organic UGC for Coca-Cola in social media channels 7 years later.
This UGC campaign has implanted an emotional connection with Coca-Cola's customers.
Lastly, the furniture store Kave runs a #KaveHome section on their website. They pull in all the beautiful home photos from real customers and users. They then link them to the product pages.
Big brands like Starbucks and Coca Cola are using organic UGC Campaigns, but it’s not limited to them.
eCommerce businesses of any size can also encourage their customers to share creative user photos to achieve brand awareness, virality, and engagement.
Paid UGC eCommerce campaign ideas
As we’ve mentioned, user-generated content can be paid too.
Here are the two most common ways: influencer partnerships and repurposing content as ads.
An influencer marketing agency claims that influencer campaigns can spark an influx of user-generated content for their clients.
That’s because influencers have the power to:
- Promote inspiration to their loyal followers. They can make their audience share their own images and stories even with just a few posts.
- Initiate engagement—even those with under 5k following. In fact, nano influencers tend to get higher engagement rates at around 5%, compared to 2.2% engagement for the rest of the influencers.
- Produce content tailored to the platform. Influencers usually have a specialty platform on which they publish their main content. E-commerce brands can carefully choose influencers based on their specialty platform to match their target audience and strategy.
How to get started with influencer partnerships
It’s easy to get started with influencer partnerships nowadays. All you have to do is identify your ideal influencers and leverage UGC platforms.
1. Find the right-fit influencers
You can start by getting to know your customer base better. Who are the influencers that they follow and trust?
Look at the influencers’ identity, mood, and relevant markets. Don’t limit yourself by thinking of influencers who are direct users of your products. Think of influencers with a relevant audience you can cross-sell to. Be creative when finding new audiences.
For example, if you have a clothing company for kids, you can approach mommy influencers.
2. Set expectations
Next, it’s important to have a brief ready for influencers to follow when you do.
The marketing influencer brief usually includes:
- Ground rules of the campaigns
- Company overview
- Campaign goals and objectives
- The target of the campaign
- Channels to be used in the campaign
- Payment info and agreements
- Copyright or ownership of the content (can it be repurposed or not)
- Deadlines and timelines
- Signed agreement
- Content review process
- How to incorporate reviews (if applicable)
- Reporting of results
Having a detailed brief for influencer marketing might feel too formal, but it ensures that the influencer understands the brand goals. This is crucial for making your UGC campaigns successful.
Remember, it’s best to have the goal of building relationships in mind whenever you reach out.
Thus, it's recommended for eCommerce businesses to reach out to influencers not only to accomplish a particular sales or brand awareness goal but to build trust and a lasting relationship.
3. Take advantage of user-generated content tools in your UGC campaigns
The right influencers will create content and deliver your brand message effectively.
However, finding them is not an easy task. In fact, 67% of marketers say that brands struggle to find the right influencers. It's their biggest challenge.
With multiple platforms and millions of influencers to choose from, finding the right influencer —especially a micro- or nano-influencer— is tricky. Discovering one who’s in your niche, speaks your brand, and has an engaged audience is a time-consuming process that you have to endure.
Working with the wrong one will just waste your time and resources. If you want a better and faster way of finding influencers, you can use influencer platforms to help you create UGC at scale.
Influencers apply to these platforms, so they are already pre-vetted. They have the capability to work with many brands. Their work is high-quality. Plus, they are committed, responsible and responsive.
4 User-generated content tools to use in your UGC campaigns
Insense is a content creation and amplification platform for DTC eCommerce brands.
Here you can discover creators you can collaborate with, create the influencer brief, and whitelist creators at scale to run Facebook and Instagram ads from their handle (yes, they’re integrated with Facebook Manager).
Plus, Insense takes the stress out of finding great influencers. The platform showcases influencers with portfolios and great ratings. They regularly clean the list from unresponsive influencers with negative reviews.
If you’re looking for more insight on whitelisting, check out our free eBook: drive results with Influencer Whitelisting.
Insense keeps a solid pool of creators in beauty, food, fashion, and many more niches.
Lastly, the UGC platform has a solid list of resources to provide you with case studies that can serve as your guide and inspiration for your next UGC campaign.
Taggbox lets you create and publish UGC campaigns across different marketing channels, including eCommerce, web pages, emails, and social ads.
It collects the most authentic content and engaging posts from your users, curates them, and repurposes those content. It can even tag products to visual content (like customer images and videos) and turn them into a shoppable UGC gallery.
Next, we have TRIBE.
TRIBE lets you source branded content that you can license for your eCommerce product listings.
On top of the UGC library, you can organize your fave creators into groups, invite them to private campaigns, build long-term relationships, and measure your UGC campaign performance—all within the platform.
Lastly, we have Yotpo.
This eCommerce platform combines customer photos, videos, and reviews into beautiful displays to engage your customers and elevate your eCommerce brand.
It helps you create shoppable galleries on your eCommerce site to display your best customer content. It can even showcase UGC galleries on your category, product, and even checkout pages.
4 Types of User-Generated Content
Lastly, to help you visualize user-generated content better, let us show some of the most used types of user-generated content at the moment.
Author’s Note: Content creators are getting more creative, so this can highly likely grow and change.
1. Customer Testimonials
A customer testimonial is a recommendation from a satisfied customer. This features a user’s thoughts on the product after using it for a significant amount of time — something that potential consumers would love to hear. Winalovee's post on IG is a great example.
2. Product Unboxing
Unboxing is the act of unpacking newly purchased products. It’s often used for tech consumer items in video reviews format.
The user shows how it was packed and how it arrived. What’s the new product’s size, finish, and feel, what items are included in the box, and what additional accessories they might need (if applicable)? Unbox Therapy on YouTube does a great job at this!
3. Product Real-Life application
Product real-life application is when a content creator tries on the product to give potential customers an idea of what he or she would be getting, should he or she decide to purchase.
This includes try-on hauls for clothes and product reviews for makeup, like this one from KathleenLights on YouTube.
4. Product Demo
A product demo is where a brand showcases how their service or product works by guiding the user through the process of using the tool. This reel featured on beis Instagram nails it!
All in all, user-generated content can come in different forms and sizes. You’ll have to see which types of social proof you want to experiment with.
Based on your niche, target market, and social platforms, you can decide which content forms are ideal for generating results.
Ready to start your UGC journey?
That’s about it!
You’re done with the basics. Are you excited to boost sales using eCommerce user-generated content?
Just keep in mind that yes, you can display UGC to capture your market’s attention... But don’t forget that building on that trust is more important. Nurture the relationship with your customers to make them happy.
Happy customers will definitely reward you with more awesome user-generated content that will get you even more sales for your next campaigns.
We’re excited to see where this UGC journey will take your eCommerce business!
Start with producing high-quality UGC at scale. Here’s an in-depth guide.