Rohan Ayyar

3 Ways to Boost Online Sales with User-Generated Content

User-Generated Content
Image Credit – marekuliasz/

Before examining the opportunities found within user-generated content, ask yourself this: On a basic level, what do you need to do to boost sales? Gain more attention. And how do you gain more attention? Produce noteworthy content.

Produce User-Generated Content to Boost Online Sales

Creating awesome content can be inspired by a lot of different factors. But where does the good stuff that engages your audience really come from? You? Your team? An agency?

What about from your audience themselves? Did you know that up to 70% of consumers place things like friends’ recommendations and peer reviews above professionally written content produced by brands?

consumers trust self-selected content

More and more companies are starting to pick up on the fact that user-generated content (UGC) is extremely valuable and can even be more effective in driving sales than the content they produce in-house, especially when the target audience consists of millennials.

Let’s take a look at some ways you can leverage UGC to increase your online sales.

Publicize Customer Experiences with User-Generated Content

Promoting your brand through customers’ experiences with your products or services is one of the best ways of building trust. And regardless of how you do it, it should always work to tell a captivating story. GoPro has perhaps some of the best examples of powerful customer storytelling; their product is literally a content creation machine.

While there are countless other retailers who sell video cameras, no other company has truly utilized the device’s full potential like GoPro.

Their website has a “Watch” channel feature in which customers can submit videos of extraordinary experiences they’ve captured on their GoPro cameras.

GoPro camera shot


By doing this, GoPro has essentially turned their customers into their marketing team. The reason this content strategy is so successful is because it dives deeper into the idea of shooting videos over just owning a camera. It explores the profound reason people buy them in the first place. Generally speaking, the motivation to buy a camera is to share your experiences with the world. GoPro’s Watch Channel not only provides an outlet for their customers, but the epic content also encourages other visitors to create their own GoPro experiences.

To give you an idea of the success of this strategy, around 6,000 GoPro tagged videos are uploaded each day!

If you want to use UGC to drive sales à la GoPro, ask yourself:

  • What can we do to give our customers 15 minutes of fame?
  • How can we use our brand’s message to bring shareable enthusiasm to our community?
  • How can we leverage the passion of our customers to motivate others?

Seize Social with Hashtags

The beauty of social media is that it connects like-minded individuals across the world. It gives us a reminder that we, as humans, are not all that different from each other. And that makes social media a natural platform for UGC. With more than 2 billion (and counting) worldwide users, ignoring social media in marketing efforts is simply not an option.

While every social network – be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram – plays its own special role in UGC-driven brand promotion, one common thread that each of these entities share is what was once known as the “pound” sign: the hashtag. Hashtags make it simple to interact with both brands and other users alike. They also provide a path for shoppers to see what other customers are saying about certain products, services, events or ideas in general. Adding a catchy hashtag to your brand can be a game changer in gaining worldwide attention.

One of the most famous hashtags in the retail world is Calvin Klein’s #MyCalvins. CK encourages customers to post their experiences with the brand’s product using this hashtag.

Calvin Klein


Prompted by the likes of Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner, #MyCalvins took the internet by storm in February of 2014. But using this hashtag, everyday users can put themselves on the same level as high-profile celebrities and get their fifteen minutes of fame (that too, in new clothes) on the official CK website.

The campaign has worked magic for Calvin Klein’s online exposure. Since the hashtag launched, there has been a huge boost in their social media following. Currently, they have 7.5 million Instagram followers, over 11 million Facebook page likes, and 3.3 million Twitter followers.

Driving online sales is all about creating awareness and value. Social media is one of the biggest phenomena of the last 10 years and is perhaps the most effective driver of UGC. Don’t be afraid to get creative with hashtags. You never know what might go viral.

Showcase User-Generated Content from Reviews and Testimonials

Showcasing customer reviews and testimonials is essential in driving online sales; there’s no way around it. An oft-cited study by eVOC Insights found that 63% of customers are more likely to buy from a site featuring user reviews.

This type of UGC is one of the most cost-effective and influential forms of content a business can use. According to David Moon, VP of Strategic Consulting & Global Pre-Sales at Bazaarvoice, “Seeking out the opinions of like-minded consumers has been a central component of an informed purchase journey for decades. But as a percentage of shopping has moved away from the physical store, many brands have focused their efforts on the online researcher.”

Try to place your best reviews front and center on your website for everyone to see.

Take a leaf out of the conversion rule books of SaaS tools and place your customer reviews directly on your homepage. And don’t stop there: build up trust and credibility by putting faces to the names, as well as linking testimonials to case studies of how you helped those customers or businesses. eCommerce platform Shopify is a master at doing this:


Customer reviews and testimonials are all about providing potential customers with social proof from a third party. Consumers naturally tend to be wary of trusting brands based on their own messaging. However, 84% of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

In a world over-saturated by different brands to choose from, online reviews and testimonials are one of the first things shoppers look for when doing their research. Make it easy and display them loud and clear.

UGC plays a very influential role in the purchase process. Perhaps the most important factor in driving online sales is the ability to build your audience’s trust in your brand. Content produced in-house can only do so much to accomplish that.

The internet was built for users to create and share their own content. It’s imperative that you use this fundamental purpose to your advantage and let them do the talking. Remember, your brand only has one voice; your customers have many.

Are you using user-generated content? Tell us how it has helped your business!



Rohan Ayyar

Rohan Ayyar is an SEO consultant at E2M, a full service digital agency specializing in growth marketing for startups and web retailers. He writes about content, social media and email on 50+ blogs.

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