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Industry, and Tips and Guides

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

Andrej Csizmadia

December 24, 2019
Last modified on May 30, 2023 at 9:33 am

As an e-commerce owner, you are constantly looking at how you can tweak your money pages to increase that precious conversion rate, how to grow your e-commerce sales and online sales fast. This is precisely the reason why many e-commerce businesses, sooner or later, turn to user-generated content for help.

In this fast-paced and competitive business world, user-generated content has the potential to significantly boost your sales numbers. Especially if you haven’t been using it so far.

But what is actually user-generated content and how can your business benefit from it? Keep reading as we’re going to provide you with valuable explanations, case studies, and plenty of examples.

What is User Generated Content?

As the name suggests, user-generated content (UGC) is any type of content that is generated by users or customers. Users often organically create content in different forms showcasing the product or service from a brand without compensation.

However, brands are aware that UGC can be a very powerful marketing tool which is why they often organize contests or philanthropic campaigns to encourage users to create high-quality and creative content. 

GoPro is a perfect example of such a company. It is a worldwide known business that produces action cameras and supporting equipment. The company also sponsors adventure sports events and supports adventure content creators. The picture below shows a viral content that was hosted in 2018. The rules were simple – capture a creative video with the newest GoPro camera, post it on YouTube and include the tag #GoProMillionDollarChallenge in the caption. Several thousand users participated in this contest and it drastically increased GoPro’s brand awareness.

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

HubSpot conducted research on the impact of user-generated content on key metrics such as conversion rates and revenue. Their research findings show that people don’t trust businesses as they used to, so companies need to adjust and find a way to increase the trust of people.

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

As the trend of people losing trust in businesses continues, it’s important to implement user-generated content in your business to keep up with customers’ demands as well as with tough competition. 

Before we move on, let’s also list the most common types of UGC that business look to “exploit”:

  • Products or service reviews/testimonials
  • Detailed reviews on user’s personal/business blogs
  • Social media content (pictures, videos, influencer marketing, contests, comments, etc.)
  • Forum and discussion posts
  • Interviews with users 
  • Podcasts 

Benefits (and Reasons) to Implement UGC in Your Ecommerce Now

Now that you know what user-generated content is and what it entails, it is time to talk about its benefits.

But before we jump to the benefits, here are some interesting statistics to keep in mind: 

  • 97% of customers read business reviews before deciding to buy
  • 90% of users agreed that positive product or service reviews had a positive influence on buying the product or service
  • 86% of users said their final decision was mainly influenced by reading negative reviews
  • 89% of users carefully read business responses to user reviews 
  • 68% of users will always leave a product or service feedback if asked

It’s not hard to notice these numbers are saying something about the importance of having user-generated content implemented in your business. 

Without further ado, here are the main benefits of user-generated content: 

#1 Increasing brand awareness, credibility, and trust

Who would you trust more; your friend recommending sports shoes or sport shoes business marketing campaign? Online customers tend to trust people who share similar needs and perspectives more than marketing campaigns. At least that is what all of the numbers are pointing to.

#2 Positive impacts on SEO

Creating and implementing a successful SEO strategy is usually a long and resource-intensive process that requires patience, engaging content, and professional team for proper implementation.

How UGC can positively impact SEO and potentially increase rankings? Let’s use an example to explain it.

Imagine you build an e-commerce shop and sell through it a product to a blogger who’s extremely satisfied and he decided to write a comprehensive review on his website. The review is packed with detailed information about your product as well as a valuable backlink that points to your e-commerce shop.

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

The owner of Carryology wrote a comprehensive review of Arcido Akra backpack that points back to the product. It doesn’t only impact SEO and rankings but also puts Arcido product and brand in front of Carryology audience which is mainly interested in travel gear. 

#3 Increasing social media reach 

User-generated content on social media can definitely boost brand awareness and reach of any company. 

For example, in late 2018, the clothing company Aerie launched a philanthropic social media campaign where users shared photos of themselves wearing Aerie’s swimsuit and with every post the company donated $1 to specific non-profit organizations

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

The first campaign was extremely successful and they raised $15,000 for NEDA in less than a week. It means that 15,000 Instagram users participated and shared Aerie’s campaign with their audience. That was a very creative campaign that promoted their products while helping specific NGOs. 

#4 Getting a realistic and objective feedback 

Realistic and objective feedback can be scary to some businesses, but even when it is negative, it can be very valuable. 

Once users buy a product from your e-commerce shop, you can provide them with a survey or ask them to leave a short feedback on bought product or service. It will give you insights you can use to get a deeper understanding of your audience and their needs.

UGC has a huge potential to increase conversion rates, brand awareness, improve SEO, and increase customers’ trust in your business – all of which will positively impact your sales numbers.
There are a few different ways you can use to pick up customers’ feedback you can later use as UGC in your other marketing campaigns.

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

In the picture above, you can see how Prezzybox, a company that specializes in designing personalized and creative gifts, utilizes email reviews to collect deeper knowledge about their customers. The in-mail review form is a very powerful approach that features higher conversion rates mainly because of design simplicity. Also, users aren’t redirected to another tab and the whole process can be finalized through a simple email form.

Let’s see how to use it in practice.

Types of User-Generated Content That Can Skyrocket Your Ecommerce Sales

So, you’ve finally picked the right platform for your e-commerce shop, designed a shop, and started to sell your products. Many e-commerce shop owners face sales plateau very soon after the launching phase. 

