If you want to succeed in online retail, you have to be customer centric. That means putting shopper’s needs and wants first and listening to them with undivided attention. It also means letting your customers be the voice and face of your brand. This is where UGC comes into play.
If you’re looking to build an excellent experience in your ecommerce store, then UGC is your best ally. User generated content is a massive opportunity for online retailers. Whether it’s an unboxing video on YouTube or a photo of your product on Instagram, UGC allows you to connect to shoppers and share their authentic experiences.
Here’s an overview of the key benefits UGC brings to ecommerce marketing.
1. UGC Improves Customer Experience
Let’s get some things out of the way. Sure, you invested a lot of time and effort to produce stylish editorial-style product photos for your online store. But isn’t that the same old, same old content shoppers are already seeing everywhere else?
While professionally made visuals will get you an initial nod of approval from visitors, it won’t be enough to get them to cozy up to your brand. But visual UGC just might.
67% of consumers turn to video reviews at least once before making a purchase.
You want the experience on your online store to be intuitive, easy on the eye, yet rich and inspiring. Shoppers are looking for clues that what you’re selling is real, that the products look just as amazing in real life, and that they perform as promised. UGC allows them to experience all this.
By bringing UGC such as product videos and photos to your on-site ecommerce marketing mix, you elevate the experience. For instance, a professionally made product video would mention that the shoes you’re selling on your online store are waterproof. But a UGC video made by a consumer would highlight that they’re excellent for music festivals and open-air summer concerts.
That’s exactly why UGC is great. It allows visitors to visualize the product in a different context that is relatable to real life. UGC talks to shoppers of the possibilities they get from purchasing a product, not it terms of the product features. UGC brings authenticity, and this resonates with shoppers, regardless of whether they’re visiting your site for the first time or are long-time fans.
2. UGC Is a Great Social Proof
Imagine this: you walk by a store with dozens of people lined up at the entrance, excited to get inside. What do you do? You probably think that there’s something good going on and you’re curious to check it out for yourself.
48% of consumers say that UGC is a great way to discover new products.
UGC creates the same effect on your website. Seeing consumer-made videos and photos on your pages acts as a powerful testimonial that what you’re selling is interesting. It might sound like a tired cliche, but “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” is still very much applicable in e-commerce marketing. Shoppers are simply curious to experience what others rave about.
You may do a great job with product photos and descriptions, but if there’s no visual evidence that other people have bought and used your products, visitors might as well bounce off in search for a validation elsewhere.
On the other hand, UGC is a powerful social proof that reassures shoppers the product is right for them. When used in on-site e-commerce marketing, UGC helps keep shoppers focused. It keeps them from bouncing off in search for product reviews and testimonials on social media.
3. UGC Helps Build Trust in Your Store
Let’s run another scenario. You’re looking to buy a new Lego set for your 5-year-old son or daughter. You go to your favorite online toy store site and start browsing. There are dozens of options and everything seems fun. You click on one of the sets and scroll through the product page. A few glances at the photos and a quick read of the product descriptions. Suddenly you’re not so sure whether this is the right toy for your little one. Sure, there are some customer reviews and star ratings but the words “Great purchase!” don’t really tell you whether a child would actually play with the set. (For all you know, it could be an overzealous parent behind that comment.) So you exit the page and start your research again…
If this scene was taking place in physical retail, you’d come up to the nearest fellow parent in the aisle and ask for their honest opinion or observe what other kids roaming the store are drawn to. Chances are, at the end of the day, you’d probably leave the store with a nicely wrapped gift in hand.
So why not replicate the same experience online?
This is where UGC can help. When we’re not certain of our choices, we turn to other people around us for advice. Customers are likely to trust opinions of fellow shoppers 12 times more than marketing material made by companies. And this is exactly why UGC works. It captures the experience of real-life people and gives us reassurance.
71% of consumers say that UGC makes them feel more comfortable buying a product.
The psychology behind UGC is quite simple. Humans trust other humans, not faceless websites. There’s something about seeing another person interact with a product that helps us mentally create an emotional connection to the product.
With that said, visual UGC is more trustworthy and persuasive than text-based reviews and star ratings. Videos and photos are more compelling evidence. Think about it, someone actually wanted to show their face next to the product and take a picture of it or film it. That’s powerful testimony on its own! It can help influence how shoppers think of the product.
4. UGC Helps Convert Shoppers
Now, let’s talk numbers. User-generated content is not just a “nice to have” addition to your site because “it looks pretty”. When done right, it can bring a solid bump to your conversion rate. It can make a difference between an abandoned shopping cart and visits that result in purchases.
How? UGC makes shoppers covet the products they see in the videos and photos created by others. It allows shoppers to visualize the versatility of a product and how it could fit into their lifestyle.
For many products (esp. fashion, beauty, gadgets, and consumer electronics), UGC can drive growth in conversion rates 1.6–2.4 times. Visual UGC increases conversion rate up to 10% when shoppers encounter it on their shopping journey.
You may not have the need to purchase another pair of sneakers or a fitness gadget, but seeing them in an unboxing video or in a photos of a well-known Instagram personality might tickle your fantasy.
When consumers interact with UGC while shopping, conversion rate goes up 9.6%.
What’s important is to place UGC in spots where it’s most potent to positively affect the intent to buy. This means bringing UGC directly to your product pages in order to maximize the chances of converting visitors.
5. UGC Helps with SEO
Last but not least, let’s talk about the benefits that user-generated content brings in terms of SEO. When added on the site, UGC improves your website’s discoverability. How? It helps you add original content to your pages and contributes to your site’s uniqueness.
Sites with UGC see 20% increase in repeat visits and 90% increase in the time spent on site.
For example, if you’re just another among hundreds of stores that sell iPhone online, it’s hard for you to achieve high search ranking organically by using the same manufacturer details as everyone else. By adding UGC, you add additional unique content that helps search engines differentiate your pages from thousands of others on the web selling the same product.
Search engines appreciate UGC that is rich in natural language used by consumers, devoid of marketing lingo. It’s rich with keywords people naturally use when searching for products online, which facilitates your product page discoverability.
User-generated content is a pot of gold for e-commerce marketers. Of course, in order to reap all the benefits listed in this post, you’ll need a smart and efficient tool to collect, curate, and activate UGC in e-commerce.