Today, stores need to do more than just set up an online shop and wait for the customers to roll in: they need to engage with potential customers over email, on social networks, in search results, and more.
Content marketing has become of vital importance to every online store to attract new customers, stay engaged with current customers, and build relationships with their shoppers.
There’s a way for you to make finding the right content to resonate with your audience easier:
Ask your shoppers to create content!
After all, there’s no one better suited to the job than the shoppers themselves.
Your customers know how to create content that appeals perfectly to your target audience - because they are your target audience!
So how do you tap into the power of user-generated content (UGC) and harness it to drive traffic and sales?
I’m going to walk you through 4 tactics to get you started seeing results from UGC today.
1. Increase Conversions With UGC
When visitors are on your site, you need to do everything you can to push them to purchase.
And purchase anxiety is one of the top reasons shoppers don’t buy.
Purchase anxiety comes from fear: fear that the product won’t be what they expected, fear that the shipping will take too long, fear that they’ll invest their money without receiving a good return.
Online shoppers are taking a risk when they buy - they can’t see the product in front of them, and they aren’t exactly sure what will arrive in the mail. This unknown is the hurdle that keeps shoppers from buying.
As a store owner, you need to do everything in your power to boost their confidence - make them feel they know what to expect - and gain their trust.
But after a certain point, customers don’t want to hear from store owners - they want to hear from other shoppers like them, who have firsthand experience with the product.
Here are a few easy ways to display UGC on your store to increase trust and conversions:
Display Reviews on Your Product Pages. When you think of displaying UGC, the first thing that comes to mind is probably reviews. That’s because this is the easiest form of UGC for ecommerce stores to collect and display, and it’s the most common type of UGC for ecommerce stores to use in marketing.
Check out how Beardbrand, a Shopify store, uses reviews and review stars to increase customer trust in her products:
Use Community Q&A to Engage Current and Past Customers. Another smart way to include UGC in your site is to use a community Q&A. A community Q&A allows customers to ask and answer questions that new shoppers can reference when looking for answers to specific questions, like “How was the fit?” “How quick did it ship?” or “Does it look like the picture?”
Beardbrand also uses community Q&A to engage users and answer questions that are barriers to purchase.
Display Customers’ Images In Addition to Product Images. Customers want to see what products look like outside of the product images. They want to see what products look like in real life. For this reason, photos of your products in use, submitted by your customers, are an awesome way for customers to really get a feel for what your products look like.
2. Get Social Traffic that Converts with Social Proof
User generated content will do more than just help you get more social traffic. They can help you get more of the social traffic that matters.
Below, check out the data on how reviews increase social media conversions. Considering the average conversion rate is 2%, this shows how much the power of social proof can persuade people to purchase.
UGC gives shoppers social proof, or proof that others will vouch for the brand and product.
How to use user-generated content to drive more social traffic:
Share UGC on your social pages. Share your best user-contributed photos, videos, questions, reviews, and more on your brand’s social pages to show visitors how much your customers love you.
Pura Vida, another Shopify store, shares reviews on their Facebook page to show off satisfied customers.
Ask your customers to share UGC on their social profiles. It’s one thing when you show a good review, but another when a customer shows all their friends on social that they loved a product enough to share. In order to encourage customers to share their reviews, provide incentives, like rewards, for them to share their own UGC on their pages.
Run an Instagram campaign to get photos and create buzz. UGC Instagram campaigns are great not only for gaining material you can display on your store, but also for creating social buzz. Marc by Marc Jacobs’ Instagram campaign is a prime example of this. Not only did tons of fans submit photos for the chance to be a Marc by Marc Jacobs model, but tons of people who didn’t submit UGC watched the competition with excitement.
You can recreate this for your store by initiating an exciting Instagram campaign with a big prize that people will want to talk about. For example, if you sell baby supplies, you could run a Halloween Instagram UGC campaign of the cutest babies in costume. Not only would you get content to use and extra exposure, but also people would get excited by the content being shared.
3. Get the Most Out of Your Digital Marketing Budget With UGC Social Ads
Many brands miss the mark on social because they don’t understand how to sell on social. It’s important to remember that people are on social to see updates from friends, family, and colleagues, not find products to buy.
In order to effectively sell on social, you need to understand how to join the conversations that are actually happening. User-generated content shows people real opinions and photos, not brand-sponsored advertisements.
In addition to sharing reviews on their Facebook page, Pura Vida also uses reviews in their Facebook ads to increase trust and drive sales.
We took a look at how stores who included UGC in their advertisements fared, and the results were staggering. When stores included UGC in their ads, they saw:
- 4x higher click-through rates
- 50% cost of acquisition
- 50% drop in cost-per-click
Because ads with customer content comes across as more natural, using the customer’s voice to promote the product, rather than a marketing slogan, they fit in much better.
4. Drive Organic Traffic with Fresh Content
UGC helps you drive more organic traffic because it improves your results in search engines. UGC is amazing for SEO because it gives search engines a constant stream of fresh, relevant content.
How to get SEO benefits from UGC:
It’s important to own your UGC, rather than only store it on a platform like Instagram or Twitter, because you can only get SEO credit for UGC that’s stored on your site.
So, while Instagram may be great for collecting UGC, when it’s on your site, you need to make sure that the tags and alt tags are optimized for SEO.
A big problem for many ecommerce sites is that their product reviews rely on AJAX, iframes, or subdomains. This makes it very difficult, and sometimes even impossible, for search engines to match product reviews with product pages.
So how can you get the full SEO credit for your UGC?
The best solution is to embed review content as part of the html code (also known as in-line SEO), although this requires a complicated integration. While difficult, it ultimately increases crawl frequency and generates almost two times referring search phrases and non-brand organic traffic.
An easier alternative than embedding review content in HTML is to add a minisite, or a static webpage that contains all the data generated from product reviews.
Bonus: Get unexpected benefits by using UGC
In addition to driving more traffic and sales, you can also get many more unexpected benefits from UGC.
- Collect new product ideas. Ask customers to send in their feedback and ideas for new products through a survey tool like TypeForm. Then, once you start to see ideas your customers continually request, you can use a tool like Quirky to collect these product ideas, invite customers to collaborate, and turn customer ideas into a reality.
- Learn how to communicate better. Through your customer’s content, you can find out the language they’re really using. There’s no point in advertising your store as luxurious if your customers are looking for bargains. To find frequently appearing words and phrases, enter your store URL in a tool like Wordle or TagCrowd.
- Save (a ton) of digital marketing budget. Using UGC allows you to collect tons of new content you can repurpose in marketing materials. This saves you money trying to create your own marketing materials. You can get more effective content (for free!) from your customers.
How to get started collecting UGC
Great, so now you have all these awesome ideas for using user-generated content, but how do you get UGC in the first place?
- Integrate reviews or testimonials on your site and offer discounts or coupons for writing or sharing reviews.
- Use in-site FAQ sections and forums that encourage discussion between users and build up long-tail keywords.
- Find a cohesive hashtag for a marketing campaign or your brand and encourage users to use it when they contribute UGC.
ConclusionGetting started marketing with UGC is easier than you think, and it has tons of benefits. Let me know if you have any questions about specific tactics in the comments section below.