What if you could mix two of the most powerful marketing tactics into one streamlined method proven to generate revenue?
If that existed, would you be willing to give it a try?
I’m sure your answer is a resounding yes. After all, what marketer wouldn’t.
This isn’t too good to be true. The method actually exists and it’s not difficult to get done.
To accomplish this, all you need is your email marketing campaigns to add user-generated content (UGC) into the strategy.
It’s easier said than done, but today we’re going to show you how.
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What is User Generated Content (UGC)
While branded content typically costs quite a few resources to create, user-generated content is when existing customers create content about your brand for free.
That content could be anything from social media images and videos to Youtube and blog reviews.
This sort of content is made out of your customers promoting your products and speaking your accolades (hopefully) rather than you doing that about your brand.
User-generated content says a lot about you to others who haven’t quite made that commitment to your brand yet and it’s one of the few methods that allow for a measurable form of word-of-mouth marketing while building brand awareness through social proof.
It's not quite the same as the traditional method of this tactic, but it does harness some of the important aspects of it, namely, an unbiased third-party person speaking highly about you and their experience.
It’s generally different from your average review, but UGC does show non-buyers on the fence a glimpse of what your brand is, how customers feel about your product and that they were willing to go the distance and purchase something from you.
If you're interested in how to get high-quality ugc at scale, read this in-depth guide.
Why Adding User Generated Content is Vital For Your Long Game Marketing
Now, just to lay down some data to show this is true, look at these stats:
- UGC drives about a 73% increase in email click-through rates.
- 84% of millennial consumers say UGC featured on a brand’s site ultimately influences the way they do online shopping to some extent.
- 93% of customers believe UGC to be very helpful and vital when making a purchasing decision.
That list just goes on and on.
User-generated content has a big role in creating sales for your brand so when you couple it together with a top sales driving eCommerce channel like email marketing, you are really going to squeeze every viable drop of its sales potential when you use it correctly.
But before you can go out and start using UGC, you need to know how to gather it, and then figure out the best way to go about using it in your email campaigns.
We will be covering all that next.
Harnessing the Power of User-Generated Content in Your Email Marketing Efforts
Use Branded Hashtags to Collect UGC
Collecting UGC isn’t hard to do and you can start with the marketing channels you’re already using. The easiest way to get photo and video-based UGC is to create a branded hashtag that can be used on social media.
If your @name on social media doesn’t resemble another brand that could easily get confused, you could also promote your brand’s social media usernames.
What’s the best place to start that pushing out promotion?
I’d suggest your email list.
Emails get a lot of engagement and they’re full of exactly the audience you want to appeal to — customers and people who will likely be customers soon.
If you’re currently having trouble with your email engagement, it would be worth looking into an email marketing provider like Sendlane since we have some of the highest deliverability in the industry.
And better deliverability = better engagement = increased average order value = cha ching!
Be sure to take advantage of your other channels like social media posts or your website. And don’t forget about adding something to your shipping packaging so that when a customer opens the product they bought there is a small note of how to share their glee with the world or to share a review.
It could be as simple as a notecard with a fun CTA to post about it on Instagram or Twitter.
Just make sure to be consistent with the hashtags you use so that people have an easier time remembering them in the future.
After that, you’ll want a third-party tool like BrandMentions to make it easy to gather that UGC all into one hub so you can pick and choose the best videos and photos of the bunch to reuse.
Repurpose UGC in Newsletters and Promos
Now that you have some good user-generated content on your hands, you can start using it in your email marketing.
For an email nerd like me, this is where the fun part starts kicking into gear. You can take your UGC and use it in different ways throughout your email marketing.
To start, let’s look at ways to use it in newsletters and promotions.
This example from Fab featuring MVMT is a good example of curating UGC that still manages to stay on-brand with the content they put out.
The email is for a promo but the images you see towards the bottom of the email were created by users of the brand’s watches. When all brought together they give a great aesthetic look.
Another example is the one from Foot Locker.
Not only does this show a bunch of photos where customers show off their Foot Locker gear, but it also promotes using the branded hashtag #kickstagram to generate even more UGC.
In this way, they’re creating an endless wheel of content that circulates in fresh new content on a regular basis.
This is an important part of gathering UGC that you’ll want to consider. You want fresh content coming in on the regular so be sure to plan out emails like this one that will continually feed that part of your strategy.
Using this sort of email before a big sale is a great way to build up your UGC that you can turn around and use during the most important sales events for eCommerce brands — the holidays.
If you want more ideas for optimizing your sales with email during the holiday season, also be sure to check out Holiday Sales ebook to help you crush your sales this year.
Work UGC Into Your Automation Funnels
The last part of your email marketing to consider adding UGC is your automated marketing funnels. These would be things like your welcome, abandoned cart, and post-purchase emails to name a few.
Depending on the funnel you’re going to add UGC to, you should consider where the customers are in their buyer’s journey with you.
For welcome and abandoned cart emails, the aim is to gain trust that nudges towards your end goal. Usually, that’s a sale, but it could be a philanthropy campaign like what Petco did.
This email fits well into a welcome email series and builds on the brand’s core values that are sure to resonate with a pet owner. Not only are user-generated photos, but there’s also a review included.
The goal is to get people to donate and with all those adorable dogs staring at you through your screen it would be hard to say no.
Sure, that money doesn’t go straight into Petco’s pocket but in the eye of the person who got that email, they will remember that Petco helped them feel good about themselves by making a difference in a pup’s life.
Another route to go is skipping the UGC photos and using the reviews like what Outer does here.
Here they used customer reviews in their email to offer other potential customers the experiences others had after they purchased something. (Smart move, Outer. Smart move. )
On top of that, they add a star rating to imply just how stellar this customer thinks they are.
It’s smart. They are letting others say how great they are which speaks volumes.
This type of email can work in your regular newsletter emails and promos, but they can do a lot of good in abandoned cart emails.
If you don’t currently have a lot of customer reviews, it would be good to start collecting them through your email marketing.
And there is no better time to collect them than after someone has purchased something from your brand.
You can place a “review request” email as part of your post-purchase email sequence to always bring in fresh reviews and more UGC for your future promos.
Take a look at your current funnels and how they flow right now. Could you add some photos or a review to what’s already there? Could you use a whole new email added to the mix that draws in new UGC or promotes what you currently have?
If you use an email provider like Sendlane, it’s easy to add UGC to your email to build a new email right into your funnel.
Dive in and find places to make adjustments and then you can get to work with adding it to your emails. Just remember to give these a review and refresh every year or so.
That UGC is Yours. Use It To The Full
There are customers out there ready and willing to sing your brand’s praises. Chances are, they’ve already been talking and posting about you online.
And while email is great for UGC, don’t forget to use it in other places like your product pages, as well.
All that UGC is flowing into you and available for you to use to help you further grow your sales and promote your brand.
It works when you use it — so use it and watch your sales fly.