Parachute, a digitally born bedding, bath and home retailer, is an old hand at posting user-generated content (UGC) — the company even promotes its own “Instagram Shop” within its e-Commerce site, powered by the #MyParachuteHome hashtag. But this spring, the retailer discovered that its user content is marketing gold: UGC actually performed better than Parachute’s own editorial content in driving its retargeting campaigns.
Through an A/B test, the Parachute team learned that UGC generated both a 35%higher click-through rate (CTR) and a 60%lower cost-per-click (CPC) compared to the editorial content. To deploy UGC across social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, Parachute partnered with Curalate, a platform that aggregates images and videos and turns them into shoppable advertisements for the products.
Since consumers now tag the brand in their social media posts, the retailer can repurpose these images and retarget them to more consumers. For example, if a shopper searches for a linen duvet cover or a heathered bath rug on the site, Parachute can leverage the social media platforms to retarget that person with a user-generated post, embedded with tags linking directly back to the product on its online store. Shoppers who click UGC featuring Parachute products will see a “Get This Look” tab on the side of the image or video, along with the clickable product images.
“People go to platforms like Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration within their daily lives,” said Luke Droulez, CMO of Parachute in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “You need content that looks natural and organic, and there’s no better way to express that because it’s how people live. There are multiple ways to interact with the content and I think that helps people with feeling comfortable within their purchase-making decision.”
The initial focus on UGC occurred during a conversation with Curalate CEO Apu Gupta. The companies initially came up with the idea to run UGC via a feed on paid media, but the success of the tests gave the Parachute team more confidence in its overall organic social strategy as well, according to Droulez.
How A Massive Content Ecosystem Helped The Parachute UGC Strategy Take Flight
Parachute has a pre-existing content library of more than 6,000 posts tagged with the #MyParachuteHome hashtag and “hundreds” of posts tagged with the #DogsOfParachute hashtag, which significantly helped build the foundation for the UGC-driven strategy and enabled the retailer to scale it further.
“If you can create a content ecosystem where you simultaneously share and feature rooms and spaces that you admire, both UGC and otherwise, it brings people into the fold and encourages them to share,” Droulez said. “When they share, you can use that for advertising, which creates a flywheel of sorts: people come back to your organic social, they look for inspiration, they buy the products, they post and provide inspiration for someone else, and the cycle repeats itself. In a lot of ways, the Curalate features enabled something that was already happening, and that’s the beauty of being able to automate certain aspects of your advertising stack.”
If a specific user’s posts fit well with its brand aesthetic, Parachute will send them free products in exchange for creating more posts. As a company that primarily sells bedding and bath products but continues to expand its merchandise line, launching its own mattress in January, the retailer recognizes that UGC provides a great opportunity to drive awareness of the new products.
“I think it’s nice when you’re able to catalog what UGC you have and what products are in it,” Droulez said. “It serves this area of need, and points out where we’d like to have more UGC. Then you can think about what kind of products you’re marketing and how you’re talking about them to people in order to get additional content.”
Parachute will continue leveraging UGC as it broadens its marketing mix, which also includes offline channels such as TV and out-of-home (OOH), as a way to drive sales online and in-store.The company has seven brick-and-mortar locations and is planning on operating 20 by the end of 2020.
“We’re happy with the overall ROI, and now it’s about making sure that UGC continues to play a role in more than just one channel,” Droulez said. “It’s a part of the dialogue. The same way that press is an important part of consideration for shoppers, so too is UGC.”