UGC 101 for Ecommerce Brands: How to Create User-Generated Content that Converts

October 30, 2023
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80%. That’s the number of people who say that the product content they want to see from eCommerce brands and what brands actually deliver are two separate things.

Case in point: eCommerce marketing teams are likely to say that brand-created content (social posts, paid advertising, and so forth) is most authentic…

Yet consumers are likely to say the opposite, that user-generated content is more authentic!

That means, for eCommerce brands, user-generated content (UGC) represents an immense opportunity. But many struggle to actually create UGC that moves the needle.

In this article, we’ll cover the User Generated Content basics and help your brand grow an impactful UGC program. One that nurtures real connections with customers and ultimately drives sales.

What is UGC?

User-generated content (UGC) are images, video, or written content created by your customer base that showcases your product or brand in a positive light.

Today’s consumers have tons of choices. To stand out, brands need authenticity. This is exactly what UGC provides.

Seeing real people using your product packs a powerful punch. UGC cuts through the noise in a way branded content simply can’t.

Think, for example, of a testimonial video that a buyer shoots and posts on their TikTok because they love your product. That will do more to move a potential customer towards a purchase. It'll show that your product is used by, and works for, people like them.

Here’s an example of a UGC ad for PetMeds featuring a real customer pet:

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Here’s another example:

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Here’s an example from The Diamond Store where real customer unboxing video is used:

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And another for Terakai eye cream using customer language:

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In short, UGC is any type of content — be it photos, videos, reviews, or testimonials — that customers create about your product or service. This content is genuine and authentic, as it comes directly from your consumers, adding an extra layer of credibility to your brand.

This content is authentic and very very powerful for several reasons:

  1. Buyers are bombarded with information.
    The average internet user sees hundreds of ads, social posts, notifications, and other information online in a day.
  2. Digital-savvy consumers can spot inauthenticity a mile away.
  3. Buyers are less trusting than ever.
    Your buyers are aware of scams, especially when it comes to eCommerce products. Almost everyone has purchased a product that turned out to be

You might think that UGC only works with one demographic, but we’ve found that UGC is as effective for Gen Z audiences as it is for older generations. Which means that your marketing can and should leverage UGC to engage with your audience, build trust, and, most importantly, enhance your marketing campaigns.

Why Use UGC?

UGC packs a powerful marketing punch for eCommerce brands struggling to stand out. Here's why it should be a pillar of your strategy:

Authentic Content

UGC offers genuine social proof straight from real customers. This builds trust and credibility.

The Power of Storytelling

UGC tells authentic stories about customers enjoying your product. Stories are memorable and inspiring.

Unique Creative

User-created photos and videos bring fresh creative you cannot replicate internally.

Powerful Results

UGC converts window shoppers, lifts organic traffic, improves brand sentiment, and more.

Research presented at the Meta Brand Building Summit showed that 64% of consumers would consider switching brands when a product is promoted by an influencer they follow, and 51% of buyers have said that a creator has had an influence on their purchase.

The data is clear - UGC is a must-have marketing tool for eCommerce brands seeking to connect with consumers and drive sales in a cluttered market.

For eCommerce brands facing fierce competition, UGC represents a big growth opportunity:

  • Lower Cost per Acquisition (CPA) - UGC is created by customers, so it costs less than shooting branded content. This lowers CPA.
  • Higher Conversion Rates - Displaying UGC onsite converts window shoppers into buyers. Products with UGC see conversion rates up to 15% higher.
  • Improved SEO - UGC also helps you rank higher in search and drive organic traffic. Pages with UGC can improve dwell time and decrease bounce rates.
  • Enhanced Brand Loyalty - When shoppers see peers enjoying your product, it strengthens brand affinity and retention.

With these benefits, stellar UGC should be a pillar of any eCommerce brand’s growth playbook.

How to Get Authentic UGC

Here are some best practices for sourcing great UGC:

  • Incentivize Current Customers - Offer discounts or free products in exchange for reviews, photos, videos, and testimonials.
  • Run UGC Campaigns - Launch contests prompting users to create branded content using a hashtag. Offer prizes for top entries.
  • Tap Brand Advocates - Identify existing brand loyalists who organically talk up your product and enlist their help.
  • Repurpose Social Content - Keep an eye out for customers already posting about your product on social media. Seek their permission to reuse this content in your marketing.
  • Partner With Influencers - Loan products to influencers who authentically align with your brand values to create UGC.

Cast a wide net across customers, brand fans, and influencers to curate diverse, genuine UGC. Ensure proper FTC disclosures are made.

How to Use UGC in Your Marketing Campaigns

UGC can boost nearly every component of your marketing:

Social Posts

Intermix UGC with branded content to add authenticity to social posts.

Product Page Testimonials

Sprinkled customer images, videos, and reviews across product pages to provide social proof and improve conversion rates.

Paid Advertising

Test swapping out high production value product photos for real UGC to make ads resonate more.

Email Marketing

Feature visual UGC alongside products in email campaigns to pique interest.

Organic Content

Repurpose UGC photos, videos, and quotes within blog posts and other on-site content.


Finally, analyze UGC for consumer insights. Note the language used and demographics of UGC creators to refine your understanding of different buyer personas. Your team should make note of:

  • How does your buyer or creator describe their problem, other solutions they tried, why they chose your product, and what they love about the product?
  • Is the creator your ideal avatar? If not, is it worth it to try to reach this avatar through marketing and advertising? Find out by analyzing the results of the UGC on your business objectives.

In the current market, creating UGC is table stakes for cutting through the noise. An authentic UGC strategy helps forge genuine connections with customers while also driving key marketing metrics like lower CPA, higher conversion rates, and improved organic reach.

It's time to make UGC a core pillar of your eCommerce marketing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it legal to use other people's photos or content in my ads or social posts?

A: You must have express permission to reuse any UGC in your marketing. Typically users grant this permission in exchange for incentives, or through social media by tagging your brand. Proper FTC disclosures must be followed. Consult an attorney to understand consent requirements.

Q: How can I encourage more UGC creation?

A: Offer incentives like discounts or free products for top UGC. Run branded contests and campaigns centered around UGC creation. Share and spotlight UGC creators to motivate more participation.

Q: What types of UGC work best?

A: Photos and short videos tend to resonate best across marketing channels. But also mix in reviews and testimonials for added credibility. Feature diverse UGC types and creators.

Q: Where should I add UGC on my website?

A: Anywhere you want to boost conversions! Product pages, cart/checkout, homepage, and landing pages are great places to showcase UGC.

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