It’s no exaggeration to say that user-generated content (UGC) is changing the way that we consume information, both in marketing terms and in the wider world. If you have an internet connection, a connected device and a social account, then you have a platform to share just about anything. For any business with an online presence, UGC has quickly become a must-have asset. The benefit is two-fold; users enjoy having an active stake in the creation of content, and they rely on insights from other users when making a purchasing decision.
What is User-Generated Content?
UGC basically encompasses all content that we’re used to seeing from professional content creators. This includes blog posts, video content, product/service reviews, social, and even live streaming. The real difference is in who’s doing the creating—consumers. UGC bypasses (for the most part) traditional media gatekeepers, like newspaper editors, who control the flow of information. It allows consumers to speak directly to one another about the topics that matter most to them. Reviews, especially, have proven to matter very much to consumers.
User-Generated Content is a Trusted Resource
Most consumers are less likely to trust corporate advertising than they are to trust a recommendation from another consumer. However, nobody is going to trust a recommendation from a single anonymous stranger. Aggregate reviews from a wide cross-section of consumers gives the sort of feedback that truly influences purchasing decisions. Consider these facts:
- According to Nielsen, 92 percent of consumers trust word-of-mouth more than they trust any other form of advertising.
- Millennials are 50 percent more likely to trust UGC than they are to trust other media, according to an Ipsos survey on Millenial habits.
- Forrester reports that 70 percent of US adults trust product recommendations from friends and family, and 46 percent trust reviews written by consumers—a stark contrast to the 10 percent who trust traditional website advertising.
There are basically three broad benefits to using UGC:
- Increase in Sales
- Social Proof
- Improved SEO
The “Social Proof” Benefit of UGC? More Sales.
UGC is a trusted source of research for consumers, and is a great way to keep your audience engaged on social channels. The people who create positive UGC for your website are already demonstrating significant loyalty to your brand, and the consumers who see that sort of content tend to take it more seriously when it’s created by one of their fellow consumers. The proof is in the numbers.
- Ads with UGC earn four times more click-throughs than ads without, according to Shopify, as well as reduced cost (50% lower conversion cost, and 50% drop in cost-per-click). The easiest way to add UGC is to include the item’s average star rating from user reviews.
- 93 percent of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a purchasing decision, and that appeal easily transcends demographics.
- Econsultancy reports that sites with UGC experience an average 18 percent sales uplift, with an 11% boost in sales conversion, a 5% uplift in visitor returns and a 2% bump in average orders. Also, consumers who read both reviews and consumer Q&A content are 105 percent more likely to make a purchase.
UGC and Search Engine Optimization
Driving more traffic to your website also increases sales. Search engines want to provide their users with the most valuable, relevant results possible. Consumers place a very high value on UGC – reviews especially – so it’s no surprise that Google is also a fan of websites that leverage UGC. These sites are indexed more often, have better reach, and tend to experience a boost in organic search traffic.
Websites with embedded reviews are indexed 200 percent more often than sites without, according to Adweek. There are few better ways to get Google’s attention than positive reviews from your customers.
For example, Yopto, a company that integrates e-commerce platforms with UGC applications recently measured SEO results for 500 businesses that that integrate UGC experience on their websites. They found that those companies experienced an average 48 percent increase in organic search traffic over three months. So you shouldn’t have to wait long to see results. However, the longer you use UGC, the better the results. Yopto said they studied a much larger group (30,000 businesses) over nine months, and the increase in SEO was astounding!
Another fun fact from Econsultancy is that search results that include rich snippets (aka star ratings) generate a 10 to 20 percent better click-through rate than search results without UGC attached.
So no matter which aspect of your online marketing you wish to improve, UGC is very likely to be part of the solution. Just remember that you can’t rest on your laurels when it comes to UGC. You’ll need a fresh, steady supply of this kind of content to maintain its benefits, so now is the time to get out, engage, and put the infrastructure in place to continue building your UGC over time. Always give them a reason to leave a positive review and talk about your company and product! AND be sure to keep in mind that Amazon has become the Retail Search Engine of choice among shoppers.
This first appeared on Ted Rubin
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