User-Generated Content: The Secret Weapon for Your Next Email Campaign

Today’s economy is all about social proof.

User-generated content (UGC) is one way to showcase why your brand matters. Moreover, email combined with UGC is a chance for ecommerce businesses to connect with consumers and generate revenue.

Olapic found that “user-generated content in email sees a 43% increase in click-through rates and a 2-3X conversion rate.” Visualization and authenticity accelerates consumers’ desires to purchase.

“UGC creates an opportunity to transition customers into brand advocates and provides customers with instant feedback about the product that doesn’t appear as a list of features,” says Kimberlee Morrison, a SocialTimes columnist.

Let’s explore how to integrate UGC into your next email campaign.

Earn Credibility

Integrity remains a cornerstone in the business sector. If you can’t prove that your company has the trust and respect of your customers, the market will question your influence and services.

That’s why social proof is an effective tool for earning consumer’s confidence. Having others speak on your behalf means people are willing to vouch for your brand’s quality. In essence, it shows potential customers that your business deserves their attention.

“The purpose of user-generated content is to humanize your brand. And with 51% of consumers trusting user-generated content over information on your brand’s website, you can build better relationships with this content stream,” says Alex York, a writer and SEO specialist.

Email is one of the best methods to exhibit your UGC. This communication channel gives your subscribers an intimate perspective on how your company can serve their needs.

In addition, research shows that “77% of consumers prefer email for marketing communications.” Customers can read your messages when and where they prefer, unlike a phone call.

UGC lets your audience see real-life testimonials about your products. Below is an example email from Foot Locker. The footwear retailer displays selfies from customers wearing its sneakers. The brand also encourages others to participate with the opportunity to be featured in the next email campaign.

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foot-locker-social-proofImage Source

To earn extra credibility with your consumers, publish the first name of the individual beside the UGC. Or link the person’s social media account to his or her submitted photo. This tactic reassures the email subscriber that you’re highlighting real people in your emails.

Validate your brand’s worth with user-generated content. It’ll uncover more value to your customers.

Create Commerce

At the end of the day, your purpose is to bring sales to your company. And your team’s marketing efforts must possess a connection to revenue. If not, you risk losing sight of business goals.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud reports that “20% of marketers say that their business’ primary revenue source is directly linked to email operations.” Email is more than just informing your subscribers about product releases or sending the occasional thank you note.

“Email is one of the most popular channels retailers use to engage with new and returning shoppers. Triggered emails are especially powerful to re-engage shoppers who have abandoned some type of action on your site,” states Liz Bedor, a senior content marketing manager for Bluecore.

Use email to bridge your UGC to the sales funnel. For instance, consumers in the awareness stage may benefit from content that displays multiple products sold by your brand. This exhibition will show off what you can offer interested buyers.

On the other hand, when consumers are ready to buy, focus on adding a call-to-action to your UGC that leads people directly to your product pages. GlamGlow places UGC alongside the product with a link.


Another approach is to tie your sales to a notable charity. Studies reveal that “at least 70% of millennials have purchased a product that supports a cause.”

ONA, a retailer of fine bags and accessories, teamed up with charity: water to donate a portion of its sales to the nonprofit. Customers were sent an email motivating them to buy a specific product and to show their support with hashtag #GivingTuesday on social media.

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It’s possible to attach user-generated content to your sales strategy. Experiment with different options to find what works for your business.

Host Contests

Your team recognizes the benefits of UGC combined with email. However, how can you inspire consumers to actually create it?

Hosting contests and giveaways is a simple technique to acquire UGC and spread the word about your brand. People want the chance to really engage with your culture.

Decide what type of campaign you want to run. What will be the theme? How will consumers enter the contest?

Be specific on what is acceptable UGC. Some companies prefer photos featuring their products, while others desire text describing their services. A good tip is to focus on how the customer experiences your brand, rather than emphasizing your products.

Also, think about what prizes will be suitable for your participants. It must be enticing enough to get them involved, but not too extravagant that your business is struggling to make payroll.

“To give your subscribers an extra push to submit, you can hold a contest, with a gift certificate or other prize going to the most creative submission,” writes Amber Humphrey, a VerticalResponse contributor.

JewelMint promoted its #FestivalFashion giveaway via email. The message persuaded consumers to snap photos of themselves wearing the brand’s products during Coachella. Tagged pictures on Instagram gave the entire community the ability to see the entries. Winners received four pieces from JewelMint’s collection.


As always, check with your legal department when initiating contests. You need consumer permission to use content, and it’s vital that you adhere to all your local laws.

Make submitting UGC a fun-filled experience. It’s time to host your very own contest.

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Build Community

The power of UGC lies in its capacity to amplify the voices of your consumers.

Just a couple of decades ago, companies controlled how they crafted messaging around their brands. Now, customers can post content, positive or negative, about their experiences.

Your business can help narrate UGC by building a community of advocates. These brand ambassadors are engaged individuals who emulate your company culture and speak highly of your brand amongst their peers.

“By utilizing UGC, brands give real users the opportunity to tell real stories – something that may be inherently missing from brand generated content,” says Brian Peters, social media at Buffer.

With email, you can talk directly with consumers and build camaraderie through customer anecdotes. Your subscribers receive a personal view of how others interact with your brand.

Fashion retailer Revolve sends emails with photos spotlighting its clothing worn by brand advocates. It’s unique and strengthens the company’s credibility in the marketplace.

revolve-clothing-hashtagImage Source

Shape how your brand is presented to the public. Enlist influencers to move UGC in a favorable direction.

Did you know? With Kissmetrics, you can track the effectiveness of your online advertising. Optimize your marketing by knowing which campaigns perform and which don’t. Check out our infographic to learn more.

Try UGC & Email Together

Leverage user-generated content to build trust with your email subscribers. Demonstrate your brand’s uniqueness and build real consumer connections.

Earn credibility by adding customer testimonials to your emails. Host contests to excite consumers about submitting their content. And link UGC to your sales funnel to add revenue to your bottom line.

UGC is your secret weapon for your next email campaign.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

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