User-generated content (UGC) is a popular form of digital marketing that acts as a form of social proof. Instead of persuading people to buy your products, your customers do it for you.
And with research showing that 93% of customers trust online reviews, there’s every reason your customers will put their faith in UGC.
But why add UGC to your email marketing campaigns? How can you do it effectively?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the different types of user-generated content, as well as how you can implement them into your current email campaigns with ease.
What is User Generated Content?
User-generated content serves the exact same purpose as content created by brands such as your own. The difference is, that the creation process lies entirely in the hands of your customers/followers.
It can take the form of videos, blog posts, pictures, and so on.
In fact, UGC is so wide-ranging that it can even take the form of podcasts.
How does it work?
Let’s imagine there’s a customer who really likes your brand and the product they just purchased from you. They then take a picture of it, upload it to their social media profile (for example, Instagram), add a caption praising the product — and tag your brand.
All types of customers can create user-generated content, from first-time customers to brand loyalists. There isn’t really much you need to do besides finding ways to encourage your customers to create more UGC, collect it, and then publish the content to your channels.
Why do your email campaigns need UGC?
As we’ve seen, UGC is incredibly simple for brands themselves because there’s very little work involved. But is there any real need to add user-generated content to your email campaigns?
Let’s find out.
1. UGC builds trust
Trust is one of the biggest factors when it comes to converting new customers.
User-generated content feels 2.4x more “real” to customers than content created by a brand. And as we’ve already seen, customers trust online reviews.
So when you add UGC to your email campaigns, you’re adding an extra layer of authenticity that tightens the relationship between you and your subscribers.
They can see that others have already used your products — and enjoyed them. Suddenly you’re not just a random brand they haven’t heard of before. But an entity they have confidence in.
2. UGC means more unique content
It’s not easy for brands to keep creating fresh, original content from scratch to add to their email campaigns. And unless you manage to do this, your emails might be lifeless and bland, and clicks and conversions will be down.
With UGC, every single piece of content is unique because it’s coming from a different customer with a different experience and a fresh take.
This can also lead to more exciting content that resonates with your customers on a personal level because they can see people just like them using your products.
3. UGC saves you money
Digital marketing can be a costly venture, with most businesses spending approximately 11% of their revenue on marketing each year.
UGC, on the other hand, can help your budget. There might be times when you spend money incentivizing more customers to generate content for you (such as via contests). But UGC can be a highly cost-effective marketing strategy.
Keep in mind, that you may need to seek out SaaS lending if you find your budget doesn’t meet the basic marketing needs that your company requires.
4. UGC gives you access to key audience insights to reach goals
You can’t create successful email campaigns unless you know your audience.
And you also can’t sustain a business and sell products unless you know them, too.
UGC email campaigns give you access to unprecedented audience insights and help reach target KPIs. You can see exactly what products they love, why they love them, and how they use them.
What’s more, you can see the type of content they prefer to engage with, which will help you to create even better marketing campaigns in the future.
Additionally, There’s no point in running an email campaign if you don’t monitor and measure the results.
Consider creating an agile email marketing process to seamlessly run multiple campaigns at once.
With this and the help of an agile marketing team — your campaign will not only maximize its potential to reach target goals quickly — but you can also make necessary edits quickly when needed.
How to incorporate User-Generated Content into your email marketing campaigns
As we’ve just seen, UGC has several benefits. Let’s look at the next stage — how to add UGC to your email campaigns.
1. Personalize your emails with UGC
Personalized emails include greeting the recipient by name and segmenting your email campaigns.
But it can and should mean more than that.
Via a well-executed UGC campaign, you can create emails that feel even more personal.
For instance, let’s say you use behavioral insights to create an email segment of young, male customers who are passionate about the outdoors.
You can then add user-generated content to your emails created by customers who bought outdoor gear similar to that in which your segment has expressed an interest.
This not only means you are targeting specific customers with relevant content — you’re also making it even more personal by showing them images of people just like them using your outdoor products.
2. Add testimonials to your emails
It’s been demonstrated that customer testimonials can boost revenue by 62%.
Customer testimonials are a key UGC because it’s very rare that a customer will buy from a brand they’ve never heard of before, with zero customer reviews/testimonials.
But while it’s undoubtedly easy to add customer testimonials to your emails, the trick is in adding a wide range of them so that you’ll appeal to various audience segments.
Not just that, but it’s also better if you include a pic of the customer who left the testimonial next to their text. That way, “Melissa” and “Steve” aren’t just faceless people — they’re real customers that your subscribers can relate to.
And don’t just add one testimonial to an email, include a couple.
3. Target cart abandonment emails
Cart abandonment rates are sky-high, with as many as 7 out of 10 customers abandoning their carts regularly.
The good news is that you can retarget cart abandoners with well-timed emails.
And it helps even more if you double down by adding UGC.
Usually, a cart abandonment email is a simple follow-up email that reminds the customer that they’ve left items in their cart. Some brands like to add an incentive, such as free shipping, but unless you do this wisely it could eat into your budget.
Instead, you can put their potential purchases into context and reignite their excitement by showing them how other users are enjoying the exact same product. You can use images and videos to convey the product’s value and persuade them to take that one last step.
4. Collect User-Generated Content with contests
In order to secure more user-generated content in the first place, you can run contests that encourage your existing customers to create their own content.
Contests are fun. They’re interactive. If you offer a relevant prize that your customers are sure to love, you can generate a whole load of fresh content.
You can tie your email contests in with your social media channels to extend your reach. Make sure to create a hashtag for the contest, and don’t make it too complex.
Once people have submitted their entries, choose content that suits your brand and will resonate with your subscribers.
User-generated content is one of the best forms of social proof. And with research showing that email marketing remains one of the best ways to reach your customers, tying UGC into your emails is a smart idea.
To get started, few things work better than contests. By running contests, you can incentivize your customers to create content for you, and by sharing said content to social media (as well as including it in your emails), you can encourage more people to step forward and create content for you.