In the lead-up to SXSW last week, Bazaarvoice, the product review software company, held their annual summit in Austin, Texas. I attended the conference and was struck by the variety of companies who rely on product reviews. There were representatives from companies that make everything from make-up to garage door openers as well as many B2B product and service firms.

The variety of companies focusing on product reviews is not surprising when you consider that:

  • There is Declining Trust in Traditional Advertising 84% of consumers do not trust advertising.
  • Recommendations from “People Like Me” Are Compelling 92% of consumers trust product recommendations from people like them more than any other source.
  • Consumer Product Reviews Increase Sales Just 50 reviews can generate a sales lift of more 30%, according to Bazaarvoice data. Two hundred product reviews will garner a sales lift of 44%.

With compelling stats like this, the increase in brands focused on product reviews and utilizing consumer-generated content is getting much attention.

With this in mind, we have developed a list of 3 key tips for brands interested in generating authentic & compelling reviews and then optimizing these reviews:

  1. Securing Reviews: There are many ways for brands to solicit product reviews. They can: a) send follow up communications such as emails to consumers who have purchased their products online or in-store or b) put out a call to their social media followers on platforms like Facebook or Instagram, or c) create a message on product packaging — directly on the product or via a hang tag for example or d) engage panels or communities with targeting capabilities to find consumers to sample products and create reviews. There are likely others, too, but these are a few to provide food for thought. Also note that when you ask for review content, it should not be limited to just the written word. Reviews that contain photos or video are compelling and can be valuable in increasing product interest and conversion.
  2. Incentivizing Reviews: No matter which way a brand chooses to approach target consumers for reviews, they will likely need some system to incentivize reviews. Incentives provided to generate authentic reviews can be monetary but it does not have to be. Here are some tips for securing reviews:
    A) Provide a targeted customer with a sample in exchange for a review; B) Ask existing customers for product reviews in exchange for inside or advanced access to information about the brand or product. Feeling like an “Insider” will help consumers become advocates for brands; C) Recognize consumers who create reviews for you. People love seeing their name in lights. A brand can let followers/customers know that they will feature product reviews in social channels or perhaps even advertisement or packaging. This type of recognition is memorable an can create lasting brand advocacy.
  3. Optimizing Product Review Content: Once you have gone through the process of asking your customers for product review content how do you leverage it to get the most out of it?

A) Make sure to publish all reasonable product review content. Even if it is negative it can still prove useful in ensuring authenticity of the reviews and therefore compelling to potential customers.

B) Leverage review content in marketing channels. This can include print, direct mail, social media channels as well as online ad units. Recent programs that we have run across multiple consumer product categories show ad units containing review testimonial content performing 50% better in CTR vs. best performing control ad units.

C) Ensure that internal brand teams receive and review consumer review content. In short, product reviews are direct customer feedback. This feedback can be very useful in everything from product enhancements to new product development and can inform brand strategy and communications.

Finally, brands are finding that when they couple consumer product reviews with social media content from existing customers (with their products featured) they increase sales. According to Jenny Sidorova of, “In the near future, consumer photos and product reviews will live side-by-side, and brands who don’t have CGC will be scrambling.”

Have comments or a question? Please feel free to comment below.