How to Leverage User Generated Content

Ecommerce sites that host user generated content (UGC) such as product reviews and photos taken by customers are relatively common. Unfortunately, the inherent value of that content is often overlooked by e-tailers. With the ubiquity of product discounts and shipping promos, UGC can be a great competitive differentiator. According to a consumer survey from TurnTo, 81% of US consumers say they would pay more for, and wait longer to receive, products that had UGC. Rather than “setting and forgetting” the UGC features of your ecommerce site, use the following tips to leverage this valuable content to your benefit.
    

Establish a baseline

Step back a take a broad view of how UGC is currently incorporated into your ecommerce site. What types of UGC do you support? Of those, which do customers interact with the most? Answering these questions will help you make informed decisions on adding new types of UGC, which types you want to promote to customers, and how effective UGC is for certain products.

Expand UGC touchpoints

UGC is only effective when customers are interacting with it, so look for opportunities to make UGC more prominent on your site and in your marketing materials. Some ideas include:

  • HTML coding that allow ratings and review snippets from your site to appear in search results
  • Including ratings and review information in the shopping cart and throughout the checkout process
  • Using review commentary and customer photos in social media and retargeting ads

Strengthen foundations

A robust foundation of UGC provides both you and your customers with more accurate information. For example, the 4-star average rating on a product page with 500 reviews is more credible than a 5-star average on product page with only 2 reviews. Use techniques to get more UGC submissions for your ecommerce site.

How to get more User Generated Content in Ecommerce

User generated content (UGC) such as product reviews, questions & answers, photos, videos, and more provide a number of benefits to ecommerce sites. They improve your site's online shopping experience, build trust with new customers, improve brand reception, and serve as a resource for creating promotional and marketing materials. But, just because you build space for UGC into your site doesn't mean shoppers will come and start providing content. Use these tips to encourage your customers to submit more UGC, more frequently.
    

Incentivize

There are several ways you can reward customers for contributing UGC. Let contributors know that their content is appreciated and makes a difference by notifying them when other shoppers find their photos, reviews or answers helpful. If your site has a customer portal, you can borrow some ideas from gamification and award users with badges or redeemable points for actively contributing UGC.
    

Provide tools to make creation and submission easy

Users are more likely to provide UGC if you can make the experience as frictionless as possible. Some ideas include using review submission forms with writing prompts or icons for mobile that launch a camera app for quickly sending product photos or video.

Highlight privacy and security features

Give contributors a way to preview how UGC submissions will appear onsite (including how account info will display to other users) before they go live. If you are hosting a platform for shoppers to communicate with one another (e.g. a user forum or Q&A product page section), make sure it is moderated well to prevent offensive content.

Ask for UGC

Redesign the visibility of UGC throughout your site and use clear calls to action for shoppers to participate. Offsite, send follow up emails to customers after they receive an order and ask if they can write a review or answer other customers' questions. You may need to adjust the timing of this follow up to ensure customers have had enough time to properly evaluate the product.

How to make your Ecommerce Site more Useful

In order to please your ecommerce customers and maintain a competitive edge, it's important to have features on your website that make it easy to shop. To improve your ecommerce site’s user experience on mobile and desktop devices, here are four features you should have:

Robust search functionality

Site search is one of the main tools customers use to navigate your site and products. If your site search bar is hard to find, hard to use, or ineffective at finding products, they’re more likely to leave without buying. First, make sure your site's search tool is prominent within your site's navigation. Then, enhance its usefulness by adding features like autocomplete, category filters, and click/tap-friendly dropdown lists. In addition, make sure all searches return results. If you don’t have an item a user is searching for, let the user know and show results for “similar products” or “other products you might like” – which are much more useful than an “item not found” message.

Write useful product descriptions

Written descriptions educate shoppers about the product's functions and features, specs and measurements, and advantages over similar products. However, you don’t want to frustrate your users with a wall of text – so keep your product descriptions short and to the point. When possible, summarize the key selling points in a bulleted list and let your images and/or videos do the rest.

Curate user reviews

While product descriptions give shoppers essential information, user reviews give a better (and sometimes more convincing) picture what it’s like to actually own and use a product. By supporting product reviews on your site, you can appeal to the growing audience of consumers who make purchasing decisions based on reviews. To get more reviews for your site, send follow-up emails or push notifications to customers after they complete a purchase.  

One-click buying & single-page checkouts

A multi-step checkout process can cause shoppers to abandon their carts, so providing a speedy and simple checkout process is necessary. Make sure your site supports convenient features like guest checkout, mobile-friendly payments, and one-click payments technology.

How to Streamline your Shoppers' Journey

Using web design features on your ecommerce site to streamline the shoppers' journey is a great strategy to increase conversions, reduce cart abandonment, and improve brand perception. In this post, we'll look at some features you can incorporate into your site to decrease the amount of time it takes to complete a purchase.
    

Automatic login

Requiring a login to complete a purchase can cause shoppers to abandon their carts - either because they don't want to set up an account, they can't remember their login credentials, or because the process takes too long. For returning customers, you can use a credential management API to automate the login process. The API remembers the account and signs users back in after a session expires, eliminating the need to manually login.

Simplify the checkout process

From the user’s perspective, the less time and effort they have to spend checking out, the better. Look for opportunities to reduce the number of steps or form fields in your checkout. For example, you can get rid of payment fields by enabling native web-based payments through a payment request API.

Add “buy now” buttons

Add instant buying buttons to your product pages so customers can skip the traditional checkout process. Now that Amazon's patent on one-click payments technology expired this year, you will no longer have to pay a licensing fee to add this functionality to your site.

Improve load times

There are a number of ways you can speed up your website, but these can involve cutting away features you like. Consider incorporating a progressive web app, which shows your web pages to shoppers in a way that is optimized to the device and browser they are using.

How to Leverage Customer Feedback for Strategic Improvements

Customer feedback is vital in any business or industry – after all, the customer is always right. Acting on the feedback you collect through reviews, emails, social media, and surveys not only helps you adapt to shoppers' preferences; it also shows that you value their input. Below are some of the major areas where you can use customer feedback to make improvements.

Products

Customer feedback can help shape your decision-making around merchandise strategy. While the exact approach will depend on your inventory and audience, it’s best to start broad. Start by examining overall customer sentiment according to product category to establish a baseline for expectations. As you narrow the focus of your customer feedback analysis, it’ll be easier to establish whether individual products or a whole category is underperforming. From there, you can discover if there are new SKUs you should be adding to your inventory, or if you should discontinue item/categories that aren’t meeting shoppers’ expectations.

Site usability & design

The UX of your ecommerce site can be one of the most important keys to its success – and customer feedback in this area can help you identify pain points and bottlenecks that you can address to improve usability and eliminate customer frustrations.

Customer experience

If your customer service department uses call monitoring tools, that’s an excellent resource for finding areas of the customer experience that need improvement. Reviewing customer service calls can reveal patterns or errors you may not find by manually browsing your site, such as pricing errors, frequently asked questions, or even areas where customer service reps need more training. You can also assess your customer experience by analyzing product return codes to look for common themes (this can also be useful for shaping your merchandise strategy).