How to acquire and retain customers with UGC

7th Feb 2017

User generated content consists of pretty much anything your audience creates that is related to your company. This includes product reviews published on your website or 3rd party platforms, pictures or videos shared on social media, survey responses or content generated during a Q&A session. In other words, that's a lot of content generated for free specifically for your company. 

Savvy brands can leverage user generated content to acquire new customers, and retain existing ones. If you haven’t been maximizing the potential of UGC, the following tips can definitely help you get started.

Build Relationships By Encouraging UGC Early in The Funnel

Modcloth and other brands have done an amazing  job of encouraging customers to share photos and experiences. This is wonderful, as it creates engagement, and encourages customers who have made at least one purchase to endorse the company through their sharing.

Just be sure you aren’t missing opportunities to engage with user generated content earlier in the sales funnel. Here’s an example:

You run a healthy food delivery service. Your target audience is health conscious people who don’t have time to cook balanced meals for themselves. Obviously, you dould reach out to people who are meeting their health and fitness goals by using your products, but why not reach out to folks who are just getting started.

In this case, you could get people to share before pictures, talk about their motivations, and contribute content about how your brand encouraged them to make important lifestyle changes. What a great way to engage with people early in their purchasing journey.

Cosmetic companies, home decorators, remodeling companies, etc. are just a few examples of companies who build relationships with new prospects via UGC.

Solicit Positive Reviews

There aren’t many things more effective than enthusiastic word of mouth when it comes to getting new customers on board. After all, Millennials and now even Gen Z are more likely to rely on word of  mouth than they are to listen to a brand’s own marketing spiel. This is why positive reviews are so important. For example, someone planning their dream vacation is going to look for unbiased hotel reviews instead of simply relying on advertising.

The challenge is getting people to leave those reviews. Unfortunately, just because a customer is happy doesn’t mean that it will cross their mind to go to Yelp or Amazon to to leave a review. This is why you have to encourage it. Link to review sites. When soliciting feedback, ask customers if they would consider providing a review or a rating.

Let Users Contribute to Your Knowledge Base

Enter the make and model of your car into Google along with a minor problem related to that car. Once you do that, there is a good chance that you will surf into a community or user forum that is absolutely dedicated to that car.

That’s great. It’s certainly great to see car enthusiasts who are interested in sharing their knowledge about  your vehicle. Now, if you were an automaker, what would you do?

A few years ago, you might have felt obligated to shun consumer’s stances in favor of your own official stance about your brand.

Thankfully now, instead of doing that companies are encouraging customers to give their insights, not just directly to corporate, but to one another.

Turn Negative Reviews Into Positive Customer Service Experiences

Anyone can receive a positive review on Yelp, and respond positively. The real challenge occurs when a business receives a complaint or negative review on such a public forum. When a business representative becomes angry or defensive, things all fall apart.

On the other hand, if a brand can handle things correctly, with whit and grace, all of that tension goes away. Even better, if the complaining party is an existing customer, a smart representative can often turn things around by offering superior customer service.

The combination of humor, humility, honesty, integrity, and giving the customer the benefit of the doubt add up to being amazing  attributes for companies who want to earn the respect and positive feedback of their customers.

An artfully handled complaint will not only satisfy the complaining party, it can have a significant impact on your branding and reputation.

Use Selective Targeting to Turn Enthusiasts Into Brand Ambassadors

If you visit the product or forums on a company’s website, you may see that some of the registered users are designated as power users or experts. These are the folks who have been identified by brand as having more knowledge and enthusiasm for their products and services than the average customers. These are usually the people who are quick to step in and help people with troubleshooting, to explain features, and even suggest new uses.

By designating them as power users, these brands know that they can harness those customers’ enthusiasm, and turn them into unpaid ambassadors and spokespeople for their products. This essentially amplifies the concept of word of  mouth.

There’s so much more to UGC than creating engagement. When used to its full potential, it is a powerful customer acquisition and retention tool.

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