What is it with affiliate product reviews?
They're so good for your site.
But they're just so damn hard to write.
And, it's frustrating.
Because they should be so straightforward, shouldn't they?
You're just giving your thoughts on a product.
But then your inner marketer climbs out of the woodwork.
Should you say this?
Should you talk about that?
What can you do to get the best return from it?
Which leaves you somewhere between writer's block and fear.
And you have no idea what to say.
Don't worry, with this article, that's about to stop.
What You'll Learn
- The 5 star mistake almost all niche marketers make
- The simple formula you need to create a perfect affiliate review every time
- How to use free graphics to create reviews your audience will devour
- Why it's more important to be honest than nice
What Is A Product Review (And Why Should You Care)?
A product review on a basic level is sharing your thoughts about a product and the benefits of using that product.
So when Curlytops bought an Amazon Echo for her husband and fell in love with it, she wrote this product review that gives some reasons why people should buy it too (even without meaning to):
She explains that it’s great for older people and young children and it’s handy to have around the house.
If someone with those requirements reads it, they’re going to be interested in it.
Alternatively Nicholas expresses his dissatisfaction for people in the UK and his review turns them away from the product:
These are two basic examples but they have a powerful influence.
In fact, as Business2Community writes here, 88% of consumers trust an online product review as much as a personal recommendation.
Yeah, they’re that effective.
But this doesn’t just have to be product reviews on the sites that they’re bought.
The power extends to all types of content.
For example, BestVPN have created an entire business model around the concept of sharing reviews of the best Virtual Private Networks people can buy:
Okay so that’s what a product review is, but what are the benefits of them?
What Are The Benefits Of Writing A Product Review?
A lot has been written on the benefits of having your products reviewed.
From the fact that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Through to the way that they can give you up to an 18% rise in sales.
But not a lot has been said on the benefits of writing a product review.
Let’s take a look at why you should be writing product reviews then:
- Money: I’ll cover this a little more in depth next. But, you can make affiliate sales quite swiftly from product reviews.
- SEO: You can target more long-tail keywords and drive more specific search traffic from people looking for the product. (If you're a beginner at SEO, check out this guide)
- Authority: By reviewing products, and having people engage with them, you can create more authority in your niche. Because you must know what you’re talking about if you have a platform to speak from.
- Free stuff: A lot of people will give you free access to their tools and products too. Meaning that, even if you don’t get paid, you have a new toy to play with.
Which, no matter where you are in you niche site journey, you can always benefit from.
One thing you will need is a steady flow of traffic, so if you’re still building up your traffic don’t forget to check out Stuart’s 101 Traffic Hacks.
Even well established Pro’s like Matt Woodward still review affiliate products on their sites to reap these benefits:
In a moment I’m going to show you the exact checklist you need to follow to write affiliate product reviews that convert.
But before I do, I want to show you one of the biggest mistakes niche marketers make and what you definitely shouldn’t do.
The 5 Star Mistake Most Niche Marketers Make
When you sit down to write your review you feel drawn to give the product a five star rating. Why?
Because you want to make money and you feel that anything less than five stars is going to turn customers away. It’s a natural and understandable thought process.
But this is also dangerous territory.
If you rate everything five stars - especially products you haven’t used - your site is going to look a lot less trustworthy.
Not every product in your niche can be that good, can it?
And as eConsultancy found, bad reviews can increase your conversions by up to 67%. Which makes perfect sense when you think about it.
The problems of one product can be the feature or benefit someone else is looking for.
For example Benny Lewis is a language learning blogger who often reviews products and tools.
In this review he gave Rosetta Stone, one of the best known products in this niche, a two star review.
Because for his method of language learning it’s completely incompatible.
He wants to get out on the streets, talk to people and learn the language in that style.
But someone who feels more comfortable sat at home and wants to a simple program to learn a language through their computer could read that review and go, “Man, that’s exactly the product I’m looking for!”.
In fact if you take a minute to go through your latest purchases on Amazon you’ll find products that you’ve bought despite the fact they had one and two star reviews.
One of my favourite books, A Walk In The Woods, is a masterpiece in travel writing for me. But there are those people out there who hate it:
But the reasons they hate it are probably the reasons I love it.
