Should user-generated content move beyond product pages?

Discussion
Source: zappos.com
Aug 02, 2017
Glenn Taylor

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

As many as 90 percent of shoppers report that user-generated content (UGC) influences their purchase decisions, according to a survey from TurnTo and Ipsos. The impact of UGC outranks all other forms of marketing, including:

  • Search engines (87 percent);
  • Promotional emails (79 percent);
  • Display ads (76 percent); and
  • Social media (63 percent).

With UGC having such a powerful effect on shopper influence, retailers must understand exactly how to leverage this content to maximize its effectiveness. Jim Davidson, director of research at TurnTo Networks, noted that online merchants should expand their use of UGC beyond product pages.

“When people think of ratings, reviews, Q&As and product photos, they’ll typically think of where all that fits in on the product page,” said Mr. Davidson. “Retailers really need to expand that view. They can take a slow stroll down that purchase path and really look at each moment in the consumer experience and figure out how UGC can fit into that. If you have a first-time site visitor, maybe you’ll want to showcase your products through a page that has customer photos on it, to show them how customers are using your product.”

Mr. Davidson also recommended communicating with shoppers that have purchased from the brand already, so that they can share photos and videos displaying how they use the product.

User-generated content appears to brighten up several aspects of the shopper experience:

  • Sixty-three percent believe UGC creates a more authentic shopping experience;
  • Seventy-three percent say UGC increases their purchasing confidence; and
  • Sixty-one percent report UGC encourages them to engage with brands.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should e-commerce sites expand the use of user-generated content beyond product pages? Where else on the purchase path do you see opportunities to showcase user comments, photos or videos?

Braintrust
"I am seeing more and more retailers and CPG brands leverage UGC not just online, but also in print catalogs."
"Ultimately content will only be truly user-generated when customers are allowed to get ahead of the process and into areas such as product co-design."
"In our proprietary research with clients, we have reached the same conclusions about UGC as the studies cited in the article."

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13 Comments on "Should user-generated content move beyond product pages?"

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Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

This, to me, is a no-brainer. Authenticity drives conversions like nothing else, and UGC is the holy grail of authenticity. Promote UGC at every opportunity …

Chris Petersen, PhD.
BrainTrust

Amazon built its empire on the backs of UGC — customer reviews, customer photos, videos and the ever expanding Q&A.

But as Glenn Taylor suggests, most of the UGC has been very product-centric. Retailers and marketers should be moving to UGC 2.0 to expand and augment the customer experience before, during and after the sale.

Speaking of augmenting the experience, there are a host of new opportunities becoming available to use Augmented Reality to deliver and enhance UGC both in-store and online.

As with everything in the world of marketing, there needs to be the appropriate filters and approval in place. The last thing a brand can afford is inappropriate UGC content going live and out of control.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust

Consumers today know how to find every bit of information about a product before making the purchase. However, e-commerce sites would be wise to not only show product information but the product in use when possible. I agree that having customers who bought the product sharing personal information is an excellent idea. Today the impact of social media sharing customers’ opinions about a product or their experience with the company they purchased from is very strong.

So if an e-commerce company created a product page with information, customer testimonials and videos showing the product in use along with zooming features and “live chat” to have questions answered, that would help keep the consumer focused on the site without looking elsewhere. That should help increase sales, if the e-commerce company satisfies the customer with enough useful information that entices them to make the purchase.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

I am seeing more and more retailers and CPG brands leverage UGC not just online, but also in print catalogs. A well-known landscaping power tool manufacturer is among the best I’ve seen by inviting users to meet for professional photo shoots outdoors using their products. Really great stuff. It looks very genuine.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

I’m going to vote no on this, even though we’ve done research that shows that to young people, a peer review is more important than touch and feel as well as same-day delivery. Reason for the no? Customers can only tell you what they know. It takes a merchant or visionary to give/tell them something they’ll like in the future. And the same holds true with marketing content. Would a customer have come up with “Just Do It”? What’s the Henry Ford quote? “If I would’ve asked my customers what they wanted, I would’ve given them a faster horse.”

Where UGC is sorely lacking though is in-store. Why aren’t peer reviews more available in the physical environment? The only retailer doing that now is Amazon. That should tell you something.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Yes, Lee, you are so right. Encourage and use UGC, but throw in the merchant’s voice also to give them great ideas and build even more loyalty to the brand. That’s the winning combination that makes the consumer feel more a part of the brand.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Ultimately content will only be truly user-generated when customers are allowed to get ahead of the process and into areas such as product co-design and development. Bringing them along at the marketing stage feels a bit inauthentic to me and will certainly raise the hackles on the necks of late-Millennials and Gen Zers. Commentary is fine, and I’m not suggesting that user comments, photos, etc. don’t have a critical role going forward, but while they are necessary they aren’t sufficient to deliver a complete UGC experience.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

There is really no downside to using UGC more and more — any retailer not embracing UGC at every stage of the purchase cycle is destined to lose revenue! The opportunity is huge, not just online but in physical stores as well — whether through print signage (think Amazon Books), interactive digital signage or, even more interesting, through augmented reality apps. Retailers should be falling over themselves to better leverage UGC as there is no doubt consumers of all generations are taking a page from the Millennial playbook and looking for authentic product reviews and consumer voice opinions on products before they make a purchase decision.

Cristian Grossmann
BrainTrust

Our sales rely heavily on how our existing customers are using our platform. Putting their use cases in case studies shows potential customers ways to use your products that you may not have thought of that are incredibly useful. I don’t see why retail should be any different. Put these reviews in more places and let your customers sell for you.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
BrainTrust

The impact of negative comments on products and services far outweigh the benefits of positive ones. So does a communications approach that costs sales and credibility have a place in the marketing plan? I think not. Consumers expect that UGC is curated and so the benefit is in framing positive experiences of product use. Photos speak a thousand words as do stories of overcoming challenges and so these deserve to be amplified online and in-store. When Apple posted photos that had been taken with an iPhone on billboards it made a positive brand impression and generated excellent PR. Neutralize the bad and amplify the good UGC.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

The traditional marketing funnel is now an hourglass ending in advocacy by consumers. Figuring out how to generate advocacy and how to use the comments is critical for success in today’s world. It means you have to pay attention to what consumers are saying, figure out how to generate relevant comments and spread positive comments. This complicates marketing and social media activity but is very important for today’s consumers.

Martin Mehalchin
BrainTrust

In our proprietary research with clients, we have reached the same conclusions about UGC as the studies cited in the article. I see this as a must-do for retailers. I also agree with Lee Peterson that the use of UGC should extend beyond the site toward the in-store experience; whether that means featuring UGC in old fashioned visual merchandising or bringing it to life via blended digital/physical experiences.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Customer reviews and UGC can be — and should be — everywhere, from the product pages, to the front page of the retailer’s website, social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. and more. And, they will also show up on review sites as well. Anywhere it fits. Video testimonials (YouTube) are extremely powerful. Where should UGC/customer reviews be posted … everywhere!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I am seeing more and more retailers and CPG brands leverage UGC not just online, but also in print catalogs."
"Ultimately content will only be truly user-generated when customers are allowed to get ahead of the process and into areas such as product co-design."
"In our proprietary research with clients, we have reached the same conclusions about UGC as the studies cited in the article."

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