4 strategies and 18 tactics to increase sales with user-generated content

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User-generated content (UGC) is a big buzz in marketing. It’s cheap, it can be a huge boost for sales, and it’s a great way to communicate and spread the word among your user community. But how do you get it? And how do you harness it to make sales? Try these.

1. Get and use reviews and ratings

Reviews and ratings are huge for reducing anxiety about online purchases. In fact, a study showed that products with star ratings next to them were four times more likely to buy. You can get star ratings using a number of widgets, including Shopify’s own free reviews app. You can also incentivise reviews from those in your loyalty programme. If you'd like to read more about how embedded product reviews can increase conversions, check out this article.

One way to effectively put reviews and ratings on the front lines is to show reviews when hovering over a product photo. Companies that did this saw a 34% increase in sales of those particular products.

You can ask people to rate specific aspects of your product. For example, one of the biggest issues with buying clothes online is that they won’t fit the way you expect. If you sell clothes, you can ask users to rate how true-to-size their purchases actually were; helping out future customers from having this exact concern.

Take it to the next level:

Use Yotpo’s Promoted Products feature to display related products next to your products with star displays. You’ll be able to upsell and keep your customer’s interest.

You can also upsell products by showing them on a review request page itself. When people are writing about their experience with your product, they’re up to 27% more likely to buy again (assuming they like your stuff, that is).

2. Ask questions. Ask for answers.

Putting a Q and A section on your website also works toward helping your customers make more informed decisions. However, instead of just a Frequently Asked Questions page, create a forum where users themselves can ask and answer questions. Customers who ask questions and get answers from other customers are up to 30% more likely to buy, because they’re getting an unbiased opinion.

Amazon has this feature for all of its products. Here are a few questions people have been asking about Amazon Echo’s Alexa:

Although some of these might not be immediately relevant to making a purchasing decision (ie whether or not Alexa will enslave the human race), they still add a sense that other, real people are buying and using this product.

Another example is Pura Vida, which offers a bracelet subscription service.

You can use Yotpo’s Question and Answer feature to create a community forum on your website.

Similarly, you can add a “comments” widget by Disqus that lets customers comment on your product pages. The best bit? Comments are optimised for SEO, meaning keywords your customers are using make you more likely to show up in Google searches.

Take it to the next level:

You can mark certain users as verified customers if you are using customer accounts or a loyalty programme. When they write an answer to another prospect’s question, they’ll know they’re getting an answer from someone who actually has used that product. You can even give away perks to some verified customers in exchange for them answering questions -- just be sure you’re letting them be completely honest and unbiased; otherwise it takes away from the whole point of a customer Q and A.

3. Use social media to generate sales and traffic

Your customers are the best content creators for other potential customers because, well, they are your target audience. Encourage them to show you how they’re using your products, and to share their content with their own networks.

One of the easiest things you can do is use social media accounts to highlight testimonials and other UGC. Give a shoutout to customers who have sent UGC in, and encourage them to keep doing so by offering a giveaway, sweepstakes or something a little extra for the best submissions.

Incentives don’t always have to be financial (though it helps). You can also feature best submissions on your social media as a photo contest, or even just asking your followers to write about their favourite interaction with you can generate a big boost in responses.

Remember, UGC doesn’t have to be one thing - it ranges from tweets to instagram photos to blog posts to Facebook reviews. Use the platform that the majority of your users are on. When you get them engaged, ask permission to use their content for your own marketing purposes.

Take it to the next level

You can make your social media posts sellable right away, with click-through cart capabilities. Shopify lets you do this with the Buy Button, which you can use on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook posts.

4. Curate your UGC on your website

Once you’re growing your stream of user-generated content, it’s important to curate and highlight what you want potential customers to see. Mattress store Eve, for example, saw conversions go up 166% when they created a page dedicated to customer reviews, testimonials and other social proof.

Another way to do it is to mix social proof with your own photos. Accessories company MVMT puts a feed of Instagrammers using their products directly on the product page itself.

You can create a page on your website where you display your best UGC. This can be a feature for Tweeters using your hashtag, winners of your photo contest, your favourite testimonials, blog posts by your community members or any other UGC you’ve collected (with permission). Here’s a widget you can install to your Shopify store that lets you add a social feed for free.

Take it to the next level:

Use the online tool Mention to scour the web for anyone mentioning your company or products. While dedicated hashtags are fairly easy to keep track of, getting a small mention on someone’s blog can be harder to notice without a little help - but can be valuable for your business.

It doesn’t end there

Businesses are getting more and more creative with how they use user-generated content. Elkfox is a Shopify expert and can help you create a UGC marketing strategy that increases conversions. But don’t take our word for it -- check out our user testimonials right here. If you’re looking to grow your online business, let us know.