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The first step in getting a product or service reviewed is to realise that people don’t actually want to review it.

Instead you need to give them a reason to write about you. Once you look at reviews in this way it’ll become easier to identify opportunities.

This post highlights how to do this with customers.

Customers tend to fall into two camps:

  • Those who don't want to review your product or hate it.
  • Those who can't review it or don't know how.

Unless you're already a well established brand with a must have item, the vast majority of people won't jump at your feet or seek you out to test your latest wares. Likewise if you are a service based industry, you'll find most people will only write about you when they have something bad to say.

None of this is good, especially if you want those who are searching for your product online to see a mixture of good reviews. Having no reviews at all will spark suspicion and negative reviews turn customers away.

However, the first step in getting a product or service reviewed is to realise that people don't actually want to review it. Instead you need to give them a reason to write about you.

Once you look at reviews in this way it'll become easier to identify opportunities.

How to get customer reviews

1. Just ask me 

When you eat at a restaurant, the waiter will ask you whether you like the food. It's accepted as common practice, but how many times do brands ask us what we think of their products?

It's the same principle, so if I'm using your product, at anytime and anywhere, just ask me what I think.

2. Email follow-ups 

Get customer email addresses at the point of purchase, even if you sell stock offline. Hotel Chocolat give away a small bar of chocolate if you give them your email address in store.

Likewise Amazon email me every time I buy something to ask if I would like to leave feedback.

3 . Make reviews count 

Another thing Amazon does well is to use my reviews to recommend other products that I may like in the future. So by reviewing products, I am helping myself to discover other products that I'd like to buy.

Although I'm helping Amazon sell me more stuff by doing so, I still do it! It's a win-win for Amazon, and useful for me as a customer.

4. Focus groups 

Before going to market with a product, bringing together a focus group is an essential step for gathering feedback. Once you've got that data then publish it, write a blog post about it and share your findings.

5. Create a 'reviewographic'

Collect data from customers and turn it into graphs and data sets to show on an Infographic. It's ideal for presenting lots of good customer data in one go.

Here's an example of all the aggregated reviews on Yelp that you could do on a smaller scale:

6. Create comparison charts 

Run a poll across your site to get customer feedback and then add this data into a comparison so people can see how you stack up against competitors. A good example is: Anti-Spyware Reviews

7. Add reviews to your website

 An obvious step, but one that is missed a lot. Let people write reviews directly onto your website (it works for any product, not just for e-commerce stores). You'll also find your product pages rank higher by having more unique content.

8. Link to external reviews from your website

 I've written reviews before simply because I wanted to get either a tweet or a link from a major company to my own blog and I'm sure I can't be the first person to do this.

If you take the best reviews you can find and link to them, it makes customers feel great and other people may then write about you in order to get similar coverage.

9. Incentivise me

 In other words, give me your product for free so I can write about it. Alternatively for customers who write a review, you could give them money-off future purchases.

This turns sour (and dishonest / immoral / libellous etc) if you start paying people in return for good reviews only. This is a bad tactic that can only backfire in the long run.

10. Don't Bribe Me! 

I want to feel motivated to write about you, not like I'm being paid off. There are sites where you can pay people for reviews (see below) but please don't ask for only good reviews unless you want to get stung like Belkin.

11. Free samples  

I could talk forever about the benefits of free stuff (and usually do). In short, having free samples to give away increases the number of voices talking about your product.

The more people trying and testing your product the more chance you'll have of reviews.

Head and Shoulders now lets anyone request a free sample.

12. Offer trial versions 

Likewise if you allow people to test your service for a short amount of time, or let them try a simpler version of your product at a cheaper or freemium price, it gets more people discussing your product.

13. Contact details 

For offline products, that can't reach their customers after a sale has been made, make it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch with you.

Customer service numbers, address details and email addresses on the back of a product help make this easy.

Log everything and if a customer says anything positive ask for permission to replicate it on your website.

14. Referral offers 

Having people review your product earns you a silver medal, but having people bring you extra sales is the only way to get gold.

If past customers bring you sales through reviews, create offers to give them either money or other bonuses.

This way you'll get sales through word of mouth and extra customers. Avon has structured an entire business model around referral sales.

15. Get profiles 

Consider the places your customers would go online to write reviews (or cheat and search for where your competitors have them) and make sure you have a profile on that site.

Otherwise potential reviewers have to go and make one for you or may not be able to leave feedback at all.

16. Snag local profiles 

Get local listings on Yelp, Qype, Brownbook and more.

17. Stickers 

Qype, Ciao and other review websites have stickers that brands can display in their store, and badges they can use on websites that ask people to review the product.

Add these where possible, and include them on leaflets and email drops as further review sources.

18. Give me something new

Any product without a great USP doesn't really deserve to be talked about. Ensure your product has a new feature and push that with your marketing.

If you create something interesting it naturally encourages debate and reviews.

