Whether you’re just starting your lingerie business or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s one thing that you’ll know for sure: you need to crack the online world. While it might be a tricky area, a large part of your marketing activities should be dedicated to building a presence online and starting to cultivate a community.
So, where should you start? Well, one way to go is to focus on getting feedback from your customers. After all, the modern-day consumer is a savvy person who checks reviews before they shop. They are thorough in their investigations when making buying choices. What they read online could impact their shopping habits and determine whether they visit you at all.
We all know the power of online reviews. When you’re building your brand reputation, you need advocates gain you expose and attention. You might even be tempted to incentivize them. However, recent research published in Marketing Science suggests that paying customers to write reviews might have a negative effect.
What the Research Says
As part of a study, customers were given 25 cents in credit each time they submitted a review online. Researchers then monitored how this small incentive affected the way in which people used the platform to submit reviews. The theory was that giving consumers a little something back would encourage them to give feedback.
However, just a month after the incentive program was launched, there was an unexpected dip in the number of reviews that the platform received. In fact, the site lost around 30% of its usual feedback in that period. Experts suggest that this could be due to customers fearing that they will be seen as a ‘paid shill’ by their peers.
“Nobody wants to be seen as a paid shill for brands, so the users with more friends and followers, who were likely more influential and wrote more originally, are the ones who stop writing. A real double-whammy,” explained one of the paper’s authors, Xiaojing Dong.
Those who become ‘online influencers’ work hard to be seen as impartial by their followers. With that in mind, if their network can see that they have been paid for their review, it could damage their reputation. On the other hand, if it’s not obvious that they have been incentivized, it may not affect the amount of feedback that they give.
“Our results support the approach of industry leaders like Yelp or Amazon, who do not compensate for reviews. In fact, they tap into the intrinsic motive for social recognition through status badges for frequent contributors,” said another paper author, Shelby McIntyre.
“There may be still ‘under the radar’ ways to pay only the less socially active users for their reviews, but such targeting can be risky as the heavy reviewers may perceive it to be unfair and therefore stop writing reviews, if and when they learn about it.”
It’s also worth noting that paying people for reviews without stating that you’re doing so is dangerous and could get you into hot water legally. It’s not worth the risk. This means that ‘real’ reviews are far more valuable than those that are paid for.
The results suggest that companies should take the time to work on getting honest feedback from their customer base. Rather than trying to ‘fast track’ the review process, it’s about considering ways to up engagement and gain regular comments from customers.
So, what are your next steps? Well, the last thing you should do is considering paying customers to give you feedback. Instead, take the time to focus on building a community that will give you honest reviews time and time again.