Have you ever wondered how to write product reviews that build trust, solve problems, get sales, and make money? If so, you’re in the right place because that’s what we’ll be talking about here: in-depth.
If you’re here, it’s likely, you’re an affiliate marketer. You’ve probably heard (or gotten to experience) the importance of writing product reviews. I know I have.
I’ve gotten to see the power of the “launch jacking” technique where you’re writing product reviews that people are actively searching for online to help protect consumers. In fact, I’ve written product reviews that have generated 10,000s of visitors to my website over the last 20 months since I’ve started writing them.
The method works. You can attract a lot of people to your website by writing reviews because more and more people are buying online, and the experience online is quite different than the experience offline.
Offline vs. Online
Offline, if you decide you want to buy something, you visit the store, go in, look touch, smell, and possibly taste the merchandise, then buy it. When you’re shopping online and you decide you want to buy something, you can’t have the “physical trial” experience before you buy in most instances. Instead, you’re left feeling like you’re taking a risk on something you haven’t experienced.
The risk level feels higher UNLESS you:
- Are able to get a trial (detailed video, images portraying use-case, actual demo, etc.)
- Or, you can find an honest person with an honest experience and evaluate whether the product can achieve your goals thru them, right?
If you can get a trial and a good honest review, it makes the risk level go down tons!
The Unfortunate thing About Reviews
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of convolution with reviews online and lots of improvement to be desired. It’s fairly common to type in “Product name + Review” and see a laundry list of results like:
- “Is Product Name a Scam?”
- “Read this First”
- “Product Name Review”
All this is okay, but it’s difficult to find a reviewer who seems like they’re genuinely interested in helping YOU achieve YOUR goals. They might be interested in:
- Their commission
- Getting revenge for a bad experience
- Beating out a competitor
- And, all in all, if you’re informed about the behind-the-scenes dynamics in online business (which more people are), the review will read somewhat shallow
Besides, you don’t read reviews to see whether THEY like the product or not. You read reviews and you’re thinking “Will this product help ME?”.
…This is why it’s important for you and I–as fellow affiliate marketers–to be informed about how to satisfy what people are looking for in our reviews, so we can create a review that fulfills expectations, and get high commissions as a result. Make sense?
Misusing Authority with Reviews
When you’re attracting lots of people who are looking for your opinion on whether a product or service can help them achieve their goals, it’s a lot of responsibility. Now, that the internet is rewarding people based on search engine optimization skills, paid advertising know-how, and relevance, it can actually lead to misuse, and I’ve misused this authority myself.
While it’s fun and personally beneficial to attract lots of people to your website, it can also be slandering, short-sighted, and manipulative in a negative way if you take advantage of the authority you’re given by attracting the visitors, and give them incorrect or overtly biased information. I’ve done this by accident.
Sometimes, you may not realize your own personal bias, so it’s important to analyze things from the users-first perspective rather than the “what I like” perspective or the “what I get the highest commissions from” perspective.
I did this recently. It wasn’t intentional, but it happened, and thank God I was able to correct my mistake..or so I think.
As a result of my recent experience, I’ve learned some product review best practices, and I want to pass them onto you.
How to Write Product Reviews — 10 Steps That Work!
With all the preliminaries out of the way, let’s discuss the 10-step process for writing product reviews that build trust, get sales, and create returning visitors and loyalty!
1. Identify your “Why”
First, it’s important to identify “why” you’re writing the review. Are you writing the review to help a specific audience? Are you writing the review to make high commissions? Are you writing the review to benefit your merchant?
We each have a “why” and often times, if we don’t correct this core intention, and make it point in favor of our readers, our reviews will be shallow. You want your readers to land on your review and feel connected to what you’ve written, trust your advice, and walk away saying, “that review helped me make the best decision for where I am in my life”, but if you’re “why” is slanted a different way, you could miss out on trust, sales, and returning visitors.
Make sure you have a clear Niche
In addition to your core intention for writing reviews, you also have to decide “who” you plan to solve problems for, or “your niche”. It’s likely that over time, you might have several niches, but in the beginning, it’s important to isolate a group of people you’re confident you can solve problems for and write very specific and relevant for them.
For example, if you’re trying to sell baby diapers, you’d likely want to write to people who are likely to buy baby diapers, right? To do that, you’d use illustrations, and dialogue in your writing to make it clear that you understand the mom or dad who has a young child in diapers.
