On average, your subscribers receive and send over 121 emails per day.
They’re inundated with emails, and reading an update on your brand is probably the last thing they want to spend time on (unless, of course, you’re Taylor Swift).
So, what can you do to win their attention and engage with them?
While there are thousands of ways to leverage the two in your email marketing strategy, here are eight proven strategies to reap the benefits of user-generated content and social media influencers.
1. Use Them for Relatable Content
When brands craft campaigns, we often make aspirational statements (e.g., “Explore five countries in only two weeks!”) instead of relatable content.
However, influencers and users happen to combat this, mainly because they’ve already established their credibility by simply being who they are.
In other words, your subscribers will trust people who talk like them and look like them instead of trusting the credibility of a no-face brand whose agenda is likely to sell something.
For example, if your audience and influencers were to use the same headline used above, it’d look something like this: “How I visited five countries for under $3000 (and how you can do the same!).”
This relatability factor makes your marketing message (and, ergo, your product/service) attainable, which is what motivates users to convert.
2. Use Them for Social Proof
Another great way to leverage UGC and influencers is to use their content to build social proof.
For example, some design/content templates you can consider are:
1. Before-and-After Photos
Before-and-after photos act as product-led content and show your audience how useful your products actually are. This format works well because it’s not vague promotional content that floods everyone’s inbox.
For example, consider Hims & Hers marketing strategy — they usually partner with influencers who can vouch for the effectiveness of their products against hair loss, misuse of ED medication, mental health issues, etc.
While they mainly use this content format on social media, you can replicate it for email marketing, too.
2. Sharing Concrete Data
Getting in touch with customers for UGC might also provide insights into how beneficial the product was for the user.
For example, consider getting concrete data from our customers like “It helped reduce bottlenecks by 80%,” “It increased productivity 2x,” and “It was beneficial in managing X, Y, and Z things in my workflow.”
3. Honest Conversations
Oftentimes, the conversations around your brand and product/service aren’t the ones you’ve participated in but the ones your customers/influencers have.
For example, a user could’ve recommended your product to their friends via texts, and/or an influencer would’ve mentioned your product’s benefits while replying to a comment — those are the honest conversations you can get from influencers/users that can be leveraged later on.
We understand you have busy lives, and it might be impossible to sit and craft every email around the UGC and influencer content you receive. In that case, leveraging AI marketing tools to put the entire thing on auto-pilot might be easier.
That means leveraging AI to find the top influencers and generating templates to contact them. But wait, there’s more. You can also use magic links to receive social proof from them and create emails around the content you receive from them. Working smarter, not harder, for your next email marketing campaign.
3. Use Them for Case Studies and Customer Stories
Another way to leverage influencers and your customers is to create case studies and/or customer stories around how your product/service helped them.
Consider these examples by Descript (for case studies) and Loom (for customer stories).
This type of content will also help you identify:
- What your customers find most beneficial about your product/service
- How your customers talk/common phrases they use
- Customer sentiment surrounding your brand
- Unique use cases of your product
- Common customer pain points
All of this can be extremely helpful in developing future marketing materials and updating your sales scripts.
4. Use Them for Building Authority
Influencers’ testimonials and words of confidence (especially those with a large following) can greatly impact your brand.
For example, suppose the aim of companies such as Cruise America is to get users to buy used RVs. In that case, it might benefit from the testimonials of travel influencers who already have credibility and authority in their niche.
A simple video showcasing the influencers’ adventures and tours of a potential RV for sale naturally encourages viewers about the option to save money by purchasing a used RV.
Integrating this type of user-generated content into your email campaigns can provide a touch of relatability and authenticity, allowing recipients to imagine their own experiences with the product.
Why is this so effective? Even if you partner with the best marketers and get a celebrity to endorse your product, it might seem disingenuous if it doesn’t come from someone who knows what they’re talking about or doesn’t have direct experience with your product.
5. Use Them for Exploring Newer Topics of Conversation
Getting in touch with customers and influencers for UGC and influencer-led content can also lead you to explore new ideas for content, mainly because they’d be speaking from personal experiences and might have different stories to share.
For example, Remote, a company that helps employ remote workers, saw a trend in conversations among its network after the pandemic. Most of their audiences were asking about the benefits of being a contractor vs. an employee (especially a remote employee).
Based on this trend, it started pushing influencer content about these (or surrounding) topics.
Even today, it pushes and reposts content from influencers that sometimes talk about the individual benefits of remote work and the benefits of being a contractor (albeit this is all via social media).
6. Use Them for Building Relationships
With the help of relatable and engaging user-generated content, you can keep your audience invested in your email marketing campaigns.
But aside from just this, you can build stronger relationships with them by asking them to share their personal stories, sending them social proof that makes them trust your brand, and pushing relatable content that makes your reader think you’re aware of their issues/pain points.
While this is intangible, the role of UGC impacts how your audiences perceive you and build relationships with your brand.
Moreover, if your audience and influencers promote the content they generate on their social media pages or blogs, you can also begin creating relationships with their audiences.
7. Use Them for Different Perspectives
When creating email marketing campaigns, many of us play a guessing game about what we believe our audiences will like, what their journey looks like, and what their daily life (and daily life problems) look like.
Stories and content from your users (such as UGC) help you remove these rose-colored glasses and consider different perspectives, pain points, and ideas.
Essentially, UGC can help you form an identity resolution about your customer that isn’t truthful to a thousandth degree because it directly comes from them.
Aside from this, UGC might also provide some insights into your customer’s behavioral patterns. You can then supplement these insights with data from sales enablement tools to create marketing campaigns bound to convert.
For example, with the help of UGC and sales tools, you might realize your audience prefers buying product bundles instead of singular items.
8. Use Them for SEO Purposes
Last but not least, one of the main benefits of user-generated and influencer-led content is that they’re also excellent for increasing your SEO score. Why? Mainly because both content types can give you backlinks, visibility, and social signals.
For example, if an influencer posts about your brand on their page, that can improve your visibility follows, likes, and social signals right then and there. Or, if a user pushes your product forward in a guest post, that’s a backlink you earn.
Backlinks directly affect your SEO score. Social signals and visibility also play a huge part in how search engines crawl and consume your data and think of you as an authoritative figure.
And the more authoritative search engine algorithms think you are, the higher your rank and the better your website domain rating (DR).
Get Notified About Your Email Marketing Efforts
We know it’s easy to list a thousand ways to leverage content to improve your email marketing campaigns; however, the difficult part is starting.
Once you’ve climbed that hill, you still need to send emails at a decent cadence, interact with your audiences, think about new ideas, plan strategies to push your products and analyze your efforts to see if all the investment results in anything fruitful.
In short, email marketing isn’t easy. Not even close. However, reaping the benefits of user-generated content and relationships with social media influencers is well worth the effort.
Our best suggestion to optimize your campaigns in the beginning is to start small. One way to do this is by using a simple email marketing service, like Benchmark, to help you.
You can use Benchmark to create your first email (don’t worry, it’s completely free). We have all the email templates, integrations, and analytics you need, so you don’t need to stress so much and can leave the heavy lifting to us.
Jeremy is co-founder & CEO at uSERP, a digital PR and SEO agency working with brands like Monday, ActiveCampaign, Hotjar, and more. He also buys and builds SaaS companies like Wordable.io and writes for publications like Entrepreneur and Search Engine Journal.