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UGC in E-Commerce

User-Generated Content in E-Commerce

With the scramble for the online space, and especially after the pandemic hit, the face of commerce changed forever. A fully embraced eCommerce space meant more channels than ever before, more online presence than ever before, and much more data than ever before. These new times call for new strategies and new tools, from revamped targeted marketing to a next-gen PIM and everything in between.

Similarly, the social media age crowned an undisputed champion in virtual marketing: user-generated content (or UGC). As commerce continues to grow online, the importance of UGC content on eCommerce sites grows as well. It’s more important now than ever for brands to understand what user-generated content is, why it’s non-negotiable, and how to properly leverage it themselves. Let’s take a closer look.

What is user-generated content, and why does it matter?

The name pretty much gives it away. User-generated content is content generated by users. Generally speaking, this can be just about anything including reviews, images, videos, etc.

If somebody posts a story about your product, that’s UGC. When somebody leaves a review of your product on Amazon, that’s UGC. Importantly, and as the marketing gears already turning in your head might be telling you, UGC is also free marketing — but that’s not all!

User-generated content as a marketing tool is a completely different beast than other marketing campaigns, and we mean that in the best way possible. It’s the undisputed champion, and that’s for a good reason.

When customers see your brand’s marketing campaigns and content, it can be informative, but there’s a clear bias at play. Customers aren’t going to believe your brand when you say your product is the best product ever, but they might if another customer backs you up.

In fact, about 90% of consumers say that UGC influences their purchase decisions over every other form of marketing.

What does good UGC look like, and how can you use it to your advantage? If it’s the most important tool in an online marketing arsenal, surely there must be some way to optimize its benefits, right?

Reviews are a goldmine

All UGC is essentially (more or less) free marketing, and that’s a great thing. Poorly managed marketing campaigns can be quite expensive without very much return, so having some form of organic marketing like UGC is always great. We’ll visit this more in a bit. For now, let’s talk about reviews, and how these are incredible tools and pools of data for your brand.

On one hand, as with all UGC, reviews are social proof. Having reviews integrated as part of the product listings is one of the main reasons why platforms like Amazon and eBay are giants in the e-commerce world, after all. Additionally, reviews can be an organic form of feedback that can help you build your brand awareness and connection with your consumer base.

To the consumer, a brand that produces a great product is good, but what’s even better? A brand that genuinely looks at the feedback and responds sincerely. By compiling the data from reviews across channels you can build a great understanding of what resonates with your consumer base, what doesn’t, and, what’s missing in order to grow your base even more.

Free marketing and a basis for a growth strategy; like we said, a goldmine.

Seeing is believing

After years of hearing it in just about any context, we’re all aware of the adage: seeing is believing. When it came to commerce, customers being able to see the product in-store often made the biggest difference between interest and purchase. “We’re out of stock, but we can order it for you” is not exactly the key to conversion. Now that we’ve shed the brick and mortar, customers can’t exactly pick products up and try them themselves, which makes more immersive product listings and UGC all the more important.

Just as important as customers being able to “see” a virtual listing is what customers are able to see at all. Blame the late (and great) Vine or TikTok, but whatever the reason might be, attention spans are shrinking. This psychological angle of marketing is incredibly important since brands only have seconds to catch the attention of a potential customer, and then to use those seconds of attention to drive conversion — it’s a daunting task.

This means you have to know your strengths: not only are customers seconds away from scrolling, but they also aren’t going to stop and read a testimonial. The human eye processes visuals and graphics much more quickly than it does language, so visual content is incredibly important.

In the age of the seven-second-attention-span, this is what seeing is believing should mean. Luckily, social media platforms (especially Instagram) are an extremely popular and effective tool for visual UGC content. If you can harness your mentions on Instagram, you’re golden.

Encouraging UGC

A lot of talk of UGC being organic, but is it really? The truth is sort of. Especially if you’ve made a great product that really connects with customers, there will likely be a lot of content out there. Whether or not you’ll be able to find it is another question. Did they tag your brand? Did they use a branded hashtag? Is it just a random image with a good message?

Fortunately, there are many ways to encourage more UGC that are ready for you to find and leverage.

First thing’s first, do your homework. Search for hashtags that make sense, or for brand name mentions, and you might find that there’s a healthy pool of content already out there on the web. You can also include branded hashtags and CTA’s in your packaging and content. Shipping your product with a thank you note? Include a call to post the product with a specific hashtag that’ll make it easier for you to find later!

Especially with influencers, hosting events can be another great way to encourage/produce a bulk of UGC in a short amount of time. With a bit of creativity and resourcefulness, the opportunities are practically endless, and often not particularly expensive either.

Long story short: user-generated content is indispensable. It is unrivaled among its marketing peers, it helps brands build a strong sense of community, and you’re only a clever hashtag away from getting started. If your brand hasn’t moved to leverage UGC to its fullest potential, the time to start is now.

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We provide brands selling B2C online with the insights they need to get to Amazon and other online marketplaces faster and more profitably.

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Atrribution: CXL Institute Minidegree Review

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Alex Borzo

Alex Borzo

A content contributor at Amber Engine, a software company passionate about eCommerce

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