The internet runs on user generated content. From Facebook through to Instagram, TikTok, and beyond, the most popular digital platforms in the world rely upon the consistent input and upload of their many millions of users, to maintain their appeal and interest.
The role that user generated content (UGC) plays in modern e-commerce is becoming just as important. In fact, today it’s rare to find an online retail channel that fails to leverage some element of this powerful asset. From product reviews to customer images, or FAQ sections that are created from the pooled advice and experience of dedicated brand advocates, there are many ways that UGC adds to the customer experience – and to retailers’ KPIs.
In this article, we’ll explore five reasons why UGC is proving so popular for e-commerce brands and retailers – and how it can be leveraged to help improve everything from your conversion rate to the number of product returns you process.
Finally, we’ll touch on the way that a digital content experience platform can help you maximize the benefits UGC offers.
Social proof is a powerful motivator towards purchase. When it comes to decision making, we all tend to revert to a herd mentality. The psychological impact of seeing evidence provided by our peers is compelling. We have evolved to learn from the experience of those who walk a path ahead of us.
The UGC provided by customer product reviews is exceptionally valuable for this reason. The average consumer reads ten customer reviews before making a purchase decision, and 83% of people trust reviews over advertising (which can be perceived as too biased.)
This concept rings true no matter what your product or service offering, whether you are selling white goods online, local financial advice or eco-conscious pensions.
Including reviews or testimonials is a great way to add social proof to your product pages.
While all retailers strive to ensure that their product pages are fully populated with all necessary information and attributes, UGC can also work hard for you by helping customers find answers to questions that might not be otherwise present on your website.
By leveraging UGC as “self-service” support, customers can quickly find information that’s relevant to their own unique needs and situation. This is especially effective when working with a review platform that enables attribute-specific reviews. These enable the reviewer to provide information about themselves such as skin type, hair color, body type, etc.
This means that a potential customer no longer needs to email support to find the product that will best suit their unique requirements – they can simply access review data to see what’s worked for others in the same situation.
As Google ends the use of third-party cookies on its Chrome browsers (effectively sounding the death knell for this form of tracking data) and Apple tweaks its operating systems to become ever more focused on the preservation of privacy – zero party data is about to become even more valuable.
Defined as data that your customers voluntarily submit to enhance their experience of your brand (think style preferences, information about hobbies, and interests), zero party data provides brands with the opportunity to really excel when it comes to the personalization of the service they deliver.
How can UGC help here? One example could be the leverage of data submitted within reviews to segment your audience and refine your email campaign messaging or target more relevant offers and promotions.
UGC gives a voice to the customers who love your brand! By including UGC in your product pages, and elsewhere across your sales channels (for example, in social media) you can enhance brand community and identity. UGC gives you access to more relatable content that can increase the affinity prospective shoppers feel for your brand.
Customer images are “real life” – not staged – and this helps those considering a purchase to relate to and identify with those who’ve already bought the items in question.
You can further enhance this sense of community and brand “buzz” by giving customers the ability to answer product FAQs, generating collaborative content that enhances and complements existing product information.
Finally, with so many opinions, experiences, and reviews being provided through these various channels of communication, UGC can also help inform product improvements, buying strategies, and future design.
Modern product development is becoming much more multidirectional. It’s no longer a case of “brand to consumer” but a collaborative process, based on ongoing feedback. UGC offers great insight here if collected and channeled appropriately.
The benefits of gathering and displaying UGC are clear. However, to fully capitalize on everything that user generated content can offer your brand and business, there’s a need to establish proper control over its leverage.
A dedicated digital content experience platform, such as the Effectus Content Platform provides a reliable and intuitive way of looking after these important digital assets, and putting them to optimized use, across any number of channels and platforms.