User-generated content has gone from being nice to have to being a vital asset in any ecommerce marketer’s toolkit, but if any one type of company is best suited to ride the wave then it’s ecommerce stores. After all, they make money from selling products online, and if their customers are helping them to promote those products then they can increase sales whilst simultaneously cutting marketing spend on paid advertisements.
In fact, brand engagement increases an average of 28% when people are exposed to a mixture of user-created product videos and professional content, and UGC videos on YouTube get ten times more views than content created by brands themselves. On top of that, UGC ads get four times higher click-through rates and cost half as much as regular ads. For ecommerce companies, all of this extra exposure and engagement ultimately translates into more sales and higher revenue.
That said, not everyone is clear on how best to take advantage of the opportunities that UGC has to offer, and that’s where this post comes in. Here are just a few of the main ways that user-generated content is reshaping the ecommerce sector.
How UGC is Reshaping the Ecommerce Sector
1. Revolutionising marketing
As we’ve already seen from some of the stats and metrics, user-generated content usually outperforms regular content and it can bring a fresh new approach to the way that you get the word out about your ecommerce store. At the same time, though, it’ll force you to re-evaluate your processes and the structures you have in place to facilitate user-generated content. They won’t come just because you build it. It takes time and dedication to launch an effective UGC campaign.
2. Boosting conversions
82% of shoppers say that UGC is “extremely valuable” to them when making a purchasing decision, and 48% of consumers say that user-generated content is a great way to discover new products, brands and retailers. User-generated content is so powerful that it’s influencing the way we shop, and when it’s placed at the point of purchase on an e-commerce site, it can be the contributing factor that decides whether people make a purchase or not.
3. Increasing trust
The idea that people trust user-generated content more than branded content isn’t exactly new. In fact, it even has a name. It’s called social proof, and it’s the same reason why we’re more likely to trust a review on Amazon than what a brand says about itself on its website. Displaying user-generated content allows ecommerce companies to tap into the that trust that we have for each other without compromising it by making something feel overly branded or heavily edited. Online reviews from loyal customers on eCommerce sites are so powerful that they can impact the trust of up to 72% of new customers!
4. Rethinking Pinterest
Pinterest works surprisingly well as a driver of traffic. In fact, the average order value of a Pinterest visitor is higher than any other social networking channel and it’s the second highest source of traffic to Shopify stores. 93% of Pinterest users use the site to plan purchases and 96% use it to gather product information. If you want to make money then you need to be on Pinterest, but you’ll still come up against the age-old problem of people being unwilling to share branded content. Luckily, UGC works great on Pinterest, and you can give your brand a sense of authenticity simply by creating a UGC gallery and inviting people to add to it.
5. Making on-site reviews more relevant than ever
On-site reviews are a great way to boost conversions on an e-commerce store whilst simultaneously providing search engines with fresh content, and customer reviews are the most powerful type of user-generated content that’s out there. In fact, even bad reviews can boost sales. Meanwhile, consumers are getting more and more used to using visual content (including both photography and video) and so if brands are able to foster a sense of community on their site through UGC, they can really stand out from competitors whose review sections are full of automated comments from spambots.
6. Democratising influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is still relevant, but simply sending free products to some YouTube superstar isn’t going to cut the mustard anymore. These days, everyone is an influencer, and user-generated content just goes to show that. You can win a battle and shift some stock in the short term by working with an influencer. But if you want to win the war then you need to win the hearts and minds of the public, embracing their content along the way.
7. Increasing transparency
Simply put, your products have to be good. If they aren’t, you’re going to get called out on it. Still, if you’re a discount store or a low-end ecommerce site and proud of it, there’s nothing to worry about because people know what they’re getting. It just becomes a problem if you say you’re selling one thing and you deliver another or if your customer service sucks and you’re poor at packaging. People will find out, and when they find out they’ll tell other people. If they do that using user-generated content, there’s very little you can do to stop them from spreading that message. Instead of seeing it as a threat, it’s time to make sure that every part of your business is exactly as it should be. Give your ecommerce customers something positive to talk about.
User-generated content is both powerful and often misunderstood, but it’s the ecommerce sites that are able to take advantage of it which will ultimately become the most successful in the future. After all, UGC is more effective than regular content and people are already ready to make it. Over half of consumers want a brand to tell them what type of content to create and share but only 16% of brands actually do so.
UGC is also particularly popular with millennials, with over 70% of UGC being created by people between the ages of 25 and 54. And your CEO and your finance department will love it because it usually works out cheaper and has a greater impact than hiring expensive agencies to create flashy marketing materials.
Still, it’s also possible to go over the top, and it’s the brands that achieve the perfect mix of user-generated and brand-created content that will reap the most rewards. So what are you waiting for? Get started with user-generated content today!