When making a purchase decision, reviews are a valuable way to gather information. Many people will search for “(product name) review” or similar terms, so product reviews can bring traffic to your website. When you review products for which you are an affiliate, your reviews can also put money in your pocket.
In order for your product reviews to be effective, they must be credible. A review that only raves about the product and does not include any drawbacks is not as useful or believable as one that gives both pros and cons. Of course, if you are earning an affiliate commission on a product you review it is especially important that your review is honest and objective. Writing a hype-y review just to make the sale may earn a few dollars for you today, but you will lose the trust of your readers. That can destroy your business in the long term.
Part of that honesty (and something that is legally required in the U.S.) is that you disclose your affiliate relationship. At the very least the fact that you use affiliate links on your site needs to be in your policies and disclosures page. Ideally, it should be on the same page as the review, or even noted next to any affiliate links.
Here are some tips to make your next product review worthy of five stars:
1. Your review must answer these questions:
- What benefits does the product promise?
- Does it deliver on its promises?
- Is it a good value for the price?
- What are the problems with the product? Are there things it doesn’t do well or easily?
2. Reviews can stand on their own or compare the product to others.
Sometimes it’s easier for you and more useful to your readers to compare products side by side instead of evaluating a single product.
When comparing products always compare the same types of products. Although shopping cart software and accounting software both deal with money, their functions are completely different. A review comparing them will not be useful to anyone.
Compare the features of one to the other. If you talk about the cost of one product, also comment onthe cost of the other. If you have a bias toward one product, be honest and tell readers that you prefer one over the other. Sometimes your preference is due to a specific benefit or drawback to one of the products, but sometimes it is simply personal taste. Don’t leave out features or drawbacks simply because they place your preferred product in a lesser light.
Keep in mind that something that is a minus to you may be acceptable or even a plus to someone else. We all have different needs and likes, so just honestly describe the products you are reviewing.
3. Be honest.
Think about the reader. Think about the goal. You want visitors to respect your opinion and make a purchase. Talk to visitors and then write the review as if talking to a friend. This not only enhances the copy because it’s written conversationally, but it will ensure that the review feels genuine to its reader.
NEVER write a positive review of a product only to get an affiliate commission. Most of the time th reviews I write are positive. That is because I don’t write a lot of reviews and when I do I prefer to share the good things I find. However, I will never write a good review of a product just to get people to buy something. Usually I have purchased the product and loved it. That brings us to…
4. When you don’t actually use the product, learn as much as you can about it.
It isn’t always possible to try every product that you review or recommend. However, if you cannot try the product or service out personally, learn as much as you can about it. Then the review is informative and provides the advice your readers need.
For example, you might write about how you went about choosing a shopping cart system. You probably won’t actually try all of them out, but you will review the websites for each, compare features and pricing, look at demos and perhaps talk to other people about their experiences with shopping carts. You can share what you learned, the advantages and disadvantages of each system you considered and why you made the choice you did.
I am often asked about the mechanics of how I sell digital products online. The solution I use is right for me, but it is not what I would recommend to someone just starting out. The solution I recommend to them is much less expensive and has a shorter learning curve, just right for someone starting their first e-commerce website. It is not something I have ever used, but I have studied and tested it, and I know that it is a good choice.
Whenever you review or recommend a product or service, you are putting your reputation on the line. Be honest and ethical in your dealings with your readers and customers, and they will trust you to guide them in their decisions. You will become an authority who helps them to reach their goals.