User generated content in the form of consumer comments, reviews, photos, and popular lists help online retailers bridge the gap between user and screen. User generated content (UGC) is invaluable in e-commerce marketing. The physical to digital disconnect is recognized to be one of the biggest challenges e-commerce businesses face because while many consumers do subscribe to online trade, many are still reluctant to trust their purchases and transactions in the hands of machines. This is especially true for large purchases.
UGC as an e-commerce strategy leverages fan engagement by repurposing content that is created by actual consumers to drive marketing efforts and sales. This turns consumers into powerful brand advocates promoting products and services through different types of organic content that they create. These include ratings, reviews, comments, photos, videos, and more. While some forms of user-generated content are still in their formative period, reviews and ratings have long been around and used by businesses to gain insight about their consumers and how they receive products. Consumers in turn learn whether or not to trust a business with their money, thus influencing their behavior towards that particular brand. It is for these reasons that UGC is dubbed as the Holy Grail and the future of e-commerce.
In the same way that no one understands your business like you do, no one understands consumers better than other consumers. This is why they make the best content engine for e-commerce sites and other consumer engagement platforms. However, like any other marketing strategy, user-generated content has its unique challenges. One particular issue UGC creates is duplicate content. Though consumers’ use of duplicate content may not be deliberate, this sometimes causes copyright problems and indexing issues for search engines. To make things even more challenging, user-generated duplicate content can be very difficult to control but it is not without a good fix.
To avoid this issue, you can put a notice on your pages requesting users not to post repeat/duplicate content and that any such posting will be removed from the site as you deem appropriate. You may also put a reminder saying that users who illegally infringe copyright rules on your site will be barred. Inform your users that once notified, duplicate content will be removed from your pages as soon as possible. So, you can keep your pages safe from penalties before owners of the duplicated content takes further action, which may harm your site.
This, however, should not slow you down from using UGC as a major business driver for your e-commerce site. Here are other ways you can use content generated by users to your advantage:
- Use UGC as social proof that provides consumers with valid and legitimate social cues about your products, services, and your business in the overall. This fills the significant gap between the physical world and the digital world, which hinder many consumers from subscribing to online trade.
- Use UGC for merchandizing. People are into products that fit perfectly into their life. Seeing other consumers incorporate your products into their everyday life adds to the sense of tangibility that online products and services often lack.
- Use UGC to build trust. User-generated content help you build trust with and gain the confidence of consumers in buying your products or subscribing to your business. UGC works even better than word-of-mouth marketing in that it provides solid evidence that other consumers sincerely like your brand and use your products.
- Use UGC to get the pulse of your consumers and leverage their reviews to improve consumer satisfaction and product quality.
- Use UGC to celebrate fans. Incentivize user-generated content on different platforms that you use by hosting promotions and contests directed at avid fans who help you gain business organically.