March 11, 2023

How To Add User Generated Content (UGC) To Your E-Commerce Website

Dan Stepchew

One of the most effective ways to influence a purchase - if not THE most effective - is the power of "social proof" in marketing.

Social proof is another way of saying to your visitors, "the claims being made by my brand about its products or services are true" because of actual customers who share their genuine experience with it. Without social proof, the credibility of your product or brand is at risk. According to Hubspot, 58% of North American consumers say they don't trust online advertising, search engine results, banner ads, videos, and emails. However, 91% trust recommendations from other people they know and 70% trust opinions posted online by people they don't know.

That's a huge discrepancy!

Here are 5 ways to add user generated content (UGC) to your ecommerce site today:

  1. Ask For & Publish Reviews
  2. Build Testimonial Pages
  3. Include 'As Seen On' Logos
  4. Write Case studies For the Blog
  5. Add Customer Generated Content

What is "Social Proof?"

According to the same Hubspot article, the term 'Social Proof' was first coined by a psychologist named Robert Cialdini, "as a way of describing how people respond when they don't know how to act in a particular situation." Once a person reaches their limits in personal experience, knowledge, or gut instinct, the next place to turn is to look for other people with experience to help guide their decision.

Based on the study, Cialdini referenced the use of laugh tracks in television shows as a scientifically-proven way to increase the level of perceived humor for the audience. Humans are social creatures, and this stuff is powerful - and there is a network effect: the more people who share an opinion, the more powerful it becomes. Ever heard of the 'herd mentality?'

How to Grow Social Proof Using UGC

Social proof comes in many forms, from one extreme: basic word of mouth to another: celebrity endorsements. It can come from organic social media posts about good or bad experiences with your brand or products. It can be in the form of news about the investors who have validated your market fit in the form of a capital endorsement. It's the reason logos are displayed prominently on expensive clothing or cars. The list goes on and on, but how do you harness the power of social proof on your ecommerce website? Here are 5 key tactics:

1. Ask For And Publish Reviews

Social proof takes on many forms, with the majority of sites using ratings and reviews platforms to give existing customers an easy way to share their experiences. Reviews have been around for a long time now, and they have become table stakes for anyone seeking sell online. Accoring to Brightlocal, 98% of people read online reviews when researching businesses. That's basically everyone. So if you don't have reviews displayed on your product pages then this is the lowest hanging fruit for social proof.

Amazon is as much a reviews platform as a shopping platform

There are several platforms that offer ratings and reviews, with integrated ways to send messages to customers asking them to review a purchase. If you want something simple that checks the boxes, you can enable this feature with just about every single eCommerce platform available today as part of their core offering.

More often than not - it's tempting to monitor reviews on your products and to hide or remove the negative experiences. The prevalence of merchants whose products receive perfect scores has given reviews a bad name. 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don't see bad scores. This has become quite prevalent online and according to the Baymard Institute, "Given users' extreme distrust for site-provided reviews on DTC sites, finding third-party feedback from external sources serves to verify the accuracy of the brand's claims and is generally regarded as more trustworthy."

2. Build Testimonial Pages

Testimonials are some of the oldest and most common forms of social proof. You'd never be able to watch an old infomercial on television as a kid and miss at least 5 references to "real people" who benefited from the product being sold.

Hair Club For Men Testimonials: More hair, less sleeves.

Today's use of testimonials online are a bit more nuanced, but the premise is the same. A lot of brands will recruit top influencers from the communities they serve to build 'ambassador' programs and feature interviews on their pages. Here's an example from Stio. Here's another one featuring me providing a testimonial of my own.

A testimonial can come in many forms, from a single quote in a well-placed landing page to a video testimonial featuring a customer's entire experience with your product or service. Success stories, interviews, and long-form media will all work well here. Whatever it is, even the simplest of testimonials add immense value to your message. Based on a comprehensive A/B test highlighted here on a testimonial published by VWO, 3 small quotes placed on a landing page increased purchases by 34%.

3. Include 'As Seen On' Logos

As I mentioned above, credibility comes in many forms - including media mentions from major publications, especially if those publications have perceived authority for your customer segment. This would be like getting on "Oprah's Book of the Month Club" as an author, or "GQ Recommends" for men's fashion brands.

A brand built for men benefits immensely from a quote from Men'sHealth

Brands that can reference logos from 3rd party publications or other well known businesses (in the case of B2B products or services) are brands that have a massive leg up on the competition. Using authoritative logos as social proof provides a subtle but highly effective method for persuasion in what's been called a 'halo effect.' Just by making the association (even without a hyperlink to the source, which is morally questionable), you are immediately raising the bar for how your products are perceived by your target audience.

Example of "as seen on" logos on a website's homepage.

4. Write Case Studies For The Blog

Many eCommerce stores neglect the use of long form case studies in their marketing, and I think it's to their detriment. According to an eMarketer survey, case studies are the most beneficial for generating leads.

You shouldn't dismiss the effectiveness of case studies, even if you're an eCommerce brand! Consumer facing success stories can be incredibly powerful. Just take a quick look at your analytics and you'll see that the longer someone stays on your website, the likelihood that they purchase increases exponentially. If you can get someone to read a case study, the chances that they will eventually purchase something or fill out a form will increase in dramatic fashion.

Find your best customers and ask them to participate in an interview process. Start with an email and follow up with recorded phone calls or videos with as much detail as possible.

Hubspot has 333+ Case Studies Like This

People love a good story - so write your case studies in a story format that resonates with your target audience. Start with the problem that is shared across your customer segment, small details about how bad the problem was for them, how they discovered you, and end with how your product or service solved that problem. Be sure to check out Hubspot's directory of case studies for some really good inspiration.

5. Add 'Customer' Generated Content

Since the beginning of the human experience, the desire for acceptance and trust from one's peers and community has evolved to be one of the strongest drivers of behavior for all of us. As I mentioned above, we are social creatures, and one way we build credibility is by providing our friends with a 'secret' that they can use to improve their own social status. This happens when teens share new music, when mothers share parenting secrets, and when your customers share your product or services with their peers. If you have a good product or service, this will happen organically.

Using Jellee, you can supercharge this organic process and scale up these peer-to-peer messages directly on your product pages - right up there with your product images. When you sign up with Jellee you can survey your customers and ask them to share their experiences directly on your website - so there's no need to go out digging into social networks to find good content to post.

Better yet, over time the platform will automatically optimize each gallery of customer posts so that the best performing content appears more often, which indicates that it's more effective social proof and will drive up your conversion rate.

Jellee is like adding influencers on social media directly to your website with minimal effort

Not feeling great about asking customers to post on your website? Jellee "gamifies" the video testimonial process by allowing you to provide incentives for the customer affiliates whose posts lead others to purchase a product. You can issue payments as gift cards or turn on Venmo or Bank transfers to pay out cash commissions. It's an incredible way to accomplish everything you need in social proof from above with the efficiency you need in an ecommerce business.

Want to give it a try? We're accepting a very small number of merchants who are selling incredible products during our BETA phase. Request an invite today!

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