How to Attract Product Reviews for Your Website

If you have a website that sells one product or the other, getting product reviews from your customers will definitely be one of your headaches. This is because 79% of your potential customers will look for reviews before making a purchase. As a result of this, you should formulate strategies that will ensure that customers leave feedback on products they have purchased. Here are some ways to go about it.

It is an eternal truth that people tend to participate in activities with opportunities of being rewarded, hence, offering incentives to customers for leaving reviews will encourage them to leave feedback on products purchased. It can be in form of discount on subsequent purchase, freebies, shopping points, gift certificates and so on. You can also appeal to them to leave comments because there are some people who are compelled more by self-sacrifice than by incentives.

Furthermore, design your site in such a way that it will be easy for customers to provide reviews. Let the review form be easy and simple to fill, and provide fields that they can easily supply answers to. After every purchase, endeavor to follow up with a customer through email until he/she provides a feedback. However, do not seize that opportunity to resort into spamming because it can damage your reputation. After about 2 to 3 emails on that subject, it is better to stop further emails so that you don’t offend your customers.

In addition, endeavor to provide qualitative service to your customers so that many of them will be willing to drop reviews. Even though you can’t satisfy everybody due to human error, strive to satisfy majority of them so that they will be eager to leave positive feedback. Remember that unhappy customers can actually damage your reputation by leaving negative reviews, so, do all you can to offer qualitative service.

Forming a group of product testers can also fetch you a quite number of positive reviews for your products. Invite some of your customers into this group and you have gotten for yourself regular reviewers. Identify customers with great influence and invite them to be your regular reviewers. You can offer them some incentives because your business stands to gain a lot from the good reports they write about your products.

Let your products be of high quality or else your review page will be full of negative comments, and if you think you can over-moderate it, internet users know third party review sites where they can get unbiased comments. Consequently, quality should be your watchword and you will experience sales beyond your expectation.

Clues to Help You Chose Between Product Review Websites – A Lesson in Internet Shopping

For this example, let’s assume that you wish to learn to play the piano, and are searching the Internet for information. You will find many choices and many review sites which discuss even more choices. Your analysis process should include all of the points(clues) discussed here. This article is more about the selection process than the product or vendor.

In case you didn’t realize it, the typical Internet Product Review site will likely steer you to the product which nets them the highest commission. Shocked? Don’t be – this is absolutely normal marketing in every aspect of life. It’s all about maximizing their profit. However, and fortunately, not everyone does this. There are some obvious and some subtle clues which will help you decide who to trust, especially shopping on the Internet. Don’t be fearful – be informed. Read on.

Been shopping in town lately? Dealt with any commissioned sales folks lately? How about those, oh so helpful folks who keep asking if you found everything, and or, do you want to super size your order? Trying to maximize the store’s profit really is normal and widely practiced. Nothing to be concerned about yet.

Speaking of commissions – In all Internet purchases, the seller, also known as the vendor, pays the salesperson (known as an affiliate or associate) a small commission. The lowest is about four (4.0) percent. The price to the buyer doesn’t change – it costs the same where ever you go. (The price can vary a tiny bit in the physical product areas, for example – keyboards and pianos. This is due to volume wholesale purchasing and distribution costs. The sales commission doesn’t factor in this.)

The commission usually automatically goes to the last affiliate site you visited before you clicked through to the product detail / sales page and made a purchase. This is tracked automatically by the computers with little chunks of data called “temporary cookies.” The vendors who transmit the cookies to your computer explain it all on their privacy or terms and conditions web pages. It is nothing to be concerned about. It’s very normal and business like. Most people have never actually read these pages.

So, the Big Question – what distinguishes a trustworthy product review site of any flavor? Listed here are critical clues. Some are more obvious than others – all are worthy of your consideration.

  • First and foremost is your gut level comfort level as you look over a site.
  • Can you identify a human with an address and contact information?
  • Does the reviewer discuss any negative aspects of the product? Few products are so wonderful that nothing negative can be found and pointed out to you, the shopper and possible customer.
  • Does the review include information and opinions not found on the vendor’s site? (All reviews where the reviewer is an affiliate for the vendor will have links for you to click on, taking you directly to the vendor’s site. Perfectly normal and to be expected.) In case you never thought about it, consider this: Vendor’s love affiliates – they are outside non-employees with no benefits, etc. who get a tiny reward (called a commission) only after a sale occurs. If no new information is on the review site, could well be that an actual review did not take place. Major clue.
  • Study the information provided, validate the customer testimonials if possible, and make your own decision. Use your normal decision making process. For example, I personally read the testimonials very carefully when researching products. Do they sound authentic – not made up. Can they be verified? Will the seller provide you contact details if asked? This is rare, but sometimes occurs.
  • Frequently digital download products are sold with 100 percent money back guarantees. The full details are always part of the information / sales letter. They are commonly placed right at the bottom end, right after the price information. Guarantees are always a very important part of the purchasing decision. Another clue to trustworthiness. Doesn’t matter on review sites – but it does matter on the vendor’s site.
  • A good reviewer owns many, but not necessarily all of the products he reviews. When you are are deciding, remember to keep in mind what your situation is (your own wants, needs, desires, etc.) It’s about building trust and confidence. Do you feel pressured? Another major clue.

