5 Top Brands Doing UGC on Instagram

gopro user generated content

What is User generated content? In today’s competitive world, if brands don’t cater to customer preferences, they’ll just scoff at the disconnect and move to other brands to fulfill their needs. In order to continually stay updated with ever-changing marketing trends, brands are finding different ways to spin their social content into pure gold and … Read more

Inside the Industry’s Best Customer Loyalty Programs

Best Customer Loyalty Programs

Are you looking to implement a Best customer loyalty programs within your business or improve your existing Best customer loyalty programs? You may be scratching your head at how industry-leading companies like Costco, Verizon and Sephora can maintain outrageously high customer retention rates while simultaneously keeping customer satisfaction high. There may seem to be a great … Read more

Let’s Talk: Leveraging User Generated Content

User generated content

  We’re really excited to bring back our “Let’s Talk” segment, where experts in marketing and loyalty come to discuss industry trends. This week, our Chief Strategist Al Lalani discusses best practices in user generated content. What are some practical strategies for optimizing your UGC? What do trends in peer recognition tell us? With 47% … Read more

The “Makeup” of Sephora’s Marketing Strategy

Sephora's Marketing Strategy

It’s no mystery that Sephora has seen major wins in the beauty industry. Since 1969, this cosmetics brand has sold millions of units in retail stores worldwide and continues to thrive today. But what is it about Sephora’s marketing strategy that sets them apart from similar companies like Ulta and Glossier? What is it about them that other brands just can’t keep up with? The short answer is loyalty. More specifically,  how they use personalized loyalty to build a community of beauty advocates.

Unique Customer Loyalty Structure

What differentiates Sephora’s marketing strategy is its approach to rewards. Though they do have a points-for-purchase model, there is so much more that goes into it. For example, in their rewards bazaar, they have new incentives every Tuesday and Thursday and customers can browse a massive gallery of available products. And their unique collection offers limited edition and exclusive product releases solely for its rewards members. With more perks like free makeovers and complimentary birthday samples, it’s easy to see why so many beauty enthusiasts rave about Sephora.

Sephora's Marketing StrategyTo get a better understanding of why people are so loyal to the brand, I asked long-time customer and beauty enthusiast Erin Duff her thoughts on Sephora. “I’ve been a Sephora member for over 11 years and it’s because they have such high quality products from so many different brands. I love that you have the option to spend a few rewards points for a sample of something or save up and get big like a custom makeover.”

User Generated Content

Sephora has set the standard as far as what cosmetic brands should be doing with their user generated content. Take the Insider Beauty Community, for example. It consists of forums surrounding beauty tips, live chats with influencers, and stunning photo galleries. But what I think they do really well in UGC is visual commerce. With many gated channels like Makeup is Life and Best Hair Ever, users are able to post and see pictures to help them guide their purchase decisions. All of this has helped grow Sephora grow and sustain a massive presence with over 15 million subscribers on their website and social media.

Omni-Channel Loyalty

Whether it’s online sales, in-store, or at events, Sephora uses creative ways to retain its customers among all channels. They do a great job of advertising their loyalty program to their network and it’s evident by their impressive online sales and growing list of retail locations. Their unique spin on omni-channel is the work they do with live events. They are constantly advertising beauty classes, makeover events, and of course their epic annual conference Sephoria.

Sephora's Marketing StrategySephoria is a one-of-a-kind live forum where influencers, patrons, and celebrities all collaborate and discuss what’s happening in beauty. Their events and creative marketing strategies help reach a more engaged community and turn Sephora’s avid followers into brand advocates. “By fostering personal connections and generating brand love over the years, it’s only natural that we leverage their input and further strengthen our program beyond just perks and discounts,” says Deborah Yeh, senior vice president of marketing and brand at Sephora.

Sephora’s network is continuing to grow and there’s a reason for that. They have implemented many of the right marketing and loyalty strategies to not only grow their customer base, but to retain it as well. Annex Cloud believes that the right combination of customer loyalty, user-generated content, and omni-channel strategies are the keys to retention. We work with many similar beauty and fashion brands and use loyalty to help them nurture and build real relationships with their customers. If you have any questions about marketing or loyalty, contact us or schedule a consultation today!

10 Most Important Features for Your UGC Software


UGC encompasses a variety of content types, whether it be photos, reviews, or even Q&A. Choosing the right user-generated content software can be the key to honing all of this content. In a market that is more likely to trust its peers over commercials, UGC is an investment. Keep in mind, however, that not all UGC programs offer the same capabilities and features. Before you choose, here are the most important functionalities to look for in your user-generated content software.

Important Features of UGC Software

Omni-Channel Capability:

As a thriving business, it’s important to be available to sell products online, via POS, and any channel where your brand has relevance. Consumers want to be able to access everything instantly and are more likely to lose patience with brands that are not able to provide omni-compatible options. A program that is limited to only computers is simply not worth the cost because it will leave a significant portion of your consumers unable to do everything that they want to do.

Photo Uploads:

Images are a major source of UGC. Adults share thousands of images per day and the modern consumer is more likely to accept a peer photo than a professional advertisement. The right software will allow you to harness and collect user uploads. You want a software that can keep track of tagged images as well as images that are uploaded to your website. Keep in mind that you may still need permission to use uploaded images. This is especially true if you are using images of children, which require parental permission. At this point, a software that allows you to easily send permission request emails is also helpful.

