The Benefits of User-Generated Content in eCommerce9 min read

Is user-generated content (UGC) really worth your time if you’re a retail business owner? 

Without a doubt. 

Taking advantage of content created by customers is an effective move in eCommerce. 

Real people, real opinions, real pictures all speak better with your prospects than marketing-crafted efforts alone. After all, one of the major strengths of UGC is that it helps to convert your potential customers into actual buyers.

On this page, let’s take a look at the advantages of making use of content created by customers on your eCommerce website and social media accounts, as well as find out how important and powerful they can be in the online retail sphere. We’ll also take a peek at the latest trends with UGC and how some brands are leveraging it.

If you own a retail eCommerce business, you’ve probably looked for ways to provide customers the best experience possible while also saving on expenses. Read till the end for a great way to do that.

What is Considered UGC?

User-generated content (UGC) includes various types of content voluntarily created by people and shared online (on social media for example). It includes:

  • reviews and various feedback on products or services,
  • posts with photos and artwork,
  • video and audio content, &
  • blog posts and articles featuring a product or service or mentioning a company/brand.

Such user-created content serves as social proof for businesses and is contributed by people on a voluntary basis without pay.

How Can UGC Benefit eCommerce Businesses?

Creating high-quality content that is of importance to an audience is neither quick nor simple. Furthermore, people tend to trust the opinions of others more than dry advertisements or the results of pure marketing. This is why placing UGC on your customer-facing pages/channels can be a good ploy.

Obviously, there is a technical side to this too. For example, if your site runs on the Magento platform, Magento performance optimization assistance or other setup help by experts may be required. However, there are long-term benefits to be reaped as you will see.

Here’s why you should focus on UGC for your eCommerce businesses:

  • It helps build trust in your brand & service.
  • it grows your credibility.
  • it expands brand awareness.
  • it broadens your online presence.
  • it engages your audience.
  • it nurtures brand loyalty.
  • it influences purchasing decisions and inspires clients to buy.
  • it basically doesn’t cost you anything!

A significant 70% of consumers will consider UGC reviews or ratings before making a purchasing decision. At least 41% of them will read four to seven UGC reviews to gain important insights on a product.” – Tint

Clear enough?

Which Retail Spheres & Demographics are Best Suited to UGC?

To be clear, implementing user-generated content in one way or another will help your eCommerce business regardless of industry. Yet, it’s vital to understand that UGC won’t work equally well for all spheres. 

Some retail verticals that should be using UGC for sure are:

  • Clothing,
  • Shoes,
  • Accessories & jewelry,
  • Cosmetics & beauty products,
  • Goods for children,
  • Goods for pets,
  • Souvenirs,
  • Sports goods,
  • Home decor & furniture, &
  • Household appliances.

As far as demographics are concerned, with the boom of social media, millennials, more than any other generation, are inclined toward UGC.

Roughly 30% of the time that millennials spend consuming all media is spent on UGC. 84 percent of millennials report that user-generated content has some influence on what they buy.” – CrowdRiff

With the basics of user-generated content out of the way, let’s take a look at what the latest eCommerce trends in UGC are.

The Latest eCommerce UGC Trends in 2020

Without a doubt, a big part of the effectiveness of your user-generated content strategy will depend on how well it is executed.

Consistency is among the main points to keep in mind for sure. Similarly, giving something in return to your customers for their content can be a good move (for instance, you could motivate your customers by offering them a discount, coupon, or free product delivery in return for reviewing the product they bought from you).

Here’s how renowned brands are leveraging UGC in 2020: 

1. Linking Social Media to Your Website

One of the first places to look for UGC is your social media channels.

Posts that your customers make on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or even TikTok can be useful. Thus, adding functionality to connect your official social media accounts to your online store is the first step you should take.

Importantly, make sure to give credit to content creators, state what should be done to be featured, and think of a way to organize content in such a way so as to promote what you’re selling.

Here’s what a UGC section on the official Puma website looks like. 

Placed right on the home page, the “AS WORN BY YOU” block allows for adding photos to the gallery and also explains how to mention the brand on Instagram. The carousel with the photos shows the name of the contributor. When a post is clicked, we can see the tagged product on the picture and a button with a CTA that allows us to purchase the item. 

2. Enhancing Product Pages With UGC

Undoubtedly, placing UGC on the product pages of your online store is a blazing tactic too. Not only can you build trust this way but can also showcase how your customers are using a product. The latter can result in the “I want this too” reaction and lead to a sale.

The Prismatic Shadows product page on the official NYX Cosmetics website is a good example. 

First of all, the highlighted pink “@NYXCOSMETICS” heading hints at how to tag a social media post in order to be featured. The “NYX Cosmetics Community” section displays photos of the looks that people have created with the product that’s on sale.

These photos are collected on the website by a widget that pulls out those posts that mention the brand and that have corresponding hashtags and products that were used for creating a particular look.

3. Displaying Customer Feedback With Visuals

Positive customer reviews are immensely effective at convincing someone to make a purchase decision. 

On your site, customers could share what they like and dislike about the product they’ve bought or their impressions on the service they received. Apart from just submitting text, giving users the opportunity to back up their feedback with pictures makes a lot of sense.

Here’s a tip: In order to avoid fraud reviews, make sure to verify every review that’s added. You should be certain that every piece of feedback is from a real customer.

Let’s take a look at how the official Azazie website uses this strategy. 

Azazie - User Generated Content

Since buying wedding dresses online without a physical try-on can be a stressful experience, seeing pictures of other real brides (not just models) wearing the dress can be a relief.

The product page is equipped with a gallery that gathers all customer images featuring a specific product. Even better, the testimonials include pictures and other important data apart from the comment (the size the customer wears, their body type, the item’s fit, rating, etc).

4. Cross-Posting on Various Social Media Channels

It’s worth noting that UGC works well not only on eCommerce websites but on social media channels too.

Reposting content in which you’re featured and sharing feedback on your business accounts is a great tactic. This way, you additionally expand the content on your accounts and can increase the number of views.

To give an example, this screenshot was taken from the Stories of the official MAC Cosmetics Instagram account.

Having run a short survey, they’ve collected feedback from clients regarding their favorite lipstick and shade. Noteworthy, the “See more” button leads viewers to a page where they can order the item (this is possible only if the business account has an Instagram Shop).

MAC cosmetics - User Generated Content

5. Boosting Email Send-outs & Ads

It is a great idea to enhance email campaigns with UGC.

Be it a quote from a customer’s testimonial or an image of a happy customer, the click-through rates of a mailer featuring such content will be higher.

Luckily, most email campaign builder tools are already armed with functionality that allows for linking UGC from social media as well as boast various templates that can assist in designing beautiful blocks with customer reviews and content.

Finally, just as in the case with email campaigns, the click-through rates of ads are several times higher if they feature an element of UGC. This means that you can potentially cut costs on PPC and save more of your marketing budget.

Final Word

All in all, user-generated content is a mighty marketing resource and weapon that’s especially relevant in retail eCommerce. Because people tend to believe the opinions of others and are often moved by the trends that others start, UGC is a strategy that can not only spark the interest of your customers but also ultimately result in more sales.

About the Author

Alex Husar

Alex Husar is CTO at Onilab with 8+ years of experience in Magento and Salesforce development services. He graduated from the Czech Technical University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Computer Software Engineering. Alex’s expertise includes both full-stack dev skills and a strong ability to provide project-critical guidance to entire teams

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