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How to Ask for a Review: Brand Marketing Edition

Positive reviews can act like rocket fuel for your sales by providing credibility through social proof in ways traditional marketing copy simply cannot. Moreover, platforms like Amazon consider reviews within their algorithm to determine which products or services should receive greater visibility. However, acquiring online reviews is no easy feat. Understanding how to ask for a review effectively can make a significant difference in gaining valuable UGC content.

Mastering the art and science of asking for reviews is essential for brands, requiring diligence and patience to discover the most effective strategy tailored to their audience. To assist marketers in this journey, CIPIO.ai has curated a collection of proven best practices for requesting reviews, along with potential shortcuts, to kickstart their efforts on the right path. 

General Best Practices for Requesting UGC Content Reviews

Regardless of whether you’re sending a review request email or making an in-person appeal, there are clever tactics that can increase both the response rate and the quality of the feedback. 

 

Be purposeful with the timing of the review

Your success hinges not only on how you ask for a review, but also when. While your initial inclination might be to approach clients immediately after they’ve received a product or utilized your services, take a moment to consider whether this timing aligns with the recipient’s optimal mindset.

 

For example, if you just sold someone a treadmill, they may want to have a week or more of usage to finalize their opinion. If someone stayed at your hotel, waiting a few days to ask for a review may mean you catch them when they’re relaxing at home rather than swept up in the whirlwind of a busy airport. 

 

Is it wrong to ask for a review after the first interaction? This hinges on the characteristics of your industry and the timeframe customers require to confidently establish their impression. After all, a good meal will never be as satisfying as when the customer just licked their plate clean! Just make sure it’s not the only time you solicit their feedback, and consider varying up the channel and messaging. Returning to the example of asking for reviews on behalf of a hotel, a successful strategy could be to furnish guests with an in-person QR code during check-out, followed by a subsequent email sent ten days later. 

 

Nailing down the perfect timing for such requests requires experimentation and data analysis, which leads to our next tip. 

 

Never operate on assumptions—test all strategies to collect valuable data

Experimenting with various methods, timing, and messaging for review requests provides invaluable insights into what resonates best with your audience. For example, the messaging and timing that works well for an eCommerce marketing to Gen Z urbanites might falter for a suburban spa catering primarily to Gen-X and older demographics. 

 

To fine-tune the timing of when to request reviews, observe outreach open rates, click-through rates, and review submission rates. Also conduct qualitative analysis to determine if timing influences the depth of the provided reviews. 

 

Simplify review processes for customers and remove barriers

Remember, the easier it is for customers to leave feedback, the more likely they are to share their experiences with your brand through UGC content. Simplifying review submission is crucial for effective UGC content marketing. Clever ways to do this include offering physical QR codes or linking directly to your company’s profile on review sites. 

Another tip? Reference multiple review platforms within your request. For instance, if you value reviews on Facebook the most, consider that not all reviewers may have an account or be logged in on their mobile device. If you link solely to your Facebook business page, you create a barrier to such individuals leaving a review unless you also present an alternative option. This approach enhances the chances of generating more UGC videos and other forms of user-generated content.

Show your appreciation by incentivizing reviews

When requesting reviews, consider enticing incentives like discount codes, loyalty points, gift cards, contest entries, or free swag. Not all incentives carry equal weight or yield the same ROI,  so experiment with various rewards to determine which drives the best results. Just be mindful to follow FTC guidelines and to pay close attention to specific platforms’ policies. 

Bonus Tips for Maximizing Request Response Rates

  • Personalize the review request as much as possible

 

  • If you opt to send multiple requests, preferably deploy a multichannel channel approach and/or space out the timing of the messages

 

  • Take the effort to publicly respond to each review (without being overly defensive)

 

  • Include a brief note about the importance of reviews, such as, “We’re always striving to improve, and your feedback provides invaluable guidance in helping us enhance our services.” Another example? “Your review will help our small B&B gain additional exposure so we can continue to serve Mount Pocono visitors”

 

  • Inspire reviewers by sharing examples of others’ reviews or suggesting specific questions for them to reflect on. This approach can lead to more detailed and insightful responses, adding value for both future viewers and search engines

 

  • Promote your most thoughtfully crafted reviews to inspire others to follow suit. After all, many people would find it flattering to have their thoughts and images spotlit. Opportunities to do so include your homepage, designated review pages, social media, and email marketing, to name a few.
 
Example from Countryside Amish Furniture
Example from Manly Bands

How to ask for a review via text (SMS)

There are many of the advantages of using SMS to request reviews—branded texts have an astronomically high open rate of 97% compared to email’s open rate of 20%. This is because SMS offers less competition for viewers’ attention compared to the flood of branded emails we all receive, and there’s less automatic segmentation of brand emails from personal. 

 

However, because text messages are inherently harder to ignore, overusing them can backfire by making your company be perceived as a nuisance. Therefore, configure your omnichannel review-request drip campaign to deploy SMS only once, and use SMS sparingly overall.

Example from We Love Junk

How to ask for a review via email

  • Try sending out multiple messages – As previously discussed, brand emails typically have lower open rates compared to SMS. Consequently, you might need to request reviews multiple times to capture your customer’s attention. However, by being able to send multiple requests, you can subsequently gather more data and experiment with various factors such as timing and messaging to optimize your strategy.

 

  • Don’t underestimate the power of a thoughtful subject line – Experiment with different subject lines while adhering to the recommended 40-character limit. Potential options include, “Did you like [Product]?”, “$50.00 gift card for your thoughts,” or “Got 3 seconds to give us feedback?”

