User-Generated Content – Benefits and Applications for Shopify Store Owners

In this blog post, we will talk about what is user-generated content (UGC) and how it can benefit Shopify store owners.

UGC is any type of content that is created by consumers and not brands. For example, posts and comments on social media and discussion forums, product ratings and reviews, customer testimonials, feedback, and more.

 

UGC can:

  • Enhance your online presence and increase your brand’s visibility and awareness.
  • Foster a community of loyal brand advocates.
  • Help you send more effective email campaigns while reducing the cost of marketing and advertising.
  • Help you understand your customer base better and enable you to predict customer demand.
  • Bring organic traffic to your store and help you acquire new customers.
  • Increase customer engagement and satisfaction.
  • Help you deal with buyers’ reluctance in a more efficient way.
  • Ultimately drive sales and revenue.

 

Here is what you can do to encourage UGC for your brand:

  • Organize a contest on social media.
  • Run a campaign on social media.
  • Display UGC photos on your website.
  • Display customer testimonials on your website.
  • Display product reviews on each product page.
  • Include UGC in email campaigns.
  • Analyze UGC.

Read on for a closer look at what you can do to leverage UGC.

 

Organize a contest on social media

Contests are a great way to boost online engagement (via Sprout Social). They are also a great way to motivate your customers to produce and share fresh and authentic content about your brand.

Ultimately, contests increase your exposure on social media, enhance your online presence and help you catch the attention of potential buyers.

Тo run a successful contest on social media, you must have your target audience in mind at all times – especially when you choose the incentive. Take National Geographic’s Wanderlust Contest, for example – people who wanted to participate had to take a nature photo, share it on social media and include a #WanderlustContest hashtag in the description. The winner would go on a photo expedition to Yosemite National Park – something National Geographic readers would die for.

The takeaway? Create a catchy hashtag for your contest and come up with an incentive that none of your customers will be able to resist. This is the closest thing to a best practice when it comes to social media contests.

But if we could give you one more piece of advice, it would be to run the contest for at least two weeks before you announce the winner – best practice is between one week and a month. In this way you have enough time to accumulate participants and at the same time not overdo it and risk losing their enthusiasm (via Weidert).

 

Run a campaign on social media

Running a campaign is also a great way to get more people to create relevant and diverse content about your brand.

Running a successful campaign on social media requires 3 things: an idea, a branded hashtag and a cause. Take aerie, for example – a lingerie and swimwear sub-brand owned by American Eagle. Their latest UGC campaign – #aeriereal, – addresses one of the most significant issues in today’s society: the excessive use of Photoshop in editing photos of models that later appear in magazines or online.

By refusing to retouch the photos of the models in bathing suits they upload to their website, aerie promotes body positivity and girl power. Aerie asked their customers to support the cause as well by uploading unedited photos of themselves wearing bathing suits and including the hashtag #aeriereal in the description. For every uploaded UGC photo, the company donates $1 to NEDA. So far, more than 100,000 women have taken part in the initiative. You can see their awesome photos here.

Aerie’s campaign is so successful because it is not simply focused on benefiting the brand, but on doing good for the world. So, if you start a campaign and connect it to an emotional trigger – raising awareness of a problem or supporting a good cause, – more people will be willing to participate. It will also help your customers see your brand as more human-focused (instead of sales-focused) and trustworthy.

 

Display UGC photos on your website

This will give you social proof. It will also help your customers get a better idea of how your products can be used in real-life. Respectively, it will ease your customers’ buying decisions and substantially reduce the amount of returned orders (especially if you are in the fashion industry). Below, you can see a few Shopify apps you can use.

Socialphotos

  • Create an album of your customers’ best Instagram photos. Display them on your website.
  • Approve customer submissions before they are published.
  • Link each photo to a product page and make the buying experience frictionless.
  • Measure impressions and ROI.

Here are a few examples of Shopify stores using the app:

Instashow

  • Curate and share images from different sources: public Instagram accounts, hashtags, URLs.
  • Combine the photos in any way you want, exclude photos from a specific account or source, customize the gallery to fit your brand’s personality, and much more.

Here are a few examples of Shopify stores using the app:

Foursixty

  • Turn your customers’ Instagram photos into shoppable galleries and display them on your website – homepage, product pages, a dedicated page, etc.
  • Turn shoppable photos into Facebook or Instagram ads.
  • Display shoppable photos in newsletters (the app integrates with most email platforms).
  • Have full control over the content you display and its posting schedule.
  • Manage everything on the go (through an iPhone app).
  • Track performance from your Google Analytics account.