To keep up with demanding customers and tough competition, take advantage of UGC.

#1 Improving product pages with UGC content

Allowing customers to create content is a great way to keep your business up to date with fresh content and accurate feedback. It doesn’t only help users to get an objective opinion about the product or service, but it also helps you to adjust to demanding customer needs for increased satisfaction. 

The fact is that users believe other users (customer feedback) more than businesses and they are more likely to proceed with a purchase if they can read different perspectives about the product or service.

This is the reason why even we, as independent reviewers, still sometimes include UGC into our reviews. For example, if you scroll through our Wix review, you will find this:

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

And people who click on “Read more” are lead to a separate page with detailed user feedback:

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

Another example comes from Arcido webshop, a company that specializes in designing travel backpacks for minimalist travelers and digital nomads.

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

Arcido allows users to write interactive reviews accompanied by rich text, pictures, and videos. A rich review is a great approach since it shows potential customers a realistic and objective ‘picture’ of a product or service in use. 

This can be very effective in the beauty and fashion industries where people might be a skeptic if your product works and what is its quality.

#2 Using social media contests to generate traffic

Hosting a social media contest is a very effective way to increase your brand awareness, social media reach, generate traffic from the targeted audience and increase revenue. After all, 60% of customers reported the content from friends or other users influences their final purchase decision? 

Social media contests are a powerful way to encourage UGC and spread awareness about your brand and/or specific product.

Oris is a Swiss manufacturer of luxury watches. The company organizes contests through Instagram on a regular basis and they have a huge number of participants. Last year, they’ve launched a competition on Instagram promoting a healthy lifestyle. In the picture below, you can see what were the rules to participate and the attractive the prizes they used to attract people to get involved.

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

Here’s the example of the post from one participant:

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

The post above accomplishes a few things, including:

  • increasing brand awareness which results in more people looking at your product
  • building trust in brand & influencing an eventual purchase
  • a very cost-effective way of promotion (only two prizes on 1,000 participants)

Depending on the product you are selling, you can run a wide variety of different social media contests. Here is an in-depth guide on using social media contests for e-commerce if you are seriously considering implementing it.

#3 Using video UGC to increase sales

Reaching out to influencers or micro-influencers in your niche and offer them a free sample of your product in exchange for comprehensive video review/product unboxing can be a brilliant and cost-effective way to get more eyes on your product.

Here is a good example.

World's Best Travel Bag - Arcido Akra | Mark Stapf10:18Youtube video: World's Best Travel Bag - Arcido Akra
Mark Stapf

In the video above, you can see a comprehensive review of Arcido Akra travel backpack on YouTube channel that specializes in product reviews. The channel already has around 20,000 subscribers who’re very active and engaging, so Arcido recognized the unique chance to promote their backpack and reach a wider audience. 

Another way to utilize the potential of video reviews is by allowing them on your e-commerce platform. Amazon allows video reviews for a reason, and you should probably too. It’s always refreshing to see what people have to say through the video and actually seeing them using the product which increases the trust in both your product and your overall service.

How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

If you have the budget to implement it and a type of product that is likely to be shown in the review, it could be a nice way to boost your sales.

#4 Using UGC in email marketing to improve retention rates and sales

Email marketing is always a great way to increase conversions and revenue. Many e-commerce brands run extensive email marketing campaigns, but they miss a very important aspect – including UGC as a part of their message.

Here are a few clever ways of implementing UGC in your email marketing campaigns that could help you boost sales with both new and existing customers:

  • Include customer testimonials in your email (a great example would be of reminding a buyer he has some products left in the shopping cart and including a couple of positive reviews that could help close the sale) 
  • Present your products/services while existing customers are using them (pictures of people using it for example)
  • Sending screenshots of social media posts and pictures that show people talking about your product, while you’re promoting that same product in the email
  • Including positive reviews alongside a coupon you’re sending over or doing the same for an item that is on sale and you’re sending an email push about it to your subscribers
  • Use UGC to simply spice up your email and cut some time you would otherwise need to spend on creative work (like shown in the example below)
How To Use User-Generated Content To Increase Ecommerce Sales

Coastal is a company that sells glasses. They’ve used the user-generated photos (Instagram) as a cover of their emails to direct users to their webshop. During that email campaign, they’ve changed a cover photo each week, featuring another person from their Instagram feed. 

If the main goal of your email marketing campaign is to get more subscribers on your email list, then you can use customer testimonials to attract more sign-ups. For example, Unique Fitness Group includes two testimonials from satisfied customers along with their sign-up form. Placing user testimonials in your email marketing campaign can drastically increase the conversion rate of your email campaign. It’s important to mention that it’s all about testing and experimenting with different testimonials, positions, designs, etc. 

A few final words

It’s a fact – customers are losing trust in businesses at a rapid pace and one of the answers is user-generated content. So motivate your buyers to create UGC, host regular contests, reach out to influencers in your industry, allow various types of UGC on your website and product pages and observe your business results and KPIs increase. 

UGC is a powerful way to prove your product or service quality, increase trust in your brand and keep up with demanding customers and tough competition.

Robert Brandl

Guest Post Author

Robert Brandl

Robert's passion has always been web tools that make your life easier. That's why he founded the WebsiteToolTester, where you can find reviews and tutorials for the world's best website builders and e-commerce platforms.

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