As every ecommerce store owner will tell you, launching an online shop is a big challenge. From branding and competitor reach to the website build, there are many hurdles to jump before you can launch.
Once your site is live, one of the tests you’ll face is the need for new content. Visitors to your website will need guidance and explanations, while search engines crave unique, in-depth content. A few words and a video or two might seem like a breeze on day one, but when you consider the ongoing importance of new quality content, this chore can soon become overwhelming.
Whether it’s social media updates, forum discussions or podcasts, it’s hard to know where to start. If you’re struggling for content ideas, there may be a strategy you haven’t considered: user generated content.
What if your website’s visitors created new content for you?
While this might sound farfetched, it’s completely normal. People really will happily create new content for your ecommerce store – if you create the right platform. Leveraging content written by visitors to your website is called User Generated Content (or UGC), and it’s not uncommon or new-fangled. The term UGC entered the mainstream in 2005, and it’s a tried and tested strategy.
In the past, gatekeepers such as publishers or newspaper editors would approve all new content in advance. The process was controlled tightly, but technology has changed everything. Whether it’s Flickr, Reddit or a LinkedIn Discussion Board, anybody can publish content online with little or no filters. On average, approximately 6,000 Tweets are posted on Twitter every second. That’s a lot of content.
But how does this help you?
So, the question is, how can you leverage user-generated content on your ecommerce website? Quite simply, all you have to do is create the stage and guide people to it. Here are four strategies you can employ on your website:
Giving customers the ability to add product reviews to your website is the perfect place to start, especially if your merchandise is a hit. Shoppers are swayed by what others think (check out our Guide to Social Proofing for more information on this concept), which can increase sales. Search engines will love crawling the extra content. And you might learn a few things too; quality feedback will help you improve your offering and can even be a great source of inspiration for new product lines. You can ask people to do more than write reviews too. How about inviting them to add photos or video reviews?
Top Tip: E-mail customers to ask if they are happy with their purchases and ask for a review. If you have time, write the email personally. You’re much more likely to get a positive response.
2. Social Shares
Nothing is better than a happy customer sharing a picture on social media with your product. For example, a beauty blogger could create a video blog (or vlog) about your product, and even show it in action.
To help prompt social shares, you can ask people to share reviews from your website, or even reach out to industry influencers and see if they’d like to get involved. Imagine what a vlog review of your new video game by PewDiePie would do for sales?
Another clever way to utilise UGC is with a discussion board. Give your customers a platform on which they can chat about their views and help one another.
4. Community Q&A
Answering customer questions can be a daunting task, especially if your industry or product is complex. Take the search engine optimisation sector for example. Moz offers a series of SEO tools, but couldn’t possibly keep up with the incredible number of general questions from users. Instead, they have created a community Q&A section, in which seasoned SEO pros help newbies out with the basics and opinions are debated in length.