 

  • Craft a personable message – When asking for a review via email, avoid sounding too salesy or aggressive (no all-caps or excessive exclamation points). A friendly, conversational tone can significantly enhance your request’s success rates.

 

  • Try positioning the initial prompt as a “survey” – The visual of an empty box just waiting for reviewers to type can prove intimidating. Instead, start with a visual that encourages recipients to merely click on a box, whether it’s to assign a numeric rating or answer a simple question. 
 
Example from Citizens Bank

How to ask for a review in-person

When asking clients for a review in person, the most crucial tip is to avoid making them feel pressured to complete the online review in your team’s presence. Instead, train customer-facing staff to provide customers with the necessary information (ideally a QR code they can scan) and encouragement to leave their feedback at their convenience.

Another effective method to garner reviews from in-person customers without making them feel obligated is by strategically placing signage containing QR codes. Consider slipping printed cards into their shopping bags for them to discover later at home—a tactic that also applies well when shipping products.

 

Image from Etsy Seller JNLittleHouse

Can you buy reviews?

Buying reviews is not only possible, but incredibly easy. Yet, the risks of being exposed and facing repercussions are equally high, as detailed in Can You Buy Reviews for Use in Advertising? In short, platforms are dedicating more resources to identifying and flagging fraudulent reviews. To deter such behavior and maintain user-friendly websites, they’re implementing a range of penalties with varying severity levels. Even if you’re tempted to buy reviews to post solely on your own site, be mindful that today’s consumers are fairly shrewd and may spot the deception, completely undermining the purpose of the reviews.

Why arranged UGC-style content perfectly complements customer reviews

Marketers looking to quickly acquire testimonials and other types of user-generated content (UGC) have several legitimate options available, starting with partnering with content creators to document their experiences with products. Unlike paid reviews, these videos typically indicate their affiliation with the brand and are not intended to manipulate average star ratings, ensuring they don’t jeopardize your brand’s credibility or violate platform policies.

Distinct advantages of UGC creators over traditional reviews

  • More likely to use video – When requesting reviews, the majority of responses you’ll receive will be in written form, possibly accompanied by a few photographs. While this feedback is valuable, it lacks versatility. Unlike the majority of traditional reviews, UGC-style videos from creators can be utilized not only on your website but also in ad campaigns and social content. Even if you create graphics promoting written testimonials, you’re most likely missing out on potential engagement—in a survey of small business owners performed by Databox, 67.55% of respondents confirmed that video-based ads outperformed their image counterparts. 
 
  • Greater control over the messaging and overall quality – The stark truth is that most reviewers won’t compose the Great American novel for you, nor will they achieve the photographic finesse of Annie Leibovitz when capturing your products. While candid written reviews and unpolished photos add authenticity, they may not showcase your offerings in the best possible light. In contrast, paid UGC creators invest the time to craft polished representations, where you have substantial input. Need them to highlight specific features? Illustrate particular product use-cases? These are directives you can provide to creators, a level of control unavailable when asking for reviews from your customers.
 
  • Brands choose their preferred individuals – Unlike requesting reviews from customers, you have full control over who you incentivize to create UGC-style content. Utilizing tools like CIPIO.ai, you can swiftly discover hundreds of potential candidates and then refine your selection based on specific criteria. You can access data points about their social profiles, following, and past work, empowering you to assess if they align with your brand. Now that’s true power!
 

Learn about Cipio.ai UGC sourcing services

How to maximize the value of customer reviews & UGC

Reviews play a pivotal role in search engine algorithms, influencing which sites are promoted for specific search terms. Google, for instance, considers factors like the quantity, quality, and recency of reviews when determining a site’s ranking. Additionally, aggregate star ratings displayed in search results serve as a quick snapshot of a site’s reputation, impacting user trust and click-through rates.

 
Yet there’s additional opportunities to leverage reviews and UGC-style content, including:
 
  • Feature customer reviews and user-generated content (UGC) prominently within your website and on third-party platforms such as Amazon. This helps build trust and credibility among potential customers browsing your products or services
 
  • Utilize customer reviews and UGC in digital advertising campaigns to showcase real-life experiences and endorsements, increasing engagement and conversion rates
 
  • Incorporate customer reviews and UGC into your email marketing campaigns to provide social proof and encourage recipients to take action, whether it’s making a purchase or signing up for a service
 
  • Encourage reviewers or content creators to share their positive experiences and UGC on their own social media platforms, expanding your brand’s reach and credibility among their followers. This user-generated advocacy can amplify your marketing efforts and drive further engagement.
 
 

Leveraging CIPIO.ai to optimize videos using AI

Asking for reviews and acquiring user-generated content (UGC) is just the beginning of leveraging customer feedback for marketing success. Once collected, brands can enhance this content by tailoring it to suit the preferences of different platforms’ users. For instance, while longer, uninterrupted footage may be suitable for an Amazon product page where consumers seek in-depth information, a more concise version might better capture attention in a dynamic Facebook ad environment.

 

CIPIO.ai streamlines this process by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to analyze footage and create optimized ads. By leveraging AI and machine learning, the platform identifies best practices and refines strategies based on your own performance data. As you continue to create ads and conduct A/B testing, CIPIO.ai’s machine-learning continually evolves its understanding of how to best connect with your unique audience. The result? A scalable solution that enables you to make the most of your reviews and creator content.