Demonstrating the value of a product is tough enough for any business, but for a cosmetics brand largely reliant on ecommerce, it’s particularly challenging. That’s what Sigma Beauty has faced, with just one brick-and-mortar store bearing its name. Fortunately, Sigma discovered early on—via YouTube—just how powerful user-generated content can be. Today, the brand also relies on Instagram and other digital channels to harness their customers’ photos.

060315_Credit

Amber Mulle, Social Media Strategist at Sigma Beauty, recently sat down with us to discuss this very topic, explaining that using fan images is a simple yet effective way to demonstrate what the brand’s products look like in real life – on a real person. And that’s a major emphasis on ‘effective’: Sigma Beauty’s customers are 5x more likely to buy or click through when they see a product on a person vs. an image of the product in someone’s hand.

In the following Q&A, Amber sheds light on Sigma Beauty’s UGC strategy, providing valuable insight into how marketers can harness fan images to generate revenue. Here’s what she had to say.

1. How have your fans’ photos helped your team to create a narrative around your products?

We take user-generated content and combine it with beautiful imagery to tell our brand’s story. Curated content is the secret to our success, especially being in the makeup and beauty industry. It’s hard as an ecommerce business because our customers can’t go to Target or Macy’s to try things on, so seeing people wear our makeup is beneficial.

060315_SigmaBeauty_UGC

2. Do certain images work better than others?

We find that simplicity is key. We use certain colors (usually on solid white or black) when creating in-house photos – the cleaner, the better. Pictures of our makeup brushes will always outperform other photos because it’s the backbone of our brand.

Makeup tutorial videos generate more engagement, too, because of what you can see in just 15 seconds.

3. It’s great to hear that Sigma has such strong relationships with its fans. How does your influencer program work?

060315_SigmaBeauty_Influencers

Sigma got its start in 2009, primarily through social media and YouTube. Instead of traditional marketing, we sent out brushes and cosmetics to YouTubers and other online influencers, offering the creators 10% commission on any sales they bring in through their affiliate links. More than 2,000 YouTube influencers have created a total of 3,500 videos about Sigma Beauty, generating 16.2 million earned media views for our brand.

4. Can you share any unique campaign results that have arisen from your work with influencers?

Back in April 2014, we partnered with a very popular YouTube beauty influencer on a makeup brush collection. We were a little unaware of how magnetic her fans were to her – so magnetic, in fact, that we sold out in just three days. Our conversion rates more than doubled, and our online traffic skyrocketed to almost 1 million pageviews. We brought it back, and a few days later sold out again.

It just goes to show you how influential their community is when it comes to fans and their buying power.

5. What advice would you give to a marketer who wants to get started using UGC, but doesn’t know where to start?

Getting started can be the hardest part. In order to start posting user-generated content, your customers need to create it. Let them know how to engage with you by using specific hashtags or creating contests around product launches.

To create buzz, we always send press kits to beauty influencers to review on their channels before our product arrives to our site. In return, we ask them to tag their looks or photos with certain hashtags so we can add them to our Fanreel – it’s always mutually beneficial. I also suggest personalizing your communication and making your fans feel valued.

Humanizing your brand is key.

060315_SigmaBeauty_Like2Buy

Monetizing Images

How is UGC so effective? It all comes down to the fact that fans want to be appreciated, and they want to be a part of the brand. In turn, their content ends up creating even more fans and more buyers. To learn more about how Sigma Beauty monetizes UGC, as well as some of the notable results they are seeing, download our newest case study.