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  • Writer's pictureLiz Maguire

Developing a UGC Strategy.

Does your brand or business sell to customers? If the answer to this is 'Yes', it might be time to consider running a User Generated Content (UGC) campaign. For the purposes of this example when we refer to UGC we are referring to customer/user generated content (e.g. reviews, photographs) not influencer, or paid, UGC. In a study from Business Wire, 2.4% of consumers surveyed were more likely to trust content 'created' by a fellow user. Whether your business is a service or product based brand, the importance of UGC cannot be understated.


With a healthy UGC marketing strategy -- both inward and outbound -- you can establish a self-sustaining stream of verified reviews to help encourage future conversions. A veritable 'set it and forget' content mill. Sound good? You're right, it does. Read on to learn more about how campaign parameters, goals, and the customer journey affect the receipt and repurpose of UGC.


In this example we'll look at creating a UGC Marketing Strategy for an online shoe brand. We'll design a UGC marketing campaign within their UGC strategy, to solicit UGC from existing customers to then present to potential customers. We'll structure a campaign, define goals, and explore a customer journey. Finally we'll suggest two techniques the brand might use to request UGC as well as two techniques the brand could use to repurpose received UGC.

Photo by Or Hakim on Unsplash


Developing a UGC Marketing Strategy:

A UGC Marketing Strategy fits nicely in the Marketing Map for any brand because it combines several departments: customer service, sales, marketing, etc. First consider the parameters of the campaign, e.g. length, budget, goals. Then it's important to consider all aspects of a customer's journey from research to purchase so that you can best use any and all UGC received. Once you've designed your parameters and plotted out a customer journey, you can better see the access points for presenting the UGC. And for receiving it!


Determining Campaign Parameters:


When you are designing a UGC Marketing Strategy the first thing to ask yourself is what do I want to achieve with this project? Once you have a clear idea -- e.g. 'Increase reviews on the product pages on my website' -- you can look at your timing and budget to set the length of the campaign. A campaign can run anywhere from two weeks to three months, and beyond.


Running a campaign for a set amount of time means that you can continue to check the results and at a set point, tweak what is or isn't working. By allocating the time and budget for the project you are delineating the resources for the campaign to measure the Return on Investment (ROI).


Defining Key Performance Indicators:


The next step in your UGC strategy would be to establish your goals for the campaign. do I want to track with this project? Once you define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you can set up the parameters to your campaign more clearly. Some examples of KPIs for a UGC Marketing Strategy could be the number of reviews or photographs received, the number of orders on a product with reviews displayed or not, etc.


You'll want to return to your KPIs when your campaign starts running to make sure that everything is going smoothly. At the conclusion of your UGC campaign you'll want your KPIs to paint a picture of the areas that worked, or didn't, so that you can best report and justify the parameters of the campaign within your strategy.



Once you've defined your KPIs you can start to look at how you will approach customers for their input.


Plotting the Customer Journey:


A customer journey is the path your customer takes to familiarize themselves with your brand and ultimately, convert. In this example of a possible customer journey for the shoe company the potential customer has not purchased from the brand before. There friend has ordered a pair of shoes from the company and when they meet this friend, the friend says the shoes are comfortable and affordable.


The Funnel:

To plot out your customer journey you should first consider the broader customer funnel framework. There are four key stages of the customer funnel:

  • Awareness: Potential customers become aware of your brand

  • Consideration: Potential customers consider your service or product, over competition.

  • Conversion: Potential customers become paying customers when they make the decision to purchase/subscribe/hire your brand

  • Loyalty: Customers return to purchase/hire your brand again and are your 'brand advocates' out in the wild

Once you have established the four stages of the customer funnel you can begin to plot your customer on their journey.


Touchpoints:

In this example, the potential customer enters the awareness stage by the recommendation of a friend (a previous customer). This is the initial 'touchpoint', or opportunity for the brand to overlap with the customer. The potential customer may visit the website or social media page of the shoe company. Depending on their impression and experience on the website, they may shop around on competitor sites but return to the shoe company website. This return indicates interested intent, supported by their research of the market. They may have a specific pair of shoes in mind or browse the bestsellers, where each pair has a selection of customer submitted reviews. While on the site, they may be prompted to subscribe for a newsletter or SMS service to receive marketing materials. The potential customer subscribes to the shoe brand's email and after receiving a 10% off coupon code applies the discount and places an order. The customer then receives a confirmation email and a review request email two weeks after their shoes have arrived. The customer is satisfied and leaves a review with the shoe company who then puts that review on the product page for the shoes reviewed.

Once you have a clear outline of the customer journey you can consider where in that flow you should deploy UGC (e.g. photographs, reviews). But before you start to use UGC you have to figure out how to ask for it from customers.


The best advice for how to collect UGC from customers is to keep an eye on how you are treated by brands you shop from online. The easiest way to do this is to spend some time clicking through your 'promotions' tab and exploring. What about the style of 'the ask' works for you? What makes you delete the email? This exercise can help shape several elements of your marketing strategy as a whole.


Two Techniques to Request UGC:

But if you're looking to implement a UGC content strategy soon, here are two ways you can approach customers and encourage UGC:

  • Include your request in a follow up email/SMS a set period of time after the product arrives or the service has been conducted. This period of time is flexible and should depend on the individual timeline of your brand. Approach your customers with the understanding that they are busy and you would like to hear from them about their shopping experience -- and be prepared to ask (and hear!) how it can be improved. This feedback can be invaluable for your brand so consider it the 'icing on the cake' to asking for reviews.

  • Hold a competition for a discount on a future product/service and enter customers who provide a review or photograph. Advertise the competition on your social media and on other marketing channels (e.g. email/SMS). Target customers who have ordered or hired your brand/service in the last set period of time and incentivize them ahead of the request with an attractive offer or bargain.


Two Techniques to Repurpose UGC:

Once you have a UGC library, what should you do with it? Use it! With your customer permission (get this in writing) remove any identifying information from the review and use your UGC to your heart's content.


Two places to use UGC and never forget it?

  • Your website! If your customers are more likely to write reviews than share photographs, work with your website developer to have those reviews featured on the individual products. Create a carousel on your homepage where customer review photos cycle through.

  • Your communications. The power of the customer driven review cannot and should not be doubted. Customers on the edge about converting might be nudged into a sale if they see someone who looks like them using your service or wearing your product.



Summary:

So there you have it! To develop a UGC strategy with customer reviews/photographs for your brand you should define the parameters of the campaign, set clear KPIs, plot the customer journey and request UGC that you can repurpose to feed back into the strategy.


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Get in Touch.


Get started on your UGC journey today. Want to know how? Send me an email at liz@litirmarketing.com.



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