What is UGC
User Generated content (UGC) is exactly that; content that is added to your site but is generated by users rather than the site owner or teams that work on the website.
UGC comes in all shapes and sizes; comments, reviews, videos, blog posts, forums, videos, memes and can feature across your site and even in your own marketing. From snippets of review text to full blown UGC campaigns. The impact on conversions and engagement is as fundamentally important as on-site search functionality.
Users Trust Users, Not Your Marketing Speak
As digital marketers we do the keyword research, the competitor analysis, we look for gaps in content and we give people what they are searching for. That should be enough, right? Nearly all of us believe it is enough, according to Stackla 92% of marketers believe most of the content they create resonates as authentic. Conversely, 51% of consumers believe that less than half the content created by brands is authentic whilst 79% say user-generated content impacts their purchasing decisions.
There is a disconnect between the content users seek and what marketers are creating. Gap analysis, keyword research, audience intent is the foundation but leveraging UGC is the cherry on top. The two main criteria of justifying a purchase, rationality and emotion, are quickly satisfied with UGC.
How it helps your brand & your SEO
Trust is one of the most important elements for consumers and it is something we have talked about regarding SEO for several years. We spend a lot of time trying to show search engines we are trustworthy but, getting users to trust you is showing search engines you are trustworthy.
Brand trust, transparency and authenticity is built by user generated content and some users will happily pay more for a product if there is transparency around its manufacturing process, ingredients, workers etc.
SEO is increasingly about being a brand in addition to a good result for a query and UGC helps tick that brand box in a big way. Similarly, whilst it has the tendency to look a little rough around the edges, UGC also helps to tick the trust box of the much loved “Expertise, Authority and Trust” aspect of SEO.
UGC done well is good customer experience and good customer experience is good SEO. Plus, it can be tailored to fit any part of your target audience’s conversion journey.
UGC also helps to provide updated content to a page with little effort from your teams and can prove invaluable if your product pages are light on unique text and heavy on manufacturers descriptions. When it comes to specific product research as your target audience nears the bottom of the funnel these reviews will also help you appear for quite targeted product name + review type queries.
How it helps your conversions
The power of the social proofing that UGC provides, in particular when it comes to reviews, is well known and it is important to have them on your own site, even if you are getting plenty of reviews elsewhere. Third party reviews typically show greater transparency for users whilst on site reviews help seal the deal. Data suggests that users are 63% more likely to purchase from a site that has user reviews and this (slightly dated) report from Bazaar Voice suggests users are likely to spend 11% more than someone who doesn’t interact with UGC.
Tangible increases in conversion rates come as the review numbers scale with Reevoo suggesting 50 or more reviews per product is the sweet spot resulting in a 4.6% increase in conversion rates. Data from Yotpo suggests the impact is even greater with all industries seeing a 161% average uplift in conversion between users that see UGC and those that do not.
A quick side note for those of you reading this who are worried about the vocal minority of users that can appear to shout loudest about bad experiences – Bad reviews are an opportunity to show good customer service which in turn helps with transparency and trust, in fact bad reviews can help improve your conversion rates. Users will seek out the bad reviews, it is human nature, businesses that are responsive and considered in their handling of these bad reviews will gain credibility in the eyes of potential customers.
Taking UGC to the next level
There is a great segment in this Wistia ‘Change the Channel’ event where their co-founders discuss how to market like a media company. This approach can help when it comes to getting the 75% of users who never leave a review to help you out with UGC in other ways. Rather than only offering users the option of leaving a review, give them different routes to creating UGC – social channels are particularly effective here, and give them motivation.
Once you have those users creating content you can use it across your marketing mix to drive awareness and traffic from more channels to your site.
Hubspot covered some good recent examples of brands engaging their users in this way and highlighted Wayfair and Aerie as both having effective and simple campaigns that drove UGC to use as marketing collateral. The #aeriereal campaign was a response to prevalent photo editing across media and marketing and for every unedited picture shared using their hashtag they donated $1 to an eating disorder charity in the US.
Wayfair’s UGC campaign lends itself well to the market like a media company approach as it encouraged people to share their Wayfair purchases using the #WayfairAtHome tag which Wayfair then used on their own channels as inspirational content, complete with product links.
For example, using this UGC in your Facebook marketing has the potential to deliver a 4x higher click through rate and a 50% drop in CPA and CPC.
So, with that in mind, the positive effects UGC can have on Conversation make it a no brainer and something that should at least be considered as part of any strategy – especially for those in eCommerce.
For more information on utilising UGC as an online retailer, check out our upcoming charity event Leaders in eTail: Digital Summit where we’ll be discussing this in detail!
Written by Andrew Parker, Performance Director at Blueclaw