Companies often worry about the risks and costs that come with tapping into user-generated content. They don’t want to open their website to comments and reviews only to find that their brand is the latest victim of “Boaty McBoatface”-level trolling. Even if customers provide positive reviews and comments, companies wonder if they can afford the software to curate and review it.

The benefits of tapping into user-generated content greatly exceed the initial investment, and PR scandals can typically be avoided if your brand really does offer high-quality products and services. Here are just a few ways customer content can benefit your brand and increase sales to your company.

Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Is Highly Trusted

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Customers are increasingly wary of sales pitches and one-sided arguments in favor of certain products, services, or ideas. They understand that a company is only going to put its best information out there, and they want a realistic description of what they can expect. This is where online reviews come in. For example, 91 percent of people read online reviews regularly or occasionally, and 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as word-of-mouth recommendations. If your customers are uncertain about your brand messaging, they can be swayed by an unbiased third party.

The good news with customer reviews is that most people read fewer than 10 reviews before they make their decision. You don’t need to provide endless pages of reviews, as a few choice words from your customers will do the trick.

To implement these reviews, add quotes to your sales pages or look for product APIs for your e-commerce page. You can also tap into customer reviews on third-party sites like Yelp and Google My Business to drive traffic and sales to your brick-and-mortar location.

User-Generated Content Boosts SEO

Along with improving your conversion rate and increasing sales through user-generated reviews on your website, customer content can grow your traffic through your organic search rankings. Most product and service pages feature static copy with product descriptions that are only changed a few times a year. Brands might struggle to keep this information fresh and even to reach the necessary word counts to appease search engines. Customer content can help.

If you have a steady stream of reviews replacing outdated comments on your web pages, your content will stay fresh. Search engine crawlers will keep reading the information and placing it favorably in the rankings. There will also be plenty of engaging information to keep customers from bouncing off your pages, improving your overall analytics, such as time on site and bounce rate. While your competitors’ content grows stale, yours will thrive, and Google will reward you for it.

Customer Social Posts Help Brands Reach New Audiences

Social media is usually the first type of user-generated content that comes to marketers’ minds. While they might treat it like a tool for content creation to fill their editorial calendars, social media actually helps marketers dramatically grow their reach.

For example, your brand might have 2,000 people on Facebook who like your page. With Facebook’s declining reach levels, each post might only reach about 40 people. Even if you could reach the majority of your followers, the likelihood that they all buy from you each time is slim. However, when customers post about your brand and share your content, your reach will grow. Your messaging might reach hundreds or thousands more people than those who like your page — possibly new customers who have never bought from you in the past.

User-generated content on social media is valuable not just for what buyers have to say, but for whom they decide to say it to.

Customer-Created Content Provides New Information

In 2017, the content marketing industry shifted to focus on customer intent, a trend that is expected to continue into 2018 and beyond. With this focus, brands attempt to determine exactly what customers need and their goals at exact moments, and then create content to meet those needs. While the concept is good in theory, in practice, many brands still struggle to answer customer concerns and put themselves in their buyers’ shoes.

User-generated content can answer questions and address needs that brands might not have thought of when they uploaded the content and descriptions in the first place. A perfect place to look for examples is customer questions on Amazon. People pose queries like “Is it waterproof?” or “Can this go in an oven?” as a way to state their needs or intent when they’re buying the products.

Brands can’t be expected to answer every single question about every single product, but customer reviews can address these concerns for them. A few customer stories about how they use products might address concerns companies never knew customers had, and companies can then convince future shoppers to buy the items, knowing those items will do exactly what customers want.

Sales Teams Can Use Customer Testimonials to Nurture Leads

Customer content doesn’t only come in the form of short-form reviews and social posts. Your clients can also create long-form content to help your sales department land major sales and carve out your expertise in an industry.

For example, many companies turn to B2B vendors who already have experience in their vertical market. They want to see examples of travel clients they have had success with or hear from an education customer who benefited from a company’s services. When a new business works with companies that already understand the nuances of their industry, the onboarding process is easier, and the new business will make fewer rookie errors.

If you’re a B2B company trying to land clients, consider tapping into customer testimonials or reviews from different verticals to highlight the types of companies you’re comfortable working with. Your sales team can send this content over on sales calls or promote it when attending conferences or meet-ups in specific industries. Today’s customer testimonial is tomorrow’s bottom-funnel content that closes a major sale.

Tapping into user-generated content can be as simple as asking a few customers or clients to leave reviews and placing them on your website. Even negative social comments and reviews can be opportunities for response and improvement. The benefits of this small investment can help grow your sales for months and years to come.