If you’ve struggled to get reviews or testimonials for your business, you might’ve considered offering gift cards as an incentive. Your customers are busy people, just like you, and they may need a bit of a push to take that extra step. So how can you make it easy to offer gift cards for review? And what are the rules for giving gift cards in exchange for reviews? We’ve updated this post in 2023 to give you additional information about how to offer gift cards for reviews and the rules that apply.
Please note: this blog post is not intended as, and should not be considered, legal advice. If you have questions, always consult an attorney.
Offering Gift Cards for Reviews: How to Get Reviews Fast
If you’ve considered offering gift cards for reviews, maybe you’ve tried a manual process; sending email requests for reviews, drawing a winner out of a hat, and then tracking down your winner to mail or email them a gift card. This process was probably pretty time-consuming and, depending on the number of reviews you received, may or may not have been worth it. Automating this process, and gaining insights about how well the strategy worked, can make it much easier, and deliver faster ROI.
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Gift Cards for Reviews: Choose Your Strategy
So, how can you offer gift cards for reviews and get reviews fast? While there’s certainly no guarantee that your customers will respond, gift cards can provide an extra incentive. It’s important to plan your strategy upfront, so there’s no surprises later on.
Consider the following as you make a plan:
- Who gets a gift card? You might offer a small gift card to everyone who submits a review (this is likely to give you more reviews, but you’ll need to invest more, too) or offer one, larger gift card as a giveaway prize. Or, you might have a few gift cards up for grabs, and choose a few winners.
- How much are you spending? Consider the value of each review as you decide how much to invest in this strategy. For example, reviews on sales pages increase conversions by 34%, on average. Or, using customer testimonials regularly can generate approximately 62% more revenue.
- What is your timeline? You’ll need to make this clear when you offer gift cards for reviews, so customers know how long they have to claim their card or enter a giveaway.
- How will you ask for reviews? Will you send review requests via email, in your store, or another method? Would you like customers to submit reviews directly to a landing page or to a third-party site? Will you send your gift cards via email, mail, or another method?
Automate This Process and Get Reviews Fast
To get reviews fast, you can automate your email review requests, review submission landing page, and even your gift card distribution. Boast lets you send review requests automatically to your customers, or any subset of your customers you specify. You can write a review request email or choose a template, and specify who to send the email to, and what time. Simply include the link to your landing page and your customers can submit their reviews. By automating this process, you can collect reviews while you sleep!
Boast also integrates with Tango Card and other gift card services, so you can even automate your gift card distribution. Tango Card lets you send gift cards from over 100 brands. Boast lets you contact your customers with automated sequences. Integrating Boast and Tango Card with Zapier, you can send gift cards according to triggered events, such as when a customer clicks a link or provides a testimonial.
With a few minutes of pre-planning and set-up, you can automate the entire process, and gather reviews with ease.
Offering Gift Cards for Reviews: How to Keep it Legal
Offering gift cards for reviews can help you gather more reviews faster. However, there are some important rules to consider when using this strategy, so you can use gift cards to incentivize reviews and keep it legal.
Is it Legal to Offer Gift Cards in Exchange for Reviews?
In general, it is legal to offer gift cards in exchange for reviews, as long as you disclose the gift, and the review is honest. This applies only to reviews you receive directly from customers (not third-party websites, like Amazon or Yelp).
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the governing body for many advertising practices, including the use of reviews and testimonials. 15 US Code § 45 gives the FTC the power to stop and penalize parties “using unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.” The FTC has made fake reviews or testimonials illegal. It also outlines rules regarding incentivized reviews and testimonials, including payment, discounts, gift cards, and other material relationships.
The FTC’s “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising” address how 15 USC 45 applies to paid testimonials and reviews, including those incentivized with gift cards. In general, if is legal to offer gift cards in exchange for reviews under FTC rules as long as all of the following are true of the review:
- Made by a real customer or user of the product or service
- Based on a real user’s experience
- Be an accurate description of expected or normal results
- Not influenced by money, gifts, or publicity unless it is clearly disclosed
- Not influenced by a familiar or business relationship (such as employer-employee)
- Not edited or altered so to change the message
In essence, the FTC allows businesses to offer gift cards in exchange reviews as long as the review is honest and the business clearly states that gift cards were involved. You might accomplish this disclosure by adding a simple statement such as “all reviewers can receive a gift card in exchange for their feedback. If you’ve used our products and would like to share your experience, click here.”
