If you want to strengthen your email marketing campaigns, taking advantage of user-generated content (UGC) is a great way to build customer loyalty and increase engagement. According to a much-publicised report from digital marketing company Tint, emails containing UGC improve click-through rates by about 73 percent and also generate more conversions (1).

While many brands reserve UGC for their social media channels, an increasing number of brands are using it to boost email marketing results. The following guide looks at why using UGC in emails is so effective, and offers tips on how to incorporate more UGC in your email campaigns.

Why Is UGC Effective in Email Marketing?

It’s no secret that people trust other consumers more than they trust brands. In one survey of over 2,000 consumers, the majority of respondents saw UGC as the most authentic type of content. Of those surveyed, 79 percent said that UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, whereas only 12 percent felt the same way about brand-created content (2).

When people see other consumers using a product or talking positively about a brand, it has the same powerful effect as word-of-mouth marketing. Ultimately, UGC makes consumers trust your brand more.

UGC is also cost effective. As consumers create the content, all you have to do is find it and then include it in your campaigns. With increased click-through rates and conversions driven by UGC, you can expect a higher return on investment per every email sent.

Finally, using UGC encourages more of your audience to share their own content, which generates more content for you to use in future email campaigns. According to Tint’s 2022 report, 91 percent of consumers said they were more likely to share content about a brand when they saw the brand re-sharing customer content (3).

Five Ways to Incorporate UGC in Email Marketing Campaigns

It’s clear that UGC is an effective email marketing tool, but how do marketers include UGC in their emails to stand out from the competition? Here are five ideas on how to use UGC in your future email campaigns:

  1. Build a Community Around Your Brand

UGC doesn’t have to be all about your products or services. Consumers want to feel a connection with the brand they do business with, and they also want to feel like they’re part of a wider community of like-minded individuals.

According to a recent study, almost two-thirds of consumers (64 percent) are now belief-driven buyers, basing their purchasing decisions on a brand’s position on social or political issues (4).

To help create a sense of community around your brand, use email content to promote your brand’s values, purpose, and culture. What social or political issues resonate with your target audience? Ask your audience to post social media images based on your brand’s values and share the UGC in future email campaigns.

  1. Include Photos of Customers Using Your Products

Photos of customers enjoying your products or services are a great way to build a connection between customers and your brand. This type of UGC not only helps to build your brand’s community but also demonstrates that your customers are happy with your products.

Customer photos can also help to boost email click-through rates. In the Tint study, 62 percent of consumers said they were more likely to click on an image in an email when it’s a customer photo, rather than an image created by the brand. For this reason, consider turning customer-created images into clickable links that direct readers to a specific product page or one of your social media channels.

  1. Organize UGC According to Different Audience Segments

Personalization in email marketing is key to engaging subscribers and increasing customer loyalty. At the very least, you should segment your email list according to different demographics such as location, age, gender, occupation, and family status. You can take it further by dividing your list into smaller groups based on customer interests, past purchases, or length of subscription.

Segmented lists make UGC an even more powerful tool. When you divide your list into smaller groups, you can insert UGC that reflects the circumstances, preferences, and purchasing habits of each group, making your messages more personalized and relevant.

  1. Insert Customer Reviews and Testimonials

UGC also includes customer testimonials and reviews, which you can use in your emails to guide consumer purchase decisions and gain trust. Around 72 percent of consumers trust reviews and testimonials more than brand-created content (3), so it’s a good idea to include them in emails whenever possible.

By highlighting positive feedback from actual customers, you’re effectively reassuring potential customers that your products or services can help solve their problems. To enhance the authenticity of reviews and testimonials, include photos of the people who made the comments.

  1. Use Contests to Collect UGC

While some brands have customers that share content without even being asked, it’s not always that easy. This is where contests come into play. Contests are a great incentive for customers to share images and videos of themselves using your products or services. Offering a small prize such as a free gift or discount is often enough to encourage people to submit content.

Use your social media channels to promote contests, and also send out the details of the contest to email subscribers. Simply clarify the rules and specify where participants should share their content, such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. To extend the reach of your contest, urge people to use a branded hashtag related to your business. This will also make it easier to find UGC.

Before running a contest, don’t forget to check the promotional guidelines on whichever social channel you’re using. Also, ensure that everyone who enters your contest has been clearly informed via the terms and conditions that you intend to use and publish submissions.

Ask for Permission Before Sharing UGC

It’s important to ask for permission before you share any content created by your audience, and always give credit to the original content creator. Send people a message via social media comments saying that you love their content, and ask if you can use it in promotional material. Most people won’t mind if you ask nicely. Apart from being your legal responsibility to get people’s permission and credit the content creator, it’s also about respecting the privacy of consumers and maintaining your brand’s integrity.

Final Thoughts

If you want to keep your emails fresh and engage more subscribers, incorporating UGC in your email marketing campaigns is a great place to start. As an increasing number of consumers depend on real customer reviews and recommendations, it’s more important than ever for brands to include UGC in emails and across other digital marketing channels.

In a competitive digital marketplace, it’s crucial to remember that you’re selling to real people who want more from brands than simple sales messages. Today’s consumers want to feel connected to the brands they support and feel part of a wider community with a common interest. For this reason, UGC is one of the most effective ways to connect on a more emotional level with prospects, build brand trust, and foster customer loyalty.

Sources:

  1. tintup.com/blog/the-user-generated-content-marketing-stats-you-need-to-know-in-2022/
  2. socialmediatoday.com/news/survey-reveals-that-ugc-can-drive-improved-trust-and-loyalty-for-ecommerce/606801/
  3. prnewswire.com/news-releases/tints-state-of-user-generated-content-2022-report-ugc-and-engagement-roi-central-to-marketing-strategies-this-year-301459518.html
  4. edelman.com/news-awards/two-thirds-consumers-worldwide-now-buy-beliefs

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