So don’t worry about writing three or four star reviews of products. When your reviews are:
- Easy to read
People will convert to the products no matter whether they’re five star, one star or anywhere in between.
Okay now we’ve got that out of the way let’s look at the [TK] checklist of how to write the perfect product review…
The 5 Point Checklist For Writing Successful Product Reviews
Checkbox #1: Use The Product
Nothing makes a product review sound more authentic than actually using the product.
So do everything in your power to get your hands on a product. Why?
Because it allows you to create content easily by simply writing about what you see and do.
Plus, it give you the opportunity to add unique elements to your content like images and videos.
For example what makes this SEMRush review from Authority Hacker so good is that you can watch Louis use it for himself:
It gives the user an insight into the product before they’ve even bought it.
Even if this is the first time he’s ever seen the product you can still go along for the ride. It feels authentic and trustworthy.
Spend a few hours playing with a product and doing your best to break it.
Find the good points, the bad points and see how it feels.
You’d be amazed at how often people will let you try products, too.
By just asking the question you can often gain access to:
- Review copies of a product
- Premium access for a month
- A free lifetime copy of a tool
Or just go ahead and jump onto the free trial that they offer (if they offer one).
Checkbox #2: If You Can’t Use It, Hack It
Let’s be really honest.
An awful lot of the people reading this article - maybe even you - are going to write a review about a product that you’ve never used.
Sadly, that’s just the nature of the beast.
And while I don’t condone this type of marketing, I’d be an idiot if I didn’t show you how to do it effectively.
For example, I doubt 10Beasts have ever actually seen all of their products in person.
So how do you write a review about a product you’ve never used?
You take information from other sources and then add your own opinion on what you think it might be like.
Let’s say I was writing a review for GermanPod101, a language learning tool in my niche. I’d first head to their homepage that looks like this:
On this page there is more than enough information to start writing a product review.
I simply watch the 47 second video and take notes.
Then all I need to do is answer the questions:
- What benefit does 1230 Audio lessons give me?
- What do I think about the hosts? (This is a throwaway comment that makes it seem more honest)
- What benefits do flashcards and spaced repetition give me?
- What benefits fo PDF lesson notes give me?
By answering those questions alone you’ve got more than enough to structure an entire review.
One extra step you can take - especially if you’ve got writer’s block - is to steal ideas from other reviews.
Simple perform a google search for reviews of the products and find some results:
Find their opinion on the product and combine it with how you feel about that feature and how you’d react.
As I mentioned earlier, what someone dislikes might be the benefit you’re looking for, so don’t be afraid to flip it on it’s head and go in the other direction.
This also works for Amazon products because you can just dive through the user reviews and build up a picture of:
- What people have said is good about it
- What people have said is bad about it
- Their reasons for buying the product
And then write a review from that data. Simple, easy and effective. (If not a little sneaky).
Checkbox #3: Frame It For Your Audience
For this stage it’s important to ask why people like you would (or would not) buy this product.
Products come with a lot of features and instead of covering them all, you need to cover the ones that are relevant to your audience.
You know, the ones that will really make them tick.
So why would your audience want to buy (or not buy) this product.
- Want to save time?
- Want to save money?
- Want to learn a specific lesson?
- Want to feel a certain way?
Once you can hone in on this - the 20% of a product that will convert 80% of people - you’ll be able to give your readers an honest review and still make them convert.
Checkbox #4: Have You Mentioned The Downside?
I don’t care how good a product is, there is always a drawback.
As I mentioned earlier these bad parts of a review and drawbacks can still have a positive effect on the sales through a review.
So be sure to include them in your review and be honest about your experiences.
- Does the interface suck?
- Does it cost too much?
- Is it slow to load?
- Is the customer support useless?
- Was there a product upgrade you weren’t aware about?
By preparing people for these crap parts of the product, they’ll go into the product purchase with more knowledge and with more trust in you.
They may even return for future reviews of different products!
One of the best sites for being honest and showing the drawbacks is PCMag.
