Not so long ago, most of the content that we consumed was created by professionals, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, etc. The case was the same with marketing and ad agencies. You had a bunch of creative people, designers, photographers, aka, specifically tasked with the job of creating a perfect ad, slogan, or photo shoot for your products and campaigns. Well, the days when only a select few had the tools and knowledge to create are long gone.
Nowadays, all of us carry miniature creative studios in our pockets – our smartphones. People create millions of photos and videos every day and write countless articles and reviews about various items. Books, TV shows, clothing, technology gadgets, trinkets, you name it, people took a photo with it, gave it a 5-star review. In short, they made User-Generated Content or UGC. UGC can be incredibly useful to anyone who does any business in retail and is looking to popularize the items they are selling.
Before we dwell on how you, as an eCommerce blog owner, can benefit from UGC, let’s get a deeper understanding of it first. User-Generated Content is composed of any content, be it text, reviews, images, videos, etc., created by ordinary people instead of being created by brands or companies. This type of content is abundant, and brands and companies will usually share the more quality ones on their social media platforms, websites, web stores, and ad campaigns.
The reasoning behind this is twofold. Firstly, you get a lot of ad material for free, but more importantly, this isn’t your typical high-budget, studio-made, edited material. This might sound like a downside until you realize that this type of content appears, to potential customers, more genuine. They get to see an actual person wearing a dress, instead of a model, or read someone’s review about a product they were in two minds about.
We scratched the surface of reasoning for the use of UGC, but now we’ll talk more in detail about ways User Generated Content can be used to advance your eCommerce business.
User-Generated Content can boost your SEO
UGC is closely tied with SEO as it can impact it in quite a few different ways. One of the main things that UGC does is that it provides search engines with new, authentic, and relevant content. Creating specific content targeting Search Engine Optimization can be costly and time-consuming. But your customers can do it for you!
By writing reviews and posting photos, your customers also create a lot of content that search engines use. Your customers will use the product and site-related keywords and links while reviewing your products. This will inadvertently boost your search ranking.
UGC can be used to build trust with customers
Besides having a good marketing campaign that will reach the highest amount of potential customers, there are other thighs that can be used to aid you in selling your products. One such thing is the concept knows as social proof. Social proof simply means that people are willing to trust other people’s judgment, especially if they are in a large group. If they see thousands of people buying from a certain store or brand, they will begin to trust said store or brand.
Why does this work? Simply put, when we see that someone, a real customer, is using products or services, they are providing external validation in our minds when we are deciding whether or not to go through with the purchase. Before, we would find this proof in the testimonial section of a store, but now we find the social proof in Instagram stories, online photos, vlogs, or any other social media platform.
Another good usage for UGC in this context is using customer photos to give your indecisive customers that little nudge they need to decide to get your product. We love trends, and we like to look up to others, so if we see a lot of happy faces with a product, that product has a high chance of “sticking” with us and leaving a positive impression. The existence of social proof is a perfect reason why any eCommerce business should incorporate their customer’s content into their marketing as means of building confidence and trust.
Use UGC to expand your community
Once you have gained over that indecisive customers, it’s best to integrate them into your community to retain them. You can use coupons, discounts, or just the fact that their photo is on your site as a reward for your most loyal and active customers. This will, in turn, make your customers feel fulfilled and happier when they interact with your brand or company. People get excited when they see that a brand has reposted their photo.
It gives them a slight dopamine hit, and they connect that feeling of excitement and happiness with the action of interacting with your business. As a result, they will want to interact even more.
That is how you can use User Generated Content in building and expanding your community. Use it as one of your primary engagement tools. UGC is a two-way street where the customers are the ones who are both providing the content and getting satisfaction from doing so.
Users Generate that Content
This benefit is quite obvious, but we need to mention it. Creating an impactful marketing campaign for your products takes time. What if you want to use some additional pictures besides the stock-looking ones that you can get from your supplier? Well, you would need to hire a photographer, make or reserve a set, etc. All of this takes your valuable time and resources, which you could be using in other, more productive ways.
If you have a decent customer base, chances are there will be amazing photos of people using or showcasing your product out there. These are more organic than the more fabricated studio photos you could make. Let the satisfied customers share their work which will, in turn, garner you new buyers and save you time at the same time.
How to motivate your users?
After all of the said benefits of using UGC in your eCommerce store, let’s see how we can motivate and encourage our users to create such content.
Entice your customers to post reviews
There are many different ways of enticing your customer base to write reviews. You could ask them to leave a review after they have made a purchase. Explain to them why their reviews are so important, make them feel valued. Be sure to make the reviewing process as simple as possible, no need to click and scroll for minutes to find the Review section of the product.
Motivate users to comment on social networks and blogs
When making an ad for a product you are selling, be sure to finish the text with something similar to: “What are your thoughts on this product?” or “What color of the bag looks the most appealing to you and why?”. This is a sure way of catching people’s attention and creating the feeling they need to respond.
Have two-way communication
When someone posts an amazing photo with your product in a review or in a comment, say how much you value that by commenting back or answering. Don’t just restrict this to photos. Comment on your most popular reviews and answer publicly stated questions. When people see that they can expect a response from you, they will be more likely to produce additional content.
This is one of the best ways of making users create content. For example, make a contest for the best photo with one of your items and reward the best one with either discounts, coupons, or items from your store. Count on the competitive nature of humans to be the driving force behind your customers’ motivation.
User-Generated Content is an important asset to any eCommerce business, no matter how big or small. It offers a way of creating a loyal customer base, improving your ranking, and saving you time and money in the initial business development stages, where it counts the most.
Besides all of that, it provides an opportunity to have meaningful and lasting interactions with your customers. The buyers will remember the photos, reviews, and comments they wrote and sent, making them remember you, as a great seller, as well.