TLDR: The most crucial indication of brand loyalty is the time between sales, and UGC is the best opportunity to engage with customers with a one-to-many marketing strategy.
When GoNanas posts photos of their favorite “stash pics” from customers, showing off how many packs they bought – that’s customer engagement through user-generated content (UGC).
When WeWoreWhat’s Danielle Bernstein takes you behind the scenes and asks which style you would like to see in her upcoming collection… That’s what customer engagement is about.
Or, when Emily Ratajkowski, the Founder of Inamorata swim, ‘likes’ your Instagram posts where you tagged her swimwear company… That’s also customer engagement through UGC.
These engagements in-between purchases are vital to building customer loyalty which is fed outside the purchase; rarely at the point of sale.
Today’s buyer is more relational and thoughtful (read: Engaging with Gen Z). A favorite product isn’t a favorite until it’s used for the 3rd or 4th time, and even then, brand loyalty isn’t built on a single purchase or product. Brands that focus on engagement and awareness between transactions are more likely to establish customer loyalty and, as a result, achieve exponential growth.
Remember Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing from 1999? It used to be about email, but today it refers to so much more: email, social media, text marketing, etc. As long as GDPR is adopted across the US, Matt Heinze of Heinz Marketing Inc. published a few soul-searching questions that marketing should ask itself:
- What are you doing to get your customers’ attention (rather than renting it)?
- What are you doing to build long-term trust and influence (rather than shoe-horning short-term transactions)?
At LoudCrowd, we’ve built the UGC Loyalty Loop to assist our clients in developing customer-focused ambassador programs and strategies to answer these questions. Let’s talk about what customer loyalty looks like and what best practices can be applied for each stage so your brand can start earning – instead of renting – your clients’ attention through your own customer loyalty loop through UGC.
1. Customer Makes Purchase
When you walk into Lush Cosmetics, you are surrounded by a feeling of comfort and peace – an oasis of lavender, chamomile, with a hint of citrus – designed to elevate all types of body care routines. Whether a customer purchases a bath bomb or a sumptuous face mask, Lush will throw in a couple of samples at checkout. With this simple gesture, Lush gains the opportunity to present new goods or products from a different line, leaving the customer feeling as if they received a little something extra.
‘Surprise and delight’ is a key concept in interaction with a customer. And it’s not only for brick-and-morter, eComm brands all around the world are focusing on strong customer engagement at every touchpoint.
Brands have moved beyond simply asking for an email address; they’re enhancing the buying experience by incorporating an unobtrusive QR code that links to social media or directly asking for a tag on Instagram or TikTok! These tiny gestures sow the seeds of future engagement.
Key takeaway – at any customer purchase touchpoint:
- Include a “give”, surprise and delight; go beyond the purchase
- Engage the customer via social media; ask for the tag
To create a UGC loyalty loop, you must learn to direct new clients to your brand’s social media presence. It is the greatest touchpoint medium in the history of shopping.
2. Customer Posts & Tags Brand
Social media is relational. Today’s marketing innovators are focused on building long-term customer relationships based on cooperation and authenticity. Though influencers may have a place in your marketing plan, this is where we focus on the authenticity of customer-driven UGC.
Questions marketing must ask itself:
- What has your brand done to encourage UGC?
- How do you encourage customers to tag your brand in their social media posts?
- Do your social media goals include outreach and customer engagement?
Any excellent ambassador program or campaign starts with setting goals and asking questions about how to achieve those goals. To begin with, can you claim that your brand is focused on increasing customer engagement through social media? What is the strategy for benchmarking user-generated content and growing it by nurturing customer relationships?
LoudCrowd works with clients of all types and sizes of businesses from all around the world and helps them with implementing ambassador programs to increase UGC. Here are just a few of our favorite examples for companies to encourage their customers to share more UGC:
- Using a QR code to direct clients to UGC best practices and rewards
- Via DMs, incentives are directed toward creative clients who already tagging the brand
- Inviting customers to join an exclusive ambassador program, which includes complimentary products and early access to new product launches
According to hundreds of clients across multiple industries and countries, the greatest strategy to persuade your customer to tag your brand is to simply ask them! This might range from inserting the request in your Instagram bio to including it at the purchase point. Tell them what happens, when they tag your brand. Your most ardent followers and customers will simply post for the sake of receiving a like or a comment from your brand’s account.
