How to use user-generated content in email marketing

Many marketers are looking for a fresh approach to help them connect with their audience on a deeper level. 

If this sounds like you, then you should try user-generated content in email.

User-generated content has been a hot topic for digital marketers over the past year, thanks to the desire to foster a deeper relationship with consumers and create an omnichannel approach

User-generated content is a great way to engage better with audience members, but many brands solely use it in their social media marketing strategy. 

user-generated content

Source: Campaign Monitor

Social media continues to grow at a rapid pace, so it’s an important channel – but if your ultimate goal is to create an omnichannel experience, you want to include your audience in your email marketing strategy as well.

What is user-generated content in email marketing?

Despite its popularity, social media has yet to bring in the kind of return on investment (ROI) that email marketing does. With an ROI of $38 for every $1 spent, it’s no surprise that marketers focus on their email strategy. 

Adding user-generated content in email is a great way not only to gather content variety but also get readers involved in your email marketing process – and build trust, as well. 

According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92% of consumers say that they trust user-generated content more than traditional advertising. User-generated content comes directly from people they identify with – people they trust. It’s organic content straight from the consumer’s mouth. Your audience is more likely to trust this type of content as much as they would a fellow customer review. Remember, nearly 84% of people trust an online review just as much as, if not more than, a review from someone they know personally. 

If you aren’t quite sure how to use user-generated content in email, there’s no need to worry. We’ve got you covered with simple tips that can get you started immediately. 

instapage user generated content example

Source: Instapage

Two super easy ways to incorporate user-generated content into your email marketing strategy 

User-generated content isn’t a difficult topic to approach. However, marketers have trouble finding ways to ask for and incorporate it in email campaigns. If this sounds like you, consider these two super simple ways to start collecting user-generated content today.

1. Hashtag contest/campaign

With how popular hashtags have become – on Instagram and even Facebook – one of the easiest ways to go about collecting user-generated content is by using a hashtag contest or campaign. 

A hashtag contest would involve user engagement to win some sort of prize, while a hashtag campaign allows your fans to share their love for your brand simply out of the good of their heart. 

To help raise awareness for their latest nutritional plan, Beachbody started having customers use the #2bmindset. Since the campaign began, nearly 157,000 posts have used the hashtag (most of which come from happy clients). 

Beachbody user generated content example

Source: Instagram

2. Consumer reviews

Remember how we mentioned that buyers trust the words of their fellow consumer? Make sure to use those reviews to your advantage. 

User-generated content doesn’t have to just consist of images. Written words from your customers matter just as much. 

For instance, if you have a highly-rated product, then you should be sharing it via email – like Ulta is wont to do with the following products. 

Ulta user generated content example

Source: Ulta

Here, Ulta has almost 12,000 valuable pieces of user-generated content. Get your email subscribers excited about your products or services by sharing the excitement from fellow customers.

User-generated content best practices to consider before getting started

Just like any other form of content creation, there are essential things to keep in mind when it comes to user-generated content. 

Build up a content library

It can be tempting to start sharing your user-generated content as soon as it rolls in. But take time to build up a content library. This gives you the chance to properly sort through and use only the most relevant user-generated content in future email campaigns.

For example, famous singer and songwriter Carrie Underwood loves to interact with her fans. Just by checking out her Instagram page, it’s clear she loves to share user-generated content.

Carrie Underwood user generated content example

Source: Instagram

She and her team are known for posting memories of past tours just before they announce the next one and including plenty of user-generated content to generate a sense of excitement. This keeps their content relevant to what’s going on and what their audience is interested in.

So, as excited as you may be to use content as it comes in, take time to filter it and use what’s most effective. 

Make it clear that this content may be shared publicly 

While most people already know what they share online is public information, it’s still a good idea to make it clear that your brand could potentially share the brand-related content your audience creates. It’s also a good idea to contact your audience personally should you like something they’ve posted. 

Common courtesy can go a long way. Never assume your audience knows something. So send them a friendly message saying how much you enjoyed their content and that you’d love to share it.

Incentives are a great tactic, but keep in mind legal restrictions

Many brands that collect user-generated content use social media giveaways or sweepstakes to incentivize engagement. While incentives are a great tactic, you must make sure you’re aware of any rules or legal restrictions imposed by the sites you’re hosting on. 

For example, there are several rules that brands must keep in mind when running a promotional contest on Instagram.

promotions guidelines

Source: Instagram

Facebook is another popular platform that brands turn to when they want to engage with their audience. Facebook also has rules and standards for running promotional contests, events, and sweepstakes.

Promotions guidelines 2

Source: Facebook

Make sure you’re aware of all the details before you start collecting content through an incentivized campaign. 

Know the difference between user-generated content and influencer marketing

When it comes to the difference between user-generated content and influencer content, there’s often some confusion. It’s essential to clarify this because your audience is likely to react differently to each one. 

At this point, you already understand what user-generated content is. If you aren’t sure what makes influencer marketing different, here’s a quick rundown. 

This process involves recruiting social media influencers to help spread brand awareness. Now, this could involve finding the “average joe” with a decent social media following and having them talk about your product or service. However, it can also include recruiting celebrities to do the same, which takes on a more traditional marketing feel. Influencer marketing content tends to be more scripted.

Now, we aren’t saying that influencer marketing is a no-go in your strategy – but it’s not the same as genuine user-generated content. 

Wrap up

While the idea of collecting and implementing user-generated content in email may seem a bit imitating, it’s much easier than you think. 

Use these two super easy methods of collecting user-generated content: 

  • Start a hashtag contest or campaign

  • Take advantage of your existing customer reviews


Ready to take your email marketing strategy to new heights? Schedule your live demo with Emma today.

About the Author

Emma Email

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. With our​​ powerful automation and personalization features, you can create and send email campaigns that reach the right customer at just the right time. It's email marketing that works for you.

Visit Website More Content by Emma Email
Previous Article
How to make email automation work for you (with examples)
How to make email automation work for you (with examples)

If you haven't started automating your emails, now’s the time. Here are four email automation examples to h...

Next Article
17 Best subject lines for your next survey email
17 Best subject lines for your next survey email

If you’re looking to craft the perfect subject line for survey emails, you’ve found the right resource. We'...

Want to engage your audience and grow your brand? Try Emma’s robust, easy-to-use product today.

Get a Demo