Most people look at reviews before they buy a new product or service.
This Nielsen report, and many other sources, suggest that Customer Reviews influence buying decisions more than any other type of marketing content.
Unfortunately, most customers don't have a reason to leave a review, and the current "beg or bribe" methods are ineffective, unethical, and expensive.
So, the question is...
By offering a Feedback Rebate, you promise ALL potential customers that if they buy your product, they will be able to redeem the rebate by leaving a review (positive or negative).
You increase sales and get more reviews.
Suppose you're selling a $40 shirt, but instead of your typical "10% Off Sale", you decide to offer a "10% Feedback Rebate."
Your customer buys the shirt for the full price of $40 and gets a special review link.
When the shirt is delivered, the customer clicks the link, leaves a review and instantly gets $4 back.
At the end of the day, the customer paid the same $36, as if the shirt was on sale, and the business got a valuable customer review essentially for free.
In other words, with an "On Sale" you just get the sale; with a Feedback Rebate, you get the sale AND a review!
Does it work?
First proposed by Lingfang (Ivy) Li Ph.D. in her groundbreaking paper Reputation, Trust, and Rebates: How Online Auction Markets Can Improve Their Feedback Mechanisms, Journal of Economics and Management Strategy (Summer 2010), Rebates-for-Feedback mechanism is now being used by Taobao (the largest online marketplace on Earth) and millions of its merchants. What are the results?
UC Berkeley recently conducted a large empirical study at Taobao. They analyzed the data from thousands of merchants over a six-month period (nearly 7 million purchases). Here is what they found...
“Our main findings are first, that RFF (rebate-for-feedback) feature is chosen by higher quality sellers, implying that it can serve as a signal of quality. Second, sales of an item are about 30% higher when the seller chooses the rebate option, suggesting that buyers understand the signaling effect of the RFF feature and act on it. Third, RFF induces buyers to write more detailed feedback but does not bias the feedback toward positive feedback.”
The Rebates-for-Feedback mechanism has proven to be very effective, but it is limited and can only be used by Taobao merchants.
The Feedback Rebates process was developed, tested, and improved independently by Virthium as part of our reputation network. You don’t need Taobao. We have you covered!
Every rebate is processed by our platform, which provides an additional assurance and transparency to you and your customers.
What about fake reviews?
People have to buy your product to receive their unique review link. Without it, no one can leave a review. Unlike other apps, we don't provide an open review form for site visitors, so there are no fake or anonymous reviews.
Are the reviews biased?
A rebate doesn't bias the reviews because it is a sale-incentive, not a review-incentive. Your customers are not getting the rebate for leaving a review; they are getting it for buying the product.
"RFF (Rebate for Feedback) induces buyers to write more detailed feedback but does not bias the feedback toward positive feedback."
What if someone tries to cheat?
We took every measure to make cheating nearly impossible. As we mentioned above, there are no fake or anonymous reviews. We also enforce a one-person-one-account policy and require mobile phone verification. The only way to get reviews is through our Feedback Rebates process, which is automated and fully transparent. Everyone can see what everyone else is doing at any moment so that any cheating attempts would be obvious.
What if I get a bad review?
Even the best businesses occasionally get bad reviews. Without a Feedback Rebate, customers have no reason to leave reviews, so it's usually dissatisfied customers who leave them. We believe the problem is not the presence of bad reviews but the absence of good ones. An occasional bad review is nothing to be afraid of if you have plenty of good reviews already.
With Feedback Rebates, your satisfied customers, which hopefully is the majority, will finally have a reason to leave reviews too. This means that, if you run a genuinely good business, a Feedback Rebate is probably the safest option you have when it comes to reviews.
You can delete your listing with all its reviews, but you cannot edit or delete individual reviews. We recommend only listing products that you believe your customers will love. Listing a bad product will only get you bad reviews quicker.
What about rude comments?
As we mentioned above, only your customers can leave reviews. They also have to have a verified account and a public profile. Because Virthium is first and foremost a Reputation Network, this is also their professional profile (more on this later). Think of it as a LinkedIn page. Leaving rude or inconsiderate comments would only hurt their own reputation. It's unlikely, but if it happens, we can remove it.
Can I see an example?
Absolutely. We created an online store and added a fake product called the Feedback Rebate Demo. There you can see what the rebate and the reviews widget might look like on your website.
Here is an example of the "All Reviews" page from our long-time client "Vape & Juice" in the UK: https://vapeandjuice.co.uk/community/reviews
Here is an example of a product page on Virthium from the same client: https://www.virthium.com/listings/golden-virginia
Notice that every review has a link to the customer's profile, and each profile contains the timeline of all their reviews so that everyone can see these are real customers who have been purchasing the same products for a long time.
If you have a Shopify store, you can check out our Feedback Rebates app on Shopify, or click the button below and give it a try.
What is the customer experience like?
A customer sees the rebate offer on your website (or Virthium listing).
They buy your product and get the rebate confirmation via email and/or SMS.
After the product is delivered, they get another notification with their special review link.
If they don't have a Virthium account yet, they will need to sign up.
The customer clicks the "Review" button on their dashboard, leaves a review, and instantly receives a partial refund (no need to mail anything). If for any reason, the order could not be refunded, we send the money via PayPal.
