Unless you’ve been living under the rock, you’re well aware of just how organically digital marketing has made its way into every brand’s business strategy in the past decade. Companies had gone from allocating huge budgets to billboards and print ads to hiring software developers and content managers to build their online presence.
This shift in the way businesses approach advertising has opened up conversations about the type of content customers engage with the most. And as it turns out, it’s not always perfectly-crafted studio media from professional photoshoots that sparks dialogue in the comments — amateur selfies from customers showcasing your product are often much more appealing.
This is where user-generated content (UGC), media created by regular customers and often shared on social media, comes in.
74% of consumers rely on social media to inform their purchasing decisions, and 41% of consumers only need to see between 1 and 4 UGC reviews in order to be influenced to purchase.
When it comes to sustainability, it’s much less wasteful to be using existing content created by others — one of many good incentives to start exploring how you can incorporate UGC into your marketing strategies.
Take a look at the other positive environmental effects of putting less emphasis on branded, studio content and a little more on content created organically by your brand’s fans:
#1 Decreased Costs Associated With Delegating Content Creation
It’s no revelation that companies tend to have substantial budgets for marketing. This is how they raise brand awareness and attract the right type of a customer. But what if you could save on marketing and invest extra dough in making your offer better instead?
Here’s where UGC comes in handy. Not only does it cost you very little in comparison (if anything at all), but it also frees up a lot of time you would otherwise have to spend on brainstorming content ideas, planning photoshoots, and waiting for the deliverables.
With others creating content for your brand, you can also repurpose and recycle it in future campaigns. Being efficient with the content you collect will prevent your company from using unnecessary resources (like fuel for traveling and any physical materials) for future campaigns.
#2 Higher Conversion Rates Fueled by Solid Social Proof
This goes hand in hand with decreased costs and the trust you instill in prospects when sharing UGC content. Can’t blame them for needing some evidence that those positive reviews aren’t fabricated, right?
Banana Republic combines visual reviews via UGC with customers’ stories to paint an all-inclusive picture of how their apparel fits and looks in real life.
The reason for high conversion rates is simple — getting an insight into how well your product works in real life and by real people is valuable for prospective customers. UGC results in 29% higher web conversions than campaigns or websites without it. It’s refreshing to see a product in action and allow your shoppers to visualize themselves as part of your brand community by being exposed to the experiences of people like them.
For many ecommerce stores, the shopper no longer has the ability to physically touch and examine a product in their own hands. Reduce the chance that your buyers will be dissatisfied with your product by using UGC to show how it really works, and you’ll end up with fewer return parcels, and happier customers.
#3 Positive Environmental Impact (Fewer Photoshoots)
Did you know that the trash that ends up polluting the oceans constitutes roughly 14 billion pounds? And that most of it features plastic in some form? Perhaps, you also didn’t know that it’s only 100 companies that contribute to 71% of global emissions that lead to global warming.
To put this into perspective, imagine the waste every company creates daily. From the seemingly harmless single-use kitchen utensils to more tangible manufacturing remainders and photoshoot decorations, there’s no end to the junk that’s not even always recycled or reused.
Aside from implementing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into your business, changing up the way you create content can be a more straightforward approach. UGC allows you to save the material resources spent on organizing professional photoshoots and, as a result, hold fewer of them, too. It’s a win-win.
Share how your company goes out of its way to reduce its negative effects on the environment, and you’ll attract the attention of sustainability advocates on social media. Finding your most eco-friendly customers with the right content is a great step in expanding your brand community.
#4 Better Authenticity and Transparency
Authenticity and success have long become synonyms in the world of business. To experience continuous growth and beat every new competitor coming in with new ideas, you ought to stay true to who you are and what you create. Well-known marketing phrase “Content is king” couldn’t have been any more relevant in this scenario.
But how do you leverage the brand image you’ve built to attract new customers and keep the old ones? Complement your customer UGC with employee-generated content and other media that shows how your company is dedicated to sustainability and transparency.
This is to be expected — people are drawn to the ‘realness’ and that human connection that comes from spotting real-life experiences plus eco-friendly awareness in the content companies put out.
Along with sharing Pixlee-powered UGC on its Instagram, footwear, and accessory brand BED|STU shares the breakdown of sustainable materials used to manufacture its eco-friendly kicks.
Don’t get it twisted — traditional content has the right to exist. It allows you to retain your brand voice and train the brand’s creative muscle so that the content you come up with aligns with your company’s mission and vision. But don’t steer clear from spicing things up and incorporating new content ideas into your existing digital marketing strategy. It’s when you’re mixing both traditional and UGC content that you can keep your audience engaged and drive revenue at the same time.
Torben Lonne is an entrepreneur, dad, scuba diver, and digital marketing geek. He is the co-founder of Divein.com, an online magazine for eco-friendly travelers.
Torben likes to write on the topics within his specialty and has been featured in media publications such as The Washington Post, Dell Technologies, Business.com, and Greenpeace to name a few.