If you asked someone in the early 2000s to tell you what the word “marketing” brings to mind, they’d tell you about stylish magazine ads, elaborate TV commercials, and catchy radio jingles. While these things are still very much alive and well, marketing today is also synonymous with social media. We can’t ignore the impact of Instagram, Snapchat or user-generated content. Thanks to these platforms, the way we promote products is becoming more refined, subtle, and less intrusive. At least that’s what UGC marketing promises to do. Let’s break down what goes into making it a successful strategy.
What is UGC Marketing?
A simple definition of user-generated content marketing: it involves using user-generated content from social media (e.g. Instagram photos, YouTube videos etc) to demonstrate social proof, engage the target audience, create awareness for a product or brand, increase sales, and foster a sense of loyalty. User-generated content can be used for organic marketing promotion (e.g. adding a social gallery directly on the website) or in paid marketing campaigns (e.g. creating ads featuring customer photos).
The advantages of UGC marketing is that it’s perceived as a less pushy way to promote products and brands. It capitalizes on the earned content from customers who endorse products they love on their social media. UGC is the digital response to the word-of-mouth, which helps brands reach greater customer awareness and engagement.
Some Quick User-Generated Content Statistics
In order to understand the significance of UGC marketing in today’s consumer culture, let’s look at some insights why this approach to marketing is all the rage nowadays.
- In 2015, 70% of B2C marketers used or planned to leverage user-generated content in their content marketing efforts.
- 82% of marketers see an increase in visitor engagement when UGC is part of a brand’s website experience.
- 57% of marketers report an increase in website traffic when UGC is featured on their sites.
- Brands see that the conversion rate for shoppers who interact with UGC is 90% higher. Retailers see a conversion boost of 106% with UGC.
- Brands also get 101% more revenue per customer when shoppers interact with UGC during their buying journey. There is 116% revenue boost per customer for retailers as well.
Data also shows that UGC is especially effective for the demographic with the fastest growing spending power today – millennials. For most consumers in this age group, UGC is 20% more influential than mainstream media when deciding what to buy. They also find UGC 50% more trustworthy and 35% more memorable than content in other media.
All this suggests that marketing campaigns featuring UGC are a lucrative opportunity for engaging with consumers and encouraging them to buy.
Best Practices for UGC Marketing
Adding a random customer photo to your website doesn’t make a real UGC marketing strategy. There’s more to turning your customers’ creative endorsements into a successful approach that brings results. Here are a few things to have in mind.
1. Visual UGC Usually Works Better
Customer reviews are the most common type of UGC we encounter in ecommerce. But visual UGC is getting quite a bit of traction nowadays. It includes consumer-made video reviews and Instagram galleries. The reason behind the growing interest in visual UGC is its effectiveness at grabbing attention and leading customers to purchases.
Recent insights from Bazaarvoice reveal that when visual UGC is part of the journey, consumers interact 51% more with the site. Average revenue per visitor is also 116% higher for sites that feature visual UGC, such as videos and photos.
Brands and online retailers who use Goodvidio to activate visual UGC like user-generated videos from social media in their on-page marketing see on average 80% higher add-to-cart conversion rate and 340% longer visitor session duration on their sites.
Of course, the results also depend on the type of products you’re selling. Visual UGC typically works well for companies selling beauty and health products, fashion, and home accessories, where photos and videos help tell the story about the aesthetic benefits of the products.
However, that doesn’t mean that visual UGC is restricted only to these product verticals. We’ve seen impressive results with brands like Travis Perkins who use user-generated videos from YouTube to inform website visitors about its range of DIY tools and equipment.
You should run tests on what kinds of UGC work the best for your site and your audience.
2. UGC Curation Makes A Difference
We talked about the importance of UGC curation for ecommerce before. In a nutshell, UGC curation is the practice of discovering, aggregating, and filtering out content created by fans on social media in order to get a narrowed down but a highly targeted selection that has high potential to engage your customers.
Not all user-generated photos and videos are of equal quality. Not all reflect your brand values. In order to resonate with your audience, you need to sift through the content to identify those photos and videos that fit best with the message you’d like to project to your customers.
According to insights by Livefyre, 82% of marketers see an increase in visitor engagement when they curate user-generated content on their site. 57% report an increase in traffic. The reason is simple. Consumers respond to the content that matches their tastes.
Look for a user-generated content of exceptional quality. Pay attention to the lighting, colors, and composition in the photos, as well as the audio quality, facial expressions, popularity, and language in the videos. When it comes to UGC videos, explore what kind of content would complement your brand, whether it’s product review, unboxing, haul, or comparison videos created by customers. Your audience will appreciate such attention to details and will respond with better engagement in return.
