Editor’s note: This case study was originally published in 2019.
Is your brand using user-generated content (UGC) to its fullest potential?
UGC isn’t just a powerful asset for your social media marketing strategy. When used correctly on your website, it can also have a significant impact on your online conversion rates, sales, and overall business revenue.
In this case study, we’ll share a few tests we ran for Mountain House — a business that sells freeze-dried foods for hikers, hunters, and camping enthusiasts — showing how adding UGC in strategic places on an eCommerce site can increase the conversion rate.
Specifically, we curated and displayed photos on the main category pages, which led to a conversion rate lift of 13%.
Keep reading to learn more about:
- The psychology of why this worked
- Ways to leverage UGC content and social media channels to improve conversion rates
- Learnings you can apply to your eCommerce business
Want to get the best possible conversion rate on your site? Get an advanced strategy designed for your specific audience by contacting our CRO experts today.
The Test: Using Instagram UGC to Improve Conversion Rates
If you want your UGC images and videos to impact your conversions in a positive way, you first need to ensure you’ve got the best content possible.
We recommend thinking of your user-generated content similarly to your own product photography. By using high-quality photos and videos from your customers, you’re more likely to increase shopper desire for your product — and, in turn, conversion rates.
That was the focus of our 2019 CRO test for Mountain House.
To start, we strategically chose stunning images that captured customers’ attention from a contest that Mountain House ran on their Instagram profile.
Fortunately for us, Mountain House has cultivated a loyal and large brand following with more than 80,000 followers on Instagram. In 2017, they ran a contest collecting UGC photos from loyal customers and influencers.
This gave us plenty of high-quality content to choose from, allowing us to put the best front and center on the eCommerce site’s category pages.
We curated and added compelling contest photos to these category pages as a value-add to drive home that people buy and love these products (as shown above).
Specifically, we used ReadyPulse (now known as ExpertVoice) to curate and pull in these images dynamically. We looked for unique places and customers doing cool things — not just your typical “I’m holding the product in front of a door” photo.
Our hypothesis? By highlighting everyday Mountain House customers who look and feel like the brand’s target audience of shoppers, browsers would be more likely to take that final step to purchase.
The Results: 13% Lift in UGC Conversion Rates
This concept — along with the A/B test we ran — exceeded all expectations, leading to a 13% lift in online conversion rates.
Because Mountain House has a diverse customer base of camping and hiking enthusiasts, outdoor adventure seekers, and preppers, our design change helped to reinforce the brand perception of one of their key customer segments: everyday people who go hiking and hunting on the weekends — and how they love consuming these products.
An added bonus: The customers who got their photos featured felt like the brand recognized their value.
This, in turn, builds more brand loyalty, increasing the chance of repeat purchases.
Location Matters: Don’t Just Test UGC in One Place and Declare It a Success or Failure
Because the homepage is the page that almost every potential customer lands on at one point or another, it’s a natural place to run CRO tests for the first time.
However, we often see brands quick to call something a success or failure after only testing it on the homepage for a short time.
But that’s not always going to be the spot with the most significant impact.
In this specific case, we first started with Mountain House’s homepage. Below, you’ll see the original test, which was less impactful than our final version and only resulted in a small lift.
So, we tested it further down the funnel by adding it to every single category page, where we found it resonated best with visitors.
You can also test adding UGC on product pages. For example, if you’ve got only a handful of products or you’ve got a huge Instagram base, putting user-generated content on the product page is definitely something worth trying.
However, we don’t recommend adding UGC to add-to-cart and checkout pages. You don’t want to push people to your Instagram page and further away from your site when they’re already at that late stage in their purchasing decision.
Incentivizing Customers to Create Compelling UGC Content
User-generated content only works well when you tap into your most engaged customers on social networks and give them a reason to share content with you.
Specifically, you need to incentivize them by empathizing with them and understanding their motivations.
In this example, we needed to give credit to customers in a way that got them excited. This meant having a prize that motivated people to want to engage.
In this case, it was a year’s supply of freeze-dried food.
Other ways to generate great UGC for your conversion needs?
- Take notes from your competitors’ UGC strategies: Look at what they’re doing well and consider replicating that approach with your own customer base.
- Give your content creators basic parameters: When specifically asking for UGC, be clear about your expectations for types of content, good natural lighting, video length, etc.
- Use what you already have: If you’re a popular brand, you’ve probably already got great UGC out there; you just have to dig to find it. Explore less-popular social channels like Reddit and TikTok to find hidden gems.
Conclusion: Leveraging Social Proof to Generate More Sales
The underlying reason why this CRO experiment worked so well: It showed real people using real products in their real lives.
This may seem obvious, but few online retailers leverage this social proof effectively.
It’s easy to underestimate the power of social media beyond what you see in-platform. But, if you have a strong brand and social following with engaged users, you can use UGC content like Instagram posts to increase your conversion rate on your own website, too.
While this UGC campaign worked well for Mountain House, you may not see the exact same results on your website. It’s helpful to benchmark your results against our studied Best in Class sites to see what top performers are doing — and then create a custom testing strategy based on your brand strengths and weaknesses.
Need help developing that strategy?
Contact our CRO experts today to see which conversion rate optimization best practices can be applied to your eCommerce to increase your sales and revenue.