Feedback Rebates are provided by Virthium, which is an Ad-free, private and independent network, not a marketing platform. There are no Ads of any kind. Unlike other social networks, we don't sell user data or provide any other service to third-parties. Our revenues come exclusively from transaction fees for processing rebates. Virthium is financed by and operates solely for the benefit of our members. You and your customers are safe here.
Can I use this at my company?
Most businesses can use Feedback Rebates:
A restaurant might replace its "happy hour discount" with a Feedback Rebate, so every customer leaves a review after a meal.
A dentist might offer Feedback Rebates to new clients to signal high-quality service.
A company may create a listing for its internal IT team and send Feedback Rebates to its employees to increase engagement and foster internal recognition.
A government official may offer Feeback Rebates to people in her district to inspire trust and communicate her full intention to deliver on her promises.
These are just a few examples. Feedback Rebate is a universal tool for getting feedback. It can be used in a wide variety of situations. Please contact us if you have a special use case.
How much does it cost?
If you choose to offer Feedback Rebates, we will charge a transaction fee (25% of the rebate) when the customer redeems it (leaves a review).
For example, if you list a $40 product with a $4 Feedback Rebate and a customer buys it, they would have to leave a review to redeem their $4 rebate. If they do, we will charge you a total of $5, send $4 to your customer and keep the $1 fee. If they don't, the rebate expires. You don't pay anything and keep the $4.
You either get a review or sell a discounted product at the full price. You win either way.
Each customer who decides not to redeem their rebate will essentially pay the transaction fees for the next four customers who do. None of our clients so far have ever paid transaction fees. All their reviews were free.
You decide the size of the rebate, when to offer it, and when it expires. You will only be charged if and when your customer leaves a review.
"On Sale" vs. Feedback Rebate.
If you already have your products "On Sale" and switch to Feedback Rebates, you will most likely save money. Unless more than 80% of customers redeem them, your rebates will cost you less than the original "On Sale." Let's look at the math:
|Situation||Cost of sales||Result|
|50 people buy $40 shirt “On Sale” for $36||50 * $4 discount = $200||50 sales 0 reviews|
|50 people buy $40 shirt with $4 Feedback Rebate. 40 of them leave a review.||40 * ($4 + $1 fee) = $200||50 sales 40 reviews|
In this example, we got 40 free reviews by offering Feedback Rebates instead of "On Sale" discounts. You can vary your rebate amount to make it work for your business. We found that even small rebates produce very high response rates, so anyone should be able to get all the reviews they need without extra cost.
How do I set it up?
If you offer only a few products or services and would like to manage rebates manually, you can create your listings directly on Virthium. To do this, you'll need to provide some basic information about your product or service and specify the Feedback Rebate you want to offer. Check out our How To page for more information.
If you have many products or process a large number of orders, we have a few other options:
If you are using Shopify, please install our Feedback Rebates app. It can get you up and running in minutes.
If you are using some other E-Commerce platform or order-processing system, please contact us and ask about available integration options.
Better Product Perception
"On Sale" discounts can hurt the perception of a product and make it look cheap. Conversely, Feedback Rebates signal high quality because businesses offer them hoping to get good reviews, not just to make a sale.
Businesses can use "On Sale" discounts to sell bad products, but they cannot use Feedback Rebates because bad products would quickly get bad reviews, and no one would buy them. Therefore, a Feedback Rebate is not only a better deal; it's also a badge of quality.
"We find that items with rewards generate sales that are nearly 30% higher and are sold by higher quality sellers, consistent with a signaling equilibrium."
Repeat Customer Reviews
Other review apps don't allow the same customer to leave a review for the same product more than once because they can't prevent fake reviews. As a result, most reviews online come from first-time buyers. Products purchased repeatedly, such as health and nutrition products, have long-term-use benefits and risks that are important to customers.
On Virthium, a customer can leave a review every time they buy, so people can see the timeline of their purchases and reviews to determine the product's long-term effects.
Feedback Rebates, by design, ensure that the best products and services get the best reputation. There is no other strategy. Even offering bigger rebates will not make a bad product look better. At best, the reviews may show that the product is a little more tolerable at a significantly reduced price.
Feedback Rebates give all companies, big or small, an opportunity to compete fairly and get all the reviews they need at no additional cost. You can now focus on your product and let your customers speak on your behalf.
If you chose to, and we sincerely hope you will, you can use Virthium's RoleTags to invite your employees (and yourself) to share your roles and contributions on the listing page. It's like Movie Credits but for products and services. You can be the "cast members" of your product!
It's a unique and very personal way to connect with customers where every review becomes the customer's token of recognition and appreciation for your and your team's work. Your employees will be able to see how their work affects people's lives, and your customers will be able to relate to your product in a whole new way.
Virthium Sales Channel (Beta)
Your product or service will automatically be listed on Virthium.com for free as long as you're offering Feedback Rebates. This means more potential customers will be able to find your products.
Think of it as Groupon, but instead of discounts, you're offering Feedback Rebates.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
How to show up on top of Google search results? The more backlinks (links to your page on someone else's website) you have, the higher you rank in Google searches. Every review has a backlink to your product page, which tells Google that people are talking about you and that your product must be popular.
Your Virthium listings are "marked up" automatically so Google and other search engines can display "rich snippets" and cards that include stars and reviews in search results.
Why do people buy?
They get a great deal (Feedback Rebate)
They see that other customers liked the product (Customer Reviews)
They personally connect with the product's story and the people who made it. (RoleTags)
Give it a try!