Your sales funnel needs to be as effective and strategic as possible if you’re to nudge your customers from the top to the bottom—so they’ll convert.
User-generated content (UGC) helps since you’re leveraging content created by others. This is the kind of social proof your customers love. It persuades them to keep moving through your funnel toward buying your product.
Research backs this up. Consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content when making a purchasing decision, and almost 80% of consumers say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.
In this article we’ll look at what exactly UGC is, why your sales funnel needs it and how you can easily include UGC through your funnel.
What is UGC?
SImply put, user-generated content is content that has been created by your customers on different channels.
It comes in many forms, for example reviews, images, videos, podcasts and more. It’s content customers create to talk about your products.
Why your sales funnel needs UGC
While it’s true that every sales funnel is different, the overriding objective remains the same: To move your customers along until they reach the crucial decision stage and make a purchase.
Here are a few reasons you should add UGC to your funnel:
UCG acts as social proof
Try as hard as you can, your old marketing campaigns won’t convince everyone to trust and do business with your brand in 2022.
Instead, you need to use tactics such as social proof in the form of UGC. When people see others buying and enjoying your products and services, and endorsing these, it increases confidence in your brand and they too are more likely to purchase.
UGC saves resources
The customer journey takes time and much content is required to move people from the awareness stage to the evaluation stage, and finally to the decision stage. Even then there’s still work to do with sales, CRM, and maybe even remarketing.
UGC can take a lot of the burden from your company's resourcds because most of the heavy lifting is done by your customers.
UGC is diverse and varied
UGC is created by different people who each have their own unique take on things, so it expands your creative output online. It also showcases your wider customer base and helps other customers identify with the different people who are buying your products.
UGC is the way forward
UGC is an especially effective marketing strategy for younger shoppers, with 64% of Gen Z and 60% of Millenials saying they’ve left an ecommerce website without purchasing because there were no customer photos or reviews. The last thing you want to do is forget about them in your brand’s sales funnel.
How to incorporate user-generated content into your sales funnel
Adding UGC to your sales funnel doesn’t need to be tricky.
Here are some ways to do it at the different stages:
Add UGC to your social media (awareness stage)
The top of a sales funnel is the awareness stage. In other words, it’s the “meet our brand” stage.
Social media can play a key role here. It has a huge reach and people post tons of content so it’s a great way to get your brand better known. By adding UGC to your social media channels you can introduce new customers to your brand with proof that your brand and products are popular.
Customers just like them are already buying your products—and they’re also loving them.
Image source: Instagram
Add UGC to paid ads and emails (evaluation stage)
Paid ads are tailor-made for sales funnels because they allow you to create segmented campaigns that are split according to user intent.
According to research, using UGC photos in Instagram and Facebook ad campaigns can generate an increase of up to 50% in click-through rates over brand generated images, leading to a 5x return on ad spend.
During the evaluation stage, customers will compare your brand with other brands. By adding a level of authenticity to paid ads, you will build more trust with your customers and ramp up their level of desire. You can also tweak paid ads for each stage of the sales funnel.
The same goes for your email marketing campaigns throughout your sales funnels. Try to choose specific UGC that’s relevant to each personalized email you send to the subscribers on your list.
Buffalo Wings ran an ad based entirely on UGC showing people during lockdown playing sports in the absence of live sporting events.
Add UGC to your website (decision stage)
During the decision stage of the funnel, customers will spend more time on your website interacting with your brand. It’s also while on your website that they’ll likely make their final decision and (hopefully) convert.
As such, by adding UGC to your website, you’re in a good position to close the deal with them.
You could, for example, add videos or images to your website that showcase how users are styling or using your products.
Eureka furniture store’s page “This is how we look in real life” shows images of furniture styled by customer and also offers entry to a prize draw for those who post a tagged photo on Instagram. (More on this later!)
Image source: Eureka
You can also add photos to your product pages, showing new customers what the product looks like on real people.
Image source: Lulus
Ways to encourage UGC from customers
A 2020 study showed that 58% of respondents generated more content, including video and written reviews, compared to the previous year. This means there are increasingly more opportunities for your company to collect UGC from your customers. Here’s how:
Run a contest
A contest is one of the best ways to start a UGC campaign because it encourages all your existing customers to get involved - and may also bring in new people keen to participate.
Image source: Twitter
It works like this: You create and promote a contest across your social media channels and offer an incentive for the winners, such as a discount or a free gift.
The premise of your contest must be something simple, such as your customers sharing and promoting pics of themselves using your products on their social media profiles.
Don’t forget, it’s essential to create and provide a customized hashtag so you can track all posts.
When someone has purchased a product or service from you, it’s a great time to ask them to leave a review or to provide feedback. Many companies include this as part of their email sequence either within the order acknowledgment or with a follow-up a few days after purchase.
Most people will now look for reviews before purchasing, so the more positive comments you can get the more chance you have to win over new customers.
Share your UGC
We’ve already looked at adding UGC to your social media profiles and website. But it’s also important that you share it in other ways so that existing customers are aware that they too can create content for you.
For instance, you can add UGC to your social media while tagging or retweeting the creators. This will encourage others to get involved and post their pics even if it isn’t part of a contest.
Image soure: Twitter
It’s important to make sure you have the user’s consent before using their content for your active marketing. It may be harmful to your brand if you use something without permission.
If you’re asking for content, such as with a social media competition, most people understand their content will be used, but it’s useful to include this in your terms.
All Nippon Airways recently ran a competition asking for people’s ANA stories to celebrate their 70th anniversary.
Their follow-up tweet states how the content will be used, and provides a link to their terms.
Image source: Twitter
If you want to repost someone’s content for your brand’s promotional efforts, it’s best to reach out with a direct message asking for permission. And don’t forget to credit the creator if you do use their content.
Strengthening your sales funnel with UGC
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of the role UGC can play, and you’re now excited to add it to your sales funnel.
Just remember that UGC is all about creating meaningful relationships with your customers to the point where they actively want to participate and share content about your brand.
Naturally, none of this is possible unless you’re good at engaging with them in the first place. If you can build your reputation as a friendly, positive and interactive brand that encourages customer feedback, you’ll be in a stronger position to secure UGC to help promote your brand and aid conversions through your sales funnel.