Advantages of User-Generated Content in Online Retail

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Marketers and business owners are always in search of ways to improve sales, engage and retain customers, and convert new ones. But one very strong tool that lies right there on the surface is neglected way too often. This powerful instrument is user-generated content.

In this article, we’ll show you the three main ways using UGC helps online retail businesses boost their revenue.

A Short Introduction to UGC

In brief, user-generated content is what your buyers create of their own will when referring to your company, products, or services. This can be feedback given on what they’ve purchased from you, such as a review or testimonial. Photo and video content that depicts your products (and that’s either shared with you directly or put up on social media or your site) counts as well.

Importantly, only that content that was created on an unpaid basis by your customers can be thought of as UGC. But you can always inspire your clients to do it! For instance, offer something in exchange for finding the time (say, a promo coupon or free shipping for their next order as gratitude for sharing their opinion or speaking about their buying experience).

Benefits of UGC in Online Retail

There are many advantages to applying user-generated content with the aim of improving online sales. Let’s take a closer look at the three major ones.

1. Inspire Your Buyers

Here’s a stat that should be given some consideration. According to CrowdRiff:

“85% of consumers find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos.”

It is worth finding a place for such content on an e-commerce site. For instance, this can be done by adding a section with the posts that your customers and followers make on social media to your site. Obviously, this content makes an effective addition to your product pages since users who browse the page can become inspired to make a similar purchase.

UGC grows trust in your online store because your customers are real people who paid for a product that you’re selling and who are happy with it.

Just glance at the social media widget that’s placed on the official Maybelline New York website. Users who make Instagram posts and mark the official Maybelline account with the hashtag MNYITLOOK can get featured on the site. Furthermore, clients are welcome to upload images right to the gallery as well. These pictures tell other customers how to use and apply the product. This brings the users who made the post satisfaction (as their content gets a larger viewership) and helps those who are shopping make up their minds.

Screenshot of the official Maybelline New York website

2. Impact Purchasing Decisions

It’s getting harder and harder to convince users that what you’re offering is worth it. What’s more, people tend to believe the opinions of other consumers just like them more than what is provided on the page from the vendor’s perspective.

This is where product reviews from users come in. The bottom line here is that potential customers do spend a lot of time going through reviews, reading the comments of others, and looking at the rating of the item. And the more reviews each individual product has, the higher the level of trust. Case in point, the results collected by the Spiegel Research Center suggest the following:

“The purchase likelihood for a product with five reviews is 270% greater than the purchase likelihood of a product with no reviews.”

This is why getting your buyers to leave reviews after they’ve received the order and tried the product should be a priority. Enhance your emails and communication, and consider a deal as motivation for submitting a comment. This will ultimately only do your business and further sales good. 

Respond to the feedback of unhappy customers to show them (and everyone else who’ll read the comment) that you do care and that you’re doing something to address the customer’s concern.

An example of this is shown below in a ratings and reviews section that’s placed on a product page on the official NARS Cosmetics website. The reply to a negative review not only contains an apology but also offers advice and a solution to the problem.

Screenshot of the official NARS Cosmetics website

3. Enrich Your Content Strategy

The proper use of UGC can boost your SMM strategy. The presence of any business on social media is crucial nowadays. And because it’s often painstaking to have a decent content plan to run across all your channels on a regular basis, making use of the content created by your users is an opportunity to save time while deploying effective material.

To give you a couple of tips, remember that cross-linking and cross-posting is your “best bud.” It can be a review text that was left on your site that you beautifully decorate with a tool like Canva and paste on your Facebook account. Or a repost of a customer’s Instagram Story or TikTok video featuring your product.

Keep your eye out for new posts and content that have your company mentioned or tagged. Then spend some time adding them to your social accounts.

To provide you with an example of how this works, here are a couple of screenshots taken on the official Skechers USA Instagram account. A dedicated buyer with the nickname “bloom_is” posted a photo wearing Skechers shoes on her own account and tagged the Skechers Instagram. After some time, the picture appeared as a repost on the official Skechers USA Instagram page, tagging this customer back.

Did you notice that the number of likes on this post is over 2.3k? Again, seeing a product on another regular person (not some model or influencer who was paid for wearing it) is a powerful motivator for buyers.

Screenshots taken on the official Skechers USA Instagram

Final Thoughts

User-generated content can assist in yielding revenue for your online business. It can help you engage and retain customers as well as convince and inspire new ones. Furthermore, it’s an efficient way to interact with your audience across channels, enhance your website content, and boost your social strategy.

Kate Parish is CMO of Onilab.