As an eCommerce business owner, it’s vital to find exciting ways to engage your audience and build trust. If you manage to do these things, you can broaden your reach and, ultimately, generate sales.
One powerful tool that can help you win the hearts of your target audience is user-generated content (UGC). When you ask your audience to create content for you, you don’t just ensure their interaction with your brand. You also end up with authentic and compelling content that draws even more engagement.
In this article, we’ll show you some interesting ways to source UGC for eCommerce. But first, let’s talk about what UGC is and why it’ll work for your brand.
What is UGC
UGC refers to any content that is created and shared by the users of a particular brand. This content can be in the form of images, videos, audio, text, or a mixture of one or more of these things. The content may showcase users doing something with your product, or it may come in the form of customer reviews or testimonials.
A good example of UGC is this video by YouTube user Dusty Spiller trying out some new Nike shoes:
Think of UGC as a digital form of word-of-mouth marketing; satisfied customers are brand advocates sharing their experiences and opinions with their networks.
Why UGC works
Let’s imagine you wanted to get shoes but needed to be sure you were getting the perfect ones for your needs. Simply seeing branded ads may not convince you. But, if you saw a video of someone giving positive reviews about a specific pair, you’re more likely to choose that pair, right?
That’s the power of UGC.
User-generated images and videos possess a more relatable quality. That’s probably why 84% are more likely to trust a brand that incorporates UGC into their marketing campaigns. Content showcasing customers using and enjoying a product appears more authentic than content created by the business.
Overall, UGC helps you build a remarkable customer experience by helping you connect with customers genuinely and more naturally.
What are the benefits of using UGC for eCommerce?
Having explained why user-generated content works, let’s go ahead and explore some specific benefits of using this type of content for your eCommerce business:
It enhances engagement
UGC fuels engagement and interactive conversations between customers and brands. Why is engagement important? Fully engaged customers represent 23% of the revenue increase in companies.
UGC for eCommerce enhances engagement in many ways.
When customers create content for you, they already interact with your brand. When you share the authentic content they posted on your own social media account or your site, you essentially also interact with those users.
But that’s not all. UGC, whether shared on your site or socials, can draw even more engagement too. You can essentially get Instagram likes, Facebook shares, retweets, and site comments without exerting that much effort.
Check out how many likes the UGC above, reposted by Nike, has. That’s just one picture, and it already has thousands of likes.
It serves as a form of social proof
You can influence consumer behavior and buying decisions with UGC. This is especially so if the content comes from your target audience’s peers or immediate networks. Data from Invesp suggests that people are 90% more likely to trust and buy from a brand that a friend recommends.
Additionally, UGC showcases that your products aren't just advertised hype; they’re solutions that have genuinely worked for others, so it’s elevating your brand's credibility.
Check out how Elf Cosmetics uses UGC as social proof. Its homepage is loaded with videos of users trying out and recommending the different products the brand offers:
With the variety of UGC on Elf’s site, the brand shows potential customers that it is genuinely meeting users’ needs and not exaggerating product benefits.
It increases conversion rates
Thanks to the persuasive power of UGC, you can also improve your conversion rates. As we’ve mentioned earlier, potential customers are more likely to convert when they see genuine users sharing their positive experiences with a product. These customer testimonials can serve as a confirmation of your product's value by effectively reducing doubts and hesitations new shoppers might have.
For instance, Macy's features customer reviews alongside their products. They also allow users to share pictures of the products they purchase:
When prospects see these pictures and reviews from loyal customers, they can trust that the eCommerce brand is going to deliver. So, they end up taking your desired action.
It provides additional product details
With UGC for eCommerce, real people share different usage scenarios, unfiltered opinions, and, sometimes, practical tips for using your products. Content like this can help potential customers get more details about your product.
In this example, a customer elaborates on how they paired a specific Spanx top with brand shorts to create the perfect outfit:
So, Spanx website visitors won’t be able to get details from the product description alone. They can use the information provided by the previous customer as well to make a well-informed purchase.
4 ways to source user-generated content for an eCommerce brand
Sure, user-generated content is amazing, but how do you get enough of it to use for your brand? Here are some effective ways you can source UGC:
Leverage social media
Encourage happy customers to share their experiences on their social media accounts. Ask them to insert your branded hashtags or to simply tag your brand in the post.
To gain access to this content, just type in the hashtag in the search field of your chosen social media platform. This is what I get when I type in Elf Cosmetics’ hashtag “#elfingamazing” on Instagram:
Another way you can gain access to this UGC for eCommerce is to use social media listening tools. These tools will send you a notification when someone uses your hashtag.
Once you have your UGC, repost it on your own social media platforms. This not only helps boost customer loyalty but also helps you expand your brand's reach. As we’ve seen earlier, you can also post this UGC on your own eCommerce site for social proof.
Run contests and giveaways
UGC contests and giveaways don’t just help foster engagement. They help you generate a stream of diverse UGC you can use.
Encourage participants to submit content related to your products for a chance to win prizes like shopping vouchers, freebies, and so on. Here’s an example from Joules:
With contests, you want to ensure that the rules of entry are clear. For instance, potential participants should know the type of content to create and what to do with the content. Joules has a dedicated webpage outlining contest guidelines, including those for UGC:
If you’re not sure how to write those rules, you can use a generative AI tool like Writer. Just insert the right prompts. Here’s what I get when I ask the tool to create UGC contest guidelines:
Of course, you’ll need to be more specific with your prompt and provide more details about the contest. You’ll also need to be aware of potential mistakes or misinformation generated by the AI. By paying attention to those things, you’ll get better results that you can tweak and share with your eCommerce audience.
Remember, too, to make your contest exciting. Even when you’re basing it on the latest trends, the contest should still be relevant to your brand. Don’t ask your audience to take pictures of themselves while eating if you sell eyeglasses. The purpose is still to promote your products with the UGC.
As a final tip, notify your audience about the contest either through email marketing campaigns, social media posts, or blog posts.
Offer rewards for consistently posting UGC
Offering rewards is an appealing way to encourage customers to create and share awesome content about your products. You don’t necessarily have to run contests for this. Just give discounts, exclusive access, or early product releases to customers who, on their own, consistently produce UGC for your brand.
Do this and you won’t just ensure a steady stream of authentic content. You’ll also enhance brand loyalty.
Collaborate with influencers
Partnering with influencers allows you to tap into their engaged audiences while leveraging their creative talents. See how Warby Parker partners with YouTube influencer Claudia Sulewski to showcase a pair of glasses:
You don’t have to reach out to celebrities or mega-influencers to get good results. These groups may be hard to reach, especially if you’re just starting.
Micro-influencers can create high-quality UGC that resonates with their followers and get them on board with your brand. These influencers have a targeted audience within a specific niche and a follower count ranging from 1,000 to 10,000. Just ensure the influencers you work with have your ideal customers as their audience. Otherwise, you’d be attracting the wrong crowd and your influencer marketing efforts will be for nothing.
User-generated content is a dynamic force that can elevate your eCommerce brand. By embracing the authenticity and relatability of UGC for eCommerce, you can forge stronger connections with your audience, boost your brand's reputation, and foster a thriving online community.
Some exciting ways to get eCommerce UGC content include leveraging social media, running contests and giveaways, rewarding customers for consistent content, and partnering with influencers.
Now, you can incorporate UGC into your eCommerce marketing strategy and watch your brand flourish. Good luck!
James Westfield is the Marketing Manager for Writer, an AI writing platform designed for teams. He has over 10 years of experience in the industry. When James isn't in the office, you can find him on the golf course.
Published November 3, 2023