How to Boost Ad Performance with User-Generated Content

By Lindsay Macdonald - August 14, 2019
3 mins read time
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In an age where more and more of the content we consume is ephemeral, it’s essential to capture consumer attention right away. And, when it comes to developing a successful advertising strategy, it’s the visuals that will bring consumers in — and keep them there. In fact, 91 percent of people prefer more visual content than can be accessed on demand.

Boosting ad performance is a matter of serving the right visuals, to the right people, at the right time. Here are three tips to take your ad strategy to the next level with user-generated content.

Make visuals the priority

We all know that the visuals are the most enticing part of an advertisement. The images pique our interest and, with equally attention-grabbing copy, the ad can convert impressions to sales. But, even though the visual component of an advertisement is so important, marketers often struggle to get them right — or keep pace with the velocity of visuals social and display ads require.

According to our recent study, 63 percent of marketers reported that they feel pressure to continually produce greater amounts of content at a higher frequency, and if they don’t have the time to create the content they need, they’re spending huge amounts of money to source visuals from third parties. One in five B2C marketers spend more than $1 million annually on content, and nearly 70 percent are spending more than $700,000.

Meeting the content needs that successful ad performance requires is tough when brands rely on stock, branded or highly-produced imagery. But, tapping into content created by your customers can do the work (and provide the necessary volume of visuals) for you — boosting engagement rates far past your team’s goals.

Red Carnation Hotels not only features customer content in their ads, but create even more content with those authentic visuals. After running A/B tests between ads featuring professional, branded imagery and ads featuring user-generated content (UGC), the team saw the UGC-powered Facebook ads boost click-through rates by 38 percent while decreasing cost-per-click by 30 percent.

And, after sourcing all of the great content for their ad content, the team created videos featuring that authentic, traveler-created content. Consumers who see the ads and click through to the site are then greeted with more visual social proof — providing a consistent brand experience and helping to move them from the point of inspiration to the point of conversion.

Tap into the power of personalization

When developing an ad strategy that will turn heads, it’s essential to leverage personalization as much as possible. A properly targeted advertisement can be the difference between action and opposition.

So, personalize your ad strategy not only with the right targeting, but with visuals that reflect the customer you’re aiming to convert. With a personalization strategy built on customer-created content, brands are always serving their audiences the content that’s most familiar — the content that looks like their own.

When a brand’s ads evoke an emotional response, like a feeling of connection, the brand has a stronger chance of becoming a partner and a thought leader (rather than just a vendor and a bother).

Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign took a personalized approach to an omnichannel campaign. By creating custom cans with people’s names, Coca-Cola nurtured a feeling of acceptance and community. Then, the brand encouraged people to share photos and videos of their personalized cans — content they then used across their digital, OOH and print advertising strategy.

Create interactive experiences

Just as the right visuals and a targeted campaign can convert ad sales, it’s the entire customer experience that can keep customers coming back. Getting customers involved in the content creation process through competitions, polls and other campaigns is a great way to increase sticking power and give customers a sense of engagement and belonging.

For Toyota, that meant launching the #FeelingtheStreet campaign, giving customers six weeks to submit and vote for their favorite street performers; then, Toyota toured the country with the winners that the audience had chosen.

Rights-managing all of the UGC submissions the campaign sourced with Stackla, Toyota’s team built ads featuring  user-generated content from across the country. And, that content performed. In fact, the team saw a 440 percent increase in total engagement from the previous years’ campaign without any extra spend.

Today’s audiences crave authenticity and personalization. Brands that serve relatable, accessible ad content drive more conversions and boost more sales. How are you getting creative and relevant with your paid ad campaigns?

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