User-generated reviews, how-tos, and advice improve customer engagement throughout the buyer journey—especially when they can be collected and shared at scale.
User-generated content (UGC) is a hot topic in marketing circles, with good reason. It’s more trusted than many other forms of media, and in certain cases, much more popular. User-generated Facebook posts see 7X the engagement of brand-generated posts.
Because it’s so trustworthy, UGC is relied upon heavily in online shopping: According to SEO software company BrightLocal, 92% of people rely on others’ reviews when they’re looking to make a purchase.
What benefits can you derive from collecting and sharing UGC on your own platforms?
Because it’s authentic content created by real people, UGC increases transparency—something that’s increasingly becoming an expectation for the consumer.
Transparency is why sites as diverse as Netflix, Amazon, and Wayfair feature user reviews on their product pages. When people can’t engage with products in person, they need other kinds of information to make an informed purchase decision. User-generated reviews help fill in the blanks, arming shoppers with insights that make them more confident (and more likely to buy).
The prominence of reviews in e-commerce illustrates another important detail: the value of authentic advice close to point of sale. One of our customers, a telco in Europe, sees this in its e-commerce funnel, in which traffic from its inSided community converts at a 4X higher rate than traffic from social ads.
Authenticity is valued by consumers—which means it’s something you should take seriously, too.
Building a pipeline of UGC isn’t just great for shoppers. Putting in place a system to grow UGC is a powerful strategy for scaling your content-creation efforts. Producing branded content takes time and energy, but by harnessing your customer base to help out, you can produce more high-value content in much less time.
Sonos is one example. The home audio company uses one of its two customer communities to help people find the best speaker setups for their living space. This subtopic features advice and guidance from real Sonos users — thousands of pieces of content.
Content on its own is valuable for brands—but its benefits go beyond enhanced transparency. Google and Bing’s algorithms favor content that’s produced by real people and recent. UGC that you collect on your own platform will typically rank very well in web searches, giving you more visibility and ultimately, more traffic.
Finnish telco Elisa saw this on its customer community after migrating to inSided. By leveraging the inSided mobile friendly responsive templates to produce more community posts, the Elisa community’s organic search traffic on mobile surged more than 500%.
Gathering UGC on a single platform—like a customer community—not only funnels large amounts of traffic to your domain. It’s also much more cost-effective than one-off influencer marketing campaigns or social media advertising.
Mature customer communities often have tens or even hundreds of thousands of members. The sheer volume of reviews and advice they generate would be prohibitively expensive for a brand to create on its own.
In addition to thousands of registrants, most inSided communities that are a year or more old have “super users” who create an outsize amount of content. Just a couple dozen of these customer evangelists can produce 20% or more of the total content posted to a community.
Super users are much more likely than the average user to offer assistance and advice. They also want to see the community itself succeed, so they’re a great source of feedback for moderators and community managers.
Improved after-sale engagement
Due largely to the contributions of super users and other engaged contributors, communities offer value after the sale, as well as before. Some of the most successful inSided communities are focused primarily on after-sale support.
Eneco, for example, created a dedicated community to support users of its Toon smart thermostat. Because Toon was an entirely new technology for Eneco’s customers, the utility opted to harness the buzz around the product with a dedicated platform that lives behind its domain.
At other organizations, it’s a common practice to leverage a community for feedback and ideation—a practice that helps boost post-sale engagement even further.
Before and after the sale, user-generated content helps consumers while delivering tangible bottom-line value.
By Ben Foster
Content Marketer at inSided. Having worked in B2B tech in San Francisco and Boston, Ben's now happy to be in New York City. He'll never root for the Yankees, though. Connect on Linkedin