You’ve probably heard about the power of user-generated content (or UGC) already. This is content created by customers, not a brand itself. With a phone camera and access to Internet resources, any user can become a content creator.
Being authentic and trustworthy, UGC can do wonders for increasing brand awareness. It also contributes to driving relevant traffic, improving conversions, and boosting sales.
Want to learn the benefits of user-generated content for your sales strategy? Then keep reading this article.
Understanding user-generated content
UGC stands for the unsponsored content created by users or customers of a product or service. With such content, they share their customer experience online. Most customers find the opinions of fellow buyers more trustworthy than branded content.
UGC forms can range from a short comment on Google Maps to a full video review on YouTube.
Here are the most common forms of UGC:
- Product reviews and testimonials on various resources;
- Social media content (comments and posts with pictures and reviews);
- YouTube videos;
- Blog posts;
- Forums and discussions threads;
- And many more.
The role of user-generated content in sales and marketing
Most brands have already recognized the power of authentic content created by users. So, they try to get the most out of UGC marketing throughout all the stages of a customer journey:
At each stage, potential customers come across different types of UGC. Let’s take a closer look at each of these stages.
At the awareness stage, a potential customer comes across your product or brand. Brand awareness often occurs when seeing a social media post telling about your product.
During the consideration stage, a customer carries out pre-purchase research. At this stage, reviews and real product photos will influence the purchasing decision.
At the purchase stage, a customer finally buys your product. Again, that might be product reviews to convince them to choose it.
The retention stage assumes that a customer actively uses your product. Sometimes they may need help or guidance. They may find useful UGC in your brand communities as well as on Q&A or FAQ sections of your website.
When a customer reaches the advocacy stage, they are already loyal to your brand. As a result, they often become active contributors to your brand community. Together with other followers, they are happy to spread the word about your products.
Why integrate user-generated content into your sales strategy
Now, let’s outline the key benefits of integrating UGC into your sales strategy.
1. Driving brand awareness
Reaching new audiences is an essential task of sales strategy. UGC improves the organic reach and makes it easier for people to discover your brand. Many customers get familiar with new products when seeing UGC while surfing their social media feed. According to Forrester, 48% of customers rely on UGC to discover new brands and products.
UGC works like word-of-mouth when users share their experience of using your product online. McKinsey’s research confirms the power of word of mouth techniques. As their findings show, these techniques can generate twice as many sales as paid promotion methods.
To increase your brand’s visibility, consider creating branded hashtags. Customized hashtags make it easier for users to spread the word about your product. At the same time, branded hashtags allow potential customers to get in touch with your business right away.
2. Providing social proof
New buyers often make purchasing decisions based on reviews from real people. Along with that, many customers need to check the visuals and videos about a product to get confident in their choice. To do their pre-purchase research, users are exploiting search engines and social networks.
User-generated content helps potential customers with product evaluation. According to Stackla, 79% of customers made their buying decisions based on UGC they interacted with.
Positive product reviews showcasing the product features often lead users to the purchase stage. At the same time, even a single negative review can spoil the impression about a brand forever.
To leverage the power of UGC, encourage customers to leave their testimonials and product reviews. Here are a few ideas on how to do this:
- Send your customers an email a couple of days after an order asking them to share their feedback. A simple email marketing service can help you do this within a few minutes;
- Put a small note into the product package asking to share their unboxing experience;
- Provide customers with a template tweet or post to share if they are happy with the product.
To get the most out of reviews, be sure to have them on both your website and external resources.
3. Driving relevant website traffic
As a study by Stackla shows, user-generated content resonates with the audience 2.4 times more than branded content does. Thus, UGC helps drive people interested in your products to your website.
With traditional ways of promotion, hitting the right target audience is a challenging task. With UGC, you can get your products in front of online buyers interested in them. As a result, you can cut the number of website visitors outside your target audience. And since the audience has already done their pre-purchase research, they are more likely to convert into buyers.
4. Strengthening SEO rankings
SEO optimization is a very resource-intensive process. It aims to create targeted content recognized by both users and search engines as authentic and of high quality. UGC makes this task much easier. Stories, comments, and reviews from real users are all unique content that can compete with optimized texts.
SEO specialists create titles, descriptions, select relevant keywords, insert internal links and backlinks. To make these attributes look authentic in the eyes of search engines, they spend a lot of time and effort. With UGC, all these attributes appear already optimized. Users mention the products’ names, leave links to them, and create unique descriptive texts related to the products.
Your brand mentions together with the backlinks help improve your website SEO rankings. So, the potential customers will have more chances to land on it and convert into buyers further. The best part here is that your brand spends neither money nor time on this work.
As studies show, a quarter of the search results for the top 20 global brands are various forms of UGC.
5. Improving conversion rates
As Salesforce claims, implementing UGC throughout the entire customer journey can drive the conversion rates up by 10%.
Using UGC displays can work well for improving website conversion rates. These are product reviews, rating, and Q&A sections. There is comprehensive research on the impact of UGC displays on website conversion rates. According to it, displaying UGC can increase the conversion rate by up to 4.3%. But, a visitor’s interaction with UGC can increase it by up to 108.4%! Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?
Besides, using UGC displays enhances the shopping experience of your online customers. If they don’t see product ratings and reviews or cannot find answers to their questions right away, they will most likely leave the site.
No matter what industry your brand is part of, email marketing is an integral part of a successful sales strategy. Why not leverage user-generated content in onboarding, promotional, and follow-up emails?
Implementing UGC in email marketing can improve retention rates and drive online sales. Here are a few ways you can integrate UGC into email campaigns:
- Add customer testimonials to an abandoned cart email;
- Show pics of real customers using your product in onboarding emails;
- Complement special offer emails with product reviews.
Just imagine, these simple steps can increase email CTRs by 73%!
7. Increasing return on ad spend
As mentioned above, people trust UGC much more than traditional types of content. So, don’t forget to use UGC in your advertising materials!
Showing real people using your product instead of stock images in your ads increases the likelihood of conversion.
As Salesforce experts say, ads leveraging UGC are likely to get 5 times higher CTRs than the traditional ones. As a result, you can cut the acquisition costs and thus improve the return on ad spend (ROAS).
8. Creating community around your brand
Finally, UGC helps you build a community of like-minded people around your brand. If you’d like your followers to endorse your products, encourage them to:
- Tell about their experience of using your products;
- Take part in contests and challenges;
- Share your branded hashtags.
Building a community helps strengthen customer loyalty and contributes to repeat sales.
Besides, a deeper connection between your brand and your fans makes feedback collection easier. So, you get valuable insights on how to improve your offerings further.
Now you know the amazing benefits of user-generated content for your sales strategy. Such content is more trustworthy, engaging, and cost-effective, compared to traditional branded content. Leveraging UGC helps you save tons of time and effort on in-house content creation.
UGC helps strengthen SEO rankings and drive the target audience to your website. Implementing UGC throughout your marketing channels helps improve conversion and boost sales.
So, if you’re looking for proven ways to drive sales, start harnessing the power of user-generated content today.