Insider Tips to Writing Affiliate Product Reviews
You run a website, and you decide you want to use affiliate marketing to generate revenue.
What is the best tactic you can use to fulfill your goal? From the countless options you have at your disposal, there’s one that stands out from the rest: product reviews.
Product reviews are the one of the most powerful content types for affiliate marketers because they educate, build trust, and persuade your visitors to purchase the product you review.
Want to know more about what makes product reviews so effective? Keep on reading. In this article, we’ll cover best practices, tips and advice to help businesses and affiliates get the most out of affiliate marketing product reviews.
Share the good and the bad
When affiliates review a product, they will likely take the path of least resistance, sharing all the aspects they like about the product. Most product reviews focus their entire time on the positive parts of the product because, let’s face it, why would they review a product they don’t like?
There’s nothing wrong with doing this.
For affiliates reviewing a product, you want to describe:
- How the product helps people
- What the product makes people feel when they use it
- What’s the company’s unique value proposition
These “people” can be your acquaintances, customers, or yourself. When you write an affiliate product review, you become an evangelist for the company whose product you promote. You want to transmit optimism to your readers; you want them to become excited about the product through the use of positive language, just like the way Digital Camera World reviews digital cameras.
But no matter how much you may love a product, don’t let your optimism mislead you; no product is perfect, and consumers know that.
A study by BrightLocal found the average consumer reads an average of 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business. They even found customers spend an average of 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision.
This means if there are bad reviews or bad aspects of the reviewed product, sooner or later, your readers will find out. Hiding these negative reviews is not only unethical, but a fast and effective way of losing your reader’s trust, which will kill your sales.
Instead of ignoring the bad reviews, target them openly.
When I wrote my Grammarly review, I shared all the things I liked about the software. As a user, I’m a big fan of the company, and its product has helped me write better content. But when I researched the company, I realized I wasn’t aware of some negative issues, which I had to target before my readers found them.
Sharing the bad aspects of a product doesn’t make a lousy affiliate marketer.
Being radically honest with both the positive and negative parts of a product will make you stand out from most affiliate marketers who ignore these uncomfortable facts. Your audience will look up to you for honest advice.
For businesses, this is also a great opportunity for collaboration with affiliates. Affiliate’s reviews can prompt updates and changes — which makes for even better content. Not only will this show off the new and improved product, affiliates can show that the business is listening to feedback and incorporating it into product development.
Read what customers say (and use it!)
The product affiliates promote will indeed have many reviews available from existing customers.
As an affiliate, use these reviews wisely.
Customer reviews are a goldmine for finding the exact words target audiences use to describe their problems, how the product works, and how it helped them fix their problems. This content is an opportunity to take that copy and use it in the affiliate product review.
Copywriters have been using this technique for ages, and it continues to be one of their most widely used tactics to write persuasive copy. There are several places to find for customer reviews:
- Amazon (or other ecommerce platforms)
- Google (search for “product + reviews” and see what customers say)
- Trustpilot (or other review sites)
- Capterra (or other software review sites)
- Social networks (Reddit and Quora are my favorites)
Also check the company’s social profiles and see what their followers say. As you read these reviews, write:
- The exact words customers use to describe the product
- The benefits they found it to have
- Everything they love about it
- Any anecdotes or stories they have about the product
- Every picture or video about the way they use the product
Sleep Foundation’s review of Nectar’s mattresses represents the best example of how to implement customer words into a product review. In their review, they provide the following summary:
In the cast of the third point to the left—”people who awaken easily when their sleep partner changes position”—is almost a word-by-word take from the reviews shared in the customer reviews section in Nectar’s website:
You can also present and discuss the negative comments you find. You may find a review entirely negative, or you may find a negative comment within a positive review; in either case, these comments will make your review more believable.
Copywriters and salespeople call this technique “objection handling.” By being the first to raise the problems, you earn the customer’s trust.
For example, when I reviewed the best blog hosting sites for writers, I was hoping to praise Bluehost, one of the most popular companies in the space. As a past customer, my experience with them was great. Also, their affiliate commission is higher than all the other companies reviewed in the article.
Sadly, my research found a different reality. Bluehost has a lot of bad reviews, most of which talk about serious issues with their service. Had I ignored them, I would have misled my customers. So I did what I had to do, and talked about these negative parts.
Given that the other companies I reviewed had nothing but positive reviews, they look much more enticing. This contrast made these other companies much more attractive, and my site a black sheep in an industry that ignores these negative parts. So far, my approach has generated lots of sales from the good companies, which has also counteracted their lower commission rates.
