The 2022 User Generated Content Playbook for Email Marketers Despite being one of the oldest marketing channels, email marketing still dominates as one of the most successful channels available today. But to keep their campaigns relevant, email marketers must always be learning. Keeping on top of the latest marketing trends, tech innovations, and customer demands. However, over the past two years, this has been easier said than done. Consumer needs have continuously changed, along with resource, budgets, and strategies. User generated content is something that email marketers can use to their advantage during times of uncertainty. Using this content takes little budget or resource. And can directly address consumers’ wants, even during turbulent times. This guide introduces email marketers to what user generated content is, how it can benefit their email marketing, how the content can be gathered, and how it can be incorporated into email. For email marketers, betters starts here. What is user generated content? As the name suggests, user generated content (or UGC) is content that is created by your users (consumers, customers, etc.) that directly relates to or features your brand, products, and services. These users are often not employed by or official representatives of your business. Instead, they are happy customers who have chosen to shout about your brand offering to their own networks. UGC can take many forms. Commonly, this content is featured on social media sites such as Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook. And can incorporate updates featuring product photos, a review or testimonial, a video, or even a comment or discussion on a thread. Benefits of UGC in email Great. We understand what UGC is, but what has that got to do with email marketing? UGC can actually bring many benefits to your email campaigns. Here are just a few: Cost-effective Let’s begin with one of the most enticing benefits of UGC. It’s free! So no matter what your marketing budget, this is a type of content that you can begin gathering almost immediately. With many forms of content, brands will have to hire specialist resource such as a copywriter, a designer, a videographer. Sometimes even physical and voice actors. With UGC, your audience does the hard work for you. You can rely on others to create content that will naturally vary in style and tone. Making it both free and unique. Builds authenticity Consumers have access to an endless choice of brands to shop with. But with so many new stores and brands appearing online, consumers are understandably conscious of which are authentic, and which aren’t. Therefore, as part of your marketing strategy, it’s essential that you build up credibility as a brand. Interestingly, your audience is 2.4 times more likely to view UGC as authentic compared to content that is directly created by brands. Making UGC the perfect tactic to showcase your brand as one that is credible. Creates trust Trust is a natural progression from authenticity. Building an authentic, credible brand is key to creating trust. But trust can take time to build. 92% of global consumers trust word of mouth recommendations over branded content. And UGC is the perfect way of gathering content from users who are shouting about how great your brand is. This could include social media posts showcasing your products, or reviews and ratings from your review websites. All of this shows consumers that your other customers, just like them, trust your brand enough to purchase and even promote your products and offering. Grows community Over the past 18 months, many of us have been separated from our friends, family, colleagues. It has resulted in many consumers craving community in everything they do, including their buying experience. By showcasing UGC alongside your customers within your emails, you are helping email recipients to feel part of a wider community. They will see that other consumers, just like them, are buying and engaging with you. And can feel part of that network. Triggers FOMO Similarly, if recipients are seeing others engaging with your brand, purchasing your products, and generally having a great experience, they can start to feel left out. This triggers FOMO (fear of missing out), which can be a driving force in engaging consumers to make a purchase. For instance, 60% of millennials make reactive purchases because of FOMO. UGC can be particularly powerful at triggering FOMO when well-known influencers are used. These individuals regularly post their favourite products online and have a significant influence on their followers’ purchasing decisions. In fact, a study by Twitter found that 49% of consumers report they rely on recommendations from influencers when making purchase decisions. So if you spot an influencer bigging up your brand, be sure to give them a shout out. How to gather UGC with email marketing Hopefully, by now you’re excited to begin incorporating UGC into your emails. But to get started, you need to source your UGC first. NPS surveys NPS emails are a simple place to start with gathering UGC. NPS (net promoter score) surveys can automatically be sent out to customers after a specific time period, and ask one simple question such as: “How likely are you to recommend us?” The respondent simply clicks on a rating of 1-5, which is then fed back to the brand, Ok, so this isn’t the most engaging of UGC. However, it can be a useful statistic straight from your customers to include in your marketing. For instance, “95% of our customers would recommend us”. Ratings and reviews Once you’ve whet your appetite with an NPS email, you can delve into more insightful and engaging content through ratings and review requests. Gathering this type of content can, again, be an automated process. For instance, you can send a feedback request post-purchase, asking the customer to rate and review their product. This is a particularly effective method as these emails can be automated