5 User-Generated Content Platforms for SMBs
As Google expands the local search experience to encompass more aspects of the customer journey, user-generated content is coming into play as one of the most important ranking factors for small and mid-size businesses.
While digital marketing experts like Damian Rollison have been discussing the hidden value of user-generated content (UGC) for years, Google’s latest algorithm updates put increased weight on consumer reviews, testimonials, and social media posts. UCG has been confirmed as a ranking signal, and although first-party reviews may not all be fully unbiased, businesses are coming around to the idea that reviews do matter.
Google’s focus on UGC for local search rankings has more SMBs searching for marketing platforms that they can use to collect, distribute, and manage customer reviews and testimonials. Although multi-location brands have access to more sophisticated UGC marketing software, smaller mom-and-pop businesses have traditionally been left with fewer options. That appears to be changing now, with more MarTech startups catering directly to SMBs with local marketing solutions.
Here are five UGC marketing platforms that work directly with small and mid-size businesses.
Smaller merchants have historically had a harder time collecting reviews than larger brands. ReviewTec is looking to change that by giving merchants a way to automatically send email and SMS requests asking customers to leave Google Reviews. ReviewTec’s free automated setup assistant finds the merchant’s review pages. With that in place, staff can begin sending requests to customers immediately after their appointments or transactions are complete. Emails, SMS messages, and reminders are all customizable. ReviewTec’s Tiny plan for individuals and small businesses is $29.99 per month after a 14-day trial.
Bazaarvoice connects small businesses to consumers online. The company’s influencer community can help newer merchants that don’t already have large followings generate more online reviews. To get those reviews, merchants can switch on ReviewSource, Bazaarvoice’s always-on content machine. ReviewSource puts reviews and other forms of UGC directly on a merchant’s product pages, which signals authority to Google and boosts local SEO. Content can also be syndicated across Bazaarvoice’s retail partners. Merchants can contact Bazaarvoice directly for custom pricing information.
Delighted offers a fast way for small and mid-size businesses to gather the type of customer, product, and employee feedback that can help with local SEO. Merchants who use the self-serve platform can choose from eight ready-made survey templates and six survey delivery methods to create their own customer surveys. They can then publish positive testimonials on their websites using Delighted’s premium Testimonials feature. In addition to helping with SEO, Delighted says publishing social proof and online reviews boosts conversions and increases customer spend. Small businesses can use Delighted’s basic tools for free. Premium features are available at an additional cost.
ShortStack is a platform that small businesses can use to create their own tailored marketing campaigns, including online contests, hashtag giveaways, and marketing emails. Because most SMBs don’t have a website developer on staff, ShortStack offers simple ways to embed campaigns, forms, videos, and other types of UGC on a website without any technical skill required. ShortStack’s photo and video content are a useful way for small businesses to collect UGC and increase the time visitors spend on their websites. ShortStack is free to try. Business accounts start at $99 per month.
Local merchants who don’t need one-on-one support can use ReviewTrackers to aggregate and manage business reviews online. The company’s Lite plan is fully self-serve. SMBs can manage reviews on Google and Facebook and then track the impact that those reviews are having on local search using the company’s integrated analytics and dashboards. Add-on features like local-listing management and local SEO monitoring are designed to provide merchants with strategies to improve their online presence and drive both online and offline revenue.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.