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How Do You Handle Product Reviews?

07/26/11

Laptop Bag Reviews

I need some advice.

Since the bag has launched, I received review requests.  Not from any big sites like CNET or Engadget, but from bloggers.  Of course, being a blogger myself I took every one of these requests seriously.  I looked at their sites, asked them questions over email and tried to make a rational decision.

But I haven’t sent out one bag to any of these folks.

It’s expensive for me to send out bags.  Besides the obvious cost of the bag itself, there are also costs in packaging and shipping.  While I’d love to get as many bags out there as possible I can’t just send them willy-nilly.

For those of you with products how do you handle review requests?  And every time you have a new product how many do you send out for reviews without requests?  I’d love to hear your best practices.

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5 Responses to “How Do You Handle Product Reviews?”

  1. Hi Alesya!
    Sample requests can become overwhelming especially if you are not in a position to fulfill everyone’s request. Some blogs won’t review your product at all without viewing or testing the item out personally. Try doing a little research on the blog before committing to providing product. You can also download the Alexa Ranking (http://www.alexa.com/)on your computer to see how many hits they get and if it’s worth it. Lastly I was told by a fellow blogger they should ALWAYS offer to send back the product which in your case may work since they are handbags. You could have set number of styles put aside for sample reviews only. I hope this helped!

  2. Kate Trgovac says:

    This is a tough issue. I’ve been on both sides – as a blogger and as a laptop bag designer.

    As a product designer, the ultimate goal is to generate sales from reviews. I don’t think there is any need to sugar coat that. So, you partner with bloggers who can deliver that for you. Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking a blogger: what is your monthly traffic, where is the bulk of your audience coming from, how many of them click out on reviews, are you aware of the level of product sales coming from your links.

    When I do a reviews and work with a product designer, I will check in with them after the review is posted to get a sense of the traffic – often they will be able to tell me how many sales my review actually drove – which is good info for both of us to have. It’s also one reason I like coupon codes because it is another way to track the efficacy of different media outlets.

    I’ve had a few designers refuse to send me bags – either because they felt it wasn’t a good fit, or, they didn’t know the right questions to ask. The first one I took personally, but I’ve learned over the years that it is an investment of $$ on the part of the designer. So I try to show a designer what’s in it for them.

    As a product creator when looking for bloggers to reach out to, I ask for the above stats plus I do a little due dilligence of my own. Who indexes on the keywords that I want to be found for? Who has a wide-spread presence? Who gets a lot of comments on their blog and on contests they hold? Who actually has a pitch/product review policy? All these can be cues to who is a good blogger to partner with.

    My take on this whole crazy product blogger thing.
    Hope it helps a bit!

    Also .. I still owe you a review 🙂

    Cheers .. Kate

  3. Sarah says:

    This is a tough one. When I first started I was like, “Wow they want to review my work!” everytime it came out, but then I hate to say it, I realized that it’s VERY important to be sure it’s a well trafficked, “important” blog. I say that as an entrepreneur and a blogger. I would never ask someone for free stuff to review on my blog because I don’t think I have the traffic to make it work their while; however, there are a lot of people that unfortunately don’t look at their own blogs realistically like that. But, if it was a biggie like Design*Sponge or SMP or Cnet – basically one with proven readership and traffic – by all means, I’d be shipping them off tomorrow! I think those would be worth it, but I don’t think any of the littler guys would to be honest, given the cost associated for you to give away your product. It’s a bit easier with cards 😉

  4. Hi Alesya!
    Since this topic is something fresh on my mind, I will answer purely based on my experience thus far and the changes I have made regarding my decision making.

    When I launched, I was given many requests by my publicist regarding wanting to review my product and of course they requested a sample was needed. Since I was a new brand, I was in the school of thinking that any press was beneficial. The beneficial returns for my brand versus the cost of the sample and shipping…. this is where I started realizing wasn’t in my best interests. I faithfully track the traffic that comes into our site and from where it is coming through Google Analytics. What I found out from doing this is that I did not get enough or any clicks at all to my site from most blogs. So in essence, I just gave someone free product and after looking back I believe that most bloggers, with a small amount of followers, are in it for the free stuff (my opinion!). In fact, I found out that one of the bloggers who received a sample for “review” turned around and sold it on Craigs List after I gave it to her for free plus what I paid for shipping!

    So I made adjustments and changed my policy that I am willing to supply media content, photos and such, but I can not supply free samples unless your blog has high traffic and/or reputable reach. If I didn’t do this, which I informed my publicist about, I would have given a large portion of my inventory for “reviews”.

    The conclusion to my story is this… decide what your protocol is for bloggers to follow that will warrant you sending a free sample for review. In your case Alesya, this is very important due to the fact that your product is more expensive to supply. I personally would not send out a free product to a blogger unless they had at least 10,000+ followers. My history of following my web traffic supports this theory. The return of investment is not there for small blogs.

    Warmest regard,
    Veronica

  5. Jame says:

    I’d also create a reviewers guide, and a contract.
    The guide: an outline of product features and ideas on what to test for
    The contract: a timeline to publish a review, and a timeline to return the product/return policy. Something like: if you want to keep the bag, you need to buy it for XXXX. You can alter the contract as needed for special reviewers.

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