Is paying for fake customer reviews worth it?
Many chains and online stores struggle with the fact that customers do not want to write user reviews. In the search for more and better reviews, some become very desperate. But Is paying for fake customer reviews worth it?
Competing for online shoppers is tough and if you want to attract more traffic and generate more sales, you have to stand out. Up-to-date content is important and as an online store owner, you’ve surely been in a situation where you wanted more of your customers to leave a review after making a purchase.
A user review is usually a product review, but there can also be assessments of the overall shopping experience or physical store. We often distinguish between “ratings” (often 1-5 stars) and free text (often referred to as “reviews“).
Over the years, several big names in e-commerce have been taken to cheat with user reviews. Among others, the giant Amazon emphasized the problem with many of their retailers “buying” user reviews by offering free products to those who leave opinions on the shop’s product side. Other times, cheating happens through extensive moderation or simply when the shop owners write reviews on their product sides themselves.
You might think that this is not happening in the Nordic countries. Unfortunately, that is wrong. Many large Nordic chains and online stores have been revealed in the media, and unfortunately this is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
In many cases, the cheating has been driven by the desire for more good user reviews. While others have struggled with low response rates among their customers and chosen to implement measures to remedy this.
Fake user reviews carry high risks
Why do online shop owners buy fake reviews? The reasons range from a willingness to have a little boost around a new product just for a short period, to concern for the customers’ real experience of the product or service offered.
The most immediate consequence of being caught with fake user reviews is the broken trust between you and your customers. When a customer looks at a poster or banner, whether on TV or in an online newspaper – they know that what they see is paid advertising. Unlike regular advertising, customers will think that user reviews in your online store are written by real consumers.
Illegal marketing with fake user reviews can also be fined.
As a general rule, mixing up real user reviews and advertising should be avoided. To maintain order, the consumer affairs authorities recommend online operators to use systems that ensure verified user reviews.
Healthy skepticism and increased digital competence
Buying and selling fake user reviews has on a number of occasions received a lot of attention in the media, and both online stores and consumers are understandably unsure of the value of user reviews. But increased competence among both customers, agencies and online stores provides a basis for optimism.
The average digital competencies among online shoppers developed dramatically in recent years and feedback from online customers is queuing in the pipeline. The consumers also know that they should check several sources of information before they make a purchase, and thus look for ratings and reviews on various websites before finalizing the purchase (especially the more expensive one) online. If user reviews on your website are fake, it will most likely be detected.
This is how you identify fake user reviews
There is no one ideal way to detect fake user reviews online but there are a few characteristic signs you should pay attention to:
1. Check the time and number of reviews. Those who publish fake user reviews often receive various compensations. To increase the chances of winning, they write more reviews. Thus, similar reviews will often be published by one person around the same time.
2. Check the language. People who leave fake user reviews use similar words most of the time and describe fewer details. Real reviews often appear more reserved than the fake ones.
3. Look for exclusively positive reviews. Exclusively positive reviews, not a single negative word, and only top ranking of the product/service are grounds to doubt if the reviews are genuine. No serious online stores get 5 out of 5 stars on average, that’s too good to be true.
4. Pay attention to the focus of the review. If a review gives you the impression that the author has neither visited the site nor used the product they are reviewing, but sounds more like an advertisement, there is good reason to be skeptical.
5. Look for a ‘Verified Customer’ badge. The majority of serious webshops have the right software in place to ensure that the reviews published on their websites are written by the customers who actually bought the product they’re reviewing. It is often possible to see the reviewer’s full name.
Verified user reviews – your goldmine
The constantly growing demand for user reviews has naturally led to the development of more and more efficient customer reviews systems. If you do not already use such a system in your online store, you should definitely consider doing so. With verified user reviews, you avoid suspicion of fake user content. Instead, you build trust in your brand, cultivate customer relationships, and increase sales.
If you use an invitation-based platform such as Lipscore to collect user reviews, potential customers will see that the reviews displayed on your product pages come from people who have actually purchased the product they are reviewing. This signals that you take your customers seriously and that you want to know how to improve.
Long story short – there are 5 good reasons not to buy fake reviews:
- It is illegal.
- It will be revealed and you will lose customers.
- Your customers will spread the word about you, and this will have long-term negative consequences for your sales.
- There are better ways to gather genuine reviews!
- Because you do not need them! You will gain much more by appreciating the reviews you already have and handling negative reviews with care.
Quit thinking about buying customer reviews – instead, give your customers a reason to return to your shop, offering the real shoppers a possibility to tell you what they think!
Let’s help your business get more ratings and reviews!
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