Bring E-Mails to Life with UGC Marketing

No matter the industry, every company has hardcore fans. These are the brand loyalists who happily share rave reviews on social media. That content serves as compelling social proof for your brand, especially when used in emails.

In fact, marketers find that strategically leveraging UGC in email marketing offers a host of benefits, including increased click-through-rates, engagement, and conversion rates. So if you’re wondering whether you should dig into social media marketing or e-mail marketing, the answer is both! And combine them together for maximum impact.

For inspiration, take a look at how top brands are using social in promotional to create a perfect commerce combo.

1. Welcome Notes

    When consumers sign up for brand emails, creating a stellar first impression can make the difference between early unsubscribe requests and long-lasting relationships. PRWeb took the opportunity to smartly communicate brand value by featuring authoritative UGC in a welcome email.

    Since research shows more than 92% of consumers around the world trust earned media (like advice from peers) more than all other forms of advertising, letting testimonials do the talking from the start is one of the best moves you can make.

    2. Contest Publicity

      Hashtag contests and giveaways are ideal ways to acquire additional UGC. Unfortunately, many marketers only promote these types of campaigns on social media channels, missing the opportunity to energize the company’s full fan base.

      Clever brands do it better.

      Take a look at how JewelMint promoted its #FestivalFashion giveaway through email. By inviting existing customers to upload pictures of themselves wearing the brand’s jewelry during Coachella, the company gained huge exposure across Instagram – and access to tagged pictures for future marketing.

      Once entries start pouring in, embedding social proof in subsequent emails and social media hubs is an easy way to generate additional audience participation.

      3. Targeted Promotions

        Another way to bring UGC into email content is to feature bestselling, trending, or most-liked products. Take a look at sales data to see what customers love and use that information to nurture new leads.

         E-commerce retailer Zulily periodically features “Customer Picks,” highlighting the hottest products and accompanying endorsements. Urban Outfitters invites readers to “Get all your IG faves IRL,” composing an email made solely from Instagram photos.

        Cosmetics company Naturopathica took a similar approach, sending product-focused emails titled “InstaFaves!” and “Customers Rave”.  In pairing large images of products with a compelling review and coupon code, the company saw an average clickthrough boost of 25% and average order value of 8% more.

        E-commerce retailers like Naturopathica need to make “a credible case for purchasing to an ideal customer who may not have physically touched the product before,” the company’s MarketingSherpa case study noted. Customer reviews can be a powerful tool in inspiring others to take the plunge.

        4. Remarketing for Abandoned Shopping Carts

          Recovering revenue from abandoned shopping carts is now a top priority for digital marketers. Business Insider estimates approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise is left in online shopping carts every year, and about 63% is potentially recoverable by savvy retailers. Other research indicates that follow-up emails sent within three hours after a consumer abandons a cart average a 40% open rate.

          That’s good news, but what’s even better is that 90% of US shoppers say UGC is the most influential part of their purchase decision. Imagine the impact of deploying UGC on these crucial follow-up emails. The fact is that nearly anytime UGC appears alongside brand-generated content, engagement skyrockets. Research shows a 28% rise in overall receptiveness. E-mail click-through rates increase by 73%. And visitors to websites with UGC galleries spend 90% more time on the site.

          The presence of peer content may even be enough to reclaim customers shopping around for a bargain. When presented with two identical products – one with UGC such as customer reviews or photos, and one without – shoppers are routinely willing to pay more and experience slower shipping times for items as long as they can see related UGC.

          There’s no question that featuring content from real users validates a brand’s worth better than any sales copy, and it can be as simple as publishing user photos alongside featured products.

          American shoe-manufacturer Keds employed this strategy beautifully by showcasing UGC of real customers wearing the company’s shoes. By hovering over images, viewers could easily click-through to product pages. While Keds could have relied on professional photographs, using peer content sends a stronger message. The email appears less like an ad and more of an authorization of the brand by peers who know it best.

          5.  Post-Purchase Invitations

            “Thank You” emails are a rarity in today’s inboxes. That’s probably why they tend to generate high open rates. They also open the door to continued communication, cross-selling, and review collection.

            For example, sending along information about products related to a customer’s initial purchase further personalizes the shopping experience. Asking fans to post through social sharing links is also a natural progression. (Email subscribers are three times more likely to share content on social media than leads from any other channel!)

            This is also an ideal time to seek consumer feedback. Not only do brands benefit from access to tons of valuable new UGC, but the people who create the content generally feel a greater sense of connection to companies that express an interest in customer opinions.

            A stunning example of brand follow-up is through bridal gown designer Maggie Sottero’s email drip. Several weeks after a customer purchases a dress, the company sends an email featuring photos of other brides wearing the brand’s gowns and invites new customers to share their snapshots, too.

            This not only helps the brand build loyalty with past customers but helps engage future customers, too.

            Implementation Tips To Consider

            Embedding UGC in emails significantly boosts traffic and sales, credibility and loyalty. However, before clicking the “send” button, there are a few matters to keep in mind.

            • Get permission from content creators before including their posts in emails. Fortunately, high-powered aggregation platforms make easy to see the latest, greatest posts from every major social media network and seek usage rights.
            • Ensure readers know what to do and where to go next. Incorporate clear CTAs, linking back to relevant product pages.
            • Invite e-mail subscribers to follow the brand’s social media accounts. This can be repeatedly done by embedding small social media icons, linked to the brand’s official profiles, on the bottom of each e-mail. In addition, be sure to encourage the brand’s website visitors to sign up for the e-mail list!

            At the end of the day, fans are a brand’s best advertisers. Research proves that social content helps create a stand-out brand story, and the best part about UGC is that it’s relatively easy to harness and deploy in e-mail marketing, too.  As digital developer Chris Christoff points out, “Your social media presence and your email marketing shouldn’t be two separate entities — they should work together cohesively to promote your products/services. Social media is powerful and so is email marketing, so why not put them together to skyrocket your sales?”

            For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 7-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!

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