If you’re getting ready to launch a new product, you want to give it the best possible chances for success. It can be hard to convince customers that a new product is worthwhile. It’s helpful to have some reviews before a product launch, so future customers can see that others have enjoyed their purchase. Let’s walk through a strategy to get reviews before a product launch.
How to Get Reviews Before a Product Launch
There are a variety of ways to get reviews before a product launch. First, we’ll walk through some of the ways to actually gather these reviews. Then, we’ll take a look at ways to show off these reviews and catch the attention of prospective customers.
To get these first reviews, it’s ideal to leverage your connections with existing customers, especially your brand evangelists. It’s also important to connect with beta testers and focus groups. These first users will tell you how you might make changes to your product to improve it, but they can also be the first to offer reviews. Let’s take a closer look at each of these strategies. Remember, you don’t have to focus on just one strategy. Using multiple strategies can help you maximize your efforts and gather the most reviews.
Release to Beta Testers
Before a full-scale roll-out of your new product, talk to your beta testers first. Most beta testing involves making changes to the product and testing for any problems, but this group can also give you valuable reviews. This may work particularly well if you release your product to a small group of loyal customers first.
Pinpoint your loyal customers by looking at your reviews, loyalty programs, or social media feed. Positive, longer text-based reviews or video testimonials are a good place to start. These customers took time out of their day to tell you what you did well. Customers that have taken advantage of your loyalty program are also likely to enjoy being selected for a new product. Finally, customers that have mentioned your brand or product more than once on their preferred social media platform are likely to be enthusiastic about your businesses and your products.
Once you’ve selected a group of beta testers, let them know that you’d like them to test a new product, and get their thoughts. You might talk with them in-person, over the phone, or over email. Be honest; let them know that you’re interested in gathering reviews to help launch your product, as well as feedback to potentially improve your product.
Provide Free Samples
If you’re close to putting your new product on your shelves, physically or virtually, free samples can be a great way to get your first reviews. If you use this strategy to get reviews before a product launch, you may need to disclose that you offered your customers free samples in exchange for their reviews. This strategy can work great for gathering reviews for your own web store or website, but it generally isn’t acceptable on third-party websites like Google or Yelp.
You might offer free samples to customers who have just made a purchase, and include the new product in their shipment. Or, you might offer free samples to customers who visit your store. Either option can be effective, but make sure you are clear about what you’re looking for. If you speak to a customer in-person in your store, you can ask them to submit a review or testimonial on the spot. If you send them a free sample with their online purchase, include a review request in the shipment itself, as well as an email. Since these messages are easier to overlook or ignore, it’s helpful to automate an email sequence.
Talk With Influencers
While it’s important to have a collection of reviews from regular customers, it’s also helpful to generate buzz for your product, and collect some high-profile reviews or testimonials. Consider contacting social media influencers in your field, as well as writers, bloggers, or journalists who commonly review products or businesses like yours.
Keep in mind that influencers and writers might not always love your product. Or, they might give a mixed review. It’s not legal to require your reviewer to give a positive review, tell them what to say, or ask them to lie. Instead, do your best to make sure that your product is a good fit for them. For example, if they tend to review high-end products only, and your product is intended as a budget-friendly alternative, your product might not be a good fit for them.
If the influencer or writer likes your product and reviews it favorably, this can be a great endorsement, as well as a great review. A mixed review can be similarly valuable; some valid criticism shows that the review is honest, and the reviewer made a genuine effort to thoughtfully consider the product.
Encourage the writer or influencer to be honest about their review. If you gave them a free sample to try, encourage them to share this, so their followers or readers are not misled. Or, if you offer financial incentives, such as gift cards, discounts or affiliate links, encourage them to share this, too. If paid endorsements are disclosed, they generally don’t violate FTC rules, or the terms of service of most social media platforms. However, this practice isn’t allowed on third-party sites that collect reviews, like Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and others.
Post Your Reviews Before Product Launch
Gathering reviews before a product launch is important, but it’s also important to share these effectively. Otherwise, the reviews that you’ve worked hard to collect might not actually deliver results.