Their product reviews can often be quite critical, such as this camera lens that was only described as ‘fair’:
Checkbox #5: Get Visual
There’s one truth about the internet you need to understand as a niche site owner:
People are always ready to stop reading.
So by stacking information you’re able to give people the information they need without them having to dive through the article. Making it more attractive to impulse buyers, or people who just want to confirm it's the right purchase.
Someone who has this down to a perfect art is Robbie Richards.
All of the important information is in the first few seconds you’re on the page.
You can see what he thinks of the products.
The features you need to know about.
The benefits to the potential customer.
And, why you should carry on reading.
There’s enough information here to help you make a decision on whether to buy the product alone.
Never mind when you delve into the extensive review beneath it all.
You should look to include:
- Your star rating of the product
- The stand out features of the product
- The people it will benefit most
- Best places to buy/save money (if it’s relevant)
- Picture of the product in action
Like this review for a Dyson Hoover:
You can easily use a free tool like Canva to create these reviews as well.
I made this spoof image to review Stuart in under 5 minutes:
Okay, I’m a writer not a designer.
But you get my point.
Even a dodgy image like that is easy to process and adds a lot of value to a reader before they’ve even got into the main content.
Checkbox #6: The Simple Content Hack To Create Epic Reviews Every Time
But I’ve adapted it slightly to make it fit product reviews a little better.
The original is a little acronym called AIDCA:
- Attention: Grab your reader's attention and hold it
- Interest: Build their interest in buying the product
- Desire: Make them want it
- Conviction: Give social proof of why they need it right now
- Action: Give them a simple, powerful, call to arms
And you can read more about that one in this post I wrote right here.
But for Affiliate reviews, you’re going to alter it to AIDACA:
- Attention: Grab their attention and hold it.
- Interest: Explain what makes the product interesting.
- Desire: Explain the interesting pro’s and con’s of the product.
- Alternatives: What else is available out there.
- Conclusion: Your final verdict of the product.
- Action: If they want to buy it, here’s a powerful call to action.
This template is a little more flexible and suitable to different product reviews.
Because this isn’t a sales piece, it’s a review.
Here’s a short examples of how this might look for a product to give you an idea of that in action:
Duolingo: Online Language Learning Software
Attention: Have you ever wished for free language software you could take anywhere in the world? Well, now you have it.
Interest: Duolingo brings together all the tools you need to not only learn, but remember, a language. Spaced repetition, speech, translation and context. And it does it all in one beautiful desktop, mobile and tablet compatible app.
Desire: The smart software constantly combines different aspects of the language, and pools them together, to give you a true real world feel of using the language.
But, like any online software, it has it’s bugs. There are occasionally inconsistencies and bugs that get in the way. Which can mean you learn the wrong word or spelling from time to time.
Thankfully there are community threads for each individual question or task on hand for those instances to help you along.
Alternatives: Other products in the market, like Memrise, do a better job of providing you with ways to to remember words - using mnemonics and images - but don’t have the same ‘game’ element that Duolingo has perfected. So if you’re looking for a mix of entertainment and education, I’d say Duolingo is your better option.
Conclusion: I’ve been using Duolingo to teach myself spanish for a number of weeks now. And, while I’m not as far along as I thought I’d be, I’ve made much better progress remembering the basics than I expected.
The game element is actually more addictive than I expected. And, wanting to continue my daily ‘streak’ made me study on the days I’d normally have slacked off.
The process has been frustrating at times, but like any game, it’s always fun in the end. And this is a great way for anyone on any budget to learn a language.
Action: Memberships have, and always will be, free for Duolingo. So you can sign up right here.
It’s a simple formula that you can check through and create perfect body copy for your reviews. And, you can expand it however you want by:
- Including images
- Case studies
- Experiment results
- Comments and feedback from people you shared it with
The list really is endless. But even if you wrote one sentence for each of those points you’d still have a product review people want to read.
This Article In ‘Review’…
Do you see what I did there?
Okay this was one of my longer more in depth articles.
But the main component to all of this is taking action and writing the review.
Everything I’ve said here needs to be tested with your audience and adjusted when you do (or don’t) make sales from a review.
And if you ever want feedback on your product reviews, you can always ask in the Facebook Mastermind Group.