To understand the benefits of User Generated Content (UGC), let’s start with an analogy. UGC is to success as bread is to a sandwich. For you see, UGC is the building block for digital marketing success, without it you wouldn’t be able to truly engage with your audiences, just as a sandwich wouldn’t exist without a piece of bread. UGC offers real brand building potential because it establishes trust, provides a discernable identity, and increases conversion ratings. In the constantly evolving world of fashion, brands should learn to use UGC for the following top three reason.
Top Three Reasons Fashion Brands Need UGC
There are countless industries that can benefit from using UGC; however, for the purpose of this post, we will focus on the fashion industry. Fashion trends may come and go (here’s looking at you 1970’s bell-bottoms) but UGC is here to stay.
Reason 1: Social Proof
Social proof, also known as informational social influence, refers to the instances when a person will assume the actions of another in an attempt to subconsciously reflect correct behavior. It is also one of the driving forces behind UGC’s success rate. A December 2014 Forrester Research study revealed that only 14% of U.S. consumers trust an ad created by a brand compared to 48% of users who trust the words, pictures, and videos created by other consumers. With this statistic in mind, online fashion retailers should allow potential buyers to see the products on real people, i.e. an active and loyal consumer base.
When a potential buyer sees real people in the fashion items, they are more likely to identify with the models, and are thus more likely to buy the branded content. Rent the Runway is prime example of a fashion retailer that truly understands the power of UGC. To better connect with their prospective customers, Rent the Runway built a microsite, entitled Our Runway. The microsite encourages users to “get inspired by customer photos.” Prospective customers can search for new fashion items based on a wide variety of criteria, such as: size, height, age, and bust. The search results reveal real people wearing the clothing items. Due to its ability to influence social proof and truly connect with prospective buyers, Rent the Runway has used UGC to generate a 200 percent increase in purchases.
Reason 2: Brand Identity
Whenever you see a celebrity wearing “questionable fashion trends” do you often think to yourself, “why?” Well, the reason behind their fashion choice lies in their connection with both personal and brand identities. When a brand identity is synonymous with a personal’s style, they will become advocates for the company’s style, brand story, and voice.
Warby Parker’s Home Try-On Program is the perfect example of how new fashion brands can use UGC to quickly grow and become household names. The Home Try-On Program allows people to “test drive” five pairs of glasses absolutely free. The customers then take to social media to use specific hashtags, raise awareness for the program, ask for friend feedback, and simultaneously improve brand awareness. The campaign has been so successful that the company had to waitlist 20,000 customers in order to keep-up with the new-found popularity and customer demand.
Reason 3: Increase Conversion Rates
Just as the celebrity wearing the “questionable fashion” signifies a strong brand loyalty, so too can UGC influence prospective customers to become active shoppers. Using UGC within branded galleries, on product detail pages, and on checkout pages, often results in a five to seven percent increase in conversion rate. Additionally a two percent increase in the average order value can also be achieved when UGC is directly incorporated onto eCommerce product pages.
Urban Outfitters used UGC to reconnect with lost or disinterested customers. They were able to launch an on-site content gallery of customer photos that generated a high number of brand endorsements. These endorsements resulted in:
- An increased number of unique site visits from prospective and current customers.
- Increased number of organic search site visits.
- A time on-site increase of 45 seconds on average per visitor.
- A 15 percent shopping rate improvement.
UGC should be used by fashion brands to actively engage with an awaiting audience. Shoppers want to see the “questionable fashion choices;” they want to know if maybe they could be the one to “pull off the look.” However, what shoppers don’t want to see, is a bunch of photoshopped models. Be real and choose UGC to deliver high-powered social proof results, strengthen brand identity, improve brand awareness, and increase conversion rates.