The Email Marketer’s Guide to User Generated Content

Email marketing remains one of the most powerful channels available to marketers today.

However, standing out in a crowded inbox is becoming increasingly challenging. After all, 333.2 billion emails are sent and received each day. A number which continues to grow.

Fortunately, user generated content (UGC) provides a creative solution for marketers. Offering an authentic, relatable, and highly engaging tactic that resonates with target consumers.

In this guide, we’ll explore the concept of user generated content, its psychology, and how it can be used to improve email marketing strategies. From creating authenticity and building trust to boosting engagement and generating sales, we’ll provide actionable email marketing tips and examples of successful UGC campaigns to help you make the most of this strategy.

Whether you’re an email marketing and UGC pro, or new to this concept, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and expertise to take your marketing to the next level.

  1. What is user generated content?
  2. The psychology of user generated content
  3. How can user generated content improve your results?
  4. Email marketing and UGC use cases
  5. Next steps

What is user generated content?

User generated content (UGC) refers to content that is created by individuals outside of a business or brand, that showcases or promotes the brand in some capacity.

This can include written reviews and ratings, photos, videos, and even audio, and is usually created by customers, followers, influencers, and brand ambassadors.

Whilst UGC originally began as fairly amateur-quality content, it has since evolved to include professional-grade images, engaging videos, and well-crafted content campaigns that align to the poster and brand’s identity.

However, it’s important that UGC still retains its key attribute of authenticity, making it more influential than traditional brand advertising. It shouldn’t come across as a direct advertisement, but more as a personal recommendation to other consumers considering a purchase. 

The psychology of user generated content

UGC offers a more powerful option to conventional brand marketing, with 84% of consumers being more likely to trust a brand’s marketing campaign if it features UGC, and 40% of global shoppers agreeing that UGC makes them more likely to buy a product from an ad.

Part of its power comes from tapping into the psychology of social proof and authenticity.

Social proof refers to the psychological phenomenon where people rely on the actions and options of others to guide their own behaviour. So, when people see others like or approve of a product or service, they’re more likely to do the same.

UGC provides social proof for brands and businesses as it shows real people having positive experiences with their products and services, which goes on to create a sense of trust and credibility for potential customers.

Authenticity is another psychological factor which makes UGC so powerful.

Consumers are more likely to trust and engage with content that feels genuine and relatable. UGC is often seen as more authentic than brand-created content, as it comes from real, relatable people with real, relatable experiences.

This authenticity can create a stronger emotional connection between the brand and its audience, leading to increased loyalty, engagement, and purchases.

Another psychological factor that UGC taps into is the need for self-expression and validation.

People enjoy sharing their experiences and opinions online, and UGC offers a platform for them to do so as much as they desire. By encouraging users to share their own content, brands can tap into this desire for self-expression and create a sense of community around their products or services.

This can lead to increased engagement, as users feel they are part of a larger conversation and have a voice in shaping the brand’s identity.

Lastly, UGC can also trigger the psychological phenomenon of reciprocity.

When people receive something of value, they feel compelled to reciprocate by giving something back. By showcasing UGC and giving credit to the creators, brands are acknowledging and rewarding their customers and fans for their contributions. This goes on to create a sense of goodwill and gratitude among an audience, making them more likely to engage with the brand in the future.

How can user generated content improve your results?

UGC is not only more influential than traditional advertising, but it’s also free, authentic, and engaging. As well as these, there are numerous benefits to UGC that can pay off big for brands and their results:

Creates authenticity

By featuring UGC, brands can showcase how real people use their products in real situations.

This tactic helps to create authenticity for a brand, enabling them to promote their products and services without coming across as disingenuous or sales-y.

Authenticity has proven to be important for consumers. For instance, 84% of millennials consider UGC to be influential in their purchasing decisions. And social media is reported to be the primary source of inspiration for almost half of Gen Z, even more so than their family and friends.

And in general, consumers tend to consider peer recommendations more authentic compared to brand advertising. In fact, 85% of consumers turn to visual UGC rather than branded content when deciding what to buy.

Builds trust

In the increasingly competitive landscape of eCommerce, trust is crucial to building a loyal customer base. And UCG plays a vital role in establishing trust and credibility.

78% of shoppers trust the opinions of other customers, making product reviews a significant factor in their purchasing decisions. Furthermore, ‘lifestyle’ UGC is particularly effective by showing consumers a glimpse into how a product can enhance their lives.

By showcasing products in real-life situations, shoppers can envision how a product will fit into their daily schedule, wardrobe, or skincare routine.

