Holiday Hiatus: Finding Your UGC Inspiration for 2018
These first weeks of fall signal the shift from holiday planning to actually launching your holiday campaigns. We know that it feels like all holidays all the time, and that you have a lot on the line! It can be stressful. Therefore, let’s not think about any of that for the rest of this article. Deal?
Instead, we can focus on the 2018 wish list — the fun and aspirational hopes and wishes for what’s sure to be a bright and shiny 2018. There’s always that rush of relief that occurs when the holiday season has wrapped up and a new year has begun!
However, if the idea of even thinking about fun stuff in 2018 can be panic-inducing, let me give your nervous noggin a break by suggesting a few user-generated content (UGC) strategies that can inspire you to up your customer content game once the last days of 2017 have passed.
An in-store UGC strategy doesn’t require having stores. Regardless of the existence of brick-and-mortar, your customers are using their phones in stores to read reviews, look at customer-submitted photos, check out ratings and watch product videos.
In fact, 69 percent of shoppers will look at product ratings on their phones at least half of the times they shop. This is even higher for shoppers aged 18-24 (82 percent).
If you do have stores, you need to make every effort to ensure your shoppers are staying within your brand ecosystem when they want to interact with UGC — no matter where they are when they shop. This may mean showing product ratings on signage, short URLs or scannable codes to reviews, or searchable product numbers or SKUs that can help shoppers easily locate a product on your site. A mobile post-purchase review solicitation via email for in-store shoppers can also help to increase review submission rates.
However, if you don’t have stores, you're not totally out of luck because you can also adopt some of these strategies. Product descriptions, reviews and Q&As can help your products show up in search results. Consider an offer for first-time site visitors using mobile devices that point directly to product pages. Free shipping, expedited shipping and touting awesome return policies can be powerful value propositions.
Even though everyone seeks UGC, it can be a challenge to get shoppers to submit content. Improving your UGC submission rates should always be a priority, but there are ways to go outside of your own immediate customer base to boost UGC resources.
Today, review content can be syndicated from brands to merchants. This can help you to fill in gaps in your catalog where you're missing ratings and/or review content. What’s more, syndicated content can help to bring a different voice into your existing UGC dynamic.
Friction-Phobic UGC Submissions
The UGC submission process can always be improved. Take off your merry marketer hat for a few moments this holiday season to really think about how and when you're being asked to submit UGC. Nearly one-in-three shoppers (32 percent) say they don't submit UGC because it’s too time-consuming.
Consider stepping through the process for the brands that you like to shop, your own site and your competitors. Take note of what works, what doesn’t and any inspirational moments in between.
There are new methods of UGC submission that can streamline processes and fight that frustrating friction that looms in the mind of the consumer — e.g., tappable access to photo galleries and review forms within an email message, or short-format checkout comments that can be collected by asking shoppers, “Why did you buy this?” on the order confirmation page. These quick comments can augment longer-format reviews to provide additional copy for cart reminder messages.
OK, take a breath. This break from the holiday stress is coming to a close. This is the time of year when you have to deliver on all of those demanding goals and finish the year out with a shining success. However, don't let 2018 sneak up on you. The use of UGC can be powerful and impactful. And if you take the time now as the season progresses to find solutions that support your vision for creating magical, motivational moments, you'll deliver amazing experiences for your shoppers and customers in 2018.
Jim Davidson is the director of research at TurnTo Networks, a customer content application suite including community Q&A, ratings and reviews, checkout comments, and visual reviews.