3. Adjust Content For Different Channels
You might want to make UGC part of your website experience or use it in your upcoming ad campaigns. Depending on your objectives and marketing channels, you’ll need to pick the kind of UGC that works best in each situation.
For example, research shows that if you want to use UGC photos from Instagram as a way to boost engagement, you should pick the content from the users with a high social following and high volume of posts. On the other hand, if you’re looking to boost sales, UGC photos with long captions, created by users with smaller follower base and less frequent posts are more effective, as this makes the content look more credible.
When looking to add UGC into your ads, don’t forget about the rights management. Any UGC used for advertising purposes should also have the approval of the people who are the original creators, so as to avoid any legal troubles and profit claims. Give proper credit to the content creators and your marketing is golden.
4. Encourage Customers To Be Creative & Share
Successful UGC strategy starts with customers. After all, they are the ones creating and sharing creative content about your brand. Most household-name brands enjoy such high popularity that consumers come up with their own original ways to share their love for the brand on social, without being asked. Just think of all the DIY recipes Oreo lovers share on Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest to spread the word about new delicious ways to use the famous cookies.
Other brands make planned efforts to plant the seed for the UGC to grow. They come up with creative hashtags, contests, challenges, and memes to encourage their fans to create and share new content for the chance to be recognized and praised by the brand and its followers. Think of Starbucks’ cup contests inviting fans to share photos of the new designs for its paper cups and mugs. Or of Coca-Cola’s bottles with names. That’s UGC that was born to be used for marketing purposes.
This tactic works because it helps navigate consumers in the direction of brand’s vision. It might sound as counterintuitive (social media is quite a rebellious space), but consumers actually appreciate when brands give them directions how to express their affection and become advocates. In fact, more than 50 % of consumers want some direction for creating content that brands will notice and recognize. 64% of millennial consumers feel that brands should open up more ways for them to share their thoughts on brands and products online. Consumers want to be a part of the story, so tell them how to be included.
5. Measure The Right Things
Naturally, your objectives should guide how you measure the success of your UGC efforts. If your goal is to use consumer-made content in ads in order to drive traffic to your site, then you should track data that reflects this behavior. Your metrics could include tracking clicks on the content, impressions, reach etc. On the other hand, if the goal of your UGC marketing is to engage customers on your site and drive them to make purchases, then you’re likely to look at metrics like time spent on the pages featuring UGC, bounce rate on these pages, as well as conversion rate.
For example, at Goodvidio we offer our customers the ability to analyze and optimize how UGC used on the site impacts the bottom line. We measure the impact of UGC videos on their ecommerce KPIs by tracking the impact on the add-to-cart click-through rate, orders, and revenue. We also track the engagement with UGC videos such as video clicks, plays, and watching to completion, as well as the overall engagement on the site. This allows our customers to have a clear picture of what their UGC marketing efforts accomplish and how much ROI they’re getting.
6. Make Smart Use of UGC Software
You can perfectly manage your UGC marketing endeavors on your own if you own a business with a niche product offering and you know exactly where and how to find the UGC related to your brand. Things do get a lot more complicated if your product range spans across multiple verticals and categories or if you own multiple brands under one umbrella. The volume of work multiplies exponentially when you want to create UGC campaigns to promote individual products across multiple ranges or brands, or if you simply want to add UGC to your online product catalog than spans across hundreds of items.
This is where UGC software comes in really handy. You can rely on the tools designed specifically for the needs of UGC marketing in mind to automate the tedious processes and crunch the numbers. For example, Goodvidio is a platform that specializes in helping brands collect, curate, and activate UGC videos from social media to engage and convert customers during their browsing journey on the site. It’s a powerful tool for marketing efforts dedicated to website engagement and conversion optimization.
There are also tools out there that focus on creating awareness by helping marketers use UGC in ad campaigns. The important thing to remember is that the selection of UGC software should come after you’ve clarified what kind of goals you want to accomplish with consumer-made content. Once this is clear, you should also think about the kind of budget you can dedicate to UGC marketing, as well as the level of autonomy and automation you’re looking for in a UGC tool. This will help you select the right solution for your business.
Thanks to social media, the dream of letting customers help promote your products and brand is finally possible. UGC marketing helps create a more authentic and relatable messaging (visual as well as textual), that humanizes the online experience and helps shoppers connect with your brand. To make your UGC strategy successful, invest in social listening to figure out what your customers say about your brand on social media, and then look for creative ways to include the UGC in your storytelling.