19. Give me what I want

If people ask your company to make changes to a product or service then compile the results and add the most requested features. This isn't just true for the tech industry either, just look at product re-launches like Fanta Zero, which was in response to bad reviews of Diet Fanta.

If customers feel their input has been acknowledged they are more likely to tell others.

And my favourite:

20. 'Borrow' reviewers 

Amazon, rather handily, lists their top reviewers and many of them have listed their email addresses here. You can browse this list, find relevant reviewers and ask them to cover your product.

Alternatively, find a competitor's product, look at the reviewers, and approach them to review your product. This works for lots of other e-commerce sites too.

That's a wrap for now. In future posts I'll cover how to get reviews from the media and bloggers, how to use the power of your brand, and how social media can be used to get reviews. 

Mike Essex

Published 10 October, 2011 by Mike Essex

Mike Essex is Online Marketing Manager at Koozai Ltd and a contributor to Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter

7 more posts from this author

Comments (9)

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Nick Stamoulis

Allowing consumers to post reviews directly to your site is both good and bad. It's good because it's one less step someone has to take to right a review of your products. It's bad because you might have to sort through a lot of spammy reviews in order to find good ones that actually help your site. Consumers might also think you are only posting the positive reviews and will continue to look on 3rd party review sites.

over 4 years ago

Mike Essex

Mike Essex, Marketing & Comms Manager at Petrofac

Thanks for the feedback Nick. It would be good if there was software to filter the spam reviews out absolutely.

Personally I'd include the good and bad reviews, and if there were too many bad ones I'd try to use the other steps above to make sure happy customers are also vocal to add balance. A few negative reviews can help to build trust, as it seems less like review fixing. There's a balance to be found definitely.

over 4 years ago

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Liz Broomfield

Good ideas here. I always ask my clients for a testimonial - I put the request in the text of the email I send out with my invoice, to make sure I ask automatically. I give them the choice of placing a review on my Facebook page (though I understand this function will disappear soon), emailing me something to put on my website references page, or recommending me on LinkedIn. I provide links to the first two so they can see what to do.

I would not allow direct posting onto my website in case of spammers. I've not had a bad review yet (apart from "you didn't rewrite my essay", which kind of reflects more badly on the client!) so I am not worried about that.

over 4 years ago

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Laura Galyer, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, EMEA and Asia Pacific at Sensus

This is a really interesting post Mike. We have recently been talking about this at eCircle HQ and posted a blog article about the importance of reviews and the reality that people will ultimately buy from people: http://www.ecircle.com/blog/2011/10/11/enthe-bad-review/

over 4 years ago

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Robin Wright

Great ideas, some of which I was aware of but many more I was not! So this is a very helpful source to use to get reviews and discovering what kind of feedback customers have to offer.

over 4 years ago

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, MARKETING at Reevoo

Glad to hear someone including caveats when recommending incentivising reviews - in our experience incentivised reviews are hard to separate from paid-for positive feedback in consumers' minds. I can't recommend 1 and 2 strongly enough: we've built up a business partly founded on reviews purely by working out the best way to ask for a review via email.

Nick's point about trust and third party review services is spot on. We recently commissioned some independent research that shows that consumers trust reviews collected by an independent third party three times as much as those collected by the company who's being reviewed/selling what's being reviewed. Needless to say, it's that trust that leads to conversions.

And, from the same survey: 68% of people trust reviews more when they see both good and bad reviews.

over 4 years ago

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Kathy Anderson

We use the third-party site Ratepoint to collect our reviews. I like it because it provides the user with a widget you can put on your website to collect reviews with ease, plus they provide you with an opportunity to address and resolve any poor reviews before posting them. This way I can post both good and bad, except that the bad ones also show our resolution to the complaint, a win-win for everyone. It also gives you a widget to promote your reviews on your website. Here's our review page so you can see what I'm talking about: http://ratepoint.com/seereviews/33221.

over 4 years ago

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christine kininmonth

New to B2C social media, so finding this very interesting but also need paracetemol! Thanks..

over 4 years ago

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Robyn M., International Project Assistant at Spectos GmbH

Great post, Mike.

Seeing all of these steps at a glance is helpful. If you think about it, gathering customer feedback isn't actually that hard - it's getting to the ‘gathering phase’ that is.

My company uses Feedbackstr to manage all of these aspects on one platform. I know enough people who handle all of these points (20!) separately, and can’t imagine the amount of time they must spend on that. Since we switched to Feedbackstr, our response rate increased noticeably, customer contact (follow up) is at an all-time high, and the amount of unread emails in our inboxes is still high (can’t get around that), but has decreased greatly. For anyone who came across this article looking for tips on where to start, here’s a link: http://www.feedbackstr.com/en/features/

I would recommend it to anyone looking to improve their customer satisfaction without added hassle. Like I said before, gathering customer feedback isn’t hard. Why should the management of it be?

about 2 years ago

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