Should Companies Incentivize Online Business Reviews?

Is Incentivizing Online Reviews a Bad Idea?

Consumers question businesses’ reputations every day of the year. However, the holiday season brings a rising interest in learning about other shoppers’ experiences. People invest a lot of time, energy, and money into buying the perfect present for Christmas, Hanukkah, and other gift-giving holidays. Because shoppers buy presents for family members, friends and coworkers, their research period may be lengthened compared to personal shopping. After all, consumers are shopping for other people, visiting their favorite stores for their favorite things. Holiday shoppers are especially interested in customer service, return policies, and overall business reputations. Therefore, review forums will be the first place to start.

soliciting and rewarding online business reviews
Encourage Customers to Write Reviews?

Experiences shared on Yelp, Google Maps and forums can directly influence purchasing behavior. But what is a company’s role in collecting online business reviews? Of course, businesses want their trusted, loyal consumers to write reviews about their positive experiences. However, it’s usually the annoyed shoppers that retreat to review forms with harsh words and low stars. To boost online business reviews, what if you gave shoppers an incentive to write reviews? Consider both scenarios.

Strategy 1: Rewarding Customer Reviews

Some businesses offer their customers a coupon, like 5-10% off their next purchase, for a review. While businesses don’t specify that it has to be positive, if a customer has to show their review to management for a discount, it will more likely be a high review. How many people would return to a store they disliked, show a store employee their low review, and then redeem the coupon to buy something? It’s an unlikely case, so it may be worth exploring in order to gain more reviews. While Yelp has condemned soliciting reviews, they obviously have their own business motives. Consider the pros and cons of your business. Maybe test rewarding online customer reviews for a short period of time before making it a long-term marketing effort.

Strategy 2: Not Rewarding Customer Reviews

Many managers choose not to solicit online business reviews. By relying on organic reviews, businesses can honor their reviews for honest, thoughtful reviews. The review page will be populated with thorough input, rather than hastily written reviews from people looking for a deal. This option also avoids any conversations about what’s considered a review. For example, do people that write “nice employees, clean place” earn the same discount as reviewers with helpful input and verbose experience descriptions? Choosing not to reward reviews may be low maintenance, but would an aggressive marketing push be more helpful?

Ultimately, it’s a decision unique to each business. Incentivizing online business reviews depends on each company’s marketing strategy and reputation management standing. But one thing is sure, despite the stress around the holiday season, make sure everyone at your business is on their best behavior. You never know when a Yelp or Google review addict is around the corner!

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