Today’s consumers expect more from brands than ever before. Whether it’s transparency about how products are made, exceptional e-commerce options, or highly personalized customer interactions, a brand’s relationship with its customers is everything.
At the same time, in a marketplace crowded with brands vying for consumers’ attention, leaving a lasting impression is a growing challenge. Many brands and retailers turn to shopper-generated content (e.g., ratings and reviews) to engage with and earn the loyalty of their customers.
Here are three ways shopper-generated content is a game-changer in the never-ending pursuit of customer engagement:
1. Shopper-Generated Content Builds Trust
Brands invest in customer engagement strategies to not only win new business, but to hold onto the customers they’ve already acquired. By putting content creation in shoppers’ hands, brands foster a sense of trust and authenticity with their customers. This wasn’t something created by a savvy marketing team, after all, but a regular customer.
Authenticity, increasingly, is a critical brand feature to consumers. A study from user-generated content software company Stackla found that 86 percent of shoppers believe brand authenticity is important when making a purchasing decision and, further, that it makes it easier to choose a company to support.
This authenticity, in turn, enables customers to have confidence in products that work well for other customers sharing similar features, such as hair, skin or body type, to see how the product works on the everyday consumer.
In fact, a PowerReviews Health & Beauty survey found seven in 10 consumers actively seek out similar attributes to their own in the product reviewer. When customers post photos, this can be an additional cue of relevance to potential shoppers.
Tip: Customers trust content most when it’s from others like themselves. Ideally, include user-generated content, such as photos and videos, on your product pages.
2. Shopper-Generated Content Tells Better Product Stories
User-generated content helps you develop and personalize your brand and product stories. A good brand story shows consumers what inspires you, rather than telling them what you do.
At the same time, enriching your brand story with shopper-generated content fosters a community where like-minded customers exchange information and connect over shared ideas. This is a win-win for brands — a richer brand story and a community of consumers.
Tip: Today’s shoppers are increasingly expecting visual content with reviews and ratings. For example, a PowerReviews study found that 88 percent of consumers expect to see photos and videos from other shoppers before making a purchase. It’s critical for a brand to provide their customers with the ability to easily post photos and videos with their reviews, which helps strengthen their influencer community while generating more sales.
3. Shopper-Generated Content Connects With Your Influencers
Influencer marketing has done an about-face. It’s no longer about getting shout-outs from celebrities; rather, it’s about the reach of your everyday customers. It’s here, among your brand loyal ambassadors and advocates, that your brand can really shine. In fact, a study by social marketing platform SocialPubli found that everyday influencers have a 7X higher engagement rate on Instagram than celebrities or those with massive audiences. For a makeup brand launching in the U.S., PowerReviews’ everyday influencers’ posts resulted in an 11.1 percent engagement rate over impressions and created over 2,000 pieces of visual content.
A surefire way to generate this type of influencer content is to provide product samples to a select group of your brand ambassadors, which will make it easier to collect content, while developing and maintaining a great relationship with your biggest advocates.
Tip: User-generated photos don’t need to be catalog-perfect. In fact, if customer photos look too much like professional product photos, the content comes off as disingenuous and unrealistic, dampening customer trust.
Shopper-generated content continues to prove valuable for brands wanting to increase engagement and make better impressions. What brand doesn’t want that? Authenticity is a two-way street: you earn consumer trust by placing trust in your shoppers. Ultimately, authenticity in your content converts browsers into buyers.
Sara Rossio is chief product officer for PowerReviews, a company that enables connected commerce by amplifying user-generated content and consumer feedback to improve the customer experience.
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