User-Generated Content + Email: A Perfect Commerce Combination

Marketing messages light up our wrists, buzz and beep in our pockets and talk back to us in our homes. Although this may sound intrusive, it has become part of everyday life.

As marketers, we must build trust with our shoppers and customers. We must offer authentic experiences that connect on a human level and demonstrate value propositions that will, hopefully, encourage the shopper to become a customer.

Email marketing and user-generated content (UGC) are unique tools in the commerce landscape that can help to make these personal connections with consumers.  An email from your favorite retailer can be next to a message from your mom. Writing a review that includes a photo of you wearing the item requires a lot of trust in the retailer.

When email marketing and UGC work in tandem, shopper experiences are enriched and marketers can connect with consumers in unique and powerful ways.

Here are three ways you can integrate your UGC and email efforts to improve the customer journey.

Post-Purchase Perfection

Every marketer dreams of an overflowing UGC library. Making that dream a reality can be a challenge. The good news is that most consumers (72%) have submitted some form of UGC in the past. The top reasons the balance of consumers haven’t submitted UGC are “no incentive to contribute” (32%) and “too time-consuming” (28%). (Hearing the Voice of the Consumer, TurnTo, 2017)

Your post-purchase emails could help you to counteract these reasons shoppers are not participating in your UGC program. Sending a standard rating and review request email may not be enough to incentivize all of your customers.

Certain products and product categories may take longer for your customers to receive, use, assemble, consume, wear, etc. Consider adjusting your post-purchase review request email timing for these product categories so you are reaching customers when they can truly share their experiences with your product.

Extend UGC touchpoints throughout the post-purchase experience. Ask customers to answer questions about the products they have purchased or share photos of how the product was used. Placing these UGC requests at a late stage of your post-purchase email series can help to keep customers engaged, returning to your site and hopefully becoming a repeat customer.

Overcoming the Offer Onslaught

Deep discounts and free shipping have become standard fare. Shoppers expect low prices and speedy delivery. It can be a struggle to differentiate your brand when these two traditional marketing tactics have leveled out.

Many marketers will just amplify their message. Discounts and shipping offers become the primary marketing message and, especially during the holidays, saturate the inbox and online shopping experiences.

UGC provides a different way to engage with your shopper, extend your brand voice and offer more authentic shopping experiences. It can also impact purchase decisions. Eighty-one percent of shoppers say they would pay more for, and wait longer to receive, a product that featured UGC compared to a similar product with no UGC. (Hearing the Voice of the Consumer, TurnTo, 2017)

If you find the promotional messages in your emails are becoming repetitive, give your subscribers a reprieve by including quotes from reviews, star ratings instead of price points and photos submitted by customers rather than your stock product images. This strategy can be especially effective during the holidays when most retailers and brands are increasing their email cadence.

Connecting Consumer Conversations

The powerful combination of UGC and email goes beyond your post-purchase programs and promotional message reprieve. UGC, like email, offers benefits throughout every step of the customer journey.

Take your product page abandonment emails for example. Since the shopper is likely still researching the product and has a lower purchase intent when compared to a cart abandoner, using a discount as an incentive to return to your site may not be the most effective value proposition. Quotes from reviews of the product, the star rating and photos submitted by customers showing how the product was used can inspire the shopper and motivate them to return to your site.

UGC works for cart reminders, too! Consider supplementing your cart reminder messages with UGC or adding a UGC-focused email to your multi-message cart reminder strategy. While these shoppers are further down the purchase path, they may need more than a reminder or discount to buy with confidence.

Jim Davidson is Director of Research for TurnTo Networks

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