How to get and leverage user-generated content

customer feedback ts
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Content marketing pros share their top tips on the best ways to acquire customer reviews, ratings, photos and videos.

Adding user-generated content (UGC), such as ratings and reviews, to your website can enhance not only your search engine ranking, it can build trust between you and prospective customers – and mean the difference between you getting the sale or a competitor getting it. But how do you get customers to give you their honest feedback and how (and where) should you feature that content?

Dozens of content marketing and customer experience experts offer their six top suggestions regarding the best way(s) to acquire and leverage customer-generated content.

1. Ask customers (to rate your products, leave reviews and/or send in photos and videos). “A great way to get user-generated feedback/content is to connect with a customer after they have used your service or product,” says Jake Lane, growth analyst, LawnStarter. “A simple email asking for feedback on their experience can help provide you with content for testimonial areas on your site or even get customer submitted photos of the product in use. Using this content can help increase consumer trust and, ultimately, conversions.”

2. Reach out to your customer service and sales people for material to put in case studies (and elsewhere). “I have found that one of the easiest ways to get B2B customer testimonials is to talk with our account service team right after we launch a new brand, website or digital campaign,” says Caitlin Devereaux, content marketing specialist, BrandExtract, a branding and brand strategy consulting company. “Happy clients will frequently email our brand strategists a thank-you note or positive feedback they have received about their launch. I remind our account team to keep client testimonials in mind as they read these post-launch emails and encourage them to reach out for permission to publish and share these comments.”

As for putting these positive customer experiences to good use, “we have had great success leveraging these quotes as proof points in news articles and case studies for our agency,” she says.

3. Provide a platform for sharing feedback, reviews, etc. “Be it on your blog, a page on your website or a client portal, creating a platform which will allow your customers to share their stories and engage with each other means you have access to authentic material,” says Anam Khawar, digital marketing executive, HighQ, a provider of enterprise cloud software. “It will also allow you to track and monitor the behavior and interests of your audience to help come up with future content.”

4. Create a unique hashtag and advertise it online and in store. “Creating a hashtag that is relevant to your company or product is not only of the strongest ways to engage with your audience, but it allows you to easily track and curate content on social platforms,” says Khawar. “The two hurdles to execute this successfully are 1) [Creating a] hashtag [that is] unique to your company [as] quite a few companies create hashtags that can easily be misappropriated. And 2) actively encouraging people to use it so it generates content.”

“In addition to social and digital, retailers [should] also consider signage at their physical stores,” says Carrie Middlemiss, U.S. director of marketing, Metia, a digital marketing agency. “Brands can engage with their customers through [in-store] messaging encouraging customers to share photos on their shopping experiences with a unique hashtag [online].” They can then “interact with contributors [online] and repost [the] best content.”

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