User Generated Content or UGC is a widely used marketing strategy for a lot of eCommerce businesses. We’ve seen UGC swing conversion values for our clients and sometimes it can produce one of the biggest ROIs an eCommerce business can get in marketing. In this article we’re going to look at exactly what user generated content is, how you can practically implement it into your marketing strategies and how we approach UGC.

What is User Generated Content?

User generated content, or UGC for short, is any piece of content, be it pictures, text or video that’s produced by a non-paid user. Usually in form of a social media post, users or “brand fans” will feature a product in their social post. As the user shares their experience, the product is being endorsed to the “brand fans” friends and social followers.

Why is User Generated Content so Important

First and foremost, UGC is free advertising. But unlike other forms of free advertising, the message is broadcasted by someone your ideal audience trusts and respects. This not only adds a sense of authenticity to your brand but it’s marketing that puts your customers first, not your product.

This customer-centric marketing approach has been proven to work time and time again and it increases your brand reputation and the likelihood of your consumers trusting your brand more. Building trust and a relationship with your customers is extremely important as it gives you the opportunity to re-sell, and up-sell in the future with ease.

When you put a UGC plan into place, it can quickly spiral and before you know it you have hundreds of thousands of users creating content around your product. This authentic brand messaging then gets shown to all of their followers and then they go and buy your product and start posting their own UGC. And the cycle continues.

Our User Generated Content Marketing Tips

With any marketing campaign, planning is key. UGC marketing isn’t like traditional marketing because you loose control of how your product is being portrayed. It’s now up to the consumer how they’re going to describe your product. Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that UGC is somewhat out of your hands and you’ll struggle to curate everything, you can start the marketing.

Find the Platforms Your Users are On

There’s no point hanging around an out-of-date social media platform, when your users are somewhere else. Do some market research into your audience type and find out where they’re likely to be most active. For some brands, this may be forums and others it will simply be on Instagram.

Once you’ve found where your audience is, become a presence there. Don’t post spam-like product-centric posts, instead post something relevant to your user base. If you’re on a primarily visual based platform, like Instagram, post lifestyle images rather than product images. This is more likely to engage the user base.

Share User Generated Content

If someone creates UGC and tags your brand in the post, make sure to like, comment and share it. This is your opportunity to say thank you to the content creator. If you say thank you, they’re likely to repost in the future and UGC marketing wheel keeps turning.

Commenting on a post is a powerful way to engage with your customers on a personal and authentic level. This is especially true if you compliment someone in the comments. This is a great way to build relationships with your customers and therefore brand loyalty.

Integrate UGC into Email Marketing

Email marketing is not dead and it’s a super powerful tool in the world of eCommerce, especially if you pair it with a UGC marketing campaign. Include a message in your email automations so that after a certain amount of time has passed after the customer has purchased they are encouraged to post online.

When you’re sending out promotional emails or email updates, include some UGC and cite the username of the content creator. The email recipient will instantly recognise that this is authentic UGC and will begin to trust the brand and grow loyal. This is particularly powerful for welcome flows, but also for high churn risk customers.

UGC with a Loyalty Program

When loyalty programs are used correctly in a marketing campaign, they will increase brand loyalty and promote repeat purchases. Usually loyalty programs rely on a points system, where the user gets a certain amount of points for every purchase or action. If you include a UGC task into your loyalty program, you’re giving back to your customers and they’re more likely to post about your product.

UGC as Advertising

If you’re targeting and retargeting a specific consumer, you’ll want to showcase your brand in the best possible way in your advertising campaigns. Once a consumer has seen all your marketing material and lifestyle imagery, try introducing some UGC in your retargeting campaigns. This social proof might be enough to influence a purchasing decision.

UGC on Basic Rights Product Page

Add UGC to Your Product Pages

Adding UGC and linking back to the original post in your product page is such a powerful tool. As far as a customer experience goes, showcasing online reviews and UGC can be some of the biggest conversion rate influencing factors you can add to a product page. We’ve seen some brands have huge success from adding user generated images as the main product photo and the marketing images are secondary.

UGC and SEO

Although it maybe hard to believe, UGC can actually affect your SEO efforts, and when implemented correctly it can push you ahead of your competitors. Google, Bing and other search engines all have the same goal; find the most relevant piece of content for a users query. If a user is searching for a product and you have lots of relevant UGC on your page then your site is a little bit more SEO friendly.

Search engines are actively looking for fresh, regularly updated websites, and if you can provide a slow drip of UGC then you’re automatically updating bits of your site. We know that sharing a site on social media drives engagement and traffic. This will boost your sites visibility and will indirectly and positively influence your SEO campaign.

It’s almost impossible to predict what algorithmic changes are going to be happening in Google and other search engines. But in early September 2019 Google released some new changes to its “nofollow” links and introduced some new attributes. They look like this:

rel="nofollow"
rel="sponsored"
rel="ugc"

Google have announced that these are to be used as a kind of “hint”. While there is no way of knowing how Google is going to use the UGC rel link in the future, it’s clear that they pay attention to UGC as a sign of relevancy and authenticity and potentially in the future a direct ranking signal.

Our approach to UGC

Our approach to all user generated marketing, is that, while it maybe a powerful tool by itself, if it’s integrated with your other marketing channels it’s even more powerful. Integrating UGC with retargeting ads, automated email flows and even your SEO campaign can influence your conversion values massively. Get in touch to discuss how we can help your UGC work for you.

AUTHOR

Will Lynch

Will is Head of Marketing at ELS Media. He can be found fixing Google penalties, optimising eCommerce sites and creating automated email marketing strategies.