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Connecting the Digital World to the Outdoor Industry

Marketing and Branding Strategies for eCommerce

User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool in your arsenal for creating marketing and branding strategies. UGC is a medium that can increase awareness, drive consideration, and ultimately generate more sales. Whether it's through your delighted customers sharing their love for your products through photos and videos to customer reviews of your products, it works. Do you have a plan?

UGC makes your marketing more relevant, more remarkable, and more relatable to your potential customers, and will help you build that relationship with them long after the check-out. As PierredeBraux observed, 

"Why wait for people to start talking about your brand when you can create a channel for them to make themselves heard and facilitate User-Generated Content (UGC)? Every piece of content a user produces on your website or site's outpost becomes branded UGC. Brands can provide a means for their users to collaborate with them via their website, forums, and social media platforms to power up these channels with activity."

Keen Footwear User Created Blog Content

Consider these nine stats:

  1. Sites with featured UGC saw a 20% increase in return visitors.
  2. Those sites also saw a 90% increase on the time spent on the site.
  3. UGC is shown to result in a 29% increase in web conversions than campaigns or websites without it.
  4. 48% of customers say that UGC is a great way to discover new products.
  5. Brands can see up to a 26% increase in site traffic when they share customer reviews on Twitter.
  6. Videos created by (and featuring) users get 10x more views on YouTube than content created by brands.
  7. 93% of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a purchasing decision.
  8. UGC is 20% more influential than any other type of media when it comes to influencing Millennial purchases.
  9. 70% of consumers will check UGC reviews or ratings before deciding to buy a product and at least 41% of them will read four to seven UGC reviews to gain information on your product. On-site consumer reviews can increase conversions by 74%.

Pius Boachie of Adweek opined that:

"Customers who have good experiences with your brand are motivated to inform their peers by sharing their experiences. Referrals are one of the cheapest and fastest ways to expand your customer base. UGC provides authentic information about the brand’s products and services from previous customers, saving resources and boosting brand credibility."

For brands, communities can be just as powerful. The stronger your community, the more likely it is that it will help you sustain your business. When it comes to establishing your brand as an industry leader and thought innovator, there's not much that's more compelling than having your own strong community.

 How to Win with User-Generated Content

With this guide, you’ll learn how user-generated content powers your marketing strategy, examples of user-generated content done right, and mistakes to avoid as you develop your strategy.

Below is an example of a user-generated content piece I created that was graciously accepted by Keen Footwear. This article was originally published as a user-generated content piece by Keen Footwear on 4/2/19.

Father-Daughter Rafting & Reconnecting on the Rogue

People use to call it the need to “decompress,” “get away,” “clear your head,” “unwind,” and “time-off.” When these terms were used in conversations they were being applied to adults. As we know times have changed and continue to change at an even more accelerating pace, these various terms are now often combined into the modern need to “unplug” and it’s a term that is not only used relative to adults but to our children. Research continues to bear out the benefits of being outdoors. 

The use of the term today refers to “disconnecting from something.” For our children, it means disconnecting from their phones, wristwatches, gaming devices and any other device that connects them to the Internet or communicating using a device rather than in person. Not only is the connection to these gadgets a challenge for their growth, our children are spending less time in the outdoors. It’s a serious challenge with significant ramifications.

Our Kids Need Us to Explore Outdoors with them. Here’s why.

According to a 2015 study by Common Sense Media, American youth between the ages of 8 – 18 on average are logging 7.5 hours of screen time per day, and that’s not counting time spent using media for school or homework. Richard Louv has explored the growing gap between children and outdoors. In his 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv he discusses the disconnect and how it impacts their physical and emotional health. His research indicates that the large growth in childhood depression, obesity and inability to focus can be attributed to children spending so much time indoors.

“Wonder is a skill,”  “It can be cultivated, and cultivation happens most readily in the moment—the gesture, the little risk, the spontaneous action.” Anything that brings novelty, variety or a sense of discovery can spark awe—but the great outdoors is arguably our most reliable source." - Gregg Levoy

Rogue River
As a parent of a 13-year old daughter, we especially are failing our girls. Parents are four times as likely to tell girls than boys to be careful (according to a 2015 study in The Journal of Pediatric Psychology). Girls are warned away from activities that hint of risk. Parents are more likely to assist their sons to face their fears with instructions on how to complete the task on their own. We need to teach both boys and girls the skills they need to be confident, responsible problem solvers and risk takers.

 This campsites chill dad. Great ALPS Brands gear.

That being said, my challenge as a parent is how do I execute to achieve this goal? How do I help them grow up loving the outdoors? What steps can I take to foster this love? How do I bridge from the reality that like me, many parents today will be the last generation to have grown up without being “plugged into the internet” as a child?

Recently as part of my commitment to share the importance of the Wild & Scenic River Act, I arranged for my daughter and me to go on her first multi-day river trip. I chose as our destination the Rogue River and its 46-mile wild & scenic section. We made arrangements with a long-time outfitter, Rogue Wilderness Adventures. We would raft for three days, camp out for two nights, and take all our own equipment for camping.

Our guides were terrific. The Sotar rafts we used were remarkable in the water. Our group of 18 was great and one other youngster was along, a boy in high school. We also were fortunate to have Bob Rafalovich as one of the guides. Bob has guided for 44 years on the Rogue. He founded the original outfitting company on the Rogue and he worked with government agencies to implement the Wild & Scenic Act on the Rogue. He was filled with stories and insights few others have.

We floated, we ran rapids, we hiked, we saw Zane Grey’s original 1939 cabin, we spent time at a true swimming hole up a side creek, we jumped off boats, swam in the river, saw black bears, shared stories with others, watched the Perseid meteor shower, learned about new flora and fauna, and Kira got to try rowing leading up to her taking the boat through a class 2 rapid.

What did she learn? Here’s what she highlighted.

  • Anything is possible but you have to be brave enough to try
  • How to deal with initial failure and turn it into success with perseverance
  • How to take risks and be more confident in taking them
  • The value of patience
  • The ability to be honest with each other and to laugh at ourselves
  • To allow yourself to feel fear and let it pass through you
  • It important to have a positive attitude in order to succeed
  • Moving forward is the only option
  • The most important things in life are personal relationships and a wanting to grow
  • Liked not being tethered to her phone and free to really focus on where she was and what she was doing
  • And there is only one person responsible for living the life you want; You.

Never tires of jumping in

The river provided me with a means to connect with my daughter, before, during and after the trip we took on it. The river gave us the means to create memories, stories, and experiences to help us grow as father-daughter and as individuals.

Our forests provided us  with scenes of beauty and wonder that are hard to really capture in photos or videos. Our forests allowed us allowed us to detach from mind-numbing messages and become attentive to what was around us and be spontaneous. It allowed us space away from digital expectations that are placed on us and it was wonderfully freeing. 

When we give our children and ourselves this type of space, it provides moments of clarity, inspiration, and illumination. We can begin to see that much of the daily “hype” in being connected does not serve us. While out in these natural cathedrals without walls, we lose our connected identity and we become but a nameless observer of nature, allowing us to connect with the fundamental essence of who we are as human beings.

Launching for the day on Rogue RiverGet the Guide to Growing Your e-Commerce. Grow and thrive! 

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