Online star reviews on a mobile phone.

Guide to pet product reviews online: Part 1

Pet owners do more research than ever before when making a purchase, and the wild World Wide Web is the place to influence their decisions.

A recent Google survey of 1,000 consumers found that 67.7 percent of respondents’ purchasing decisions were impacted by online reviews. Another recent consumer survey showed even more promise: 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. In an industry like pet care, where dozens of new products hit the market every day, anything that may influence more than two-thirds of a potential audience is a powerful tool. And when was the last time eight out 10 people agreed on anything?

Why online reviews matter

Not only do people hear the opinions of people online (both experts and average Joes alike), they value them. According to another another study, 93 percent of consumers search for online reviews before they buy, and they often make their decision before ever actually visiting a store. They make these decisions by consulting more than 10 online sources, on average.

That means a lot of reviewers are getting a lot of looks. So how do you get them to look at your offerings?

Getting your stuff reviewed

As a marketer, your job is to get more people to be aware of — and ultimately buy — your product. The best way to do that is to get people to see it and to trust what they see. As we’ve established, consumers trust online reviews. Understanding how to get those reviews, and how to manage them once you have them, can be a huge benefit. The online review landscape can be a little intimidating for a brand. The danger of letting people with influence review your product or service is that they may not like what they review. In a later post, we’ll talk about managing the reviews once you get them. But for now, we’ll say that you have to embrace the process. Get out there in front of people. Here are three ways to do it.


The easiest (but maybe not the cheapest) way to harness the power of online reviews is to hire a partner who has experience in this arena. An experienced agency already knows the best practices and has the technology and resources to implement your strategy to get maximum coverage from reviewers. They’ve already cut through the noise and know which channels work, what voices are actually heard. Additionally, an experienced partner will have management mechanisms in place: monthly reports, market insights, quick-picture dashboards and even additional resources like moderation tools and PR contacts (if necessary).

Organic/Influencer Marketing

If you build it, they will…review it. If your action plan is a good one, anyway. Often, the most cost-effective way to do something is to do it yourself (assuming you have a clear vision and the means to carry it out). If you can leverage an existing network of experts and influencers, and, er, influence them to review your product, you have a good chance at success. This method takes a personal touch; you and your team need to reach out and build relationships that can be mutually beneficial.

This organic approach can be powerful, but it also takes time. Ideally, you already have a relationship with these potential reviewers. If you don’t, you have to create one. Either way, you have to nurture each relationship with care and time. Don’t reach out only when you need something; offer your reviewers something they can use for their viewers. Insider access, industry news, backlinks, something that they can use. This way, they won’t see it as a one-way street and they’ll be open to your requests when the time comes.

Of course, another way to make “relationships” work (and speed up the process) is compensation. It doesn’t necessarily have to be financial, but some sort of tangible carrot will open more doors than the “favor” method. It’s a slippery slope, because consumers are more adept at sniffing out paid advertising than you’d ever imagine.


The final way to get your products reviewed is the most obvious. Ask your customers. You’d be surprised at how often this works and how effective it can be. As we talked about at the top of this column, people really like expressing their opinions. And it’s been proven that seven out of 10 consumers will leave a review if asked. You already have a built-in set of reviewers. You might as well use them!

The best way to ask your customers to leave a review is in person. Even in today’s automated, impersonal world, that human connection still means more than anything. Hitting them on social media is the next best way; even though it’s one set of pixels to another, it’s still a direct connection. If you have their permission or contact info, a follow-up email after a purchase can seem personal and entice someone to leave a review. The important thing is to make it easy. Make sure the instructions are clear and the interface (whatever it is) is intuitive.

When using existing customers, be prepared to handle negative reviews. This is simply the risk you take when casting a wide net. But even a bad review can be useful if you turn it into a way to demonstrate your outstanding customer service.

The best advertising has always been word-of-mouth. Online reviews are essentially the evolution of word-of-mouth, and if you can harness the power, you’ll harness more than sales. You’ll harness customer loyalty.


This is part 1 in a three-part series about online reviews. Check back in the coming weeks for part 2, You’ve Got Reviews. Now what? and part 3, Bad Reviews Aren’t So Bad.