Here are a few examples of Shopify stores using the app:

 

Display customer testimonials on your website

Customer testimonials tell stories that potential customers can relate to and highlight your unique selling points (USPs) in a way that resonates with your target audience.

Displaying written or video customer testimonials on your website gives you credibility and can be very effective when it comes to dealing with buyers’ hesitation or reluctance.

Written testimonials are more common but video testimonials are more emotional and enticing. Video testimonials are also much more trustworthy and, thus, more effective.

If you want to display written testimonials on your website, you can use Testimonials – a Shopify app developed by Expert Village Media Technologies. You can add photos to the testimonials and display them in a grid or slideshow style. Click here to see the app in action.

If you want to display video testimonials, it would be best if you asked your loyal or VIP customers to make a short video explaining why they trust your brand, how your products or service help them in their everyday lives or their jobs, etc. In return, you can send them a gift card or a free product, for example.

Once your happy customers send you their testimonials, you can upload them to YouTube or Vimeo and use Video Gallery to display them on your website. Click here to see the app in action.

Here are a few awesome examples of video testimonials to get you inspired:

 

Display product reviews on each product page

Product ratings and reviews are another form of social proof that helps you take the guessing out of online shopping.

The more detailed a review is, the better. So, if you ask your customers to write reviews, it is a good idea to ask them to be more descriptive. Say, if a customer writes a review of a piece of clothing and points out how tall they are, which size they bought and how it fits them, the review will become extremely informative. And, if they attach a photo, it will become invaluable. Below, you can find three Shopify apps you can use to display product reviews on your website.

Yotpo Reviews

  • Send automated emails to request reviews.
  • Display product ratings, reviews and photos at key conversion points on your website.
  • Turn reviews into ads and easily share them on social media, and more.
  • The app integrates with Kit CRM.

Here are a few examples of Shopify stores using the app:

Loox Reviews

  • Send automated emails to request reviews (to customers who have purchased something within the last 3 months).
  • Enable your customers to easily add photos to their reviews.
  • Create beautiful galleries of photo reviews and display them on any page of your store.
  • Import reviews from any source and share them on social media.

Here are a few examples of Shopify stores using the app:

Product Reviews

  • Add a review feature to all your products.
  • Customize the reviews layout, colors and fonts.
  • Add review scores to your Google search results, and more.
  • Developed by Shopify themselves, this app is a completely free alternative to the aforementioned options.

Here are a few examples of Shopify stores using the app:

 

Include UGC in email campaigns

UGC can give you a leg up in sending more effective email campaigns – with higher click and conversion rates.

For example, instead of sending a cart recovery email that only contains links to the abandoned products and an offer for a small discount or free delivery, you can include product reviews that highlight the best features of your products. For example, reviews that say how your product can benefit the buyer (it saves time, it makes the X process easier, it solves the Y problem, etc.) and why you have an edge over your competitors. If your customers mention your prompt delivery or world-class customer service in their testimonials, then you should definitely include these reviews in your email newsletters. This will make the abandoned products as well as your brand more appealing and trustworthy to the cart abandoners and it will ultimately result in more recovered carts. In fact why not have such reviews and testimonials occupy a prime spot in your Welcome emails too?

It is also a good idea to showcase your best UGC photos in email campaigns, providing you have the permission of your customers.

 

Analyze UGC

Being active on social media groups and forums can benefit your brand in numerous ways. For example, if you follow and participate in different discussions, you will be able to understand better how your customers communicate with each other, how they ask questions, what interests them, what problems they are experiencing, and so on. By analyzing this data, you will be able to:

  • Predict customer demand.
  • Deliver better customer experiences.
  • Define your customers’ pain points and understand which aspects of your products need to be improved, i.e. offer a product of a higher quality.
  • Build deeper and more meaningful relationships with your customers and foster a strong community of loyal brand advocates.
  • Last but not least, you will be able to optimize your store for search engines – by understanding how your customers ask questions, for example, you will be able to define more accurately which keywords you need to use in your product descriptions, blog posts, FAQ sections, etc. This will help you rank higher in search engines, i.e. it will help you bring organic and high-converting traffic to your online store.

Note: It is a good idea to check Quora and Reddit for relevant discussions to join. Another way to engage with your customers, is to regularly host a Twitter chat. You can also create a Facebook group related to your brand, your niche or product.

 

Takeaways

UGC is a strategic resource that helps you build trust throughout the whole customer journey. It also helps you take the guesswork out of online shopping and deliver more engaging customer experiences.

Do you plan on using UGC? What type of content do you think would be most beneficial to your brand? Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas and questions in the comments!

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