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Customer Reviews are Organic Marketing
What is your first instinct when you hear about the latest DeFi protocol or web3 game? Open Telegram and ask your trusted circle if they have heard of it? DM a friend on Twitter and check if it is legit? Or perhaps turn to a search engine to find “reviews for X”? For Matt Kim, co-founder and CEO of web3 reviews site Smoothie, the latter will be an increasingly popular option - especially for the new-to-web3 crowd who are familiar with review sites ranging from TripAdvisor for vacations, to G2 for business software purchases.
As it turns out, user reviews can be an instrumental organic marketing pillar to any web3 project. As long as you have users, reviews are for you. After all, the space is in dire lack of trust, with a never-ending barrage of fraud and malevolent actors attempting to seize your digital assets. User reviews play an instrumental role in cutting through this noise, especially in an environment where value-adding tools, malicious schemes and everything in between are clamoring for the user’s attention.
To realize the benefits, here are five fundamental pieces of advice that will help you transform user reviews into a formidable organic marketing strategy.
Identify high-impact platforms to collect reviews
Use a mix of structured and unstructured prompts to drive informative reviews
Design incentives to show appreciation without costing the project
Leverage positive reviews to create user generated content (UGC)
Address negative reviews constructively and show a willingness to improve
#1 - Identify high-impact platforms to collect reviews
One of the primary challenges of web2 user reviews is verifying the authenticity of the user. Has this individual indeed purchased and used the product, or have they been paid to leave a review? Are they an expert who has extensively utilized alternatives, or someone whose base of reference is this product only? Many of these challenges can be addressed in web3 through a user’s wallet address. On-chain history can verify if the individual has purchased (sent tokens to the smart contract) and used (transaction signatures) the product. It is also relatively straightforward to identify if the user has interacted with alternative products, building richer context behind the individual who wrote the review.
Picking a high-impact platform where this contextual information of a user’s on-chain history is easily accessible alongside the off-chain contribution of a review is thus critical. Platforms like Smoothie facilitate the verification of authenticity of users easily, so visitors need not pilfer and decode every user’s on-chain history. Projects host user reviews on their native website or app can offer context beyond the mere “copy-and-pasting” of a review; engendering deeper trust by presenting the on-chain history of the user’s interaction with the product.
#2 - Use a mix of structured and unstructured prompts to drive informative reviews
There are two formats of user reviews: structured and unstructured. Structured reviews include “rate us from 1 to 10” or “out of 5 stars”; this data is structured and can be aggregated across multiple users easily. Unstructured reviews are typically qualitative, where users describe their experience in text. Detailed and informative reviews for effective organic marketing require both formats. Create a seamless process for customers to leave reviews through a guided journey of structured and unstructured prompts: start with personalizing your review requests, addressing the customer by name, and even offering incentives (more on this next).
#3 - Design incentives to show appreciation without costing the project
Incentives are particularly useful to jumpstart user reviews for new companies with a smaller user base. Projects looking to kickstart organic marketing via user reviews can plan across 3 phases:
Phase 1 - First 10 reviews: Direct, personalized engagement with early users is likely to work best to acquire the first 10 reviews. These users are often superfans of the product who will offer reviews without incentives
Phase 2 - Next 100 reviews: To build momentum towards consistent generation of user reviews, direct incentives (e.g. receive 10 USDC for a review) are likely to work best. It is critical to not remain at this phase for too long. Direct incentives, while effective in the beginning, can very quickly become costly and a source of “rewards farming” for non-legitimate users.
Phase 3 - After 100+ reviews: Once momentum has been generated, rewards for user reviews can shift towards appreciation in the form of cashback or discount codes that do not incur additional costs for the project, and serves to encourage higher usage of the product.
#4 - Leverage positive reviews to create user generated content (UGC)
Received a positive review? Do not be afraid to showcase it! Start by selecting compelling reviews, then engage with these users. Beyond asking for permission to use their review in your marketing, this is an opportunity to cultivate a deeper relationship with someone who is already a fan of your product. Whether it is setting the user up for a 1-on-1 conversation with the founders to understand their experiences, or inviting them to an “early access” group to try out new features, a positive user review is a lighthouse - calling out to projects to take note of them.
A user review can also be creatively repurposed to generate multiple pieces of user generated content (UGC). A single text quote can be used in its original form, but also used to create images and micro-video clips to share on social media. This is engaging and authentic content that is likely to resonate with your target audience.
#5 - Address negative reviews constructively and show a willingness to improve
On the flip side, one of the common motivations for users to leave reviews is after a not-so-pleasant experience. It can be tempting to ignore negative reviews, yet addressing them promptly and constructively is key - especially in web3. Where community engagement and transparency are core tenets of web3 culture, a project risks unnecessary FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) if a negative review is ignored.
The approach to negative reviews should be carefully calibrated. Instead of giving in to the kneejerk reaction of “you are using our product wrong”, start by acknowledging user concerns and show a genuine interest in remedying the situation, or preventing similar issues from happening in future. Often, the strongest fans of a product stem from unpleasant experiences that were well managed and turned around by the team. By addressing negative reviews constructively and showing a willingness to improve, you demonstrate transparency and accountability for missteps, which in turn engenders trust.
When asked what is the biggest mistake projects make when it comes to organic marketing via user reviews, Matt’s parting advice for founders is that “One of the most common mistakes is to do a burst of activity around user reviews, then lose steam and give up quickly. The recency of user reviews is very important, so projects need to adopt an always-on approach. Every piece of communication - a post, Discord announcement, an email - presents an opportunity for users to contribute a review. Build your marketing and tech stack so you can automate an always-on approach towards collecting and responding to user reviews.”