027 Content Marketing: User Generated Content how make it work for you with Joanna Steele

by April Buencamino-dy

Joanna Steele is The UGC Queen, what Joanna doesn’t know about getting customer reviews and using them to increase sales is very little! Until Feb 2020 she was the Senior Reviews and Customer Generated Content Manager at Argos (one of the UK’s leading high street retailers and the 3rd most visited website in the UK after Amazon and eBay). She’s now an award winning Digital marketing and eCommerce Strategist

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About Joanna

Joanna’s always been a writer to some degree. From journaling to writing articles, she says she’s been writing since a very young age.

Early in her career, she spent a lot of time writing press releases and brought that skill set with her into the digital age.

She worked a lot in social media in her early career days which developed into more editorial content creation. 

Joanna continued to evolve her career and became interested in how to engage customers with products using writing and social media and focusing not just on the product itself—but more importantly, the environment that the product sits in.

She cut her teeth in content marketing when she worked for a mother and baby company Mothercare, an industry that excels at creating peer to peer marketing content. 

Educating Entertaining and Inspiring

For Joanna, content really should educate, entertain and inspire, or do at least one of those!

For too long, brands were championing themselves only and not amplifying or learning from the voice of their customers.

Learning to listen to customers can actually make your business so much better and she encourages people to not get discouraged by critical feedback. 

How UGC Can Increase Trust

The retail landscape is changing because of Covid and more businesses need to start using UGC according to Joanna. It comes down to the basic fact that customers trust each other and want the truth—the good, the bad and the ugly.

Without being able to go to the shop, now more than ever people really want to be able to see products being used and in situ. And it’s not just older consumers— 84% of Generation Z trust companies who use real customers in their ads.

Being able to see someone who realistically represents individuals is a really important piece of building authenticity, which is becoming increasingly important.

UGC How To

Joanna says that you should strive to get as much and as much variety as possible from customers.

Start ratings, written reviews, in situ photos and video are all great for businesses. Even the most mundane products have great UGC that educates, entertains and inspires. 

Creative Ways to Share UGC

  • In email marketing campaigns—consider content like “Top 10 products from our customers this week.”
  • Think about how to put your customer at the center of that messaging
  • Use customer images in paid and organic social ads
  • Curate galleries of shoppable UGC images 

Other Benefits of UGC

One of the best things about UGC is it’s great value. Not only do you not pay for production costs, but the turnaround time is far superior to traditional shoots.

Joanna says if you’re looking to be more efficient with your spending, using UGC is a great way to cut costs.

Insider Tips

If we’ve inspired someone to take their first step with Email Marketing – what do they need to know to give themselves the best chance of success?

  • Use UGC as a two-way dialogue. 
  • Don’t just expect positive feedback and understand that negative feedback is just as useful. 
  • If you do get negative feedback think about how you can delve into more detail and work with that customer(s) to rectify the problem.

Once you’ve started of course you’ve got to ‘keep optimising’! So what’s your favourite way to improve email marketing performance?

  • Be data driven
  • Understand your objectives and how your measuring success
  • Test and Trial! Don’t be put off by failures

It’s impossible to improve our marketing unless we’re monitoring the performance – but the list of stuff we could monitor can be overwhelming. So what, for you is the number one email marketing KPI?

  • Engagement—which can be comments and links for content, but for  UGC specifically—how many reviews are you getting?

Crystal ball time – what’s coming up in the next 6-12 months that we should be getting ready for in email marketing?

  • Video! It’s here to stay. UGC is king and is going to keep going strong.

Interview Links

Joanna on Social media:

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