when a recipient is highly engaged. Or, you can send out a request to specific segments of customers, such as those who have been buying from you the longest. These are likely your most engaged and loyal customers, so are most likely to offer their useful (and hopefully, positive) feedback. Email and social campaigns If you are looking for content that is more creative than a simple rating or review, then turn to your social channels. Social media is full of UGC in the form of product demos, photography, videos, and feedback. And with so many budding influencers out there, you can get your hands on some really high-quality content. Straight from your audience. Combine an email and social media campaign to encourage your recipients to get posting about your brand on social media. This is particularly effective if you have an already engaged email database. For instance, you can create a campaign for recipients to post a photo of their favourite product on their social media accounts, using a specific hashtag or tagging your brand in the photo. And of course, feel free to get creative with the requirements for some really inspiring content. Brand ambassadors Use your email marketing data alongside behavioural data to determine who in your database are your most loyal, dedicated customers. These may be the recipients who engage with your email the most. The ones who have been purchasing with you for the longest. Or those who spend the most money with you. Use email to communicate with these recipients and encourage them to become brand ambassadors. Promoting your products and services online and creating UGC. In return, they can receive loyalty perks, such as VIP delivery, discount codes, or pre-launch access. How to feature UGC in email marketing Congratulations, you are now armed with a wealth of UGC. Let’s start incorporating it into your email marketing so you can start witnessing the benefits for yourself. Product promotion Who better to promote your products than your customers? They provide objective opinions, new product shots and videos, benefits that you may not have even thought about, and reassurance to your audience. In the world of Instagram and iPhones, great photography has never been more accessible to the masses. In fact, some of the photography seen on social networks can rival that of professionals. So encourage your users to post about your products on their social media channels. This could be with the use of a hashtag or tagging. And in return, offer a feature in your email campaigns. This is great free content for your emails, and the perfect way to get your customers involved. Of course, your customers may need a little more of a nudge to get creative. In which case, refer back to your email and social media campaigns to encourage customers to post about your products. And utilise this content for promotional purposes. Reviews and testimonials More than 25% of product searches, particularly those looking for recommendations and reviews, are happening on social media channels instead of traditional search engines. This clearly shows the power of social recommendations. Your happy customers can offer a wealth of UGC in the form of reviews and testimonials, to reassure potential customers and offer an objective opinion on your products and services. And this content can be found in many different places. Firstly, you may gather your own reviews and testimonials that you feature on your website. Or, maybe you have an account with a review platform such as Trustpilot or TripAdvisor. But also don’t forget that the content that your customers feature on their social networks will also include reviews and testimonials of your brand and product. You may even find product demos and inboxing videos too. All of this content can be featured within your email campaigns. You can pepper them throughout your email in the form of quotes. Or even create dedicated email campaigns to feature images and links to your customers’ social pages. Happy customers Consumers buy into lifestyles, which is why influencers have grown in popularity at such a scale when it comes to marketing and advertising. In fact, 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations to make a purchase. So feature your happy customers in your email campaigns. These individuals will be more relatable than using models. And you may even have the opportunity to work with customers who are influential online. Seeing others customers enjoying your product will build trust and credibility in your brand. And reassure those who are considering purchasing from you. Even better, it can trigger a feeling of FOMO in your potential customers. Who won’t want to miss out. Community For some consumers, it’s been almost two years of feeling disconnected from their friends, family, colleagues, and loved ones. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that consumers are craving community. It is no longer enough to simply offer great products at great prices. Consumers want a positive purchasing experience. They want to feel a connection with the brand they are buying from, and their wider audience. But building a community can be a long process. However, UGC can streamline this in terms of time, resource, and cost. You can utilise the UGC that you have gathered to build a sense of community through your email marketing. Encouraging your recipients to get involved and engage with you through other channels where your customers frequent. And then when your community is growing, you will have yet another source of fantastic UGC which is easily accessible and sharable. The bigger your community gets, the easier it is to grow. Image Source – Really Good Emails Looking to incorporate user generated content into your email marketing? As well as those included in this guide, we have lots of ideas for gathering and sharing user generated content to super-charge your email campaigns. Get in touch with our team of experts to find out more.