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5 Reasons User Generated Content is the Holy Grail of eCommerce

September 4, 2014 | UGC

Customer Service Concept on Blackboard

by Tom Schwab

We’ve all heard of the benefits of using content as a strategy to grow, engage and convert visitors to loyal customers.  It seems like Google reinforces the value of quality content with every algorithm update. Even the unsolicited emails that make it through the spam filter are talking about content instead of the latest guaranteed SEO trick.

So why aren’t more e-Commerce companies focused on a content strategy? Because it’s hard! Unlike other tactics such as keywords, PPC, or back linking, great content cannot be gained merely with a budget. Even if you try to outsource content to an agency, the reality is that no one understands your business and your customer like you do. This leaves you, the e-Commerce company, with another important task on the long list of to-dos.

There’s a secret:

The magic secret, the Holy Grail of Content, is that there is someone who understands your company, your products, and your customers even better than you! They have more people and resources than your company or any agency. Best of all, they work for free. Who is this e-Commerce content engine? Your customers.

Here is why your customers are the Holy Grail of Content:

1.  Customers Know the Customer
Too often you are the worst person to write your own blog or copy.  As sellers we find it easy to speak in jargon, specifications and features. But your current customers see your company through the same eyes as future customers. They talk about benefits, frustration, dreams and possibilities. Each feedback is a story that, if targeted, can connect with an individual buyer persona.

2. Customers Are Trusted
Whenever you enter a store, whether it’s brick and mortar or online, think of who you would trust more: Another shopper or the person with the company name tag? Not having a financial incentive provides an added sense of trust. Even seeing someone as on “your side” of the cash register provides an affinity that no sales copy can overcome. Even more persuasive is when the conversations take place off your premises. Recommendations on social media, forums and even in comment sections of blogs can have a great influence on buyer behavior.

3. Customers Are Creative
An engineering professor once told me, “As the designer you try to be smart, but you’ll never trump the creativity of the user.” This is because the experience and life view within you and your company is very limited. Even if you try to expand your creativity by hiring an agency, your view will be bigger, yet still contained. Expanding the number of people contributing expands the creativity. While some contributions may not fit the brand guidelines for being presented on your site, most will encourage others to try new ideas and further their creativity.

4. Customers Are Scalable
The amount of customer-driven content on your site is a factor of how many customers you have and what percentage of them are sharing and creating content. And both factors can be improved with time. As your company grows, the customer base should also. More importantly, reaching out to customers and encouraging them to contribute will have the quickest and most lasting impact on your ability to produce a flood of content.

5.  Customers Are Passionate
Avid customers are more engaged and passionate about a product or brand than many of the companies’ paid employees. Don’t believe it; just test it. Once you’ve started your customer-driven content campaign, don’t pay your internal content creators this week and see what happens. Paid internal content will stop, but your user-driven content will continue. Customers do not produce content in posts, comments, blogs or even video for the pay. They create and share because of their passion and belief.

As content continues to engage visitors and help them become customers, it is imperative for e-Commerce companies to produce or curate the information their ideal customers are searching for. Tapping into the customer to provide user generated content will provide a rich, scalable, and affordable source of information that both customers and search engines will love.