6 User-Generated Content Ideas for Your eCommerce Holiday Marketing Strategy

As retailers prepare for a holiday season like no other, many are left wondering how they can create a knockout eCommerce holiday marketing strategy.

With an increase in online competition, higher numbers of budget-conscious consumers and the overall unpredictable nature of the 2020 holiday shopping season, retailers are experiencing added pressure during an already critical time of year for retail success.

The answer to making your brand rise above the holiday noise is implementing more user-generated content (UGC). By deploying all or a combination of the following cost-effective UGC tactics for your eCommerce holiday marketing strategy, your brand will have a comprehensive, omni-channel marketing plan that’s sure to bring enormous sales (and hopefully, some holiday cheer).

Here are six ways to insert more UGC into your eCommerce holiday marketing:

1. Regularly share real customer images on social channels

The majority of Instagram’s over one billion users are Millennials and Gen Zs—people aged 18-38 years old. This group commands the most purchasing power, is highly active on social platforms and they’re constantly looking for shopping inspiration. According to Facebook, the vast majority of users say Instagram helps them discover new products (83%), research products (81%) and decide whether to purchase products (80%).

UGC eCommerce holiday marketing

User-generated content—the photos, videos and posts people share online everyday—has proven to be the most trusted, engaging and influential content consumers seek that brands simply can’t manufacture.

Because UGC is abundantly available and viewed as authentic by consumers, it should be an instrumental part of your omni-channel holiday strategy. Regularly sharing real content created by people who are genuine brand fans across your organic social channels helps not only boost engagement, but also excites your loyal customers. Who doesn’t want their favorite brands to feature them on their social channels? Try posting customer UGC in standard posts (as well as Stories and Snaps). It shows prospective holiday shoppers how much your customers love their latest buys.

2. Run contests and giveaways on social

What better way to help people get into the gift-giving spirit than by hosting a friendly social competition?

Social contests (especially those with prizes involved) are a smart eCommerce holiday marketing strategy because they:

  • Are a fun and exciting way to engage your current social audiences
  • Can help grow brand awareness by compelling current followers to tag your brand as well as their friends
  • Generate new fan content brands can then use to fuel more marketing activities

Try prompting people to share the best gifts they’ve ever received or photos of their holiday home decorations with a special contest hashtag. Keeping the barriers to entry low and and the inspirational resources high are the best ways to run a successful social competition.

Starbucks Red Cup Social Contest

3. Feature user-generated visuals on paid digital campaigns

Using UGC to give your social ads a more authentic and personalized touch has been proven to increase Facebook ad clickthrough rates by 11 percent and lower the average cost per click by 21 percent.

Paid holiday digital ad

UGC is the most powerful form of visual social proof and it’s also a super effective way to make your paid social and digital ads stand out from alternative stuffy corporate content.

Instead of opting for stock images or plain professional photos of products, take advantage of the images your fans are already posting of your brand and products. See the difference it makes in your paid holiday campaigns.

4. Provide visual inspiration on the homepage (and make it shoppable!)

Your eCommerce homepage is the digital storefront of your brand. This is the very first impression people have when they first enter your site, whether through organic search or a paid campaign. During a competitive holiday season, it’s crucial to provide visitors with a user-friendly and inspiring website homepage that compels them to make a purchase.

Smile Direct Club homepage

You can do this by showcasing UGC visuals across your eCommerce homepage. Examples could be real customers using your products, highlighting the perfect stocking stuffer or the best gift wrapped bundles of products. People are going to be relying on brands for gift ideas and UGC is the perfect way to inspire others by showing the creativity of your customers.

Want to take this strategy one step further? Make the visual inspiration on your homepage shoppable by adding interactive ‘Buy Now’ buttons or ‘Learn More’ calls-to-action to shorten the path to purchase. It helps move users from point of inspiration to point of purchase in just a few clicks.

5. Display social proof on product pages

Did you know that people are 6x more likely to purchase a product if the page includes pictures from social media? That’s right, social proof, like UGC, is one of the most impactful tools at eCommerce managers’ disposal.

Kia social proof UGC example

Having featured images of real customers wearing or using your product on your product pages helps provide third-party validation and unedited views that online shoppers look for when making online purchase decisions.

Plus, showing UGC of your products helps set consumer expectations and reduce return rates—it might even inspire them to share their own UGC once they do make that purchase.

Other forms of social proof you can use to improve product page conversion rates are:

  • Ratings and reviews
  • Counters of how many people already bought the product
  • Awards the product has won

6. Capitalize on transactional emails

It can be incredibly impactful to leverage UGC to promote specific products in your promotional emails (like the example below), but what about transactional emails? By their very nature, transactional emails are brief in message with a specific purpose—order confirmation, shipping notification, membership notice, etc.

transactional email example UGC

Although transactional emails are individualized (i.e. addressing the recipient by name), they often aren’t personalized (containing information that a specific individual may be interested in).

Consumers typically have low expectations for transactional emails, which provides a perfect opportunity to go the extra mile and surprise them with a unique personalized message.

Communication with a shopper post-order is the start of a relationship, so show them that you care. Thank them for becoming a customer and welcome them into your brand’s community.

Reinforce that they made a great decision in purchasing from you by highlighting how happy other customers are with their purchases via reviews and visual UGC.

You can also inspire email recipients to participate in sharing their product experiences online and across social media to further generate UGC. When people feel acknowledged and heard, they are more willing to get involved and take action. All you have to do is ask.


Since this is shaping up to be a holiday season like never before, you’ll need to implement an omni-channel eCommerce holiday marketing strategy that’s fueled by authentic and cost-effective user-generated visuals.

Get our full guide on Preparing for the 2020 Holiday Season: eCommerce Strategies for Post-Pandemic Retail Success to discover even more eCommerce holiday marketing strategies as well as predictions for the upcoming 2020 holiday shopping season.

If you’re interested in using an AI-powered platform to locate, earn the rights to and publish shoppable UGC throughout all your channels, book a personalized demo with us by filling out the form below.

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