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Using User-Generated Content in Your Marketing Strategy to Drive Sales

Holly Pels
Holly Pels , Digital Content Manager , Emarsys

As marketers, we want consumers to believe us when we tell them they’ll love our products. But as consumers, we rarely take a brand we don’t know for its word; rather, we scour the internet for reviews on brands, products, and customer experiences.

With 92% of consumers now reading online reviews, brands should be focused on positive reviews more than ever. Not only that, but customers rely on friends, family, and other consumers for recommendations of products, not brands. With the advent of social media, it’s easier than ever to find recommendations (and reviews) of products.

But because of that, brands have a plethora of good (and bad) reviews at their fingertips. But how can you use this user-generated content to promote your products and drive sales? In this article, we’ll discuss the different ways you can capitalize on this customer-centric content to provide a better customer experience and drive more sales.

Monitor Reviews Online 

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Before you start using reviews and other user-generated content for your marketing efforts, you want to make sure that people are talking about your brand positively. This is important not just for marketing, but for your brand in general. For many consumers, it only takes one bad review for them to make up their mind about a brand before they’ve even purchased and experienced the brand for themselves.

Regularly monitor the reviews that customers submit to your website and other review channels. Even if your products and customer service are top of the line, bad reviews still happen. It’s important to monitor reviews for dissatisfied customers and rectify the situation as quickly as possible. After all, customer experience doesn’t end after they receive a product; it should be a continuous experience throughout their lifecycle.

Find Your Fans

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With social media, it’s easy to find a customer who loves your brand because they’ve likely tagged you in an image. With social media influencers and Instagram models running rampant, it should be fairly easy to find customers who are willing to share their love of your brand.

If you don’t have a social media presence (which is highly recommended so you can monitor conversations about your brand), just try searching for your brand on different social media sites – like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You’ll likely find posts of customers sharing their look featuring your brand or an activity that features products they’ve purchased from you.

When you find really great content you want to share, reach out to the customers and ask if you can re-use their images. Consider offering them a discount on a future product for being such a loyal brand ambassador.

Not finding the image you want? Create an email campaign asking customers to post images of them using your products. You can run a contest or simply offer an incentive code for customers who submit their content.

So now that you have your social media under control and some user-generated content to use, let’s look at two campaigns you can set up and run now.

Product Marketing Campaign

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Product Marketing Campaign

Maybe you have a new product you want to show off to your contacts, or maybe you need to move inventory before your next season begins — whatever the reason, using user-generated content is a great way to generate interest.

Set Up Your Email

When thinking of creating a marketing campaign that will feature user-generated content, email is a great place to start. It’s most likely your highest revenue-driving channel, and because customers often use email to sign up for incentives or to check out on your site, you probably have more email addresses for contacts than any other contact information. If you’re looking to sell a certain product, create a segment of contacts who have bought similar products.

Include User-Generated Content Featuring the Product

When creating your email, make sure your layout prominently features the user-generated content, like below. This content can be a formatted review or a social media image a customer shared.

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Optimize Your Product Page with User-Generated Content

Once you have an email created, make sure your product pages create the same feel for customers because a seamless experience across channels is important for user experience.

You’re ultimately asking customers to come to your website to purchase products. And even when customers do come to your site, they’re also likely using your site (as one of many) to do their own research on a certain product. So why not layer in user-generated reviews and content on your site and keep them there longer – and to stand out from competitor sites they may also be used during research?

Show Cumulative Review Scores

Once a customer clicks through to your website, they should not only immediately see the product, but also some form of review. The following example shows a cumulative score for the reviews of this specific product. This gives customers a quick snapshot of how other consumers felt about their purchase.

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If it’s a new product, you may not be able to show a score. Instead, use the space as a CTA for reviews with a phrase like “Be the first to review.”

Show Full User Reviews

When it comes to online shopping, consumers aren’t just looking for reviews about product quality — they’re also looking for cues that will help them order the right size, color, etc. the first time. And with 80% of consumers trusting reviews as personal recommendations, it’s to a brand’s benefit to make it easy for them to read and find reviews.

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For many brands, showing reviews can feel risky, especially if some of the comments are less than glowing. But for consumers, they expect to see both good and bad reviews. Brands just need to make sure they do everything they can to resolve issues when they appear. In fact, when issues are resolved quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers will return to purchase from a brand.

Feature User-Generated Content on Product Pages

Where possible on your product pages, add user-generated content that features the product. The below example features additional Instagram pictures from the same woman we saw in the original email. It also features additional images from another customer. Monitor social media sites to see if customers are mentioning your brand in their posts. If customers are creating content and tagging your brand in it, why not take advantage and show other consumers? It not only shows that people love your brand, but it also shows that you love your customers.

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Cart Abandonment Campaign

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Another way to entice customers with user-generated content is to utilize it in a cart abandonment email campaign. Cart abandonment emails are great for keeping a brand top of mind for customers and driving purchases.

Much like the product marketing campaign above, you’ll want to create an experience for your customers that includes user-generated content. That means including reviews and customer-centric images on your website as well as in your emails. For this campaign, you’ll focus emails around customer behavior and products specific to them.

Set Up a Triggered Email

To make these emails effective, you need to create a trigger that will automatically send an email after an item is abandoned. After a customer leaves a product in their cart and exits your website, set a trigger to automatically send an email within an hour.

Layer in User-Generated Content

This campaign is all about customer personalization. So the content needs to fall in line with the behavior. In the email, create a section that features user-generated content with the abandoned product. As discussed, customer recommendations are far more powerful than brands pushing their own products. Show off how other customers are using your products or include a review of the product.

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Cart abandonment campaigns are already very lucrative for brands who deploy them. But by adding customer reviews and user-driven content, you’ll give customers another reason to take a second look.

Final Thoughts

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Customers are inundated with tons of marketing communications every day. Finding a way to stand out in the inbox is becoming more and more difficult. But by creating a plan for user-generated content and layering in reviews and images into your marketing strategy, you give your brand a unique advantage. As customers turn to social media and other consumers for product recommendations and research, using reviews in your marketing takes the work out of researching products. Not only does this give customers a great experience, but it will also put you top of mind for purchases in the future.

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