By Zuzana Stewart, Owner of HelpfulCrowd
Content marketing has never been more popular. Brands are churning out blogs, videos, podcasts, ebooks and other assets at an extraordinary rate, using these informative and promotional resources to drive awareness, leads and conversions.
While branded content is an important marketing tool, user-generated content (UGC) is perhaps the most potent.
In a world where content is king, user-generated content should be viewed as an entire royal family. User-generated content is any type of content (images, videos, text, and audio) created by your customers about their experience with your brand. This could be a star rating, a customer review, a business testimonial, recommendation, a social media post or any type of multimedia that involves your brand or product. It’s often seen as more trustworthy than branded content, largely because it’s generated by those outside of your organisation.
Here’s why user-generated content should have a central role in your digital marketing strategy.
Boosts social media performance
Seeing content from real customers not only increases brand credibility, but also offers social proof.
Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation. When a customer shares their experience, their friends and followers (who may be of a similar demographic) may aspire to use the same product or service too, potentially resulting in a sale.
Sprout Social reports that “75% of people are likely to share a good experience on their own profile”, and these social media reviews have a positive impact on your brand. Similarly, negative experiences are equally (if not more often) shared, so you’ll need to ensure you’re monitoring your social media channels to respond as required.
User-generated social media content shared by a customer not only opens up your brand to a wider audience helping to boost your follower base, but can also boost social metrics like shares, comments and retweets.
Having a strong online presence is vital for increasing traffic to your ecommerce store or digital outlets. Content shared by users on social media channels, customer reviews added to Google My Business, or star ratings on shopping pages, can all play their part in convincing online shoppers to click through and visit your site.
Has a higher conversion rate
User-generated content typically offers a higher conversion rate than branded content. Those who view a video testimonial or read a written review and star rating are more influenced by the experiences of people just like them, so it makes sense.
For this reason, placing reviews or star ratings in key touch points such as website product pages can increase conversion rates considerably.
Builds trust and credibility
Customer reviews, ratings and testimonials are one of the most common and effective forms of user-generated content. These opinions and experiences are seen as authentic, unbiased and genuine, so are more trustworthy.
In today’s digital world, all age groups are actively seeking reviews and ratings before making a purchase. Almost half of millennials (47%) and 36% of baby boomers say they trust customer reviews more than branded content. In fact, just 25% of both generations trusted branded content or advertising.
For this reason, brands must ensure they are collecting and displaying reviews. To boost review collection rates, more and more brands are turning to review collection apps like HelpfulCrowd to increase their UGC collection rates.
Allows your customers to tell your story
Inviting your customers to share their experience with your brand opens up a powerful channel of communication and allows them to tell your br
and story on your behalf. It’s an effective way to engage with your community too, offering feedback and responding in real time.
Reduces your marketing budget
Marketing budgets are more stretched than ever right now. In many cases, they are even being reduced in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. With more reviews and content created by your fans on social media, you’ll have access to a comprehensive image and review library with little to no cost involved. You can even use review content in your social media advertising campaigns and marketing collateral. Don’t forget to ask your customers before you use their content and to use the opportunity to strike up a conversation.
Boosts SEO performance
25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are linked to user-generated content (according to Kissmetrics). Positive customer reviews on sites such as Google My Business can also raise your SEO ranking so it’s well worth
Reduces your workload
A side benefit of user-generated content is that much of the work is done for you. Your brand ambassadors aka customers have created the content for you. All you have to do is comment and share.
Provides audience insights
Customer feedback has long been hailed as essential to business success. While customer feedback itself is nothing new, the way in which customers share their feedback has changed. Social media channels not only provide a convenient place for customers to share their experiences with others, but also for brands to carry out audience research in real time.
User-generated content is a gold mine of customer intelligence and data. Analysing the content your audience shares, as well as their opinions and experiences, will help you make the necessary improvements to your business. Hearing what they love and what they don’t enables you to do more of what works (and less of what doesn’t).
Using the intelligence and insights you’ve gathered in your marketing, or simply sharing and responding to it on branded social channels, can make your audience feel like their voice is being heard. You can essentially attribute their suggestions to any improvements you make in your business, further building brand credibility.