The Power of the People: How User-Generated Content Can Boost Sales

Stephen Hill, Vaimo

Stephen Hill, Vaimo

Author Bio

Stephen has over 10 years experience working in ecommerce. Starting with Coca-Cola in Australia back in 2006, he's now based in London, working for Vaimo's strategy department and helping clients grow with their data-driven approach. Having spent time on both the agency side and the client side, Stephen has a wealth of experience with ecommerce tactics and has worked with clients such as Dyson, L'Oréal, Helly Hansen, Agent Provocateur, Royal Academy of Arts, Slendertone, Fjällräven and Björn Borg.

It used to be up to you to show shoppers how pleased previous customers were with your products. These days they can speak for themselves!

When a customer reviews a purchase or shares a photo of their favourite new product, they’re tapping into a psychological trigger known as social proof. This is a phenomenon that occurs when you assume that the actions of others reflect the correct behaviour for the situation. Basically, we want to do what others are doing because it feels less risky.

For retailers, there are two main types of user-generated content that can have this effect: product comments (reviews) and media (photos/video). When used together, they can be very effective at driving ecommerce growth.

I’ll Have What She’s Having

Adding reviews to your product pages helps increase the customer’s trust in your brand, as well as your products. According to a Forrester research study, customer reviews strongly affect the purchasing decisions of 71% of consumers, and 76% are more likely to purchase a product if they see a lot of positive reviews.

Hylete, a US fitness and lifestyle brand, is doing a lot of things right when it comes to user-generated content. It’s now fairly common for ecommerce sites, but having a star rating that links to reviews from the product page is a very simple technique. It can help you improve your marketing messaging and, ultimately, increase sales.

Hylete Product Page

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

In addition to having reviews, it’s great if you can ask your customers for a picture or video of the product they purchased to help others see what the product looks like in real life. Hylete came up with a specific hashtag (#HYLETEnation) to embrace this activity on social media and created a social style gallery, which aggregates the content customers have uploaded. It automatically contacts the customer who uploaded the image to ask their permission to use it on the website and filters out inappropriate submissions.

#HYLETEnation posts
Hylete believes the social element is as important as the model image, so they’ve embedded the widget on relevant product pages as well. The results? Customers that interacted with user-generated content are 1.92x more likely to purchase than those who did not. And customers who interact with user-generated content widgets spend 15.98% more than customers who do not interact with them.

The Power of Popularity

Live visibility of what other people are buying, via something like a temporary pop-up notification, can also be very engaging. In this example, the image featured a buyer’s first name and their city to give more credibility and a sense of urgency to the promotion.
Pop-up example

Antique retailer Ruby Lane often deals with unique, one-off pieces and uses an even more powerful motivator, explaining that other shoppers currently have certain items in their shopping basket.

Ruby Lane example

Such notifications show customers how often others are buying items and can often verify their choice to make the purchase. They see that others are buying, which tends to increase the credibility and trust of a store. This functionality can also encourage customers to act fast, especially if stock is limited, driving home the power of persuasive techniques like instilling a sense of urgency or scarcity.

Satisfied customers are often your most valuable assets. Work to keep them happy, but also use them to your advantage. Request their reviews, encourage them to share your products, and then make sure other customers can see what they are saying. Not only does user-generated content add credibility and authenticity to your messages, it will help you improve your SEO, social traffic, customer loyalty and conversion rates.

For more information on Vaimo, visit our website or contact me at stephen.hill@vaimo.com.