- Review solicitations that happened within 24 hours of a transaction were less effective than no request for reviews
- Solicitations nine or 14 days out were more effective in prompting reviews.
- There's no one-size-fits all strategy; you should track your own customer patterns and adjust accordingly.
How soon after a transaction should a business ask a customer for an online review? Seems like the answer is pretty intuitive – immediately. But that turns out not to be true, according to a recent study from the University of Nevada and Arizona State.
The Next Day or Two Weeks Later?
The study, which used a control and exposed methodology, explored how the timing of the "review ask" affects the chances that a consumer will leave a review, as well as the quality of those reviews.
The researchers tested four review-request timeframes: next day (after purchase), the fifth day, ninth day and two weeks later. The control groups, by contrast, weren't given any prompt or review ask.
The researchers found that among control group members, who received no review prompt, review rates declined significantly over the two week timeframe.
- One day out: 12% (wrote reviews)
- Five days: 6%
- Nine days: 2%
- 14 days: 1%
In other words, there was a ~50% decline every few days. This makes logical sense. However among the experimental groups, which received prompts at the various intervals above, response rates showed a different pattern.
- One day: 6% (wrote reviews)
- Five days: 3%
- Nine days: 3%
- 14 days: 2%
For the experimental groups, review rates also declined but somewhat less precipitously. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the two categories.
The quality of reviews and review content (i.e., ratings) did not appear to be impacted by solicitation timing. In other words, reviews didn't become more favorable or critical the later the ask. (It's not clear how that was determined.)
Ask Me Later
The study found that immediate review reminders (next day) generated half as many reviews as doing nothing. The gap was still there, although somewhat less pronounced, at the five day mark; no prompt still outperformed solicited reviews.
Delayed reminders, by contrast, increased the likelihood of a review being left compared to control groups. At nine days and two weeks out, the experimental groups generated more reviews than the no-ask control groups.
The researchers offer various hypotheses and pop-psychology explanations for their results. For example, too-quick solicitations probably annoyed users and were perceived as intrusive or impinging on their autonomy. The later prompts were more likely seen as "friendly reminders."
Although there seems to be a clear formula here, the researchers caution that there's no one-size-fits-all strategy for review solicitation. The research was conducted on US audiences and later replicated in South Korea.
- The clear finding here is: don't ask customers for reviews immediately after a transaction (but see below).
- Track the average time your clients take to leave reviews without prompting. Try sending out review solicitations after that average time.
- Response patterns and time frames will likely vary by product/service category. This goes back to the point above.
- See how getting your clients' permission for review requests impacts response rates. It could mitigate the early drop off seen in the research.