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What Is UGC and How Can It Boost Your Sales?

What's the biggest factor in whether or not shoppers actually make a purchase from your e-commerce business? According to a recent study of more than 1,000 online shoppers, it's UGC, or user-generated content.

User-generated content is any content created and/or shared by users — that is, other consumers — as opposed to content created by your business (like ads and press releases). UGC can include social media posts, photos, videos, testimonials or online reviews.

Some 90 percent of consumers in the study say that UGC influences their decisions to make a purchase. In fact, UGC has a bigger influence on purchasing than any other type of marketing, including search engines (87 percent) and promotional emails (79 percent).

What can UGC do for your e-commerce business?

  • It makes shoppers feel more confident in their choices. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of survey respondents say UGC increases their purchasing confidence.
  • It boosts engagement with your business. Almost two-thirds (61 percent) of respondents say that UGC makes them more likely to engage with brands.

UGC is especially influential with women and people under age 30. Almost one-fourth of female shoppers in the survey say UGC is a bigger influence on their purchases than anything else. A whopping 97 percent of those aged 18 to 29 say UGC has an "extreme" influence on what they buy. 

Now that you know how important user-generated content is, how can you make the most of it for your e-commerce business? Here are some pointers:

  • Incorporate UGC into your business website. If customers say nice things about your business on social media, via email or even over the phone, ask if you can turn their words into testimonials on your website. Include their name and/or social media handle, and even a photo if they're willing to share one.
  • Cultivate online reviews. When customers receive their purchase, send a triggered email a few days after delivery asking them to review the product and your business. Be sure to link to online reviews on your website or, for product reviews, post them directly on your website. (Worried about a negative online review slipping by you? ReputationAlert can help by keeping tabs on what's being said about you across the Internet and sending you daily updates.)
  • Maximize social media. Of course, where UGC really shines is on social media. Solicit user-generated content by asking your social media followers to share photos or videos, answer surveys or enter contests. For example, create a hashtag around a popular product your e-commerce site sells, an upcoming holiday or an annual sale you hold, and ask customers to post on Facebook about it using the hashtag. Visuals get more attention, so anything that encourages posting photos or videos will help boost exposure for your brand.

Maximizing user-generated content is an easy way to get more attention for your e-commerce business online—and more dollars in your business bank account.