Most likely, you’ve set up a product launch strategy to give your new product the best chances of success, and capture the interest of your target market. Integrating your reviews into your marketing strategy will help to capture your customers’ attention, but also build their trust. Though customers tend to ignore or dismiss marketing messages, they’re more likely to believe sentiments from fellow customers. This means, adding reviews and testimonials can make your product and your overall messaging more trustworthy.
Preview and Share
First, take another look at the reviews or testimonials you’ve collected. Make sure they’re honest and transparent, appropriate with your brand positioning, and edit them, as needed or appropriate, for length or style. Remember, it’s not ethical or legal to edit reviews simply to make them sound more positive. Moreover, an honest review that contains some criticisms will be seen as more honest and authentic than a purely positive review. The key is to use and place the review properly.
When sharing your reviews, try to match the right review to the right customer type, as well as the right spot on the sales funnel. For example, more detailed reviews will be more impactful when a customer is nearing their final purchasing decision. These types of reviews might be more impactful on a product page, for example. In contrast, a brief, one- or two-sentence review that highlights a single aspect might be more effective in capturing your customers’ initial interest, perhaps through social media or advertising.
If possible, try to share your reviews and testimonials in as many ways as possible. This means, you may have to direct your customers to third-party sites, like Amazon or Google, where customers might buy your products or look for reviews. Or, you might want to share reviews (with permission) on social media, or in your advertising or marketing campaigns. Let’s take a closer look at this in the next section.
Integrate With Your Marketing
As previously mentioned, integrating your reviews with your marketing efforts can increase their effectiveness. Consider how you might use your text-based, image-based, or video reviews or testimonials into your marketing campaign to capture your customers’ attention, or overcome their objections or doubts.
Adding reviews to your advertisements can help capture customers’ attention and lend credibility to your advertising messages. Consider using your reviews in social media ads, particularly when reviews are short and sweet. Highlighting a single, attention-grabbing feature, like comfortability, speed, or durability, in a short sentence or two, is much more likely to be effective at this stage than a longer review. At this stage, customers are likely to scroll past a longer review. Short video testimonials, generally less than 10 seconds, may also be effective in your advertisements.
No matter how you are using your customers’ reviews or testimonials, be sure to get their permission beforehand. A release form that explains how you plan to use their feedback, as well as an electronic signature for permission, can help streamline this process.
Using testimonials and reviews on your website, particularly on your product pages, can help overcome customer doubts and persuade them to make a purchase. This is especially important if your other product pages have reviews already. If your new product doesn’t have any reviews, but your other products have plenty, it can be a red flag for prospective customers.
When you collect reviews and testimonials on your own website, rather than directing customers to a third-party website, it’s easier to add these reviews to product pages, or other parts of your website. Adding reviews from a third-party website is likely to be a violation of that website’s terms of service, since the review belongs to the original poster and the website itself.
Your reviews or testimonials can also help you introduce your new product to your larger audience of previous buyers. Include your reviews and testimonials in your marketing emails to show off the best and most-loved aspects of your new product. Combine your reviews and testimonials with discounts or other promotions to encourage more customers to try out your new product.
Though reviews on your own website are important, third-party sites can also play an important role in spreading the word about your new product. Many customers look at other websites first when they’re looking for a particular product. Google is one such site, though it plays a bigger role for local, brick-and-mortar businesses compared to strictly onlines businesses. Other websites, like Amazon, present larger marketplaces for online goods, though Amazon’s policies have made it harder for businesses to sell on their own websites.
Continue Gathering Reviews After Launch
Your first reviews from your loyal customers or beta testers are extremely valuable when it comes to launching your product and earning your customers’ trust, but this process should continue after your product launch as well. Use automated messages and, where appropriate, rewards to remind and encourage your customers to submit product reviews. Highlight your new product on social media and encourage customers to share their thoughts. If necessary, point your customers towards third-party sites to extend your business’s and your product’s reach.
Remember that customers receive a lot of messages each day, and they’ll probably need several reminders before submitting a review. If your process for submitting reviews is easy and straightforward, your product is worthwhile, and your review requests are impactful, you should be able to gather plenty of reviews for your new product in a short time.
Posted in: Online Reviews