We’ve talked about best practices as it relates to email marketing before: short and pointed subject lines, clear and actionable call-to-actions, concise content, etc. Now, what about taking all of those same best practices and taking them a step further by including content that you know will resonate with your audience? How would you know? Because the content has been created by your users themselves.

User generated content (UGC) is not a new idea, especially in social media, where marketers are starting to pull from this ever-growing pool of content that is timely, relevant, and personal.  What is exciting is how UGC is starting to be used in email marketing, as well.

Creating emails with personalization is generally one of the top five wish list items for email marketers. We want to send messaging to our audience that will resonate, and ultimately improve overall engagement and conversions. UGC provides just that opportunity by incorporating content that our users have created about our products and services, and really, us. Personalization is meant to inspire trust in our brand, to communicate to those we’re emailing that we understand their needs and that the message is intended especially for them.  By including USG, we have the ability to do just that: use images, reviews, and endorsements that act as digital word-of-mouth, that we don’t need to pay for or send surveys out to receive. In a 2012 Nielsen article, they noted that “ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising” (Nielsen, 2012) With how much UGC has grown with the onset of Instagram, this percentage will only have gotten larger and more powerful.

Two hurdles to overcome with UGC are scalability and resourcing.


Building a robust visual content library is a challenge for most email marketers who are creating multi-email campaigns daily. Choosing the right types of campaigns to focus on to incorporate UGC will be important in making this a profitable choice from an ROI perspective. Event messaging that includes images and endorsements from past events would be a great way to drum up excitement for this year’s event. If you’ve been struggling with abandoned carts or not seeing the conversions that you were hoping for, think about including UGC of products that are the same or similar to what the new user had expressed interest in.


Clearly, every business is different, and you may not have a robust social media presence or customers who post the type of content you need. It’s never a bad time to start a social media plan and inspire your users to generate content! If you are going to attend or sponsor an event or conference, think about using a hashtag that is promoted on collateral, swag, and pre-event emails to inspire your users to share their experiences at your booth or with your products. You can even help get the ball rolling at the event by taking pictures with your booth and event attendees, and tag them in your own social posts (with their approval of course!). You can then use the hashtag later to search for those posts to repurpose in post-event messages. You’re showing the folks who visited with you that you are listening, and this is what it is all about: creating content that will help your users to trust in you and your brand, become leads, and convert to customers. Increasing your opt-in rates doesn’t hurt either. ?

There are lots of ways to use UGC in your emails. I hope this helps you to get inspired. Remember, it’s always a good idea to check with your legal department before using images or other content taken from the Internet.

As always, to learn more about other email marketing best practices check out these articles on the Relationship One blog or feel free to reach out!



(2012) Nielsen. Global Consumers’ Trust in ‘earned’ Advertising Grows in Importance

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