Which product would you prefer to buy: one advertised by a marketer or one advertised by a customer who really tried and loved it? Of course, you’d go with the second option because you’d be more confident that the product is good. This is why User-Generated Content or UGC is so important.
The reason for this choice is fairly simple: people tend to trust other people, not businesses. That’s why so many brands have incorporated user-generated content in their digital marketing strategy. For their customers, UGC is a vote of confidence and a way to connect with brands in a fun and engaging way.
In this article, let’s explore UGC and why you need to make it an essential part of your digital marketing strategy.
What Is User-Generated Content?
Simply explained, UGC is content created by users who interact with a business. The list of “users” includes customers, leads, staff, and volunteers; they can create a wide variety of content types, including images, videos, social media posts, reviews, and others.
UGC has benefits for both businesses and users. For example, it presents an excellent opportunity for users to engage with a brand they like in a fun and meaningful way, which is something they appreciate. On the other hand, UGC creates a great chance for businesses to authentically connect with their target audience and improve their overall customer experience.
A classic example of a successful digital marketing campaign featuring UGC is The White Cup Contest launched by Starbucks in 2014. Since the contest began, thousands of Starbucks customers from all over the world have come up with incredible cup designs, spreading awareness of the campaign.
For example, here’s an Instagram post with #whitecupcontest that represents a beautiful example of USG.
No hard sell. No in-your-face advertising. No sales pitches. Just lots of love for the brand and what it does.
Your brand should enjoy that, too!
The Seven Reasons Why User-Generated Content Is Perfect For Making It Possible.
Reason #1: It’s Non-Salesy Authentic Content
One of the most important benefits of UGC is that it doesn’t have that “salesy” feel to it. For example, did you feel that Starbucks was trying to sell you a cup of coffee or otherwise convincing you to try their products when you checked out the example Instagram post above?
Of course not, because the message didn’t come from the brand; the authenticity is achieved by the fact that UGC puts customers in front and center. Moreover, brands are letting their voices tell an amazing story rather than an explicit marketing message; as a result, it becomes easier for customers to connect with brands using User Generated Content.
Reason #2: User Generated Content Is, Essentially A Review
The next way in which UGC can influence conversion rate is by providing your business with much-needed positive reviews from customers.
According to the 2018 ReviewTrackers Online Reviews Survey, only 28 percent of customers say they’re likely to leave a review even after having a positive experience with a business, so you need to encourage UGC to increase the number of positive reviews of your brand online.
The same report also stressed out a fact that online shoppers are looking for “trustworthy, authentic, and therefore often imperfect reviews.” This makes UGC a great option for supplying your potential customers with genuine reviews from real people, which is exactly what they’re after.
Reason #3: UGC Shows That Your Brand Is Open To Communication
If you’re an owner of a business, you know perfectly well that customers are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of communication and transparency. For example, the aforementioned ReviewTracker survey found that 53 percent of them expect brands to respond to negative reviews within a week while more than 94 percent have claimed that an online review persuaded them to avoid a business.
UGC can be a great tool for showing your current and potential customers that you’re open to conversation with them, therefore, they’ll feel more confident and comfortable contacting you. This way, you can build truly authentic and deep relationships with your target audience, which is simply priceless.
Reason #4: Using User-Generated Content Can Reduce Your Marketing Spending
Since customers are the ones in charge of creating content, you don’t have to pay for it from your marketing budget. For businesses on a budget, this could be a great way to advertise themselves without reducing spending on other important areas.
Besides, even if you’re encouraging the creation of User-Generated Content through a contest, you can always use your products or services as a reward. So there’s no need to burn a hole in your pocket with a ridiculously expensive price.
For example, the aforementioned Starbucks’ The White Cup Contest cost the company minimal expenses: the cost of producing the design of the winner cup for a limited edition and a $300 gift card. That’s nothing for a company that just posted $6.3 billion in consolidated net revenues. The impact of the campaign, on the other hand, was profound.
Another way to curb marketing spend through user-generated content is to repost content created by your biggest fans. One easy way to do this is by downloading their Instagram videos and reposting them to your account with credit. Most creators love to have their content reposted because it provides them a wider audience for their content and they receive an endorsement from their favorite brand. Remember to always ask permission to repost content before doing so!
Reason #5: UGC Can Improve Your Conversion Rate
We already know that people want authentic reviews from customers to feel more confident when buying a product or service from a brand.
But just how impactful is UGC in terms of increasing sales?
According to Business2Community, very. This source described a survey of more than 800 Millennials that found that UGC had a major impact on their spending. Here are some of the findings:
- 46 percent of the participants used UGC to guide them on mobile phone purchases
- 45 percent of them used USG to find a perfect hotel
- 54 percent thought UGC influenced their choice of a car
- 40 percent said USG was helpful to make travel plans
- 35 percent claimed that UGC was more memorable to them than other media
- UGC was 20 percent more influential on purchases than all other media types (TV, radio, printed publications etc.)
As you can see, User Generated Content can be highly effective in influencing your customers’ decisions – especially if your target audience includes Millennials – so it makes a perfect sense to incorporate it in your digital marketing strategy.
Reason #6: User Generated Content Can Help Your Business Stand Out
Since many customers find it to be more genuine than other content types, chances are that you’ll be able to cut through the clutter. However, it’s still critical to encourage your customers to participate in contests and other projects involving UGC, so getting your message right is tremendously important.
Reason #7: UGC Can Facilitate Brand Advocacy
User-Generated Content is an effective way to increase customer loyalty. For example, Brita Lynn Thompson, the winner of the White Cup Contest, has become a super loyal fan of the brand and even started her own business to inspire other people to create. In an interview after she won the competition, she said that Starbucks has changed her life forever and she never would’ve thought that she would win and become an influencer.
This is special.
On top of that, the contest attracted about 4000 designs within the first three weeks after the announcement. These were loyal fans trying to showcase their creations.
The Bottom Line
UGC is definitely here to stay. People are tired of the hard sell, so it makes a perfect sense to produce and deliver truly authentic content. Naturally, the potential of UGC to improve your business is profound, so we’ve just scratched the surface here. However, I hope that these seven reasons why you need user-generated content were convincing enough for you to begin UGC campaigns and start letting your customers tell your story for you!
Guest Blogger Bio:
Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer at GrabMyEssay. You can find her on Facebook.