So, after lots of searching and looking at several – many websites and competing products, let’s assume you have made a product selection decision and are ready to buy. Please consider giving a vote of confidence to the affiliate review site that actually provided you with useful information. Please go back to that review site just before making the actual purchase. That is what triggers that ‘cookie’ thingy I mentioned earlier. And that results in that small commission we talked about. And that is what motivates affiliates to produce meaningful review sites.

I trust that I have enlightened you a bit. Shopping on the Internet is quite safe, especially if you pay attention to the clues. As always, the final choice is yours. Now you know more about how to sort through all the choices and chose the best product for you.

When you find the right one for you, you can purchase it right away. (Remember that often the best product does in fact, cost more. Also normal.) No waiting – parking – standing in line – all the joys of Internet shopping. Fear not – Enjoy.

The Rise of Social Shopping and User Reviews

Why I think customer reviews and social shopping are important. Social shopping is an interesting concept which divides opinion amongst web commentators.

Most are agreed that social shopping is a specific type of web service with its roots in the social explosion of Web 2.0.

In their purest form the best social shopping sites provide an open independent platform where users can add products, post a review or provide a product rating. The sites are service orientated, providing the tools for others to use and as such rely heavily on user generated content to set the agenda.

In essence the opportunity now exists for consumers to band together, discuss specific products and brands and provide an authentic alternative voice to the brand led marketing activity and conventional expert reviews we are all subjected to in other media.

By sharing product knowledge and experiences, creating useful content, an empowered community consensus can emerge, highlighting the gems and warning against the over hyped duds – the products which disappoint and fail to deliver.

This type of user generated content has a real value and satisfies an important element of the online shopping process – research, which accounts for 80% of consumer time when they are shopping online.

Social shopping sites combine social elements such as a social networking community features with aspects of shopping such as product reviews, ratings and deal hunting.

Some of the more agile social shopping sites are making use of the Twitter API and Facebook Connect to tap in to the online conversation, providing context for product related Tweets on Twitter and distribution of product opinion via Facebook.

Social shopping sites can be viewed as a value added evolution of the affiliate model – as they seek to monetize website content (the user generated product reviews and ratings) by sending traffic to third party merchant sites where they can purchase product.

My starting position is to agree with the mantra that “customer recommendation is the Holy Grail of Advertising”. We know this is true in the real world – if your friends and neighbours enthuse about their new car, lawnmower, laptop or digital camera – it will have weight, you take note.

The same holds online – reviews and recommendations are very powerful; especially those from people with status in a community, and those which are provided weeks and months after the purchase; only the scale and dynamics of relationships differ. The potential then of social shopping and what it offers us as consumers, product designers, specialist retailers and brands which really focus on and respond to their community is very exciting.

Some statistics and predictions from rantorave.

According to a global Nielsen survey of 26,486 Internet users in 47 markets, consumer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising among 78% of the study’s respondents. (Nielsen, “Word-of-Mouth the Most Powerful Selling Tool”).

83% of shoppers said online product evaluations and reviews influenced their purchasing decisions. (Opinion Research Corporation, an infoGROUP company, July 2008).

76% of US retailers said user-generated content would have a greater impact on their marketing goals in the near future. (SLI Systems/Zoomerang, November 2008).

56% of UK website owners say that user-generated content lifts conversion levels; 77% say it increases traffic; and 42% say it increases the average spend on site.(eConsultancy survey of 360 website owners across all sectors, November 2008).

By 2020, 84% of marketers agree that building customer trust will become marketing’s primary objective, and 82% agree that collaboration with customers will prevail over marketing. (1to1 Media survey April, 2008).

Top 10 Social shopping sites: (note I am only allowed to submit an article with 4 links)

  1. Kaboodle – http://www.kaboodle.com a great site, arguably market leader geared towards female consumers. Now owned by Hearst Digital Media.
  2. ThisNext – another strong site with an emphasis on female consumers, this site feels like a great window shopping experience with expert Maverns on tap
  3. Tribesmart – http://www.tribesmart.com this site is making use of twitter and Facebook connect. There are some great tools such as the personal list builder and community messaging features based on the ‘Tribes’ idea. Like Veedow, Wists and Crowdstorm it could appeal to both sexes and this is potentially where the gap in the market is as Kaboodle, OSOYOU and ThisNext seem to have marked out a claim on the younger female market.
  4. Veedow – a slightly confusing site, a neat idea, still yet to realize it’s full potential in my view
  5. Stylehive – feeling less like a pure play social shopping site these days, it has a strong emphasis on wannabe celebrity fashion/lifestyle writers who you follow – it is not as vibrant as twitter although you can see where they are going with it
  6. Jungle Raft – a new entrant, included as it is a new concept with a clear proposition in terms of pulling the best deals from Amazon
  7. Stylefeeder – offers to help users discover products based on their unique tastes. The looks a little off the pace and has some annoying and tacky pop up ads. All a bit old skool.
  8. Crowdstorm – the site is a Digg type site for products, it is based on buzz and an expert opinion network- although it does seem to have gone quiet in the last 12 months
  9. Shopstyle – feels like an ecommerce site with price discounts on display. Lacks obvious reviews or community features although the stylebooks feature is really nice enabling people to put looks together and share these – the ‘sale alert’ feature could be useful though and the site has hooked up with Elle magazine in the past.
  10. Wists – a trending site about what is new and what people plan on buying

There are many others, sites like Shopcorn and Naturalbornshoppers to name but two.