Statistics show online reviews are a powerful driver of business. As a source of user-generated content, they provide positive validation for your product and drive up to 20% of sales. Indeed, for 49% of shoppers, a review is as good as a personal recommendation. 89% of shoppers will not buy before they have seen the reviews.
However, only a few shoppers leave reviews that are 49% likely to be negative. This is detrimental to a business you work so hard to build.
Through an incentivized review, you can encourage more customers to share positive experiences with your product. A token of appreciation, like a discount code, may prompt a shopper to leave a review encouraging others to purchase.
What are Incentives or Paid Reviews?
Typically, the quality of experience a customer has with a product is the sole motivation for a review. Unfortunately, often, this is inadequate, making it necessary to offer other incentives.
But what is an incentivized review?
An incentivized or paid review is customer feedback for which some inducement has been offered.
Unlike traditional reviews, buyers sometimes perceive paid reviews as inauthentic and, therefore, unreliable. If not managed carefully, this perception may hurt your brand. Indeed, some platforms do not allow for an incentivized review.
For greater effectiveness, carefully match incentives to the target audience’s preferences. Understand the audience demographics, the online channels they are most active on, and the incentives that appeal to them. For example, contests and giveaways may be more suited to an audience heavily present on social media than emailed gift cards.
Types of Incentives for Reviews
Some of the incentives for reviews commonly offered for reviews include:
- Discounts and coupons – Customers get offered a discount on future purchases for leaving a product review, which may consist of a percentage off the price, a buy-one-get-one offer, or a discount code for a specific product.
- Free products – Free products motivate customers to leave reviews. If the products are new, customers get to try them first, and are still more likely to leave a review.
- Sweepstakes and giveaways – Sweepstakes and giveaways give an added thrill and heighten the level of engagement between the customer and the brand. In exchange for leaving a review, invite the customer to a contest where they stand to win a prize. The thrill of the competition and the win elicits greater emotional involvement with your brand.
- Loyalty points – Loyalty points work wonderfully in retaining customers. Instead of earning loyalty points only when they purchase a product, offer customers loyalty points for leaving a review. The greater the range of products on which the points can be used, the more enticing they will be.
- Gift cards and store credit – Entice your customers to leave reviews by making gift cards an integral part of your review collection process. To be effective, ensure the gift card is relevant and valuable to the customer. Gift cards are notorious for eliciting fake positive reviews, even from people who did not use the product. Control this by verifying the reviews.
- Exclusive access and VIP perks – Offer exclusive access to new and prerelease products and features in exchange for reviews. Invitations to product launches, invitation-only events, beta testing opportunities, and other VIP perks foster a sense of exclusivity that builds brand loyalty.
Besides, reviews by beta testers can help you refine a product before it hits the market.
- Thank you notes – Sometimes nothing is as effective as a sincere expression of gratitude that a customer took their time to leave a review. Since it happens after the fact, it is unexpected and pleasantly surprising, which improves both the number and quality of subsequent reviews.
Besides, a Thank you note does not strictly count as the sort of incentive most review platforms frown upon.
Why Incentivize eCommerce Reviews
Incentivizing customers to leave reviews works, especially when done correctly. Here are specific reasons to incentivize your review collection efforts:
- Increased review volume – Incentives encourage more reviews, which increase credibility. Indeed, buyers trust reviews more than they do ratings. For instance, a 5-star rating has to be backed by at least 112 reviews before it seems credible. Also, a large number of reviews may help offset negative reviews.
- Improved product visibility – Incentivizing attracts reviews that help place your product higher on search results on e-commerce platforms. Where your product ranks on the page is related to the sales you make.
- Enhanced social proof – Online reviews are a powerful source of social proof, especially when done by an influencer. Incentivizing the right customers to review your product enhances social proof and may give you access to their audiences, especially if they share it on their forums.
- Insightful feedback – Encouraging customers to leave sincere reviews arms you with the information about customer preferences and pain points you need to fine-tune your product and its delivery.
- Customer engagement and loyalty – Incentives such as sweepstakes and giveaways, loyalty points, exclusive access, and VIP perks both encourage reviews and foster customer engagement.
- Competitive advantage – Faced with a similar product, more customers tend to pick one with more reviews, which makes a point for incentivizing reviews. Besides, more reviews help showcase customer satisfaction and transparency.
- Source of UGC – Customer reviews are an excellent source of user-generated content, useful for marketing purposes. Incentivization elicits richer review content in the form of text, images, and video, which offer better proof and encourage more conversions.
How to Incentivize Online Reviews
An Incentivized review is a treasure trove as well as a pitfall. Though incentives elicit more reviews that help build your brand and drive conversions, they also tempt fake reviews that may harm your brand and business.
