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Design Agency Vs User-Generated Content: Which Is Better For Your Brand?


Marketing content mixes are more diverse than ever before. And while agencies are still playing a vital role in content creation, brands are getting creative with campaign creatives. In fact, most of today’s sophisticated brands are beginning to integrate customers’ ideas and demands into marketing content by collecting and sharing user-generated content (UGC) from real customers.

While larger brands are sometimes able to create content in-house, it’s often time-consuming and expensive. Combining UGC with agency or studio content combats these challenges and adds value to your marketing strategy in a variety of ways.

Regardless of Agencies: Brands Need a User-Generated Content Strategy

Along with UGC being 35% more memorable than other media, and 50% more trusted by consumers, there are a variety of stats that back up its powers in boosting ecommerce and customer loyalty. American toy company Radio Flyer increased its conversion rates 7x and saw an 85% increase in time spent on-site after implementing UGC on product pages and landing page galleries.

Radio Flyer social media gallery of UGC

Modern marketers are usually left with the choice of opting for traditionally sourced content from design agencies, or experimenting with UGC platforms and feeling their own way around this relatively new marketing method. This can be an intimidating decision for professionals who don’t want to miss out on potential income streams or leave valuable traffic on the table. 

Taking a Look at Traditional Content Methods

Traditional content, also known as design agency content, branded content, or studio content, refers to media created by your brand’s in-house team or by a contracted design agency. Working with a design agency has historically been a consistent option for brands looking to revamp their content marketing strategies, but there are important benefits and drawbacks to keep in mind when considering this approach.

Pros and Cons of Agency Content

  • Polish: Agency content will usually be more professional, and requires a creative brief, meaning you’ll get exactly what your brand is envisioning.
  • Speed of Publish: While UGC can be instantly collected and displayed, as it is readily available on social media or directly from your customers, design agencies often take more time.
  • Cost: Agencies are expensive and many brands are looking for ways to lower the cost of content in order to meet the demand for new content.

Design agency or in-house studio content definitely has its place in marketing to maintain a clear brand vision and voice, but it can in many cases be enhanced by or even replaced with UGC for a better ROI.

Understanding User Generated Content

UGC is content created by your brand’s audience themselves. Media that falls into this category includes anything created organically by your customers. As a marketer, you can take this UGC and repurpose it into your own marketing content with your customers’’ consent.

woman's Instagram photo of nail art

Revel Nail asks this Instagram user permission to reshare their nail art on social media, website pages, and advertisements — and the user replies “honored!”

In a real world context, UGC looks like a brand resharing anything from photos and videos to simple quotes from its customers engaging with their products. This content can be sourced from the social media channels your brand’s audience is active on, or it can be shared directly with the brand via direct uploads. Take a look at some user-generated content examples for a better understanding. 

User-generated content Specifics

  • Credit: UGC is usually publicly credited to the person who created or posted it, meaning specific customers are highlighted and celebrated.
  • UGC is created by everyday customers rather than marketing professionals or influencers, often making it more relatable to your brand audience.
  • This type of content is more authentic, and less strictly aligned with a brand’s chosen language and identity than design agency content. 
  • User-generated content is often lively, vibrant, creative, and highly ‘shareable’, which could give your brand valuable exposure to new audiences.

Which Option is Better for Your Brand?

The truth of the matter is that many brands successfully combine both UGC and traditional content mediums when marketing online. 

UGC has a number of benefits that make it a valuable addition to your digital marketing strategy. It’s often free, or at least less costly to produce, both in terms of time and money. Your customers create your content for you, and you can repurpose it with minimal work involved. 

UGC offers genuine authenticity, which can be useful when attempting to reach consumers who are generally suspicious of branded advertising. Posting UGC shows that there are real people out there who appreciate your brand and its products, and that you appreciate your customers enough to feature them on your official channels.

woman's travel Instagram picture posing in front of lake reshared on Skyscanner's account

Travel brand Skyscanner reshares stunning vacation photos from the brand’s fans, crediting them by username and sharing their destination.

User-generated content can furthermore be produced and scaled across several channels quickly and effectively, especially when compared to traditional content. The creativity of your customers will also produce some unique and exciting ideas and content that an agency may never have thought of. Even for smaller brands, simply encouraging your customers to share photos with your product can provide instant and valuable marketing material. Social media contests are a great way to garner UGC like this.

Traditionally sourced content offers its own advantages too. Design agency content gives you maximum control over how your content is created and tailored to your brand. This medium allows you to use researched and informed, professional opinions to control what information is included in your content and how accurate that information really is.

Agency generated content gives you complete power over the language and presentation of your products and services. A powerful duo, studio and UGC work well together to prioritize genuine customer-centric experiences while maintaining a brand vision.

Making The Most Of Media 

Many brands successfully combine design agency content and UGC by posting a mix of professional agency-created posts and reviews, media and comments from satisfied customers. This approach offers you the best of both worlds, keeping your brand authentic and approachable to consumers all while ensuring that you can control how your brand and products are portrayed online.

At the end of the day, UGC and traditionally sourced content both have their benefits, and they are both viable options for any business. The right content strategy for your brand will depend on whatever approach works best for the needs of your individual organization.

The best way to determine what works and what doesn’t is to conduct tests and collect data on which marketing strategies resonate most with your customers and clients. Knowing what each campaign’s ROI is and tracking how it affects your income and profits is a crucial step in decision-making. 

Data and concrete results inform your design agency or in-house content creators of the best approaches for reaching your target market. This allows them to create specific campaigns that will drive revenues for your brand.

Want to see what kind of UGC is out there for your brand right now? Request a free Pixlee demo.

Special thanks to our friends at Pixlee for their insights on this topic.
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