Don’t avoid the bad reviews; embrace them, instead.
Review based on clear attributes
To generate a sale from a product review, affiliates need to become an authority. Readers should trust and believe the affiliate is the one who will show them the solution to their problems.
As an affiliate, you can show off your authority in multiple ways, but most successful affiliate sites use analyzing the product based on explicit attributes.
For example, The WireCutter, an affiliate site The New York Times bought more than $30 million, uses in-depth analysis for the product reviews. Every review explains the specific attributes that make the best product reviewed the best in their industry.
The company analyzes each product in the list against these points; those that meet the criteria earn the privilege of The WireCutter’s endorsement. This approach has two main benefits:
- The company acts like a judge deciding on a sentence as they review the positive and negative parts of a product objectively.
- The reader becomes educated in how the reviewed product should work, so they can decide for themselves the product is truly the best.
Ask yourself, “what should this product have to be the best at solving the specific problem my reader has?” The attributes that would make the product ideal are the ones you should use.
Check these examples:
- Runner’s World surveys 350 runners to find the shoes with the best fit, comfort, performance, and ride. They also run the shoes through mechanical tests to measure their cushioning, flexibility, sole thickness, and weight.
- Sleep Foundation analyzes mattresses’ performance based on their motion isolation, pressure relief, temperature control, and other attributes.
- Top10VoIPList reviews VoIPs based on their greetings, hold music, voicemail, and other software functions.
In each case, they compare each product’s attributes to the ideal measure, and they come to a conclusion based on that.
When I wrote a review on the best WordPress themes for writers, I used the following attributes to measure each of the themes:
- Customization options
Interestingly, I didn’t just praise the themes I use, but some other ones I thought were great and, based on my review, turned out to be so! Even if these products don’t have high commissions, they are still great products I honestly believe my readers should use.
The more the reader understands how the product works and why they should use it, the easier it will persuade them.
Affiliate managers, or anyone in charge of the affiliate program, should work closely with affiliates to make this possible. Effective onboarding and constant communication is key. We’ll discuss the role of affiliate managers more in a bit.
Highlight social proof
People trust other people, especially if they are influential and authoritative. This is the principle Robert Cialdini called “social proof.” As professor Cialdini explains in his book, Influence:
The principle of social proof states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct.
If others are doing something in a specific way, people assume that’s the way it should be done. One big reason why social proof is so powerful lies in the uncertainty around buying a product:
In general, when we are unsure of ourselves, when the situation is unclear or ambiguous, when uncertainty reigns, we are most likely to look to and accept the actions of others as correct.
When visitors read an affiliate review, they are interested in the products but aren’t sure about the specific product to buy or how they work. Talking about features or attributes, as you saw before, won’t do it.
For effective affiliate promotions, you need social proof.
Typically, social proof is readily available on websites and social media. As part of their affiliate program, businesses should also provide affiliates with any social proof materials to use in reviews. This includes:
- Awards won
- Number of customers who use the product
- Patents and copyright registered
- Media mentions
- Historical anecdotes
For example, on Legion Athletics’ homepage you can find testimonials from industry experts:
Also, check for any key endorsements from celebrities, experts or influencers. Additionally, user generated content is another form of social proof content that works incredibly well.
For example, KiraGrace, an online retailer of yoga clothing, found that using customer photos made their visitors 2.25x more likely to purchase after viewing a photo. They also saw a 6% average order size increase.
Affiliate managers know that if you succeed, they succeed. It’s their job to help affiliates get conversions, earn money and increase sales.
As soon as an affiliate signs up, affiliate managers should be ready to help with the following:
- Give affiliates tutorials and company information
- Offer products they can test out themselves
- Provide additional training resources
- Notify affiliates with updates for new products or features
- Inform affiliates of upcoming sales or promotions
This is also a time for affiliates to ask for bonuses or extra incentives like:
- You can get a payout bump—e.g., if your current commission is 20%, you can get it up to 25 to 30%
- You can get faster payouts—e.g., if you get paid monthly, you can switch to weekly.
- You can get paid in different ways—e.g., if you can only get paid by PayPal, you can ask to get a bank wire, which is cheaper.
Collaboration between affiliate managers and affiliates leads to success — it’s a way to discover unique insights around products and the best ways to promote them.
Successful affiliate marketing isn’t a secret.
As an affiliate marketer, your role is similar to that of a salesperson; you promote a company in exchange for a commission..
To write a great affiliate product review, act as if the product you are promoting is your own. The excitement and positivity will become contagious, and your review will generate more sales you thought were possible.