insights | 21.05.2024

User-generated content for eCommerce stores: what it is and how to use it

Looking for a way to expand your image library, build relationships with customers, and increase your sales?

User-generated content, or UGC, may be perfect for your business.

Let’s look at how to get UGC for your business, what to do with it, and how to get the best results.

Article topics
  1. What is user-generated content?
  2. Examples of UGC in action
  3. The benefits of user-generated content for your business
  4. How to get user-generated content
  5. Top tips for making the most of your UGC

What is user-generated content?

UGC is content created by your customers rather than by you.

For example, let’s say you operate an eCommerce store that sells herbs and spices, and a customer uploads a video to YouTube of them cooking a meal with your products. That would be UGC.

User-generated content typically takes the form of images and videos but also includes social media posts, blog posts, live streams, and podcasts. Reviews and testimonials count as UGC too!

You can use UGC in a variety of ways. You can:

  • Publish it on your social media feeds
  • Use it in your social media advertising
  • Add it to your product pages
  • Put it on your website pages as a trust signal
  • Include it in your email marketing campaigns

The thing we love about UGC is that all eCommerce stores can take advantage of it, no matter what they sell or whether they’re B2B or B2C.

Examples of UGC in action

Here are some examples of user-generated content we love.

Snag Tights

Snag Tights has long been an advocate of UGC, featuring photos of customers on its product pages and social media.

As Snag Tights is an inclusive brand that offers clothing from size 4 to size 36, this means it can show how its clothing looks on people of all shapes and sizes.


Apple’s long-running campaign, ‘Shot on iPhone,’ shows you can take high-quality photos with your iPhone.

People tag their photos using the #ShotonIphone hashtag, with the best photos featured on Apple social media accounts, where they generate tens of thousands of likes.


Lego is the undisputed king of UGC, with the introduction of Lego Ideas in 2014. This website lets people upload their home-built designs and participate in fun challenges.

Visitors can vote for their favourite builds, which may even become official Lego sets!


A slightly different example, KFC turned user-generated content on its head with its campaign to promote its new fries in 2018.

KFC took posts (then known as tweets) complaining about its old fries and turned them into ads, leading to lots of debate and discussion on social media.

The benefits of user-generated content for your business

Let’s look at why UGC can be beneficial for your eCommerce store.

It leads to more sales

It’s all very well and good telling people how fantastic your eCommerce store is. However, someone else saying how great you are is an entirely different story.

UGC helps people make up their minds about which companies to buy from, as it’s trustworthy and objective.

In fact, nearly four out of five people say user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

UGC can also promote your brand to new customers, with nearly half of shoppers saying that user-generated content helps them discover new products.

It saves you money

Taking advantage of user-generated content means spending less money on creating your own content.

It can also reduce your marketing spend. Using UGC in paid social ads can reduce your cost-per-click by up to 50%.

It builds trust

Working with customers to generate user-generated content means you build relationships with your most loyal fans. This can lead to improved customer advocacy and ultimately a higher customer lifetime value.

UGC is also one of the most trustworthy types of content around, with customers 2.4 times more likely to see user-generated content as authentic compared to brand content.

How to get user-generated content

The easiest way to get UGC to promote your brand? Just ask!

Many customers are happy to share their experiences with others and help them make informed decisions about the products you sell.

UGC also gives customers the opportunity to express themselves and feel part of a larger community.

Here are some of the ways to ask for (and find) UGC:

  • Provide an email address that customers can send their UGC to or signpost you to their content
  • Create a social media hashtag that’s unique to your brand
  • Use social listening to find people who talk about your brand
  • Run competitions or giveaways. For example, you can encourage customers to upload photos in exchange for a prize

Do I need to ask for permission to use someone’s UGC?

Yes. Unless the content has come directly to you (for example, through an email address designed to accept UGC), you must ask for permission.

This is because the creator of the content has the right to choose how the content is used. It also helps build a positive relationship with the creator, meaning they may be willing to come directly to you with content in the future.

The best way to ask for permission is through the medium that the UGC appears. So, if you see the content on social media, send a DM. If you see the content on someone’s website, send an email or fill in a contact form.

When you reach out to the creator of the content, explain where you plan to use it. Some people might be happy for you to use their photo on social media, but not as part of an advertising campaign.

We also recommend asking who to credit the content to.

The good news is that 72% of customers will accept a brand’s request to use their content.

Remember that people may also change their minds. If you publish UGC on your website or social media and the person who created it asks you to take it down, do so as soon as possible.

Does content created by influencers count as UGC?

It’s a grey area.

For example, a post by an influencer that talks about a product they love that isn’t promotional in nature and shares their genuine thoughts would typically be considered UGC.

However, a post by an influencer that has been paid for and that the brand has a high degree of control over wouldn’t be considered UGC.

The more authentic and credible the content, the more likely it is to count as user-generated content.

Here’s an interesting statistic for you. Did you know that customers find UGC ten times more impactful than influencer content?

Top tips for making the most of your UGC

Not all UGC campaigns are created equally. Here are some final hints and tips to help you find and promote fantastic user-generated content!

Tell customers what you want to see

60% of customers say they wish brands would tell them what content they want them to create.

By being direct and telling your fans what content you need, they’re more likely to oblige. Plus, prompts, suggestions, and ideas can help people create content that’s more fun!

Regularly ask for content

47% of customers want to see brand-new UGC content on social media several times a week. This means searching for user-generated content isn’t a ‘one-and-done’ thing; you need to make it integral to your social media strategy.

In our experience, the more UGC you post, the more likely other customers want to get involved!

Get your staff in on the act

User-generated content doesn’t have to just come from your customers. It can come from your employees too!

UGC is a brilliant way to show what goes on behind the scenes, promote authenticity, and show what you’re like to work for as a business.

It’s important to let your team speak freely and be their authentic selves. Inauthentic, forced content can do more harm to your brand than good.

Say thank you

Last but not least, it’s important to acknowledge people for the content they create. This makes them feel valued and more likely to produce content for you in the future. Plus, it proves to other customers that your marketing team didn’t create the content.

While you can offer goodies like branded merchandise and discount codes, even a shoutout on social media or your website will suffice.

Transform your eCommerce site with Xigen

Adding user-generated content to your website or showcasing it on your social media profiles is a fantastic way to boost your sales and build customer relationships.

Looking for another way to grow your revenue? Our experts will rebuild or optimise your eCommerce store, meaning you provide shoppers with an exceptional online experience.

Contact us today to find out more.

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