The marketing power of user-generated content

Thanks to the professional-grade cameras on even the most basic smartphones, it is estimated that 1.2 trillion photos were taken last year, and much of this content features a product or experience provided by the brands they love. These photos and videos invariably end up posted on social media and saved in users’ camera rolls, which has not only created an incredible opportunity for brands, it has changed the landscape of digital marketing.

User-generated content equips marketing teams with one of their most powerful weapons in the quest for conversions: the voice of their customers. Since customers are already creating this visual content, brands can give them the opportunity to showcase how they use the products and offer powerful social proof to their peers. Brands can and should seize the opportunity to leverage user-generated content to bring in more revenue, cut down their content creation expenses, and form a deeper connection with customers.

Increase revenue

User-generated Content is especially powerful during the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey because it provides the necessary social proof to legitimize the product or experience, which has the power to turn browsers into buyers. When given the chance to interact with UGC, shoppers have converted at a rate of 2x on average. This stems from a change in the culture of commerce – consumers no longer inherently trust brands. What used to be a “nice-to-have” tool in a marketer’s toolbox, word-of-mouth marketing has been infinitely amplified in today’s digital age. Companies can harness the power of the conversations that their fans are already having and share them with potential customers to build legitimacy. If a shopper interacts with customer photos, they spend an average of 120% more time on the site. Shoppers who spend more time on a site tend to discover new products and are more inclined to add those items to the cart.

One of the largest opportunities for user-generated content lies in abandoned cart email campaigns. Companies lost $120 million in potential revenue last year to abandoned shopping carts. Reasons range from simply being unsure to issues with the checkout process and unexpected shipping charges, but brands who add UGC to those abandoned cart campaigns are able to recover 7% of that revenue.

Alo Yoga UGC example

Photos and videos featuring multiple products can be tagged with each product, which has been shown to increase average order value by 6%.

Decrease content cost

Content creation is one of the largest pieces of a brand’s marketing budget, professional photographers charge anywhere from $250 to $1,500 per asset. The goal of these assets is to reach a target audience with the right message at the right time in hopes of inspiring a purchase, but it’s nearly impossible to know if an image will actually resonate with customers before making that investment. Keeping up with the demand for fresh content for each customer touchpoint can be overwhelming and pricy for brands.  Instead of relying solely on professional photoshoots, companies can realize significant cost savings by incorporating user-generated content into their marketing campaigns. This UGC is not only a free asset, but brands can be sure that it will resonate with their target audience because it came from that audience. When utilizing a user-generated content marketing platform like Pixlee [now Emplifi], brands gain access to an endless supply of effective content that's easy to find, manage, and distribute across all web properties. This allows for the distribution of high-performing content at an unprecedented scale.

UGC platform

Connect with customers

Brands are on an ever-evolving quest to better understand and build relationships with their customers. The best way to do this is through authentic 1:1 interactions. With user-generated content, brands have the opportunity to open a direct dialogue with highly engaged customers at multiple touchpoints along the customer journey. By seeking out passionate customers and sharing their content, brands are able to create a community of brand advocates and better understand what resonates with their target audience. If done correctly, this feedback loop can go a long way to improving marketing campaigns, informing product decisions, and driving customer engagement.

When brands are paying attention and leveraging the opportunity to connect with customers, they are able to discover and amplify this customer voice. Companies may find that their customers come up with unexpected use cases for their products or create a surprising viral movement. With a little encouragement, these highly-engaged customers soon become vocal advocates for the brand, happily sharing their experiences with their followers, which increases brand awareness and creates the opportunity to turn their friends and followers into the brand’s newest customers.

UGC: Connect with customers

Seamless omnichannel experience

The user-generated content opportunity for marketers cannot be overstated. Brands that capitalize on this opportunity continue to see increased revenue and decreased content costs, and are able to connect with customers in an authentic way. The use of UGC throughout the ecosystem of social media, mobile web, email, mobile applications, and in-store displays creates a seamless omnichannel experience for customers and fosters a brand-customer relationship that will encourage loyalty and repeat purchases for years to come.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.

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