How to Optimize your E-Commerce Experience with User-Generated Content

How to Optimize your E-Commerce Experience with User-Generated Content

What’s a bigger challenge – attracting customers or compelling them to keep coming back for more?
Successful e-commerce thrives on loyal customers and repeat purchases not just single purchases.
You achieve it by stimulating and building loyalty among existing customers.  But alas traditional marketing isn’t as effective online. As customers become more skeptical of ads (clickbaits) and celebrity endorsements, they seek authentic brand conversations.
Conversation is the new buzzword as demand for personalized experience is going off the roof, real-time responses and proactively engaging customers is the new difference between winning and losing.
Earned media or user-generated content UGC is the new king of e-commerce because it optimizes e-commerce experience and offers a fresh outlook to shopping. Its authenticity resonates among users and it becomes a genuine endorsement by capturing true feeling of customers. Let’s consider the role of user-generated content for your e-commerce store across all the three channels namely digital, social and offline.

Why Are E-commerce Going-Ga-Ga Over User-Generated Content?

Consumers of today have shorter attention span and the fact that it’s so easy to ignore marketing messages, e-commerce can no longer restrict themselves to ratings and reviews. Instead, they must proactively go out and seek content from customers themselves and curate a great experience that ultimately leads to higher engagement. As an influential and powerful medium, Word of Mouth (WoM) has always been among the most outperforming marketing channels for retailers and UGC is the online version of Word-of-Mouth.
Not only is it more authentic, more compelling than any paid media medium, it drives more engagement by being trustworthy and helps e-commerce deliver customer satisfaction. Time and again, various researches and reports too confirm how user generated content drives higher engagement by making an emotional connect with their target audience.  According to research by Bazaarvoice, consumers who interact with UGC, convert 50% more as compared to those who do not, thus highlighting the role of UGC for a compelling e-commerce experience.

5 Ways You Can Maximize UGC for Your E-commerce

Major brands like TripAdvisor, Coca Cola, IKEA, NISSAN, Starbucks, Airbnb understand user-generated content is a key influencer. Therefore, while they make the most of ratings and reviews, they also share UGC that goes beyond product features and benefits by employing videos and images.

1. Co-Create & Collaborate

Co-create UGC by collaborating with customers. Establish themes that echo your brand personality and provide customers the tools that make it easy to create content across social, digital and offline. Offer rewards and incentives through gift-cards, samples or even using online tools like Crowdtap.  From blogs, images, videos, Tweets, pins, hashtags, contests podcasts, YouTube videos, reviews and ratings, UGC can be any kind of content. Here are 3 most popular types of User Generated Content Campaign Ideas for your e-commerce:

Crowdsource Product Category Ideas and different ways to use product

Similar to UGC campaigns by Lays and Maggi, where they asked customer to invent their own flavors or come up with creative recipes and then allow fans to vote. It drives great customer engagement and brand conversations.

Merge Brand/ Product Category Campaign with Customer Lifestyle

Use social media channels like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube to ask customers to post pictures of themselves using or wearing the brand/ product category with a particular #hashtag for submission. Fashion retailer ASOS successfully does this through its dedicated page  for UGC and campaign #AsSeenOnMe, so does luxury etailer Burberry with its ‘The Art of Trench’ hosted space to share  UGC images of Burberry clothing or even Michael Kors with its #WhatsInYourKors campaign in which they asked customers to share images of  things they carry in their Michael Kors handbag.

Make it fun by personalizing Your Brands

A great way to make an emotional connection is to strengthen customer community. Similar to a Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign or outdoor clothing retailer Poler’s campaign encouraging people to submit their photos of their camping adventures with the hashtag #campvibes. This allows you to promote a culture that resonates your brand personality.
E-commerce brands like IKEA, Starbucks, Coca-Cola or Australia’s leading beauty retailer, Mecca drives user engagement through direct conversations through social media posts, online ratings and reviews, blog posts, online videos and more. TOMS, the California based company’s annual one day UGC campaign which encourages followers to post a picture barefoot using the hashtag #withoutshoes clearly resonates with people, while also serving as a powerful brand extension.

2. Use Tools to Curate It:

Make it compelling and prompt customers to share their experiences through micro-formats including images, videos, ratings or reviews. Curate UGC that entertains, educates informs and eventually drives sharing. Consider using tools like Olapic, 4screens, Pixlee, Photoslurp or Curalate to curate the UGC with precision for each brand and making  your user-generated  content your most powerful marketing tool.

3. Identify Brand Advocates

Don’t you agree that a customer who is more connected with you is more likely to write positively? Identify and leverage brand advocates or influencers within your customer base who can work as influencers to amplify the e-commerce brand across different communities. View these loyal influencers as partners in generating engaging content and make them co-creators in your UGC campaigns to reap the benefits of user-generated content. According to a study by Dr. Berger from Wharton Business School, influencers post up to 22.2 times more brand conversation  regarding recommendations on what to buy online than the average user. Additionally, 82 percent of consumers said they were highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer.

4. Filter To Make It Credible & Relevant:

As e-commerce websites deal with large amount of UGC data, it is important to filter and curate the content to harness its real benefits and prevent the business risk. Artificial Intelligence tools like Miappi are now being used to help monitor, curate and distribute valuable user-generated content and filter out promotional, negative spam and unscrupulous content that may pose a business risk.

5. Use Chat-Bots for UGC automation:

Advance technology in natural language processing now allow major retailers like Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry or American floral retailer 1-800-Flowers use AI powered chatbots to field questions 24-hours a day accurately, notify about latest collections and provide product recommendations. Leading AI-based conversational chatbots like Slack, interact with customers and create engaging experience through giveaways, promotions and entertain with quizzes and riddles. These chatbots process orders or work as personal stylists, leading players like TripAdvisor are combining AI, UGC and messaging capabilities to provide real-time recommendations for hotels and restaurants.
Happy customers are your best marketers!  Make a big impact and use your earned media to amplify engagement and optimize e-commerce experience. So why wait, make your customers the crowned star and your biggest advocate by making your e-commerce customer centric.
Word of mouth is potent as ever, the impact just as powerful. The digital world has only increased its reach and e-commerce companies are lapping it up. However, one needs to tread very carefully today as internet is a swarmped with fakes. Autenticity and uniqueness are hallmarks of any brand and hence e-commerce players ought to have checks and balances in place while garnering reviews from customers. Creating unmatched experience for customers by customers is a knockout punch.
What do you think works best for curating user-generated content? Tell us below or tweet us!

Image credit : Julia Packan