For a long time, Consumer Packaged Goods brands have had little to no direct interaction with their end consumers. This relationship has traditionally been owned by third-party retailers leaving a big communication gap between the two. Fast forward to the digital era and User Generated Content (UGC) has quickly become a valuable avenue for CPG brands to communicate directly with their biggest fans.
So what exactly makes this form of content so powerful and where does sampling fit into the picture? We’re outlining the top 3 benefits of incorporating UGC into your social marketing efforts and uncovering how digital product sampling can be a powerful tool to get you started.
Consumers trust people, not brands
There’s a very simple reason User Generated Content is considered one of the most valuable tools in a marketer’s toolbox - it’s trusted. According to Nielsen Research, 92% of consumers trust earned media, like UGC more than any other form of content. It’s essentially the digital version of a personal recommendation, and arguably even more powerful. After all, it’s shared on social platforms accessible to a much wider audience than an immediate circle of friends. In addition, it’s perceived as far more genuine, authentic and trustworthy than content created by a brand.
It influences buying decisions
In a report by Adweek, it was found that 85% of users said visual UGC is more influential in their decisions than brand-generated photos or videos. When shopping for products, consumers often turn to the internet as a source of trusted opinions, reviews and advice. Seeing images or videos from real people (even if they’re online strangers) interacting with a brand further influences a consumers’ purchasing decisions.
Needless to say, User Generated Content plays a crucial role in driving sales in today’s hyperconnected world. This holds true even more so in a post-pandemic world where digital adoption has been drastically accelerated and physical interactions with brands and products are narrowing.
It builds a sense of community
UGC helps foster a deep sense of community between people and brands. There are no high production photoshoots or fancy slogans involved, just real and authentic stories told by your best content creators: your consumers. Naturally, when like-minded people come across this content, the engagement increases tenfold. It’s not only validating your brand, but building a community of die hard fans and long term brand advocates. Displaying a curated gallery of User Generated Content allows your audience to witness people just like them using your product in real life. This further humanizes your brand and allows consumers to relate to your products on a much more personal level.
So, where does digital product sampling fit in all of this?
There are very few tactics more powerful at encouraging User Generated Content than actually getting your product into consumers’ hands. We know that 1 in 4 consumers who get a free sample leave a review of the product. Delivering a deeply personalized experience to a consumer in the comfort of their own home not only captures their undivided attention, but immediately offers an extrinsic reward that inspires them to share their experience.
There is also this sense of reciprocity, because what you do for consumers today will foster deep loyalties down the road. As humans, we naturally feel indebted to those who have done something for them, including something as simple as giving them a free sample. When you share a free product with them, a mental desire to reciprocate the gesture comes into play.
As an added bonus, when running a digital product sampling program, you are gathering an immensely valuable set of consumer data points - from demographics to dietary preferences, to hair types and shopping habits, you are getting to know your targeted audience on a much deeper level. This information helps you further engage, influence, and remarket to these consumers long after your sampling program. In fact, roughly 50% of Sampler users opt-in for future remarketing from brands - allowing you to continue building that relationship in the long run.
If we look at integrating sampling into current marketing channels, adding a sampling CTA to your existing ads, or your existing influencer marketing campaigns is a great way to gather engaging UGC and populate ratings & reviews quickly and cost effectively.
If you still need convincing that User Generated Content is a branding must-have, consider this: 84 percent of millennials report that user-generated content has some influence on what they buy. If you’re a brand looking to motivate consumers to produce and contribute this powerful form of content, digital product sampling is a great tool to leverage. By simply optimizing your social channels to allow for consumers to try a product, easily share feedback, and document their experience, you’re creating a direct line of communication with them to foster brand advocacy and ultimately drive them down the funnel to purchase. Through User Generated Content, your consumers have the opportunity to become your best and most influential marketers—if you let them.