User Generated Content – a digital dialogue with your customers
Web 2.0 has released a new set of consumer motivations and behaviours. Consumers want to share their thoughts and opinions. They create and share content and become increasingly active in dialogues with brands on social media.
More and more consumers are turning to each other for service and product information before making a purchasing decision. Today, retailers must take the right decisions to take advantage of this new dialogue with their customers.
User Generated Content is the contribution of any rating, review, testimonial, video, blog article, image, audio file or other types of content made available for other online consumers.
“Your brand is what Google says it is, not what you say your brand is.”
Customers who make purchases on the Internet are constantly curious about what others are doing. They trust the opinions of consumers over what brands say about themselves. Most of them look for user generated content to help them finalise a purchasing decision. According to a Bazaarvoice Survey “Talking to Strangers: Millennials Trust People over Brands” 8 of 10 Millennials (also known as Generation Y – people born between 1977 and 1994) are influenced by UGC from people they don’t know for their purchase decision and the brand quality, even 51% say that UGC is actually more important than the opinions of their friends and family or the brand website content. To build an efficient UGC strategy we offer you this advice:
Interact with your customers
Offer the possibility to give feedback on products and service. Ask your customers to give you their opinion. Let them know that you want to hear from them. Consumers want to share, so get them to talk and react. Then share these conversations and opinions where other consumers can buy your products online or in stores.
Let consumers see opinions from people who matter most to them. To find reviews and general opinions about products they want to buy, consumers turn to social networks. They are seeking input from experts and peers with common interests. Give them the feedback they need from experts, people like them, and their social friends. Encourage customers to give you their opinion and motivate them to give you a feedback after a purchase. You can set up a triggered campaign to send an automatic email asking them to give you feedback on the product they have recently purchased with the possibility of a reward, for example a discount on their next order or free shipping.
Plan your UGC Strategy
The most frequent examples of UGC are ratings, reviews, testimonials and discussion boards or forums, but also image or video uploading and blogs are becoming more and more important. Set comment functions, offer star rating systems for your products and create forums to enable discussions about what people like about your brand. When you put your UGC strategy in place you will have to determine which UGC tactic is the best to implement for your brand. For an excellent example of a company in the US called Method Inc., who have built their marketing strategy around their own UGC strategy, read here.
Handle Negative Reviews Appropriately
There is no guarantee that negative reviews will never happen. It is your responsibility to control the influence of the consumers comments. It is not a solution to erase negative comments but you can inspire yourself from these negative reviews for product and service improvements. Positive support and communication instead of erasing these comments is a fabulous way to engage online. It can turn prospects into clients, improve customer loyalty and of course improve your results by driving sales. You have to make improvements to your website to generate good rankings in search engine results (SEO) and also adjust the content for smartphones and tablets. Make it easy for your customers to share their opinions about your product via social networks.
Next to the use of search engines such as Google. Consumers consider information shared on social networks before making their purchase decision, so be sure to integrate your social media channels within your marketing strategy. For the optimisation of your social media strategy you can also read our best practice article: It’s time to get social! 7 key tips to optimize your social media strategy (http://www.ecircle.com/en/resource-centre/best-practices/social-media-strategy.html#c6016). Use your social media presence to motivate fans and followers to discuss your brand. Ask them for their opinion about your products and services, make customer success stories visible and ask them to share their purchase-experience. By visiting your social media account to ensure themselves for their purchase decision they will see all this positive feedback, gain trust in your brand and buy your services or products.
Business and Consumer Impact
By implementing UGC you will benefit from increased conversion rates, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, but also from improved site traffic, higher average order value and a decreased rate of returned items. A successful UGC strategy is the result of your knowledge and the right implementation. This type of integrated strategy will boost sales and consumer expectations and also generate more powerful marketing content. It will improve your return on investment. The main advantage for you is the ability to generate a new source of content creation from your most precious asset – your customers.
The incorporation of user generated content also creates benefits for your customers, they can consult and trust the opinions of other customers who have the same interests and purchase intentions.
Including customer reviews within your email campaigns will increase your revenue per email and boost click through rates. Overall, a good UGC strategy is important for your whole business. It affects your conversion rate, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty as well. When customers know you care about them, they will come back with more feedback and these conversations create a valuable loyalty cycle.