Study Finds that User Generated Content Positively Influences Most Online Shoppers

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

user-generated-content-social-mediaOne of the greatest challenges of any form of marketing is coming up with new and compelling content for a target audience. This is an even larger problem for online marketing. The fast-pace nature of the internet requires a constant stream of new content from business owners and marketers. One way to reduce the burden on content creation is to allow fans to create the content for you. A recent report shows that many consumers, especially younger adults, are greatly influenced by user generated content.

To help business owners better understand how to turn user generated content into marketing mojo, TurnTo, with help from Ipsos, released a report titled “Hearing the Voice of the Consumer: UGC and the Commerce Experience.” Based on responses from more than 1,000 U.S. shoppers who made an online purchase in the past 12 months, the study examines “what motivates shoppers, how they prefer to shop and the impact and influence user-generated content (UGC) plays in shaping the consumer experience and building long-term engagement once a purchase has been made”.

Most people are aware that user-generated content is popular, but a it may surprise many to find out how much this can affect the opinion of shoppers. According to TurnTo’s research, nine out of 10 (90 percent) said user-generated content (e.g. social media posts, product ratings, customer reviews, user-submitted photos and videos, etc.) had at least some influence over their online purchases.

This is impressive enough on its own, but to put it in perspective, user generated content outranked all other forms of marketing, including search engines (87 percent) and promotional emails (79 percent), the next two contenders for the top spot. Beyond influencing what people will buy, user generated content can affect how much they are willing to pay for it. In this survey, four out of five shoppers said they were willing to pay more (81 percent) and wait longer (81 percent) for products paired with UGC.

Demographics play are part in how effective user generated content can be for a certain audience. As many would assume, user generated content has a greater effect on younger audiences. Of those aged 18-29 in TurnTo’s survey, 97 percent reported UGC has an extreme influence. In a similar vein, women were more attuned to UGC than men, with nearly a quarter of female shoppers (24 percent) considering UGC to be the most influential marketing tool.

“Consumers demand a more engaging shopping experience; they’re looking to fellow shoppers to answer questions about products and share insights about purchases,” said Jim Davidson, Director of Research at TurnTo. “This study demonstrates UGC is outpacing traditional marketing tools when it comes to increasing shopper confidence and influencing decisions. Marketers who want to connect with the consumer must find ways to incorporate UGC into each step of the customer journey – not just the product page.”

Davidson’s comments are backed up by the results. Nearly two-thirds of shoppers (63 percent) believe UGC creates a more authentic shopping experience. Just under three-quarters (73 percent) say UGC increases their purchasing confidence. And three out of five (61 percent) report UGC encourages them to engage with brands.

The picture presented by this research is clear. User generated content is an effective way for businesses to use their fans to help reach new audiences. Encouraging user content on social networks and user engagement in other online forums can turn these fans into UGC producing brand ambassadors.

For more recent research on to help business owners improve online marketing, read this article on the effect of coupons and discounts for online sales.

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