It should be no secret that user-generated content is a valuable resource to both marketing and sales teams alike. Unfortunately, it is oftentimes underutilized or left to happen organically, which is a huge mistake. User-generated content gives your brand more credibility with customers and helps drive them through the entire customer journey.
If you’re unfamiliar with what user-generated content is, it is as simple as it sounds. It is content that is created by real people, not by businesses or brands. Because of the authenticity associated with this type of content, the messages contained are often very powerful. This is especially true when customers are providing candid feedback in the form of online reviews.
User-generated content can help businesses increase visibility, influence purchase decisions, and boost revenue. It can often be a business’ best sales tool. Don’t believe me? Check out the five reasons why highlighted below.
Create consumer confidence
Consumers instinctively trust user-generated content far more than photos or videos created by a brand. In fact, research by OfferPop shows that is the case for 85% of consumers. In the past, when consumers were looking for an unbiased review or recommendation for a business, they were limited to how large or small their circle of friends was.
Now, anyone with a connection to the internet can scroll through thousands of reviews pretty easily. And the crazy thing is that most people trust these reviews from perfect strangers as much as personal recommendations from family and friends. Even though many businesses know the importance of user-generated content and online reviews in building consumer confidence, they often have trouble figuring out how to grow their presence in that arena.
Provide social proof
Making purchase decisions can be hard. Customers want to avoid buyer’s remorse at all costs. That is one of the biggest reasons that they engage with reviews. They want reinforcement from their peers that they are making the right decision and that they aren’t wasting their money.
Generic quotes about good customer service are nice, but they don’t have the same value as a well thought out post or success story that talks about how your product or service has made customers lives easier or better.
Highlight key differentiators
The internet has given consumers access to a seemingly limitless amount of information about businesses. They can compare pricing, product features, and reviews to make informed decisions. For many industries like automotive, medical, dental, or retail, products and pricing will be fairly consistent, so the best way to set yourself apart from the competition is by delivering superior customer service.
And where do customers go to find out about your customer experience? If you guessed other customers you would be correct. Online reviews from customers are an excellent way to highlight what sets your business apart. Stories that point out the reasons customers left the competition can also be a very powerful way to show what makes your business different, better, or special and more importantly why customers should spend their money with you.
Improve customer relationships
Engaging with user-generated content is a good way to build better customer relationships. When customers take the time to leave a review or write something about your business – whether positive or negative – you should take the time to respond.
If the content of the review is positive, thank that customer for their business and let them know how much you appreciate the feedback. On the other hand, if the review is negative, you should follow these steps when responding. Doing so will show the customer that you care while also letting consumers who read the review know that you are focused on customer service.
- Remain calm and don’t let emotions get the best of you.
- Say you’re sorry and acknowledge any wrongdoing.
- Offer a thoughtful, proactive solution to the problem.
- Take the conversation offline.
Finally, and probably most important, user-generated content will help you close more business. We’ve already talked about how influential reviews can be in building trust and credibility, but they can also be what pushes customers in the right direction to ultimately make a purchase. A recent survey conducted by Podium found that 93% of respondents said that online reviews impacted purchase decisions. Another 82% said that the content of a review has convinced them to make a purchase.
How to Increase User-Generated Content
The key to increasing the creation of user-generated content is twofold. First, businesses need to understand what motivates customers to leave reviews. Customers frequently leave reviews to help other people make better decisions or help the business provide a better experience. If you want to increase user-generated content, you need to find a way to tap into that altruism.
Second, you need to find a way to make it as easy as possible for customers to create and post user-generated content on your behalf. Your customers are going to take the path of least resistance and if the process is too hard or cumbersome, you won’t see very high conversions on your invitations.
Once businesses understand those two things, they can focus their efforts on developing a program to encourage customers to create more valuable content. At Podium, we’re seeing a shift in how searchers are interacting with online reviews. In the past, many people focused mainly on overall star rating or how many reviews a business had. Now, the actual content of reviews has moved into the forefront.
Because of this, it is important to ask customers for feedback on a specific aspect of your business that would be most helpful to have during the decision-making process. Doing so improves the content of reviews, while also making the process less stressful for customers.
How Podium Can Help
Request a demo to see how Podium’s cloud-based solution can help you use text messages to invite all of your customers to review your business. Podium’s efficient, mobile process can help your business build a strong online presence on the sites that matter most. This will, in turn, improve local SEO and ultimately boost revenues.