Technological innovations over the last decade have given an unprecedented level of influence to individual consumers. With social media as their soapbox, users are able to shape the opinions of their continuously connected peers with a single tweet or review.
For brands looking to enrich the customer experience, tapping into consumer opinion and creating opportunities for dialogue becomes a necessity. Here are three reasons why learning to listen is good for your brand and customers.
1. User-generated content (UGC) creates engaging site experiences
Whether it's through status updates, likes, or shares, today's consumers have the ability to influence large numbers of people with their opinions. Particularly for Millennials, the ability to give feedback on brands and products is as much an expectation as a responsibility. In fact, 70% of consumers within this key age group consider it a duty to offer their perspectives to brands (AdAge).
Rather than let these conversations about your brand happen elsewhere, investing in software for UGC is the best way to listen in while fostering consumer expression. Providing opportunities for customers to contribute content such as reviews, comments, polls, shares, and more on your site allows users to engage with like-minded individuals.
Use Case: Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer (MLS) lets users log in socially and contribute to the community by commenting on content. As a result, MLS experienced its daily user log-ins increase from 635 to 15,000. At the same time, shared content generated by users led to 1,800 daily referral traffic click-backs through Facebook and Twitter.
Cases like this make it clear that UGC nurtures the engagement that creates a more enjoyable user experience and has major benefits for brands.
2. UGC helps brands build consumer trust
For brands, UGC is not just a way to placate an overly talkative customer base. Listening and responding to feedback helps brands build consumer trust that improves customer service and increases conversions.
Gaining direct access to consumer opinions gives your brand an opportunity to improve. Finding out what customers like or dislike about your brand or product offering allows for speedy resolutions to issues that can be quickly addressed, and is also useful for strategic planning on issues that consistently come up over time. Directly responding to negative feedback on-site is particularly impactful-it demonstrates that you value consumers individually, and tells others that you are willing to go to extra lengths to make things right.
Additionally, user feedback gives your brand an added layer of credibility that any marketing campaign can't match. To consumers deciding on purchasing a product or signing up for a service, the opinions and experiences shared by their peers are much more influential than the best pitch you can deliver. For things like laptop purchases or hotel bookings, most users will not dare make a purchase without knowing how their peers feel about the experience. Allowing customers to share their opinions on your brand tells everyone you are confident in the value you provide and establishes consumer trust. Developing this trust has major payoffs for brands, as 63% of customers have reported that they are more likely to make a purchase from a site with consumer reviews (BrickMarketing).
3. UGC increases SEO & traffic
Marketers are all too familiar with the common quip that the best place to hide something is page 2 of Google search results. Investing in UGC increases the chances that your brand won't stay hidden to wandering consumers on the Internet.
As users add content to your site on a regular basis, search engine exposure increases. UGC is particularly beneficial because customers use common terms that increase visibility around valuable keywords.
As an added bonus, reviews from peers play into the behaviors of consumers who are increasingly relying on word of mouth to discover new brands. Any reviews that are shared back to user social circles boost referral traffic back to the site, adding to your consumer base and increasing conversions.
UGC = Long-Term Relationships
To sum it up, UGC is proven to drive more engagement, trust, and community among your users, which, in turn, leads to long-lasting customer relationships. For a deeper dive into this topic, download the free white paper, "How to Turn User-Generated Content into Revenue with Ratings and Reviews."