It’s one of the oldest maxims in the advertising business: People buy from other people, not from brands.
But in the digital world, there’s no truth-telling best friend standing by with candid advice. So, who can your customers trust to give them the real scoop on whether or not a product lives up to your marketing hype?
The answer is easy: Other like-minded shoppers.
That’s why bringing User-Generated Content (UGC) like customer testimonials, images, and comments into your email content can more than double your conversion rate. People look to others like themselves to see what to buy, what to like and don’t like about a product, how to use it, and more.
Adding UGC into your email messages has other benefits, too. It adds a human element to any marketing message, instantly building the opportunity for organic brand affinity. Because, let’s face it, social proof—the psychological phenomenon in which people look for guidance from the opinions or actions of others—and word-of-mouth advertising are two of the most powerful, well-known conversion motivators for a reason.
For major brands with high name recognition, a stable full of social media influencers, and a team that can keep tabs on consumer sentiment, finding and incorporating consumer-created content into an email sounds like pretty easy work..
But what about the majority of companies that lack a portfolio of glowing reviews or a major following and social media footprint?
With some strategic thinking and the right amount of automated technology in the mix, you can effortlessly pull UGC from review sites and social media platforms into your email experience. Giving even the most overworked one-person marketing teams out there the opportunity to satisfy shoppers and accelerate their path to conversion in three ways:
1. Customer testimonials, reviews, and recommendations
Honest, transparent communications like these should be at the heart of any customer-created content strategy. Because real-time testimonials, product reviews, and recommendations sourced from people actually buying from you aren’t just one of the most effective tools for increasing email conversions—they’re a great way to gain control over the market-driven narrative surrounding your brand too.
It’s no secret that most people like to feel heard and respected. In today’s ecommerce-driven business environment, millions of buyers enjoy rating and reviewing their purchases to help others out. So, appeal to this philanthropic instinct and elevate your customer experience!
Incorporating UGC into your email marketing efforts is as easy as making a simple request, whether that’s asking online shoppers for a 5-star rating at checkout or following up with a personalized email after the sale seeking a review of the product benefits most likely to convince like-minded, on-the-fence buyers to try it out for themselves.
To get started, add an automated review request to your post-purchase email flow. Set it up to trigger after customers have had a few days to receive their purchases and try them out. And don’t be afraid to follow up with a second request if testing shows people need a little extra prodding before they’re ready to give you an honest review.
That way, live content from customers’ social media profiles or ratings featured on a third-party review site can be pulled directly into your emails via data feed. Giving you the ability to create up-to-the-minute promotions and messages with highly persuasive, relevant pitches that feel less like sales-speak and more like a conversation between long-time friends.
If you really want to make the most of your UGC investment, you can review answers and customer responses manually to find the perfect content for your emails and product pages. Done well, customer-created content can even help you choose specific people for more in-depth interviews to uncover further trends and external thoughts about a specific product or marketing initiative.
2. Use UGC on social media to your advantage
By sourcing customer-created content from your loyal followers’ social media posts, you effectively expand your brand’s reach to create a community of like-minded, highly engaged customers. Compared to any one-size-fits all approach or generic sales promotion, adding user-generated social media engagement into your emails gives every recipient an experience that’s refreshing, reliable, and real—not one that was brainstormed in a boardroom or a marketing meeting somewhere.
And now more than ever, authenticity and honesty are values that matter to every brand and buyer. In fact, TurnTo Networks found that 90% of today’s consumers find this type of UGC helpful for making purchase decisions.
So, implement personalization technology that automatically sweeps any social media content your brand is tagged or featured in, meets your specific ratings criteria, and dynamically populates it into specific content modules within your email template to add the voice of the customer into your marketing strategy via social proof.
Once you’ve laid the foundation and started your brand conversation on social media channels, you can even run special promotions and exclusive discounts on these platforms to meet new audiences where they prefer to share their favorite products among friends, family members, and trusted influencers they follow. Making it more likely your brand receives the benefits word-of-mouth marketing brings.
3. Don’t be shy—share your favorite customers’ success
Believe it or not, customer-created content isn’t limited to consumer-facing brands—it has a place in your B2B email sends, too. After all, many business buyers aren’t looking for a product. They’re searching for a solution to their most important problem. And a timely case study or impressive results achieved by a similar company can definitely be a compelling piece of content that convinces corporate customers you’re the perfect fit for them as well.
Too many email case studies or customer success stories, however, fall into the list of features trap where most messaging space is devoted to the mechanics and tech specs of your specific products instead of the customer benefits achieved by implementing them. Marketers want immediate, easy results—so use these unique perspectives to promote the destination, not the long, overly complex, and (frankly) boring journey it took to get there.
In other words, these emails shouldn’t be about you. Frame your customer-created examples in the context of the recipient’s mindset to answer the one question customers really want to know: “Can we use this product to experience similar results too?”
UGC is like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval: An unbiased third-party source of information and support that shoppers prioritize when deciding whether to buy or pass by your store. So, take a step back, relax, and let your most loyal shoppers and brand evangelists do the talking for a change.