An intro may sound like:
“If you’re here, it’s likely you have a baby who is not yet potty trained. You may have tried various diaper brands, but for one reason or another, you’re not happy enough to stay loyal to any of those, so you’re looking to see if this one is better.”
Do you hear how we made it clear that we relate to their diaper shopping experience? We’ve also made it clear that we know we’re writing to a parent of a young child.
2. Find Products that Would be Relevant to Your Audience for Review
Once you’ve positioned your “why” in favor of your reader and chosen a niche, it’s easier to decide on products to review, but if you’re still a little confused, let’s narrow down a process…
David Gray, the author of The Connected Company is the man behind empathy maps. He consulted companies and had them do the empathy map exercise so they could build the ability to “read their customers’ minds”.
Basically, what you do with the empathy map is…
- Take a piece of paper or square
- Drawn lines to segment it into 4 quadrants
- Write one word in each quadrant: “seeing”, “thinking”, “doing”, and “feeling”
- Brainstorm by yourself or with your team and fill out your empathy map
Once you’re done with the empathy mapping exercise, you should have ideas jotted down into each square that help you relate to what your customer may be seeing, thinking, doing, and feeling. Once you can connect to what they’re going thru, it’s easier to feel their pain, identify what problems they’re having, and isolate solutions they might be looking for.
Choosing Products to Review
You might also find that your customer goes thru phases. For example, entrepreneurs tend to go thru phases of development where they’re actively looking for various solutions. In the beginning, they’re having the beginning inklings that “maybe I want to be an entrepereneur”, but they’re likely also having doubts like “Can I become an entrepreneur?”, or “Do I have what it takes?”.
You may find that your customer has phases too.
Going back to the diaper example (we used above), women may be pregnant while they’re looking for diapers, so you can write reviews on pregnancy products to attract an audience that might also be relevant for the diapers you’re selling.
Peripheral vs. Direct Relevance
Empathy mapping can open your mind to a whole new world of things you can review, but if you want the highest conversion rates, you have to pay attention to peripheral keywords versus directly relevant ones. I’ve made this mistake many times before.
Let’s say for example, you’re selling golf balls. You know your audience is looking for golf ball reviews before they buy their golf balls, do you decide to review them to attract your ideal customer. Smart right?
…But, let’s say you know your ideal customer is also looking for golf clubs, golf training, golf clothes, golf shoes, and other things. Should you review them all?
This would be your own subjective decision, however, I want to advise you that the highest conversion will be on the products that are most relevant to the customers primary goal. If you’ve built an audience of golf ball buyers, then it’s likely, you can also get sales on other things, but the conversion rates typically decline as you present options that are less and less relevant to the customers’ original goal.
In my niche, I’ve seen people who review business opportunities, then they present alternatives that aren’t exactly relevant to the end users’ goals. For example, let’s say I review a makeup direct sales company, so that I can sell them to a online business opportunity, it’s likely that the sales conversion will be lower than if I offered them a better makeup direct sales company.
Hopefully that makes sense to you. If not, leave your question in the comments section below.
3. Understand the Reader’s Goals
When you’re empathy mapping, you’re identifying the potential customers’ pain, their problems, and what it’s like to be in their shoes. It’s also important to research to identify, where they would prefer to be instead.
Going back to the diaper example…
- Would they prefer finding a diaper that’s more friendly to the environment?
- Are they looking for something that’s cheaper than what they have?
- Are they looking for less leaks?
It’s important that you identify the results the potential customer typing in “Product name + review” is looking for. Once you understand the goals they’re trying to achieve, it’s easier to evaluate whether the product or service can help them.
4. Study the Product
As an affiliate marketer, you’re providing data to people who are buying online, but our earlier sales counterparts have laid the pathway for us in terms of studying products. You want to study the product, so you’re knowledgeable comparable to what you’d expect from the restaurant waiter when you ask, “What’s included with this meal?” or when you ask the electronics specialists about a product you’re considering in the store.
As a result, you have to take time to thoroughly understand the product you’re talking about whether it’s physical or digital.
Do you have to buy every product you review?
No. You don’t have to buy every product you review, but it’s TONS easier to give an accurate review when you have experience. If you don’t have experience with the product, I’d recommend staying as objective as possible: relaying facts, sharing testimonials, and leveraging other people’s experiences the best you can.
