Supercharge Your Marketing with This User-Generated Content Guide
As e-tailers know, getting an online store up and running is only half the battle. Developing and maintaining a marketing strategy is another major but necessary task for attracting prospective customers and increasing visibility. There are many pieces to this puzzle, but an effective way to improve your marketing strategy is to utilize user-generated content.
User-generated content, or simply UGC, is exactly what it sounds like. It is digital content created independently by a consumer instead of by a brand or corporation. In the ecommerce space, UGC is often a “lifestyle” Instagram photo or a blogger’s review of a product, but there is a plethora of examples.
All of these are real forms of user-generated content:
- Social media posts, which can reach the massive population of 3.1 billion users.
- Homemade/fan videos, which are consumed by 45% of people who spend over an hour watching Facebook or YouTube videos every week.
- Product reviews, whether written or filmed.
- Blog posts detailing the unboxing effect, user experience or other aspect of a product.
As the online and offline worlds have fused together, user-generated content is everywhere. Consumers share everything from their day-to-day to large-scale life experiences, including the ecommerce gems they find along the way. E-tailers can easily tap into this stream for another marketing resource, and they will reap the benefits.
Read on to learn how incorporating UGC will benefit your online store.
Gain Consumers’ Trust
What online retailers might forget is that UGC is a quick, simple way to beef up your content output, giving you less content creation work to do. And beyond that, incorporating UGC adds a layer of authenticity to your online presence.
This is especially important when the Internet is full of misinformation and mixed messages. In fact, Stackla found that 90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support (up from 86% in 2017). Furthermore, 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. As you can see, being transparent and honest with consumers is the key to gaining their trust and, therefore, their business.
User-generated content that incorporates a product review is a double whammy for building trust. 92 percent of consumers are more likely to trust recommendations from individuals they don’t personally know over brand recommendations, making reviews invaluable for your online store.
In case you missed our guide, product reviews directly impact conversions:
- One review can improve conversion rates by 10% or more.
- 30 reviews can improve conversions by 25% or more.
- 100 reviews can improve conversions by 37% or more.
- Product reviews overall increase total conversions by 3% or more.
On the flipside of reviews, simple images or videos that showcase your product in a natural way more easily give prospective customers a glimpse into what their lives would look like if they also had your product. This “lifestyle” content is popular on social media, and it is devoured by Millennials, who spend 18 hours per day with media (and 30% of that time is spent looking at user-generated media).
Craft Unique Product Descriptions
A common mistake that’s made by many online retailers is using duplicate content in product descriptions. A service called OnCrawl offers a complete guide on dos and don’t of duplicate product descriptions and content as well as on duplicate internal pages—with tools that you can use to remedy these issues once and for all.
In short, Google rewards websites that offer unique content because it has a higher perceived value to the end user than content that’s been scraped from other websites.
A common practice in ecommerce is to simply copy and paste content descriptions or to use the manufacturer’s original product description when mocking up products to display in your store. This is a big no-no that won’t necessarily get your website penalized by Google or the other search engines, but that will assuredly result in your site’s pages not being indexed or being completely ignored by search engines due to lack of uniqueness and relevancy.
Tips on improving content for SEO:
- Write unique content for each product you’re selling.
- Add bullet points to product descriptions.
- Make product descriptions at least 300 words or longer.
- Optimize product description pages with title, heading, H Tags, meta description and keywords.
- Use internal canonical tags when linking products to duplicate pages.
- Set all duplicate content pages to “no-index,” “no-follow” to avoid penalties.
- Include optimized videos and multiple images with products.
- Offer social sharing features on products.
- Integrate product reviews.
Not only will featuring unique content give you up to a 70% boost in visibility and rankings over time, but it will set your site apart from others and deliver a truly valuable experience to the end user, something that Google will reward you for in the immediacy and over time.
More Benefits of UGC
Trust is certainly crucial to brands that operate exclusively online, but Stackla also found more benefits of user-generated content:
- UGC enables personalized customer experiences at scale.
- UGC enables successful video marketing.
- UGC increases visitor time on website.
- UGC optimizes email marketing click-through-rates.
- Implementing UGC across social media channels humanizes a brand.
- Putting UGC in advertisements increases engagement.
To put it simply, people crave connection. Using real, authentic digital content broadcasts a way for consumers to connect with the content creators, and it opens the door to connect with a brand.
Where to Find UGC
Now that you know the benefits of UGC, you might wonder where to find it. Fortunately, finding user-generated content can be done with one tap of the finger. There are also tools to make the process more streamlined.
Direct tags and hashtags are an intuitive first step to hunt down UGC. Tech-savvy consumers will make your search easy because they know how to get brands’ attention by tagging posts and using hashtags. Direct tags will show up in your social media notifications, whereas hashtags will aggregate all posts that use the hashtag.
For an example of best practices, an Instagram post featuring a Herschel Supply Co. product would tag the brand, @hershelsupply, and use one of its branded hashtags, such as #WellTravelled. If you haven’t created a branded hashtag yet, consider this: 70% of hashtags are branded. It’s an effective way to carve out a niche, create a community and gather content.
Instagram users can browse by hashtag, by direct tags and by the Explore page that features content similar to what they’re already engaging with. For visual UGC, this is your best bet.
If you’re looking on Twitter, the free tool Tweetdeck is an all-in-one dashboard to track accounts, keywords, hashtags and more. It is a full command center where you can watch conversations around your brand and industry happen in real time.
BuzzSumo, Mention and other listening tools gather relevant non-social content from around the Internet based on the parameters you set. They’re like a Tweetdeck for blogs and forums and allow you to track your own performance and even the competition. BuzzSumo is one of our must-have tools for ecommerce marketing, so don’t miss the others for full optimization.
Finally, you can use UGC-specific tools to do the searching for you. Stackla and Walls.io are two options that will aggregate user-generated content and display it on your site for all visitors to see.
Use UGC to Boost Sales
Authentic, consumer-created content is key to diversifying your marketing strategy, but you might be wondering how it directly uplifts sales. There are two main tactics to connect UGC with conversion: Streamlining the purchase experience and adding calls-to-action.
Airbnb is one brand that utilizes UGC for its social media and then facilitates a smooth transition to the purchase process. By letting consumers, “book from the feed,” Airbnb capitalizes on the moment where Instagram users are inspired by these beautiful destinations and lets them get a slice of the pie by booking a stay in the exact same place. Users make their reservations without ever leaving the app.
Whether with a tool like Walls.io or by adding them manually, call-to-action (CTA) features similarly take advantage of the moment when consumers see UGC that invokes an emotional response. Online retailers should add a CTA to every piece of UGC they repurpose. After all, increased visibility from incorporating UGC means increased sales once you have inspired the consumer to make a purchase.
By utilizing user-generated content, online retailers can boost their store’s reputation as authentic while also saving time that would have been spent creating marketing materials. There is an endless stream of content as consumers share their lives online, and there are endless benefits to sharing what your customers have created. It is also a relationship-building strategy, which we support here at ReadyCloud CRM.
Need even more tips? Read our related guide: How to Create Gourmet Content That Google Devours. Or, check out this infographic we’ve created on how you can create your very own content marketing machine.