Keep in mind that these are only FTC rules, and they apply to reviews or testimonials that you receive directly from customers. Other websites, such as Google, Amazon, Yelp, and many more, have their own rules and policies for incentivized reviews.
Do Other Websites Allow Gift Cards in Exchange for Reviews?
Other websites generally do not allow businesses to offer gift cards in exchange for reviews. Offering money or gifts in exchange for reviews on other websites almost always violates the websites’ user agreements.
Websites that host reviews for other businesses and products, including Google, Amazon, Yelp, and many others, rely on honesty for their reviews. If users visit the site and don’t think the reviews are genuine or believable, the overall value of the site will plummet. Therefore, these websites apply stricter rules in an effort to make their reviews as genuine as possible.
This means that most third-party review sites do not allow users to give or accept gift cards in exchange for reviews. This includes the largest and most common sites for third-party reviews, such as Google and Amazon, as well as smaller sites with particular interests. Check the site’s policies to see if you can offer gift cards in exchange for reviews.
- Google’s review policies clearly state in their review guidelines: “Don’t offer or accept money in exchange for reviews.”
- Amazon’s review policies also clearly state that users may not exchange products, money, rewards, or services in exchange for reviews.
- Yelp takes an even harder stance, stating: “Don’t ask for reviews and don’t offer to pay for them either: Please don’t ask your customers to review your business on Yelp. … You should also never offer compensation (discounts and freebies count too) in exchange for reviews.”
Many websites have taken legal action against users who are giving or accepting gifts or money in exchange for reviews. Businesses violating user agreements have paid thousands of dollars in civil lawsuits. Other businesses have simply been removed from the site altogether.
Is it Legal to Offer Gift Cards in Exchange for Reviews on Social Media?
Social media can be a powerful way to share products and services with your audience. If you’ve struggled to gather followers to your own social media accounts, you might reach out to others with larger followings and ask them to provide a review or endorsement. Working with influencers and reaching their audiences can be a very effective way to reach new followers and new customers. However, there are some rules to remember when it comes to using gift cards in exchange for reviews, testimonials, or endorsements on social media.
The FTC has provided rules about paid and incentivized endorsements on social media. These rules explain that it’s legal to offer money, discounts, or gift cards in exchange for reviews or endorsements on social media, but these relationships must be disclosed.
Though the FTC provides no exact language or rules that must be followed to make these disclosures, it’s important to be clear and upfront. Many influencers decide for themselves how they would like to disclose this “material relationship,” though you may offer some guidance. For example, some social media users simply use “#ad” or “#paidadvertisement” and don’t mention what they were paid or how. However, transparency is usually the best policy for maintaining trustworthy and authentic connections, and you might advise the social media users you work with to fully disclose the rewards they were given.
In general, when working with social media users or influencers, keep these rules in mind:
- If you provide gift cards in exchange for reviews or endorsements from social media users or influencers, the influencers must disclose that they have been paid or rewarded for their reviews.
- The reviews must be honest and made by an actual user of the product or service.
- There is no exact wording that must be used, but it’s recommended to be honest and transparent about money, discounts, or gift cards you provide to users.
How Can I Use Reviews Incentivized with Gift Cards?
Though incentivizing reviews with gift cards violates other website’s policies, you can still offer gift cards in exchange for reviews that you accept directly from customers. As long as you disclose that you offered gift cards in exchange for reviews, you can use these reviews on your home page, product pages, landing pages, advertisements, printed materials, and more. This can be especially helpful if you are rolling out a new product, opening a new store, or developing a new advertising campaign. Consider carefully where customers might be most impacted by reviews from other customers. Then, get your gift cards together and get started on your review campaign.
Posted in: Social Proof