User-Generated Content Equals Marketing Gold


Do your customers trust you? For repeat customers, the answer might be yes. But in terms of customer acquisition, do potential customers take you at your word? Some companies would have a hard time with that question. Today’s customers are too savvy to take the bait without sizing up the hook. Before they buy in, they want to know what other people think of your brand.

User-generated content (UGC) is an invaluable asset for targeting new buyers. It’s an effective, affordable marketing tactic that endears you to your loyal base while increasing your reach. Paired with a call to action (CTA), UGC makes marketing a two-way conversation. Prior marketing initiatives utilized paid influencers to spread the word, but consumers are wise to the tactic. Brand ambassadors tell a more honest tale, and it doesn’t have to cost you a thing. Today’s marketers are making the consumer part of the pitch. Here’s how it works.

How UGC Drives Sales

It makes sense that a buyer would trust a fellow consumer more than the brand trying to make the sale. In fact, 91% of consumers say positive online reviews influence their purchasing decisions. Buyers don’t just want to know about your product, they want to know how it will work for them. UGC with imagery is even more powerful, since it includes a visual representation from the real world, not a professionally lit, stylist-enhanced studio portrait. Brands like Lulus consistently rank higher in Google searches because they promote UGC. Lulu’s devoted customers are prompted by a CTA to upload photos of themselves to Instagram with the chance to win $250. As a result, the Lulus website features photos of buyers in the apparel, where they can add commentary like body type, pros and cons, and fit issues. The clothing that feature photos of UGC outsells the rest.

How a CTA Drives Engagement

If you want authentic UGC, you need a way to prompt the content without “buying” the commentary. A CTA is the most effective way to boost engagement across multiple platforms. Asking users to upload photos and share experiences is instantly engaging. A contest or challenge also gets people talking. Starbucks’ CTA for buyers to upload photos of red Starbucks cups to Instagram in cozy surroundings succeeds every December. The beauty of a CTA is that it’s a win-win for everyone. Consumers get to share and connect with your community. Sellers get to strengthen and expand their customer base. A greater purpose is of paramount importance to Generation Z. Customers tend to respond especially well to causes like body positivity, inclusion, empowerment, or philanthropy.

Why Brand Ambassadors Outrank Influencers

Paid influencers paved the way for UGC, but there’s another trend on the rise. Consumers are aware that a paid influencer is not much different than direct marketing. Even the best influencers lose clout over time, due to the short attention span of consumers. Brand ambassadors are the answer to gaining momentum while securing faith in the brand. Better yet, they can number in the thousands, so you don’t have to rely on just one. Celebrity endorsements are useful to a point, but this is the age when people rarely watch commercials anymore (unless it’s the Super Bowl) and celebrity endorsements lend a commercial or infomercial feel to your brand.

Buyers are more interested in hearing and seeing what someone like them thinks of your product. The best way to engage ambassadors is with visible feedback. When there’s no monetary reward for being an ambassador, customer trust and authentic feedback prevail. Jump on any post that promotes your brand with a quick response that buyers can see. It’s a quick way to encourage others to promote your brand. Software giant Adobe shares images from artists and creators who use their software and awards their most prolific ambassadors with an MVP badge. It’s an ingenious way to promote their brand — as well as their software capabilities.

Why Community Managers Make All the Difference

Ambassadorship and effective CTAs require the ability to source UGC. Search for mention of your brand on social media and respond in a timely manner. What others say about you is an influential and affordable marketing tool. But it’s also time-consuming. You need to seek opinions often and filter them for truth. While you want honest feedback, you also want it to be helpful to buyers. A consumer might rank a product with five stars but leave a comment like “I can’t wait to try this.” Conversely, a one-star review might be coupled with a response like “They didn’t have my size.” Neither are particularly helpful. Community managers can suss out ambassadors who best represent your brand. Authentic feedback is important, but so is knowing the product well.

It’s an exciting time for marketing, since the game keeps changing. The trend toward pairing UGC with CTA and ambassadors yields a marked return on investment, if you know how to get it done. Bringing in authentic voices not only pays tribute to your customers, it helps grow that base in ways that other marketing initiatives can not. Sounds to us like a cause to celebrate.