Studies have found that 92 percent of consumers are more likely to trust the recommendations of friends and family members over brand-sponsored messages when it comes to their purchasing decisions. Consumers are also more likely to trust the endorsements of people whom they’ve never met over brand-sponsored personalities. This interesting trend makes it crucial for brands to engage their customers with user generated content (UGC).
Companies or marketers who actively engage their customers through the help of the right UGC marketing strategies will see the benefits of this powerful marketing tool. UGC, when used in conjunction with targeted sales initiatives, will offer impressive returns. Here are some ways you can align UGC with sales for significant boosts to your bottom line.
Take Control of Your Product’s Review Process
User reviews are one of the most effective forms of UGC out there. If you’ve got a product to sell that you believe is worthy of good reviews, make sure these reviews are well-represented in all relevant forums.
Some companies who sell their items on Amazon have a list of dedicated, independent, “top reviewers” who receive free products in exchange for their feedback. The user must, of course, provide disclosure that the item was free, but this offers potential customers with a trustworthy peer review of the product.
Respond to Questions to Learn What Matters Most
Many of the big players in e-commerce, such as Apple and Amazon, strive to make Q&A available on a product-by-product basis. These are the forums where the retailers have the opportunity to learn what aspects truly matter to the consumer. If your underlying goal is to increase sales, tracking what is relevant to your customer base is crucial.
Recognize Authentic Passion
It’s not always about giving away free stuff. In fact, if you drive your UGC campaigns with prizes, giveaways, and contests, then you’re likely to miss out on the voices of your most authentic and passionate fans. The goal of UGC and influencer marketing is engagement. If you give your most inspired fans the opportunity to creatively showcase your product, it is likely they will produce powerful UGC that will drive sales.
Consider the hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones. To spur engaging UGC, HBO invited fans to submit their original creations derived from thematic elements of the show. The submissions included costumes, artwork, song lyrics, and more. Rather than promising to give contributing fans free gifts, HBO promised the best work would appear in an upcoming book honoring the show and the fans who love it.
The organizers of the Game of Thrones campaign were overwhelmed with responses, as well as the creativity and care put into each submission. The campaign was a success because it was able to engage loyal fans in producing fantastic content for the book with just the promise of being listed as a contributor to a globally distributed publication.
Keep an Open and Active Sandbox for Your Community
What you don’t want is a website or social page full of corporate copy with minimal opportunity for visitors to interact with the brand or each other. What you do want is to facilitate a forum or space, where visitors can learn about your product, try it out (if possible), and interact with others who enjoy the product.
This type of interactivity and engagement is essential to both facilitate and showcase UGC to get your brand moving in the right direction. Consider the manufacturing and engineering design software company Autodesk, which uses designated web space called “Community Portals” to give current and potential customers a space to interact with one another and work on sample projects.
The content inside the portal is dynamic and engaging. Visitors can participate in and view polls, learn and share product tips, and much more. Best of all, when a new customer approaches, the experience is that of encountering a busy workshop full of activity, energy, and credibility.
UGC marketing is an excellent way to break the ice and bring your customers further into the sales process. Keep in mind that making good use of UGC is as much an art as it is a science, so be sure to keep an open mind to help foster innovation and creativity.