If you use email marketing to generate sales, user-generated content (UGC) is a topic that won’t be going away soon. Salesforce found that emails that contain UGC experience increased click-through rates by 73%. So ask yourself, how often do you think of your email inbox as a place where people are looking for fun and engaging content? Probably not very often — but that doesn’t mean it can’t be! Now may be the time to give it a try. To help clear this up, we’ve created a list of the 6 smart ideas to use UCG as a channel for lead generation and customer retention.
Don’t be shy — ask your customers to share their content with you.
If you have an email list, the simplest way to get people’s UGC is to just ask! After all, you should always let customers know that their feedback is important to you, especially if you’re running a promotion or giveaway. Say you’d be happy to hear what they think about a specific product or service. This can be as simple as asking them why they like or dislike a specific aspect of your online business or product line. You can even ask them what they’d like to see from you in the future.
The more specific you get, the better! You want to make sure you’re asking in a way that’s engaging and encourages your audience to share their thoughts. Here are a few ideas:
- Make it easy — make sure you have an easy way for people to submit their UGC! If they have to take several steps or fill out a long form, they might just give up and move on with their lives.
- Keep it simple — don’t bog down your request with too many rules or guidelines. Asking for one thing at a time will make it easier for people to comply with what you’re asking for and make sure that you get what you need from them.
- Make it fun — if you want people to respond positively, try adding some levity to your email! You can do this by using humor or encouraging positive feedback about the product or service being offered in the email itself (e.g., “Your opinion matters!”).
Bruno Marrota, who founded the jigsaw puzzle site im-a-puzzle, explains, “We sent an email asking users to send their best photos that can be turned into puzzles on our platform. Within days, we had hundreds of submissions we could add to our site.”
Customer photos are a great source of inspiration for online shoppers – use them!
Today, social proof is an extremely powerful tool in email marketing. And you know the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Customer photos are a great way to give your email marketing campaigns a personal touch so when you’re sending a newsletter – think about what your customers would appreciate seeing in it.
When you send an email to a customer, your goal is to get them to either buy something or take some kind of action. Social proof is a powerful tool in email marketing, because it shows the customer that other people are doing what you want them to do. For example, if you want someone to buy your product, show them other people who have purchased it and how they’re using it.
If they see other people using your product, they’ll feel more comfortable buying it themselves. They’ll also feel like they’re not alone in their decision and may be more likely to make a purchase because of that feeling of comfort.
Customer photos are some of the most powerful tools you can use in your email marketing campaigns. Make a selection and choose the most relevant to your audience and include them in the newsletter. By doing this, you’re not just promoting your brand — you’re also giving potential customers a chance to see how others feel about your product or service. Don’t forget, social proof increases eCommerce conversions… and the best part is, it’s free!
Your email marketing campaigns are the perfect place to host a contest or challenge.
There’s a reason contests and challenges are so popular among people: they’re fun, they engage your audience, and they can seriously impact your sales. Create a contest or giveaway that allows customers to submit their own content in exchange for prizes or discounts on future purchases (or both!). You might ask them to submit photos or videos that show how they use your product or service, or you might ask them to submit recipes using ingredients from your store — the possibilities are endless!
Why does it work? First of all, people want to win things, they want to feel special, and they want to be noticed by others. It’s just human nature. And when you make it clear that the person who wins will get something of real value… Well then, you’ve got yourself some serious engagement right there.
UGC works because it creates a sense of community among your customers. When people feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves, they’re more likely to feel loyal and engaged with that brand, product or service. And that means they tend to spend more money on it. Therefore it’s a smart idea to send referral emails to the highest-value customers who have purchased your product and may become your brand advocates.
Run and popularize a unique hashtag to reach a wider audience.
We’ve all seen them: the hashtags that just take off, the ones that go viral, the ones that make you wonder: “How did they get so popular?” While there are many ways to use hashtags to grow your ecommerce business, using branded hashtags in your email marketing strategy is an easy way to get your subscribers excited about your brand, products and services. Above all, it’s a powerful tool for connecting people and creating communities.
The first step is choosing a hashtag that is relevant to what you are selling. It should be short and easy to remember, but also descriptive enough so that anyone who sees it can understand what it’s all about. If you’re looking for ways to make your emails more effective and appealing, try using your branded hashtag in the subject line of your emails. This is an easy way to get your subscribers excited about what they’re going to read, and it will help you increase conversion rates. The idea behind branded hashtags is that they allow your brand to appear in more places without having to pay for ads.
Provide customer testimonials as part of your email marketing campaign
Customer testimonials and reviews are important to show your customers that you care. These are reviews and feedback from customers who used your products/services. You can also use Instagram comments as customer testimonials if users have shared their honest opinions in the comments section. When people read about how happy someone was with a recent purchase, they’re more likely to trust that assessment and make the same choice for themselves. It’s one of the most powerful ways to build trust and credibility with your audience.
Here are some of the benefits of providing customer testimonials in your email marketing campaign:
- They’ll help establish credibility and trust with customers, which is crucial when they’re making purchasing decisions.
- They’ll increase sales by encouraging people who might have been on the fence about buying something from you now feel more confident about it because they know someone else has already done so!
- They’ll help build excitement among potential customers, which means more revenue for you!
Bonus tip: Don’t overdo it! One or two customer testimonials will probably look more natural than ten paragraphs of praise (although sometimes it is hard to resist).
Abandoned cart emails are an eCommerce brand’s most powerful win-back strategy.
If you’re an ecommerce retailer, you’re probably aware that the number of shoppers who abandon their carts is on the rise. This means that email marketing is becoming more important than ever to reach out to these potential customers, who are ready to buy but just need a little push in the right direction. Therefore, it is important for you as an eCommerce business owner to create an environment where customers can get all the information they need so that they can easily complete their purchase and make sure that they are safe while doing so. This is where UCG enters the scene!
Once you have created your abandoned cart email, it’s time to add some user-generated content. It can help you encourage customers to complete their purchases while connecting with them on a personal level. Whether it’s through live videos or photos, UGC offers you a great way to add a human touch and show that you care about their interests. The more information you can gather about them, the better off you will be when it comes time to send them an abandoned cart email.
Email marketing is a time-tested, effective way to promote your eCommerce business, and it continues to be one of the best ways to generate more sales. But if you’re looking for new ways to improve your email marketing campaigns, you might want to consider UGC as a tactic. Put the two together and you’ll end up with UGC-based email marketing that can attract traffic to your site, boost sales, and help you humanize your brand on an intimate level. After all, when the customers are writing about their own experiences, it’s hard to argue with them.
David Morneau is the co-founder and CEO of inBeat, a hybrid micro-influencer agency that helps brands scale their marketing efforts. He has helped over 200 DTC brands to date.