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Receiving reviews can make or break your online reputation by drastically impacting your reputation score. Since reviews are imperative to a company’s online presence, many businesses may ponder offering an incentive in exchange for a positive review to help boost their overall reputation score.

Is this good practice? We will break down the pros and cons of providing incentives to decide how you feel about the topic. As important as it is to have a reputable online presence, there are risks in using incentives.

review incentives

Businesses may decide to offer incentives to get more of their customers to leave reviews.

Pros for Review Incentives:

  • Positive Review – Of course! The whole purpose of providing an incentive for a review is to have a positive review. The positive review will help you increase or maintain your current reputation score and potentially (however, not guaranteed) help your business. Incentives may also motivate an otherwise passive and satisfied customer to provide feedback as often it is only the negative customers that leave reviews.  
  • Happy Customer– Let’s face it, your customer will love getting a freebie for a few minutes of their time. However, some customers may even be more interested in free perks than review integrity.
  • Potentially Increases Reviews – Exchanging reviews for incentives can possibly increase the number of reviews. However, there is no guarantee.
  • Potentially Increases Reviews Quickly – Especially if there is a deadline for the incentive drawing, customers may be motivated to leave reviews within the allotted time period.
incentivize reviews

The cons of using review incentives may outweigh the pros.

Cons for Review Incentives:

  • Huge Penalties: One of the most significant risks for incentivizing reviews is potentially receiving a penalty from some of the largest review platforms (Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.). These companies have clear guidelines in their policy to prohibit incentives in exchange for reviews. To them, it takes away the integrity of the evaluation and begins to falsify information, and therefore, the customer could potentially be misguided. However, other review sites, such as G2 and Capterra offer incentives themselves to encourage people to leave reviews for software companies. We recommend reading through policy guidelines for any review platform before opting to use incentives to ask for reviews.
  • Loss of Customer Trust – Aside from potentially risking your spot on major review platforms, you also risk losing customer trust. In many cases, it will likely hinder customer trust. Customers may not be confident in their reviews or feedback and you may ultimately lose them as a customer. Asking for reviews in exchange for incentives may immediately raise questions about the quality of the product or service. Is a positive review worth losing the customer?
  • Cannot Properly Improve – If your business is solely relying on incentives to get reviews, you may not learn valuable feedback your business needs to improve since customers may only care about the incentive rather than offering useful feedback that will improve your business. If you want your business to grow, feedback (both good and bad) is necessary. It will help your business evolve and achieve a 5-star rating without incentives along with satisfied customers. 
  • Customer Might Report Incentive – Even just asking a customer to exchange a review for an incentive could lead them to mention it when reviewing, or they could report it. The scenarios are endless with potential risk. The only guarantee is to avoid it at all costs.
  • You Will Still Face Bad Reviews – No matter how much you incentivize, you will most likely still receive a negative comment here and there. In some situations,  no amount of incentives can change the mind of an unhappy customer.

We’d like to highlight further that incentives do go against the review policy upheld by Google, Yelp, and many other review platforms.

From our list, it’s clear the risk can be high in offering incentives. It will be a quick way to get more reviews, but will not solve all your business concerns. We do recommend investing in online reputation software such as ReviewInc instead of investing in incentives. It’s worth the cost, minus all the risks of using incentives. With ReviewInc’s reputation management software, businesses can also set up automated text or email requests asking for reviews. To learn more about ReviewInc’s services, request a demo here.

Have you decided to use incentives in your reputation management strategy? We hope this blog post helped you decide by providing the pros and cons.