Can you offer incentives for Google reviews?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) expressly prohibits “undisclosed paid endorsements,” including online reviews.
This regulation prohibits any kind of payment, whether it’s a cash payment or some other incentive. If you offer your customers anything of value in exchange for writing a review, the FTC will most likely consider that a “payment.”
If you do offer customers an incentive to write a review, there’s one way you may still be able to stay on the right side of the law. Make sure that the reviewer fully “discloses” that they were paid to endorse your business. That way the review is no longer an “undisclosed paid endorsement.” For example, a reviewer might include something like, “This review was paid for by ABC Company.”
Of course, we don’t actually recommend you pay for reviews and then disclose that you paid for them. Not only is it expensive, but it’s also just bad marketing. You could do more harm than good to your reputation.
If you ignore the regulations, you risk steep fines. The FTC has already fined companies tens of thousands of dollars for violating its regulations against undisclosed paid online reviews.
You also risk harming your local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) if you offer incentives for Google reviews.
One exception to the FTC’s regulations is that you can offer incentives for Google reviews after the fact.
As long as the customer has no expectation of getting rewarded at the time when they write their review, it’s OK to contact the customer after they’ve written the review to give them a reward as a “thank you.” If the reward isn’t expected, then the review is not considered a “paid endorsement.”
Of course, offering rewards after the fact will do little to incentivize your customers to write more reviews for your business.
Instead of offering incentives for reviews, just learn how to get Google reviews the right way!
Once you know how to get Google reviews, you’ll find it’s far less expensive, much more effective at driving new sales, and not time consuming at all if you use automation such as our web app. (Free trial available here.)
To learn more about the rules and consequences of offering incentives for Google reviews, as well as tips on how to get more unpaid Google reviews for free, check out our article on why and how not to buy Google reviews.
Full disclosure: We’re not lawyers here at Rising Star Reviews. We’re marketers. So please don’t treat any information we provide as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please seek a licensed attorney.