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You’d be mad to underestimate the power of user-generated content in the age of the customer, here’s why

Katie Leask

November 23, 2021 | 4 min read

When it comes to connecting with their customers, brands have used a myriad of ways to communicate over the years. Paid advertising through mass media communication channels (such as TV and print) was once de rigueur. This form of communication was memorable—catchy jingles, identifiable branding, well-known taglines, holiday campaigns. We can probably all name (and sing) our favorite TV jingles!

But as consumers became more digitally savvy and shopped online, something about the way they were spoken to needed to change. Mass media started to feel a bit one-sided and lacked authenticity. As consumer power continued to rise, organizations had to connect in new ways. 

Social media and online experiences have both been tipping points for brands. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook helped build community through direct conversations with customers. Similarly, LinkedIn and Twitter enabled followers to hear from and communicate directly with senior executives—something they couldn’t do before. 

What may have once been a brand’s staid web presence, gave way to a steady stream of curated multimedia content on social channels. Suddenly, text-heavy website pages were replaced with slick brand and personality images dressed up with funky filters and mood lighting; lifestyle posts and tutorials; product testimonials and reviews; live performances and reels from influencers; viral challenges and trending hashtags. 

Brands have poured enormous buckets of marketing budget into social media strategies. Likewise, there are entire teams dedicated to keeping these streams of content produced and constantly updated. 

But there’s a rapidly rising star in social media content that’s translating to more product conversions. 

But there’s a rapidly rising star in social media content that’s translating to more product conversions. 

Getting raw and real 

User-generated content (UGC) has been a rock star strategy for developing brand trust and engagement. It’s about connecting an audience with real stories that are more meaningful and human-centered. It is about emotional connections and relevance. That’s essentially the UGC premise; content created by unpaid people, not brands. This includes images, articles, blog posts, videos, or any other content that gives users and consumers a voice in what is published or broadcast. 

Word-of-mouth marketing has undoubtedly been one of the most powerful and effective ways to engage consumers. Let’s face it, you’re more likely to trust a product or software recommendation from someone you know rather than through an advertisement, right? 

And the stats back it up: in a Nielsen survey, 83% of consumers in 60 countries say they trust recommendations of friends and family. So, when real people post online about their favorite brands or services in a way that’s unfiltered and unsponsored, it creates the types of authenticity and community that can’t really be bought. 

UGC breeds empathy and familiarity. That’s why some of the world’s top brands—from fashion to furniture sites—have turned to this approach. 

UGC breeds empathy and familiarity. That’s why some of the world’s top brands—from fashion to furniture sites—have turned to this approach.

But while consumer-driven UGC provides several benefits such as self-expression and memorable content, it still requires effective strategies to ensure success in marketing efforts. 

When leading British fashion retailer, New Look wanted to experiment with UGC, Contentsquare dived right in to help them ensure their efforts were accurately analyzed.

Shopping the (New) Look: Tracking UGC success with Contentsquare 

As eCommerce channels and revenue explode, the obvious next step is to enhance your customers’ online journey. Is your online channel connecting with your audience? Is it visually appealing? Does it inform decision-making? 

The average buyer would go through a series of steps and clicks before considering or making a purchase. Visual persuasiveness is fundamental to user experience and has been proven to improve brand buzz. UGC goes a step further in impacting buyer decisions and New Look wanted to trial this approach. 

The digital team at New Look oversees A/B testing on the website as well as the hypothesizing, ideation, and measurement of outcomes and results. They knew UGC got high engagement on other areas of the website, so they wanted to analyze data and results when it was placed on product pages. 

“Contentsquare helped us look at the results in a much more visual way and also understand the customer journey as a whole.”

With a Contentsquare workspace set-up, the team had access to dashboards with a custom view of the required metrics and actionable insights for the testing phase. During the test, they exposed users to UGC on both the Product Listing Pages (PLPs) and Product Detail Pages (PDPs), replacing the first image in the carousel in both instances with customer-generated images. 

The KPI results from the seven-day test were incredibly strong:

  • 20% uplift in product conversion
  • Revenue per visitor up by 30p (about 40 US cents)
  • Visitor conversion increased by 6%
  • PDP reach was up by 24%
  • Topline incremental uplift on revenue was +5.5% 

They estimated the potential revenue uplift when using UGC imagery on more products throughout the site was 98%. 

Another element deployed during the testing period was Contentsquare’s zone-based heatmaps to measure click-rate around product details. This helped to expose how a customer would move through the gallery of images and any resulting interactions, such as adding a product to a cart or wishlist. “It was a really good way of slicing up the PDP into a chunk that made sense and obtaining visually-appealing results.”

New Look is just one example of how Contentsquare is helping brands understand the power of user-generated content on their site; hear it in their own words.

The future of eCommerce is in YOUR hands 

It’s clear that UGC will be one of the most powerful marketing tools today and in the future. As consumer power continues its rise, UGC will help brands build their profiles through an authentic share of voice through several mediums. With the upcoming holidays signaling a big season for retail and contactless shopping trends to continue, UGC can help boost engagement, sales, and revenue. 

If UGC is something your team wants to experiment with, then make sure you’re getting all the digital insights you need to maximize success with Contentsquare. Our experience analytics platform captures every in-page interaction and micro-gesture to understand the how and why of your customer behavior. 

We turn this analysis into scores, visualizations, and recommendations that make it easier for every team member to do the right thing. 

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