“So if all your friends jumped off a bridge, you would too?”
Well hold up a second. All my friends gave the jump 4 stars? And so did 8,000 other strangers? One even wrote “4 out of 4 stars, would jump again!”?
On second thought, maybe I would jump off that bridge. In fact, is there a way for me to cut to the front of the line?
Therein lies the power of ratings and reviews.
Ratings and reviews are crucial signals consumers use to evaluate your products online. In any product category, online shoppers compare which brands and products have the most and best ratings and reviews.
Some people simply look at the numbers and try to gauge which product is best in the category, while others meticulously read the reviews, looking for indicators of what kind of experience they can expect, what risks they might be taking, and whether or not your product is right for their situation.
So what if your competitors have more reviews than you? What if you don’t have enough ratings to provide social proof, or you have too many negative reviews? What if your reviews are all too old?
Here are five tips to increase your product reviews, and get more ratings from the right people.
1. Use a sampling program
Want more reviews? Get more people to try your product. Sampling programs like Influenster and TryIt distribute samples of your product to targeted groups of consumers, but you could also partner with retailers to offer samples in-store, or create your own sampling program. Creating your own sampling program can be a great way to keep customers engaged, develop loyalty, and even encourage brand advocacy.
Simply putting your products in front of more people can help with reviews, but if you want to get the most from a sampling program, make sure that you’re directly asking for reviews through your packaging and follow-up messaging.
2. Incentivize reviews with add-ons, deals, and special offers
Unless your customers have an exceptionally good or exceptionally bad experience, they don’t have much reason to leave a review. Some people hardly need any prompting — a simple follow-up email or a note in the packaging is enough to nudge them to share their experience.
But if you want the reviews to start pouring in, consider incentivizing reviews with relevant add-ons, related products, or discounts. It takes minimal effort for someone to quickly rate your product, jot down a note, and email you a link or a screenshot of their review. And since more reviews help you generate more sales, it’s worth trading something for them.
A word of caution: Don’t “incentivize reviews” by offering things people need to actually use your product, like an SD card, battery, or adapter. And don’t require customers to leave a five-star review to receive the bonus offer. Otherwise, your customers will instantly think, “Well, I guess this is why it had so many positive reviews.” They’ll feel duped, and they’ll think twice about buying from you again.
3. Cater your review request to each channel
When someone buys your product, you should always ask them to review it — either in the packaging or through follow-up communications. It can be jarring if you ask them to review your product on a website they never use. If someone buys your product on Amazon, that’s where they should leave their review. If they bought from Home Depot, their review should live there.
Customers are more receptive to review requests when you ask them to rate your product on a website they’re familiar with. There may be other items they need to order from Walmart.com anyway, so they won’t feel put out reviewing your product there.
Leaving a review should be as convenient and intuitive as possible. Your customers won’t mind doing you the favor if it’s easy.
4. Provide excellent (and responsive) customer service
Customer service is part of the experience with your products. When buyers begin to write their reviews, their interactions with your brand are often a major factor. Someone on the verge of leaving a negative review might still be turned around if you quickly resolve their issue, send a replacement, or remedy their frustrations.
As much as possible, you should drive people to your most responsive customer service channel when they have issues. (Brands often include a note in the packaging about calling or reaching out directly if there’s a problem.) This decreases the likelihood that they’ll go straight to the retailer to vent their frustrations in a one-star review, and it sets you up to save the day with great service.
Just as excellent service can bring someone back from the edge of leaving a bad review, it can also supply the motivation to leave a positive one. If someone had a good experience with your product but ran into a problem, friendly, helpful customer service can elevate their confidence in your brand to the next level.
Your customer service reps can also help identify customers who are good candidates from which to solicit reviews. At the end of a positive call or chat session, they can easily work in a review request to share their experience.
5. Create a customer loyalty program
One of the challenges of asking customers to review your products is that there often aren’t many opportunities to follow up after the purchase. You don’t want to abuse your transactional follow-up emails, and packaging materials can only do so much. But if you can get someone to join a customer loyalty program, you have a clear channel to regularly communicate about your products.
Obviously, you don’t want to spam your loyal customers with review requests — and they should only see review requests for products they’ve purchased — but you can gently weave them in between special offers and other content.
The best part: customers who join a rewards, perks, or loyalty program are more likely to have a more positive impression of your brand. They’ve signed up to hear and receive more from you. As long as you treat them well, they will be more receptive to review requests than the typical customer.