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Authenticity and Trust: Is Shoppable UGC The Next Wave In Customer Experience?

What’s the greatest strength a brand can hope to have during the current digital shift?

It’s not name recognition. In fact, recent data from Ipsos Research indicates 76 percent of online consumers anticipate discovering entirely new brands during their shopping experience, with 85 percent of them deciding to take action within 24 hours. And in an environment driven strictly by user preferences, self-aggrandizement lasts about as long as customers can click.

It’s authenticity. A brand mirrors its purchaser, not vice versa. Ideally, digital marketing content should reflect this basic principle. But until recently, larger brands haven’t necessarily capitalized on the strength of authenticity. Instead, they frequently tend to follow the same pattern as traditional marketing: predictability, preconception and presumption. As a result, digital customers can feel alienated towards the sheer transparency of enterprise marketing campaigns. Despite its critics, influencer marketing isn’t just here to stay. It’s becoming increasingly standard, with a projected revenue of $13.8 Billion in the US for 2021. But influencer content can sometimes prove difficult for followers making the leap from awareness to purchasing. Can shoppable UGC help bridge this gap?

What is Shoppable UGC?

Sourcing marketing content in 2021 demands a unique understanding of your audience and how your product relates to their own day to day lives. Presumption of demographic needs based on face value alone can be a deadly sin, whether you’re launching a new product or creating a coherent brand narrative.

But there’s one common denominator all brands share, no matter how diverse their audience: the customers themselves. Your customers demand content that speaks directly to their needs, not at them. Their shopping habits aren’t the reflection of a campaign, but a reflection of their own intrinsic needs and values. Yet at the same time, users are becoming increasingly more insistent on a seamless experience in shopping. And the likelihood of navigating from page to page just to finalize their purchase is becoming increasingly slim. Recent research has shown that cart abandonment rates were almost 70 percent in 2020, with 24 percent of respondents indicating their unwillingness to establish an account on branded sites.

Shoppable user generated content (UGC) helps fulfill both needs through users providing memorable and product-specific social media content while eliminating any unnecessary steps from awareness to purchasing. By integrating UGC, you’re not just building awareness. You’re building both inspiration and authenticity by leveraging that one universal denominator into your campaign—your customer. UGC establishes social proof. Ot establishes relatability. And it establishes trust.

  • Over 76 million customers in the US made a purchase through social media in 2020, with a projected revenue of $31.4 Billion by the end of 2021.

  • In a recent survey from Sprout Social, 64 percent of consumers indicated their expectations of a personal connection from the brands they support, with 78 percent of them expecting social engagement.

  • According to a 2019 report from Stacka, an estimated 79 percent of consumers found UGC to be a predominant factor in their purchasing decisions. That same report indicated 90 percent of consumers found authenticity to be a key element in supporting a brand, being 2.4 times more likely to consider UGC as being more relevant and transparent.

  • An increase of 75 percent in revenue has been reported per visitor for branded sites implementing UGC and as high as 106 percent for retail platforms.

UGC: Insight, Not Inaccessibility.

According to the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer, only 59 percent of consumers expected businesses to act responsibly. While it shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that a lack of communication and engagement will inevitably result in brand mistrust, that same report indicated that public faith in social media is at a record low. And it’s not hard to see why. Social media marketing campaigns from large enterprise entities can often be marked by sleek production and hyperbole, effectively masking a lack of substance—not to mention a lack of accountability.

UGC takes a different approach. Rather than relying on expensive PR-orchestrated visuals, UGC leverages the strength of social proof through testimonials from easily accessible sources. While those sources can be anyone from micro influencers with a small but devoted following to first time customers, the value of testimonials can’t be denied. An estimated 90 percent of all online customers review a company’s testimonials prior to visiting their site, leading to an increase in conversion rates as high as 34 percent in some cases.

Authenticity and Action

Digital marketing is as reliant on visual media as it is your underlying brand narrative. But those visuals need to be relatable if they’re going to achieve any actionable result. Few consumers can relate to the lifestyle of a high profile celebrity spokesperson. But they can relate to recommendations from their next door neighbor. That’s largely because successful digital marketing campaigns focus on consumer needs, not the needs of the marketplace—and need will always guide action.

As eCommerce shifts towards more highly personalized experiences in 2021 and beyond, marketing will have to keep pace if it’s going to survive. And that requires one specific consumer touchpoint that defies AI algorithms: humanization. Think of UGC not as a strategy, but as a mirror. One in which consumers aren’t reflections of a potential sale, but a reflection of themselves.


Color More Lines provides white glove, global account management of your eCommerce platforms so mission-driven companies can focus on new product development, branding and growth strategies. Find out more at Color More Lines.

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