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The how’s and why’s of user-generated content – Part two of our interview with Joanna Alter

Stefan Posted by

UGC (User-Generated Content) is the golden goose of content for ecommerce businesses so we’ve asked Yotpo’s resident expert Joanna Alter to offer us some insight into both how to generate it and what it can do for your business.

In a previous guest article for our blog you explained that user-generated content can elevate an online store’s existing resources and builds a community around brands, leading to increased trust and conversions. So, how can brands pave the way for increased user-generated content? Is it a case of jumping in on an existing conversation, upping the remarkability of the brand, emailing brand fans to get the ball rolling?

 

Customers prefer user-generated content over branded content because it is more relatable, reliable and addresses relevant pain points. It brings the experience of getting a second opinion from a friend or a sales associate to the online shopping world. UGC is word-of-mouth marketing for online businesses–it makes customer opinions and experiences accessible for your entire brand community.

One of the biggest obstacles to collecting user-generated content is customers’ short attention spans, so making content creation easy and fun is key.

UGC campaigns that encourage customers to share content using a specific hashtag are a great way to do this. They are highly effective for companies because they provide a big influx of user-generated content and a major boost in brand recognition in a short amount of time.

The most successful UGC campaigns encourage creativity, establish an emotional connection between a brand and its followers, and collect content that can be repurposed throughout marketing channels.

There are various tools that can help you gather user generated content, for example, the Yotpo MAP (Mail After Purchase) feature is an extremely effective avenue for collecting UGC–it increases the amount of customer reviews by 9x! By prompting customers, you encourage them to avoid thinking of the purchase as the completion of a transaction and encourage feedback – great for garnering their content.

Brands should facilitate an ongoing conversation with their customers in order to keep the customer content coming in. Whenever a customer or a shopper starts a conversation, you should promptly reply, and do so publicly, to keep the lines of communication open.

Whether this means responding to a review, answering questions or engaging on social media, doing so publicly showcases your brand’s responsiveness, good service and personality. When other customers and shoppers see this they are compelled to start a conversation as well.

One of the great things about collecting user-generated content is the snowball effect of positive customer content. Five-star reviews lead to even more five-star reviews, and all of those good reviews lead to increased traffic and sales.

 

How can user-generated content impact on businesses’ success?

Businesses can harness the power and impact of UGC by using it across platforms in a way that connects people who like your brand with one another. For example, with Yotpo, reviews can be easily shared on social media by the reviewers themselves, customer questions on product pages can be directed to past buyers, and customer reviews and photos can be featured throughout your website to impact each stage of the buyer journey.

Customer content on the homepage creates interest and curiosity that draws shoppers further into your site. On product pages, reviews inform shoppers with authentic experiences from past buyers, and customer photos allow shoppers to picture themselves enjoying your product. User-generated content on the checkout page boosts excitement and confidence to convert interested shoppers into buyers.

With all of the benefits that UGC brings, you want to make sure you are doing it right. Make rights management a priority to be sure that you are only publishing approved content. User-generated content is voluntarily created and submitted, but you can avoid any misunderstandings or breaches of trust by clearly obtaining customer consent. When you ask for permission, contributors are likely to be excited about the possibility of being featured by your brand and be reassured by your clear communication.

 

The most successful UGC campaigns encourage creativity, establish an emotional connection between a brand and its followers, and collect content that can be repurposed throughout marketing channels.

How would you define customer engagement? What steps can businesses take to increase it?

Underneath all of the engagement metrics like bounce rate, page views, and click-through-rates, what we are really looking at is people’s feelings toward, connection with and loyalty to your brand. When we try to generate and measure engagement, we are talking about customer sentiment as an indicator of future loyalty.

There is a big difference between liking a brand that I may go back to one day, and loving a brand so much that I recommend it to all of my friends and go back every chance I get.

To increase customer engagement and create more enthusiastic brand fans, businesses should focus on building relationships with their customers, making engagement fun, and making it valuable for customers.

To maintain a fruitful relationship with customers, engagement needs to be mutually beneficial for both the business and the customers. To achieve this, ensure that customers feel that their loyalty is recognized, and that they feel an emotional connection to your brand.

Letting your brand’s personality shine with creative copy, incorporating elements of friendly competition, and offering incentives related to your brand are great ways to make engagement fun and valuable for customers.

 

Perhaps the million-dollar question is: how can businesses encourage more positive reviews for their goods and services?

The vast majority of reviews are positive–75% of reviews submitted are 5-star reviews–so getting more positive reviews is really just a matter of collecting more reviews.

The data shows that the most effective way to collect reviews is to ask via email after the customers receive their order. This harnesses the post-purchase excitement and makes it easy for the customer to submit a review. Customers are often happy to contribute content if it takes next to no effort on their part.

The timing of review requests should be well thought-out to optimize the amount and the quality of customer content you receive. Industry, customer experience and delivery time should all be considered in order to get the most out of your review requests.

For example, the height of customer excitement for apparel and accessories comes right when they receive their order, so review requests should be sent as soon after delivery time as possible. For electronics, however, the height of customer excitement comes after they have had time to get used to their new device and play around with the features, so best practice is to send out review requests about two weeks after delivery time.

Another way to encourage reviews is to have a very clear call to action for writing reviews on every product page–and of course make it easy for your customers to do.

A great tip is to ask for reviews on the most expensive products. Our data shows that when customers order multiple items at once, it is most effective to ask for a review on the most expensive product. Review conversion rates increase with price, with items costing $100 or more getting the most reviews. People are financially and emotionally more invested in expensive items, so they will be most inspired to review them.

An always reliable go-to way for collecting more reviews is to offer incentives or rewards. In exchange for reviews some companies give membership points or enter reviewers in raffles. We have seen great results with companies who offer coupons to reviewers. You can offer one coupon for submitting a review, and an additional one for sharing their review on social media to skyrocket your brand exposure to a relevant audience.

 

Stefan

Author Stefan

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