The Holidays… a time for Snow, Santa, Christmas Spirit and… Shopping.
But with greater spending comes greater responsibility to choose the perfect gift for our loved ones, the last thing we want is our gifts being returned or spending the year untouched and unloved.
With this in mind, consumers have been actively searching for new brands and retailers each holiday season to make inspired purchases and break from traditional gifts that need modernizing.
- 76% of consumers are open to buying from new retailers 76% 76%
But actively searching for this new information leaves consumers anxious about where to look, this anxiety breeds uncertainty manifesting into last-minute shopping at a time where we should be unwinding before Christmas Day. In fact, 19% of us have no inclination of what to buy and make entirely unplanned purchases while a further 30% of us have only a vague idea.
So, with all this uncertainty, the Holidays are the perfect time for brands to launch immersive marketing campaigns to validate purchase decisions and convince anxious consumers they are buying the ‘right’ gift.
Break from traditional forms of marketing
Trends in digital marketing are changing. While more consumers are buying online, they no longer trust a brands ‘paid’ marketing channels. In fact, consumers are all too aware of a brand’s motive – sales and conversion. So, when it comes to advertising across their own channels, consumers perceive a disconnect between what a brand says and what it does. This leaves consumers suspicious – is this actually a good product? Or are they just trying to sell me things?
However, there is a solution. One of the ways to dominate the space and curate customer-centric campaigns that consumers trust is through User Generated Content (UGC).
UGC is any content – videos, images, reviews – created by people and not brands. This can then be shared across brands own marketing channels which can successfully humanise campaigns, inspiring confidence and fostering product discovery.
In fact, UGC spans all corners of the digital marketing trifecta, bridging the gap between paid, owned and earned media.
Instead of employing brand agents or launching expensive advertising campaigns through paid channels, UGC seeks to create loyal legions of brand ambassadors who contextualize brand messages across their circle of influence. Unknowingly, they become brand agents, free of charge, and so become ‘earned media.’ Once a brand has earned media, it becomes easy to repost this content across owned channels, kickstarting customer-centric campaigns which maximize as much return on advertising spending (ROAS) as possible.
In fact, now armed with brand advocates, this UGC is effective in providing the stimuli for a new customer’s Zero Moment of Truth. The Zero Moment of Truth, or the ZMOT, refers to the exact moment an unbeknown consumer first encounters a brand. While amplifying brand messages across channels with thousands of viewers or followers isn’t so hard, what becomes difficult is contextualizing this message directly in a consumer’s circle of influence. However, when UGC is shared across social media from friends, family or influencers, it unwittingly becomes a new consumer’s ZMOT, this time from a source they trust, contextualized to their referencing group. This ZMOT starts the path to purchase that can ultimately end in sales and conversions for the brand.
Photo from Instagram | Starbucks
UGC and social proof-two sides of the same coin?
Ok… so UGC can prove to be an effective form of marketing… But why?
Well… it’s rooted in the psychology of social proof.
Social proof is a term coined back in 1984 by author Robert Cialdini in his book Influence. It explains that when someone is unsure how to act in social situations, they take cues from others around them. Given our longing for social acceptance, when we lack knowledge about an area but are surrounded by those who we perceive as ‘experts’, we are likely to emulate their actions. From not touching hot pans as children after a schooling from our parents to abiding by dress codes at formal dinners after explanation by the host, social proof is a powerful psychological phenomenon that defers decision making to standards and procedures.
But… is it really that simple?
If we based all our decisions on others behavior we would be conflicted at every point of our day. Simple decisions like making a coffee before work or what playlist to put on at the gym would become painstakingly slow. However, to streamline this process, we employ heuristics, otherwise known as cognitive misers, that allow for approximate, satisfactory solutions to simple problems. We base these on our inherent and, at times, unconscious beliefs on a subject. We do what we think is right, given we have done it so many times before. Our beliefs and actions are aligned so there is little reason to take cues from others
Picture by Beroe Inc | Latest Insights
Social proof in commerce
SO… when does social proof come in. Well… it’s when we are in uncertain situations when we can’t fall on past experience to tell us how to act, in these scenarios, we look for guidance and support to make complex decisions based on who we perceive as experts.
In eCommerce, social proof becomes a powerful purchasing motive when consumers have high degrees of uncertainty and don’t know where to look for products, which brands are the best, or when they are actively searching for new retailers. In other words, at the top of the funnel, when consumers are gathering information on their problems and looking to validate their decisions by seeking inspiration from others.
However, consumers don’t want to seek this validation from brands paid media channels, they see this as unauthentic, simply pushing agendas for sales and conversions. Instead, consumers want customer-centric forms of marketing that humanise what their circle of influence thinks about a product. This is where UGC comes in.
Encouraging UGC through hashtags, mentions, reviews and videos shows that real people are interacting with your product, serving the right type of social proof that will validate purchase decisions and improve top-line metrics, all for free.
But when are consumers most uncertain? Well, it’s during the holiday period where surrounded by Black Friday deals, pushed on time and money and actively searching for new retailers, consumers need to validate decisions with social proof. And that is why UGC this holiday period will be so impactful.
Use UGC to validate purchase decisions this holiday season
User-generated content doesn’t just have to be limited to social media or geared towards the top of the eCommerce conversion funnel. Leverage UGC to inspire confidence and validate purchase decisions at every stage of the buying journey. We’re not just talking about embedding static Instagram content into your home page. We’re talking about integrating UGC into your website which is dynamic and automatically updates to reflect the interests, needs and wants of every shopper. How? With Knexus.
Using this validation and social proof content in buying journeys, provides shoppers with the confidence to buy. Knexus ensures every shopper is served the content which is most relevant to them and what is going to give them the validation needed to make a purchase. Let’s delve into the how, shall we?
- Content intelligence
Knexus uses content intelligence to identify all content that’s available to your brand & creates a single dynamic view of this content. This can be your brand’s UGC content curated through hashtags, mentions or reviews but it can also work for brands own content living in your CMS, blog, social channels, or influencer. Knexus uses AI to understand the content & automatically tags & indexes it to ensure it’s intelligently delivered to the right shopper.
- Customer intelligence
Knexus uses machine learning to build intelligence around each shopper & customer using transactional & behavioural data. With a single view of all content & an in-depth understanding of each shopper & customer, Knexus uses these insights to pick the most relevant UGC but also influencer or brand content to deliver to the shopper at the key moment of their buying journey.
- Make your UGC shoppable
Knexus uses AI to match the influencer, UGC & brand content to the relevant product. At the same time as a shopper is consuming the content, Knexus delivers the personalized product recommendation alongside – fuelling product discovery at the same time as providing social proof & validation to inspire confidence & encourage purchases.
- Real-time delivery
Knexus delivers personalized content in real-time through dynamic widgets which update to show the relevant UGC but also influencer & brand content based on each shopper’s unique profile. These widgets are added to an existing page(s) which can either take over existing sections on the page which are being underutilized or create new sections. Widgets are SEO optimized & are fully flexible to suit the look & feel of your page & display the content type of your choice.
Interested in finding out more about Knexus and unleashing the potential of your UGC? Book a demo.