A vast majority of influencer marketing campaigns include content creation on social media with a drive toward KPIs such as CPM, CPE, or engagement rate. However, marketers should consider reviews as an integral part of a brand’s influencer marketing strategy, rather than an afterthought.
With the world continuing to face the reality of the pandemic, product reviews are proving to be more important now than ever. PowerReviews analyzed 1.5 million product pages across 1,200+ ecommerce sites and found that “review content continues to be critical to converting browsers to buyers, with review consumption among those who purchase up on pre-pandemic levels.” With brands needing to get the most out of their marketing dollars in the current global state, reviews should be top of mind for brand marketers.
The below guide covers the benefits and best practices when it comes to integrating ratings and reviews into your influencer marketing strategy.
3 Key Benefits to Review Programs
If you’re questioning whether or not to include reviews as a campaign requirement for content creators, keep in mind these three major benefits to making sure your campaign is all-encompassing:
- Increase Ecommerce Conversions: Ratings and reviews on ecommerce websites have been proven to result in an increase of conversion rates. According to a 2013 Amazon study, products that have 21 or more reviews on average double the conversion rate compared to those with 20 or fewer reviews. In addition, a study done by Northwestern’s Spiegel Research Center showed that a product with five online reviews has a 270% greater chance of being purchased compared to those without any reviews.
- Increase Ecommerce Conversion Value: Increases in review volume and product ratings online have correlated directly with sales lift. More reviews lead to more purchases. The Shopper Experience Index by BazaarVoice has reported that there’s a 159 percent revenue lift per shopper visiting a product page that has reviews.
- Brand Lift and Trust: Consumers rely heavily on recommendations from influencers when making purchase decisions. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report shows that 77 percent of consumers feel that reviews are a major factor when they are looking to buy a product and could make or break their purchasing decision. Mavrck data has shown that 43 percent of consumers believe that if an influencer is the one generating the rating or review, it would add credibility.
Building Reviews into Your Campaign Requirements
Whether it’s a new product to market or an existing one that you’re looking to gather more feedback around, if you’re activating influencers to create social content for your brand and sending them the product to test beforehand, you should always ask them to submit a review upon campaign completion. Mavrck data has found that 85 percent of influencers feel comfortable leaving ratings or reviews after creating content with only 31 percent saying they would charge extra for the additional request.
At Mavrck, we offer an integration with BazaarVoice and PowerReviews, enabling marketers to set up campaigns that require both photo or video content and product reviews simultaneously. When it comes to communicating with the influencers about reviews, always make sure to include messaging around the review requirement upfront within the invitation. Something as simple as, “We’ll also ask that you submit a review at the end of the collaboration, as we’d love to hear your thoughts on the product!” works well.
Be sure to include FTC disclosure recommendations, making sure that influencers indicate that the product was gifted to them. Close the loop with influencers, thanking them for their photo or video content and linking out to the product review page. Upon campaign completion, marketers can seamlessly syndicate influencer’s reviews via BazaarVoice or PowerReviews to their product pages after they’re collected via the Mavrck platform.
If you do choose to add a review requirement to your campaign, you need to be extra conscious of the influencer’s experience with your product from start to finish. Make sure that you send the product to your creators well in advance before their content – including their review – is due so that they’re given enough time to properly test it and form a genuine opinion of it. If you’re a beauty brand with cosmetic products, consider giving influencers even more time to use the product, knowing that they’ll want to see the results. Remember that first impressions are very important, so always be mindful when packaging your product in an aesthetically-appealing way.
So What’s the Deal with Amazon Reviews?
Amazon has strict guidelines around incentivized reviews. Legally you cannot solicit reviews on Amazon with any sort of incentive as you usually would for a typical review campaign. Per Amazon’s policy when it comes to customer reviews, they do not allow anyone to submit a review who is receiving a “monetary reward” in exchange for it. With that in mind, influencer campaigns can only prompt “organic” reviews to be made on Amazon, but cannot include an Amazon review as a campaign requirement. Though it cannot be a paid requirement, creators are always free to leave their own honest reviews on Amazon based on their product usage. Luckily there are many other review platforms including BazaarVoice and PowerReviews that marketers can tap into when requesting influencers to leave product reviews.
Back in 2017, the Amazon Influencer Program was launched, allowing accepted influencers to create their own pages featuring their favorite Amazon products and earning a commission in return for purchases they drive. Influencers with Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or Twitter accounts can apply and are evaluated based on their reach and engagement. Amazon clearly states that influencers in their program are encouraged to leave genuine reviews that will help their followers research products, even if they are critiquing said product.
The Reality of Fake Reviews
According to recent research where 2.7 million reviews were analyzed, 39 percent were found untrustworthy. This statistic makes it even more important for marketers to build trust with their consumers through legitimate and genuine reviews by influencers who have first-hand experience with the brand’s products.
In October of last year, we featured a story about how Sunday Riley Skincare was exposed by the Federal Trade Commission for generating fake product reviews on Sephora.com during the timespan of two years. As the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Andrew Smith, said within the press release covering the story, “Dishonesty in the online marketplace harms shoppers, as well as firms that play fair and square.”
Ratings and reviews serve as a value-add opportunity for marketers to incorporate into their influencer marketing campaigns, but as we mentioned before, it’s extremely important that brands require creators to include proper disclosures in their review if the product was given to them. Marketers and influencers alike are responsible for making sure ratings and reviews are authentic and verified, especially if they’re supporting any product claims.
By asking influencers to submit a product review after sharing their experience on their social media channels via photo or video content, marketers are able to integrate social proof at every touch point of the customer experience while simultaneously improving efficiencies. Remember there are many benefits to keep in mind if you’re building a product review component into your influencer marketing practice. When finalizing your review program, always check platform policies and reinforce the importance of adhering to proper disclosure guidelines when communicating with influencers. The goal of influencer marketing is always to generate trustworthy content from trusted voices, whether that’s IGC shared on social media or within product reviews.