Indeed, many consumer protection agencies, like the Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission, as well as online review platforms, discourage the exchange of reviews for benefits.
For creative marketing incentive reviews, you can incentivize online reviews productively and safely by taking the following steps:
Make the Process Simple and Clear
Many customers do not leave reviews because of the time and effort it takes. Make the process effortless and seamless by providing clear instructions about how and where to leave instructions. The appropriate review software will automate the process for you to get the most out of your reviews.
Discourage Inauthentic Reviews
Make it clear that you only welcome authentic reviews, even if they are negative. Be wary of reviews from suspicious usernames and multiple similar reviews that seem to come from different accounts. Also, engage the negative reviews professionally and satisfactorily. You benefit more from a well-handled negative review than from fake positive reviews.
Verify the Reviews
Institute procedures to verify whether the reviewer has indeed used the product and that the review is genuine. Consider adding a tag to show that the review is from a verified buyer or verified reviewer.
Offer Relevant Incentives
Incentives are only effective if they resonate with the reviewer. Research your target audience and the review platforms you intend to use to know what incentives work best. Some creative marketing incentives reviews work best on social media, while others are best suited to email. Some reviewers value the sense of exclusivity, while others prefer free giveaways and discounts.
Give Reviewers Time to Experience the Product
Provide ample time for the customer to experience the product rather than asking for a review right away. The more intimate the customer becomes with your product, the more they can say about it. How long you should wait depends on the product and the reviewer; don’t wait too long. A week is appropriate for most circumstances.
Target the Right Audience
Ideally, invite everyone who purchases your product for a review. However, you quickly discover that certain customers give reviews with greater depth or reach more people. Target incentivization customers who seem enthusiastic or knowledgeable about your product or who enjoy a large following. Even as user-generated content, their reviews offer greater value.
Promote your Review Program
Spread the word about your incentive review program to get as many people as you can on board. Excellent places to promote the program are the places your target audience hangs out, which may include social media and the product page. While at it, target your most active and influential customers for maximum impact.
What to Avoid when Incentivizing Reviews
To get the most benefit from your incentivized review program, avoid actions that may undermine credibility and confidence in your brand and that may put you in trouble with regulatory authorities.
Understand the regulatory framework around incentivized reviews by the relevant authorities and the policies of your review platform. Play by those rules, erring on the side of caution. The consequences of flouting the regulations usually outweigh whatever benefits you get.
Do not pay for positive reviews; they are likely to be insincere, which is a disservice to your customers and brand. Never fake positive reviews, as the results are disastrous when caught.
Avoid the temptation to neglect your unprompted reviews. You may be caught up in your incentivized advertising efforts and results that you forget to engage with unprompted reviewers. With neglect, these fall off, which makes incentivization costlier.
Do not neglect the quality of your product or your customer experience. A customer’s experience with your brand is usually the most powerful motivation to leave a review. Create a wonderful experience, and that’s all the incentive you need.
Get Help from Trustoo.io Product Review and Loloyal
Managing thousands of reviews across multiple platforms is hectic and time-consuming if done manually. The opportunity cost is usually your business’s growth. However, the proper review management tools take the hassle off your hands by automating most of the processes.
Trustoo.io Product Review and Loloyal apps are digital tools from Channelwill that make review management simple and productive.
Trustoo.io is a five-star rated product review app that makes the collection and display of reviews across multiple platforms simple. The app automatically invites reviews through email, SMS, and WhatsApp reminders. You can also import unlimited reviews from AliExpress, 50 items at a time.
Trustoo.io’s easily customizable widgets make it a breeze to display reviews attractively, which makes them easier to consume. Moreover, you can share the reviews on Facebook, X, and Instagram. These features help you unlock the marketing potential of reviews through rich reviews.
Loloyal is another app that makes incentivizing and building loyalty easy. With Loloyal, you can seamlessly run a loyalty points scheme, a rewards and referral program, VIP tiers, and flash sales to cultivate loyalty. You can offer incentives like discount coupons and loyalty points to encourage reviewers to include a photo and make referrals. The display widgets are also easy to customize in your brand colors to make them memorable.
Loloyal has a generous free and paid plan, though there is a seven-day free trial period for all features when you sign up.
Online reviews hold immense potential for online shops in attracting and retaining customers and driving growth. Offering incentives attracts even more reviews, though you must be careful about it so that you do not harm your brand and business in the process.
A smart, incentivized review strategy includes the use of proper digital tools to manage the process and unlock its potential.
FAQs About Incentivized Reviews