[FREE TOOL] How does your brand measure up? Check out our free benchmark tool and see how you rank for social tags within your industry: LoudCrowd UGC Benchmark Tool
3. Customer Engagement Levels up Brands
Engagement is KEY.
I spoke with Jessica Sherrets of the growing brand La Lumiere NYC and she said, “Social media is your most powerful customer interaction tool… It’s where you attach a human to the brand and establish a relationship that goes beyond the point of sale.”
When you interact with a customer’s tagged post, they’re 3x more likely to do so again. If you react to their first post about your brand, they are 5x more likely to tag your brand again.
Because of the built-in authenticity, the benefit of UGC is priceless. Customers will post in a way that also amplifies their persona and engagement goals. UGC reinforces this authenticity, whether it’s through contests or social benefits.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of customers post because they know and love your brand…posting to their followers, who are people in your target markets.
Ready to build your own UGC Loyalty Loop? Here’s where to begin…
Organize Your Customer Base
You use a social CRM to organize your customers and prospective customers; now apply the same approach to the content people, who are creating about your brand. You pull data from across platforms like Instagram and Tiktok into your social CRM to better identify your most valuable customers. Do you have micro and nano-influencers who adore your brand and are already posting about it on social media?
[Pro Tip] When you link your Instagram and TikTok accounts to LoudCrowd, the first thing you see is a high-level view. We begin with this topic because customer loyalty starts with identifying which of your clients are already sharing information about you on their social accounts.
Build Your Audience
Building a greater audience should always be based on engaging with your customers. It’s crucial to develop brand ambassador programs with creators, micro and nano-influencers, who have shown authentic interest in your brand and made a purchase, whether they’re current customers or superfans. Let’s take a look at the top three methods for growing your community…
1. Affiliate Marketing
Do you have an affiliate program, brand ambassador program or maybe you are considering creating one? If the affiliate doesn’t make any sales within the first weeks, there may be a sharp drop-off. But if you engage them through a UGC rewards program, you can encourage an exponential audience to reach. While also keeping the affiliate engaged and interested in continuing to post about your products.
2. Brand Ambassadors
Brand ambassadors are a formalized team of ‘brand advocates’ that hold a genuine passion for a brand. Brand ambassadors are recruited to assist in promoting a brand, build a community, and provide feedback. In return, they offer exclusivity, recognition, gifts, and potentially commissions.
Read more: Brand Ambassadors versus Influencers
3. User-Generated Content (UGC) Creators
User-generated content is the organic content that your customers publish about your company on social media. UGC provides a direct line of communication between brands and their clients, meanwhile improving authenticity and customer loyalty. People who are already posting about your brand on social media should be the starting point for any affiliate or brand ambassador program. And any of these ambassador programs should have a well-defined, well-timed, and well-detailed UGC approach. To maintain a good relationship, we should keep engaging with brand ambassadors and affiliates, just as we do with customers.
UGC as EMV
The truth is, just like earned media mentions, UGC is happening whether or not brands are paying attention to it. In fact, it’s a mistake to consider social media as a content-sharing platform while the companies like Instagram and TikTok are referring to themselves as product-discovery platforms. As social media is part of any brand’s tech stack, it should be included in the digital strategy as well.
At LoudCrowd, we measure user-generated content in the same way you would measure those earned media mentions, in EMV. Combining LoudCrowd with Google Analytics, Shopify, or other tools allows you to connect the dots in buying patterns, AOV, customer growth, and others.
In a recent HBR article about how brands can grow, the subtitle read, ‘They need to revise the marketing innovations that gave them early momentum.’ This applies to any brand… Taking advantage of technology trends has given rise to a number of success stories.
The UGC Loyalty Loop includes the guidelines that brands must follow to guarantee that they are using user-generated content (UGC) in a way that nurtures customer relationships and builds long-term trust.
Whether it was the first to leverage social media, the first to cooperate with influencers, or the first to see exponential growth with brand ambassador programs, marketers all around the world will experience the exponential growth needed to build a brand based on loyalty and authenticity – this