The Online Review Blog

Should you pay customers for online reviews?

You made a purchase online, and now the retailer is offering you a gift card for leaving them a great online review. Is that ethical? And should your business do the same thing? In this article, I’ll explain the dos and don’ts of incentivizing reviews.

Is it ethical to pay customers for online reviews?

People are very busy these days. So it can be difficult to motivate them to take a few minutes and leave a review for your company. You may be tempted to give them something in exchange for their time.

Some businesses offer customers rewards and incentives in exchange for online reviews including:

  • A gift card to spend on their next purchase
  • A discount in exchange for an online review
  • A gift card to spend at another business, like a local coffee shop or Amazon
  • Cash or digital money in the form of a Visa gift card that can be spent anywhere

But is it ethical to offer an incentive to get customers to write online reviews?

The answer is: sometimes. (But as I’ll explain later, it’s not needed.)

It is okay to incentivize customer reviews, only if …

You must give the same incentive for good reviews and bad reviews!

  • You give the same incentive for good reviews and bad reviews. Don’t say, “We will reward you for a five-star review, and we’ll give you ____.” Just say, “Leave us a review to let us know how we did, and we’ll reward you with ____.”
  • You don’t violate the policies of the particular online review platform (Google, Yelp, BBB, etc.). Some websites have rules against incentives, and these rules can change over time. So research each platform ahead of time.
  • You don’t violate any laws or regulations, especially in highly regulated industries.

But should you reward customers for online reviews?

You can offer your clients an incentive for leaving you an online review, but you don’t have to.

The fact is, many people will leave you an online review if you just ask. You don’t have to pay them. So that money is better spent elsewhere.

Is there a better way to improve online reviews?

You have to ask for online reviews! Make sure to ask every customer for a review. If you’re uncomfortable asking, or if you’re not getting good results, consider contacting a reputation management service like High 5 Reviews™.

We never pay for reviews. But we help businesses get:

  • More great reviews
  • Less negative reviews
  • More insight into customer satisfaction and employee behavior
  • Better word-of-mouth advertising
  • A bandwagon effect that attracts new customers (without paying for ads on Google or Facebook)

If you’d like to know more, schedule a free consultation.

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