As many as 90% 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%);
Promotional emails (79%);
Display ads (76%); and
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,” Davidson said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “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.”
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.
UGC Inspires Shoppers To Pay More, Stay Patient
User-generated content appears to brighten up several aspects of the shopper experience:
63% believe UGC creates a more authentic shopping experience;
73% say UGC increases their purchasing confidence; and
61% report UGC encourages them to engage with brands.
Notably, 81% of shoppers also are willing to both pay more and wait longer for products that are paired with UGC.
“A lot of midmarket and SMB businesses struggle to compete with Amazon and some of those distribution channels that can offer free and fast shipping, or discount down to where there’s barely any profit on a product,” Davidson said. “They see that and feel pressured to lower their prices or ship faster and find ways to get things to people as quickly and cheaply as possible. This data says the retailer doesn’t necessarily have to take those measures to appeal to the consumer.”
UGC Powered By Trust
More than two-thirds (67%) of shoppers surveyed find UGC to be more interesting than brand-created content, which Davidson attributes to their trust in what other consumers have to say — particularly friends and family. Friends are by far the most trusted source among shoppers, with 88% saying they trust their content. Product descriptions (55%) were the second most trusted source of content, while random shoppers (47%) and company experts (43%) were closely matched as trusted content sources.
“They’re looking for that other voice from fellow shoppers and customers to add some authenticity to learn more about the product,” Davidson said. “If you think about the customer journey, the first time they come to your site — that initial exposure — may be the content from the retailer or the brand. They may read your product description, or read that your fabric and materials are free trade and fairly sourced. But when they come back and start to make those purchase decisions and make those distinctions between you and your competitor, it can be UGC that offers that authentic experience and gives you the edge over the content you created.”
The report, titled: Hearing the Voice of the Consumer: UGC and the Commerce Experience, is based on a TurnTo survey of 1,070 U.S. consumers who had made an online purchase in the past 12 months.