Influencer Marketing

Ambassador Marketing:

Whether you are working with a social media influencer or simply reaching out to your most loyal customers, activating your ambassadors is key to advancing your brand in today’s market. A good software program will allow you to give your ambassadors an easy way to promote your brand.

Content Syndication:

This tool allows you to get the most out of your UGC by sharing photos and written content across all of your websites and sales channels. Whether you have a particularly good review or an amazing image, content syndication allows you to optimize your UGC content across all of your available avenues.

User Selection:

Similar to user targeting, this function allows you to select the best customers for your content needs. For instance, if you need content for a review or a question and answer section, the software will identify users who have not only purchased the items, but who are also more familiar with your brand. A similar process allows users who have bought an item to be contacted if a question arises. So if someone has a question about a specific product, the algorithm will find a consumer who has not only bought that product but who is knowledgeable and known to participate.
Brand Engagement


The best program will allow you to target the right customer base for your UGC campaign. For instance, not all of your customers will be willing to post an image. Many require the correct incentive at the correct time. The best UGC programs can now isolate key points where a consumer is most likely to be receptive. The same UGC program should also be capable of sending an email that is worthy of consumer attention.

Content Selection:

Image ranking and content sifting are also important features in your algorithm. Image ranking automatically shows you the best images based on your choices. Meanwhile, content sifting helps ensure that your content remains professional and free of spam advertisements or profanity.

Image Display:

This feature allows you to take your UGC images and place them anywhere on your site or on a partner site. Ideally, that image would then link back to the product page.

Workflow Moderation:

Sometimes, a customer question or comment needs to be addressed by your staff. A good example is a customer who has not received a product or who has received a defective product. In some cases, a consumer may not reach out to customer service and may choose to instead vent his disappointment on your website. Once that consumer comments on your site, you have the chance to remedy the situation. A good software will identify that type of content and notify the correct members of your staff to help you remedy the problem. This not only makes one dissatisfied consumer happy, but it also shows other consumers who are reading that you are willing to do more in terms of customer service.

Third Party Compatibility:

Whether you have a loyalty program or another type of rewards option, you should have the opportunity to integrate your UGC software. With most companies expanding their own loyalty programs to include points for social actions and content sharing, combining UGC incentives and loyalty rewards is the next step.

If you are looking for a comprehensive UGC solution to meet all of the above criteria and more, Annex Cloud should be at the top of your list. We work with a variety of platforms to deliver the best in UGC program capability. At Annex Cloud, helping our clients succeed is a point of pride, which is why our dedicated support staff is available to help guide you through the process!

5 UGC Campaigns That Generated Major Customer Engagement

ugc campaigns engagement

User-generated content marketing encompasses a broad variety of items and actions, including visual commerce, question and answer sections, ratings and reviews, and more. While most consumers have lost trust in traditional advertising, many are willing to trust peers and peer-produced content. Meanwhile, an effective UGC campaign can also serve to engage current consumers with your brand. … Read more

20 User Generated Content Marketing Statistics That Demonstrate Its Undeniable Power

User Generated Content Marketing

In today’s digital age, your customers can become your best advocates through user-generated content marketing. The right user-generated content platform can help you utilize photos, videos, and other media from your customers to help your business thrive. Most consumers are happy to share a photo, give feedback or answer a few questions when provided with … Read more

10 Capabilities to Look for in Your Questions and Answers Software

questions and answers software capabilities

A good question and answer platform can have plenty of advantages. For instance, consumers who can quickly find answers to their questions are much less likely to abandon their carts. Consumers who read a well-built and well-maintained questions and answers section will also feel more confident in purchasing your product. In order to create such … Read more

Is Your Customer Review Platform Driving Conversions with These Features?

Customer reviews platform

A strong ratings and reviews platform can be an immeasurable asset. While many U.S. consumers have lost faith in traditional advertising, the importance of reviews has escalated, with Americans trusting peers almost as much as personal friends. Studies are showing that over 90% of Americans read customer reviews before making a purchase and 84% trust … Read more

How to Motivate Customers to Contribute User Generated Content

How to encourage customers to contribute user generated content

User generated content—photos, videos, written submissions, and other media generated by consumers—is quickly growing in popularity as a marketing tool. In fact, according to research, 86% of businesses utilize user generated content software as part of their marketing efforts. Brands can use this content, including visual commerce, ratings & reviews, and question & answer sections, across … Read more

Why Loyalty Programs Are Even More Effective with UGC

UGC loyalty

Loyalty programs have become the cornerstone of consumer retention. Not only are loyalty programs an expected part of the shopping experience, but they are also key to creating a bond between companies and consumers in an age where traditional advertising has lost its value. In addition to utilizing a loyalty program, brands and retailers alike … Read more

How to Feature Community Generated Content in Your Emails

Community Generated Content

Modern technology coupled with the increasing influence of digital shoppers on the global marketplace has forced companies to get increasingly creative when it comes to advertising to their users. One such marketing innovation includes the commercial use of community generated content across a variety of marketing platforms, including emails. Community generated content, often referred to … Read more

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