If you're savvy with social media, you already know how UGC works. If you prefer to stay off the grid, the concept is simple:
- Customers post about your products or services
- They might even tag you in their posts
- You may or may not repost their content (you should)
- Either way, it's free marketing for your business
The whole reason user-generated content is so effective is because...well...it's user-generated.
And, in many cases, it's organic.
When it comes to using UGC as a sales and marketing tool, though, it's always one of two issues:
- A lack of intention (they're relying entirely on organic content instead of actively pursuing it)
- A lack of personalization (they aren’t using the content they have in a targeted way)
I've already written extensively on turning your customers into brand advocates and what's holding your customer marketing program back from scale.
So, let's dive into how you can take a personalized approach to UGC (and use it to connect with prospects in your pipeline).
What do you mean by "personalized" UGC?
In the context of UGC, "personalization" means taking the time to understand your buyers and their experiences, then serving them customer-generated content they can actually relate to.
The problem with most UGC is it takes the "me, me, me" approach. It's all about the brand and its products or services (because, well, that's what people are posting about).
Spoiler alert: Your prospects don't care what you did for someone else unless it's directly relevant to their own needs. Shifting the focus from you to your customer is Sales 101.
Personalization is the missing piece in the UGC puzzle.
Personalized UGC takes into account who is actually consuming the content...
- What do they care about?
- Where are they in their journey?
- What pain points do they have?
- How will they use your product?
...then curating and sharing content that specifically addresses those questions.
As prospects move through the sales funnel, their priorities and concerns shift.
Initially, they'll have one or two things in mind that prompted them to reach out to you or respond to your outreach. This is normally centered around a problem they have or a goal they want to achieve.
- “We’re behind in ____ category.”
- "Our website gets zero engagement."
- "We spend too much time on ____."
As they move through the buyer's journey, though, the shift will focus on questions like:
- "Is this solution going to be difficult to implement?"
- "How does it compare to other options?"
- “Where does it fit into our workflow?”
While user-generated content works at every stage of the buyer's journey, taking a personalized approach means sharing content that answers the questions and concerns your prospect currently has.
In early stages, that could be as simple as a review or testimonial ("We 5X'ed our web engagement.").
For later stages, it's more about addressing specific objections ("We were worried about implementation, but it was surprisingly painless.").
Members of the buying group have varied needs and concerns.
According to research from Gartner, the typical B2B buying decision requires six to 10 decision-makers.
You're dealing with:
- Executive sponsors
- Department leaders
- Technical buyers
- Budget holders
While a technical decision-maker would probably care about how your platform integrates with their existing systems, execs want to understand $$$ in vs. $$$ out.
Legal/procurement wants to know about data security, and your end-users just want something that's easy to use.
Meeting buyers where they are is the key to success.
Getting social proof to drive real results as a sales enablement tool ultimately boils down to those two factors:
- Right person
- Right time
If you're not taking a personalized approach to how you highlight customer experiences, you run the risk of wasting your prospects' (and customers') time.
In addition to losing a qualified lead, this can also undermine your customer advocacy program altogether — fewer customers will want to participate if their contributions aren't used in an impactful way.
Higher ROI on your content is the direct result.
Companies that personalize the B2B buying process see an average of ~1.4X revenue growth.
So, your ability to source and distribute customer-generated content across your marketing and sales collateral in a timely and relevant way is by far the biggest determining factor in whether you'll get a return on your content investment.
Accelerating B2B sales with personalized UGC
Really, there are plenty of ways to incorporate UGC into the sales cycle. It all comes down to the tools and processes you use to accomplish that.
Start by auditing your sales framework and UGC assets. Are your sales reps asking questions during qualification that uncover pain points, buying group roles, and the prospect's overall goals? Are you collecting a broad range of customer stories and feedback that speak to different use cases, pain points, and types of buyers?
From there, look for a customer advocacy platform that does the heavy lifting for you with prospect-reference smart-matching, dynamic website content, and customizable content sharing.
While you're at it, check ours out.