Combining this type of UGC with reviews and ratings generates a powerful combination that drives engagement and reinforces the product’s quality through social proof.

Boosts engagement

Traditionally, a sense of community has been lacking in marketing.

However, UCG can foster a sense of community and spark conversation between customers and brands, leading to higher engagement rates. In fact, when UGC is incorporated alongside typical marketing content, content receives 28% more engagement.

It’s a customer’s desire for connection which drives this increase in engagement.

Post-pandemic, the purchasing journey became increasingly impersonal. Now, customers want to engage with brands through a variety of marketing channels.

Generates sales

Research has shown that incorporating UGC into your marketing strategy results in a 144% increase in conversion rates, and a 162% increase in revenue per visitor.

Impressive, right?

Furthermore, 74% of consumers agree that UGC, particularly customers’ photos, can have an influence on their purchasing decisions. As a result, brands can expect a 29% average increase in web conversions when they integrate UGC into their marketing.

Offers insights

Audience insights are invaluable to any brand, but can be tricky to come across.

By regularly engaging with customers and analysing the content they generate, brands can gain insights into their brand sentiment online. This approach not only allows brands to improve their customer interactions but also make necessary product and service changes based on customer feedback.

Moreover, UGC such as ratings and reviews contain valuable information. If you frequently experience customer reviews with similar feedback, you can identify how to use this insight to improve your products.

Email marketing and UGC use cases

UGC and email marketing are powerful tools in their own right, but when used together, they can create a highly effective marketing strategy. Here are five ways that UGC and email marketing can be combined:

Generating UGC through email

Email offers the perfect channel to gather UGC from your audience. In fact, 83% of consumers prefer businesses to contact them through email over any other channel.

So, once a consumer has interacted with your brand, whether that be a purchase or through your customer support, simply ask them for feedback. This could be in the form of an NPS survey to identify whether they would recommend you to their peers, or more in-depth reviews and ratings.

This UGC can then be utilised in your email campaigns and wider marketing activity, which we’ll go onto discuss.

Not only is this approach beneficial to your brand, but it also makes the customer feel valued by being able to input and influence your business decisions.

Promoting products and services

Your customers can be your best product promoters.

They offer objective opinions, new product shots and videos, benefits that you may not have realised, and reassurance to your audience.

You can start simply by incorporating star reviews and ratings into your emails to promote the benefits of specific products.

However, social media platforms like Instagram have made great photography more accessible than ever. So, encourage your users to post about your products on their social media channels with the use of a hashtag or tagging.

In return, offer a feature in your email campaigns. This is a great way to get your customers involved and provide free content for your emails.

Building trust in your offering

Incorporating UGC into your email marketing strategies is an effective way to establish credibility, confidence, and trust with your target audience.

By consistently featuring UGC in your email communications, you are repeatedly demonstrating that many customers have already put their faith in your brand and had a positive buying experience.

You can choose to keep it straightforward by highlighting a star rating from your Trustpilot page, or you can showcase individual customers and their unique stories to add more depth and authenticity to your messaging.

Encouraging recipients to finish their purchase

According to Baymard Institute, nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned, with the figure increasing to over 85% for mobile devices.

To combat this trend, implementing a well-crafted abandoned cart campaign into your email marketing can go a long way to boosting conversion rates by nudging and reminding potential customers to complete their purchase.

This is an opportune moment to incorporate UGC into the mix. By utilising dynamic content, businesses can showcase the specific items left in the customer’s cart, alongside reviews from satisfied buyers.

This reinforces the quality and benefits of the products and serves as an incentive for the customer to complete the purchase.

Building a community

In today’s digital landscape, fostering a sense of connection between customers and the brand, as well as among fellow customers, is crucial.

UGC can play a vital role in strengthening customer relationships through email marketing.

By incorporating UGC in your email strategy, you can create a more immersive experience that allows consumers to envision themselves using your products and feeling even more connected to your community.

This approach helps to add a personal touch to your messaging as well as deepening customer engagement with your brand.

Next steps

As we’ve covered in this guide, there are various ways to blend these impactful marketing channels, ranging from basic to more sophisticated approaches.

Apart from creating compelling email marketing campaigns, it’s essential to know how to effectively capture and share UGC to maximise the potential of both of these channels.

If you’re not sure where to begin, or don’t have the necessary resources to elevate your email marketing strategies, then why not get in touch with the experts?

Feel free to reach out to our friendly team at Jarrang for advice, support, and email marketing tips. We’re always available to lend a helping hand.