User-generated content (UGC) has become a cornerstone of effective marketing strategies. It's a powerful tool for brands looking to enhance authenticity, engagement, and, ultimately, their bottom line.
So, how does this unique content drive conversions? According to Statista, 45% of U.S. consumers get inspired by new products via their friends and acquaintances. That's because shoppers trust other shoppers, and social proof like UGC becomes extremely valuable for consumers on the path to purchase.
Let's look at five ways UGC can create conversions and impact your brand's bottom line.
Use UGC to enhance brand authenticity
UGC offers unfiltered insights into customer experiences, making it a goldmine for authenticity. Modern consumers crave that authenticity, and it's easier for your customers to trust their own communities.
GoPro capitalized on this by encouraging customers to share their adventure videos shot on their cameras. This not only showcases their product in action but also builds trust through real customer experiences.
It's a strategy that helped The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas become one of the most Instagrammed hotels in the world. The luxury hotel and casino utilized Emplifi to source over 19,000 pieces of content and reach 250 million impressions.
"It's a huge miss if you aren't capitalizing on UGC that exists out there for your brand," said Lindsey Riggs, Director of Digital Marketing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. "Branded photos are nice, they're important, and they serve a purpose. But I always want to see what it's actually like from a real-life person's point of view."
That authentic strategy led to the creation of The Cosmopolitan's Shoppable Instagram, which yielded an engagement rate of 42%, allowing its digital team to measure ROI and track conversations for each piece of UGC.
Source UGC to engage and build community
UGC fosters a sense of community among consumers by involving them directly in the brand's narrative. One of the first major brand examples of this was Starbucks' "White Cup Contest," where customers were invited to doodle on their Starbucks cups and share the images online. This campaign not only engaged customers creatively — receiving more than 4,000 entries — but also created a sense of belonging and loyalty.
Now with the power of a UGC solution, brands can source thousands of user-generated social posts a day. Brands like Sportsman's Guide have been able to easily source over 13,000 photo and video submissions to engage 168,000 people through one hashtag campaign.
By using members of its own community to engage that same group, your brand can keep a larger, more loyal audience of potential customers engaged with your products and services.
Create cost-effective content with UGC
Creating high-quality content can be expensive, but UGC offers a cost-effective alternative, which has its own impact on revenue and bottom line. Beauty brand Glossier excels in this area, often reposting customer content on social media. This strategy not only saves on content creation costs but also showcases real people using their products, adding to the brand's authenticity and appeal.
By asking real people to share their beauty routines, Glossier was able to capture word of mouth in a structured way that fed its own brand voice. And 80% of the brand's growth and sales came from word-of-mouth marketing versus heavy investment in paid advertising and brand content development.
Boost SEO, traffic, and time on page with UGC
UGC can significantly enhance a brand's SEO efforts, particularly when leveraging customer reviews. For example, when customers review products or engage with a brand on social media, this content can improve search engine rankings.
Brands like PowerStop also saw a 200% increase in user time spent on site and a 3x increase in repeat visit rate after adding 250 unique pieces of UGC a week.
Increase conversion rates with UGC across the customer journey
Integrating UGC into product pages or advertising can lead to higher conversion rates. It provides the natural social proof and trust modern consumers need to purchase.
Sportswear and equipment retailer Sun & Ski Sports saw a 26% increase in average order value (AOV) and a 97% increase in time on site with interactive UGC displays across its website paired with virtual contests. Copenhagen-based jewelry company Trollbeads also saw a 12% increase in AOV and a 35% repeat visit rate after successfully building a UGC program that tagged each unique jewelry piece to make its social shoppable.
"UGC impacts all of the KPIs we're measuring," Lisa Claire Mindegaard Uhrenholt, SoMe & Digital Campaign Manager, Trollbeads. "From engagement on Instagram to click-through rate on email. When I post UGC images on our official Instagram, they gain a higher engagement rate than normal posts."
How to connect UGC to your brand's bottom line
UGC is not just a marketing trend; it's a powerful strategy that can significantly enhance a brand's authenticity, engagement, community, cost-effectiveness, SEO, and conversion rates.
By tapping into the wealth of content that customers produce, brands can build stronger relationships with their audience and see tangible improvements in their bottom line.
It's time to leverage the power of UGC, and do so by following UGC best practices to discover, permission, publish, and measure it every step of the way.
Start by encouraging your customers to share their experiences with your brand and watch how this authentic, customer-centric approach transforms your marketing efforts and business results. If you're interested in learning how a UGC platform like Emplifi can make this possible, book a demo today or start a 30-day trial of Emplifi UGC.