5. Identify What Target Audience the Product Would Satisfy
No product is best for everyone. Even major companies like Walmart or Amazon don’t work for everyone. You want to relay who the product or service will work well for as specifically as possible, and you want to relay who the product is likely to disappoint.
For example, in the case of Walmart, I can say:
Walmart is best for bargain shoppers who are looking for household items (and sometimes even groceries and gas), however, it’s not for people looking for high-end name brands.
6. Empathize for the Reader AND the Merchant
Sometimes, we can be so focused on the reader that we forget the merchants are people too. I know I have. We want what’s best for the potential customer at the demise of someone else, and it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s okay to present features and benefits, pros and cons without slandering anyone.
Sometimes, you could be treading on delicate waters, but it’s important to try to speak graceful enough that you can benefit them both. I’ve learned that saying things like “recommended improvements” rather than “what I don’t like” or “what they don’t do well” can make a big difference, and it’s simply a few words.
7. Don’t question Intentions or Slander
Questioning intentions and slandering people is something I’ve seen reviewers do on accident, so be careful of this. You don’t want to mention things in your review that makes it seem like you understand the reason the merchant has created the product (especially if you put a negative connotation on it).
- “He clearly created this as a scam”
- “They’re trying to rip people off”
- Or, any of the like can have legal repercussions so be careful
Some products or services can be so low quality it’s infuriating, but you still can’t slander anyone or it can get you in trouble.
8. Identify the Relevant Facts: Pros, Cons, Background, Benefits, and Features
You want to make sure your review makes it as easy as possible for the potential customer to make the buying decision, so you want to discover what they’d want to know, what relevant facts to present, and include them in your review.
9. Layout Your Review for Optimal Conversions
Once you’ve done your research, identified a problem for your customer, and written a review that connects with them, then it’s important to lay it out so it’s easy for them to digest the information, and make their decision. You can get optimal results by:
Using Color and Buttons to Make “Buy Buttons” Clear
Writing text content and adding hyperlinks is great, but what’s even greater is to add buttons with a CTA (call-to-action) on them. Many people scroll very fast thru content on their phones, tablets, or even on their desktops, and it’s easy to overlook the links when it’s buried in the text.
Use a plugin like Elementor (which I use) and add the buttons, background blocks, and things to make your reviews stick out from the crowd. Check out an example of a review I’m proud of:
Create a Summary Box
Some people don’t want to read 2000 words of text or watch a 40-minute video to find out if the product is good or not. A summary box (like the one I have in my Podia review) can help by easily showing:
- The overall rating
- The ease of use rating
- The pricing rating
- The support rating
- A summary of the product review in 1-2 paragraphs
- A breakdown of pros and cons
- And, best use case
Use Testimonials and Customer Reviews to add Credibility
In addition to facts, features, and benefits, people connect with stories of experience: whether your own or others’. You can add your own experience and the experiences of others to add even more credibility to the review.
Insert Lots of Headings and Subheadings
Text without lots of headings is harder to skim. Remember, readers skim more than read, so if you can add headings that can help give context while they’re skimming, it’s extremely useful, and your bounce rates will reflect that.
Break up Paragraphs (4 Sentences is too Much!)
In line with the headings and subheadings is separating paragraphs. In English classes, you’re taught to make paragraphs 3-5 sentences, but this doesn’t translate well into writing online. Readers tend to bounce or complain when there’s too much text stuffed all together.
Instead, try to make paragraphs 2 sentences–that seems to be a sweet spot (3 max). Four sentences in a paragraph online is too much and readers will likely bounce more.
Include Case Studies
In addition to testimonials, if you can provide a case study that demonstrates the difference before and after the product was used, that could be even better! You want to help the potential customer see the transformation the product or service can offer them.
10. Add Content Upgrades to Skyrocket Conversions
Lastly, if you want people to click YOUR AFFILIATE LINK, it helps even more to add an incentive. You can add a relevant download, calculator, PDF, eBook, or something else of value in exchange for them using YOUR LINK–this can skyrocket sales.
Get Free Product Review Templates!
I’ve created some free product review templates, so you can have some guidance when you’re creating your reviews. These help you to know what to write where. Click here to download them now.
Closing Statements about How to Write Product Reviews
Product reviews are a very useful piece of content for online shoppers, so we need more honest and helpful reviewers online. Hopefully, this tutorial will help you to make lots more money, build a loyal audience, and a longer standing business with product reviews. If you have any questions or concerns, please leave them in the comments section.