Consumers depend on reviews, regardless of what they’re shopping for.
And the importance of this content is only growing. Recent research found that 99.9% (yes, you read that right) of consumers read reviews when shopping online at least sometimes, compared to 97% who said this was the case in 2018.
What’s more, shoppers seem to have a nearly insatiable appetite for review content. 68% of consumers say that ideally, a product should have 26 or more reviews. And nearly a third feel that a given product should have 100 or more reviews!
Brands and retailers that don’t collect this content aren’t meeting customer expectations — and are quite literally leaving money on the table.
Not convinced? Our analysis of 1.5MM product pages from more than 1,200 brand and retailer sites during 2020 found that there’s a 120.3% lift in conversion among those who interacted with ratings and reviews.
That means brands that don’t provide this content are missing out on a simple, yet impactful way to grow sales.
Cleary, the onus is on brands and retailers to collect reviews — and plenty of them.
How Incentives Motivate Shoppers to Contribute Reviews
Ideally, every customer would write glowing reviews about every product they purchased. But that’s just not how the world works, sadly.
Our research found that about half of consumers (52% to be exact) write reviews multiple times per month. The other half submit this content far less frequently –and 2% never do.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that are proven to increase review volume for brands and retailers. One particularly impactful way to generate more content is to offer an incentive in exchange for a review.
Frankly, incentives are the single most effective way to generate a ton of reviews fast.
Overall, nearly three-quarters (73%) of consumers say they’d be motivated to write a review if they were offered an incentive. And (perhaps not surprisingly), incentives motivate shoppers of all generations.
Four Impactful Types of Incentives for Generating Reviews, According to 10,000+ Consumers
We know incentives are enough to motivate 73% of consumers to write reviews. But what incentives actually work?
The short answer is that it depends. An incentive that works well for one brand might not be as successful for another.
However, we recently surveyed more than 10,000 consumers to understand what motivates them to write reviews — and there were four incentives that rose to the top. Let’s dig into each of them so you can determine which might be a good fit for your brand.
1. Free Products
Let’s face it: people like getting free stuff. So it’s probably not terribly surprising that receiving a free product is the most effective incentive for getting more reviews. 91% of consumers said they’d be motivated to write a review if they received a product free of charge.
So if you’re looking to generate a high volume of reviews fast, product sampling might be just the ticket.
The concept is simple: send free samples to consumers — and then ask them to write a review. But it’s incredibly effective. At PowerReviews, the average submission rate for product sampling campaigns is 85%. That means 85% of those who receive a free sample go on to write a review.
Reviews that result from product sampling campaigns are also high quality. We’ve found that reviews generated through a sampling campaign are 83% longer, compared to those captured via other methodologies.
This is great news, as 56% of consumers say that the length, depth, and detail of review content are factors that matter to them.
2. Receiving a Product Before It’s Sold to the General Public
Getting early access to a product can make a customer feel valued, special, and, quite frankly, a bit like a rock star. It’s a pretty cool feeling to know you have something that hasn’t officially hit the shelves.
Early access to a product can also motivate consumers to write reviews. 85% of consumers say that receiving a product before it’s sold to the general public would motivate them to write a review.
If you’re releasing new products, consider doing a pre-launch product sampling campaign. The consumers who receive early access are likely to write reviews — and that means you can officially launch the product with plenty of reviews already in place!
What’s more, the feedback you get in those pre-launch reviews can help you understand where your product shines — and where it falls flat. Then, you can use the insights you uncover to tweak the product before it officially hits store (and digital) shelves.
3. Discounts with the Store or Brand
Consumers are constantly on the hunt for great deals and discounts. According to a survey from Valassis, 72% of consumers make it a priority to save money by using coupons and discounts.
Who wants to pay full price when they don’t have to? No one!
Offering a coupon or discount can also increase the likelihood that a shopper will write a review. 67% of consumers say they’d be motivated to write a review in exchange for a discount for the store or brand.
So if you’re looking to increase your review volume, consider offering shoppers some sort of deal in exchange for writing a review. For example, you might provide a code for a percentage off a future purchase or free shipping percentage off a future purchase that’s “unlocked” after the customer has submitted a review.
The right discount or deal will help you generate more reviews, and as an added bonus, it’ll give your customers an excuse to shop with you again. The same survey from Valassis found that 54% of consumers said that receiving a coupon or discount has caused them to make an impulse purchase.
4. Loyalty Points with the Store or Brand
Consumers are loyal to the brands they love. According to Motista, customers that feel emotionally connected to a brand stick around for an average of 5.1 years, compared to 3.4 years for customers who aren’t emotionally connected. What’s more, the lifetime value of emotionally connected customers is 306% higher.
A great loyalty program can help you further engage your happy customers — and keep them coming back for more. And if you have a loyalty program, offering points in exchange for reviews can be a great way to generate more of this conversion-boosting content.
After all, 59% of consumers indicate they’d be motivated to write a review if they had the chance to earn loyalty points with the store or brand.
So if you have an established loyalty or rewards program, consider leveraging it to generate more reviews. For example, a customer might earn 10 loyalty points for each review they write.
And once they accumulate a certain number of points, they can redeem them for a coupon or some sort of promotion — such as a dollar amount off their next purchase.
How to Promote Your Chosen Incentive
You’ve chosen the incentive you plan to offer to customers in exchange for reviews. That’s great! Now it’s time to make sure your customers know about it.
Sometimes, a consumer will write a review without being prompted. But in most cases, they need a gentle reminder in the form of a post purchase email. Here at PowerReviews, we’ve found that about 80% of reviews are written as the result of a post purchase email.
So if you’re offering an incentive in exchange for reviews, be sure to prominently promote it in your post purchase emails. When possible, include the incentive in the top portion of the email so your shoppers will see if — even if they don’t scroll through the entire email. For example, this one from Bissell makes it clear that those who write reviews will be entered in a sweepstakes to win a prize.
You can also include these promotions in your packaging like this insert from Derma E.
How to Maintain Transparency (and Preserve Trust) When Incentivizing Reviewers
Consumers value reviews because this content is provided by fellow shoppers sharing their real experiences, rather than a brand trying to sell a product. In order to preserve consumer trust, transparency is a must.
When you display reviews, be sure to include fine print or a badge that indicates when a consumer received an incentive in exchange for a review. That way, future shoppers will have a clear idea of who wrote each review.
For example, it’s clear that the person who wrote this review for Wander Beauty is a verified buyer who received a free sample in exchange for their review.
Start Generating More Conversion-Boosting Reviews with the Right Incentive
Reviews are more important than ever before, regardless of what a consumer is shopping for. Brands and retailers must make it a priority to collect plenty of this content — or risk losing customers to a competitor. Offering the right incentive can be a great way to supercharge your review collection — and boost conversion across your website.