If you’re reading this right now, you’ve probably made your fair share of online purchases in the past. And if you’ve done your research, you already know that online reviews are an important factor when determining where to make future purchases. 

A recent study found that 71% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations when making buying decisions. That’s why it should come as no surprise that more and more businesses are using these third-party review sites to increase their visibility and drive sales. 

After all, who wouldn’t want more positive reviews on their company page? However, with so many different website-based solutions out there, how can you ensure that any service is genuine? The following article will cover some of the potential problems associated with online reviews.

Online Reviews Background

Online reviews have been around since the early days of the internet. In 1998, Amazon first allowed customers to leave reviews on their products, and by 1999, review sites like Epinions, TripAdvisor, Reliable Reviews, and Yelp had already been around for several years. 

When internet shopping first came onto the scene, many people weren’t sure how to approach purchasing items online. After all, it was a new experience for many people. And having reviews on the site from people who had already tried the product was a great way to help new internet users feel more comfortable about making online purchases. 

As a result, these review sites exploded in popularity. And today, you’ll find reviews on just about any online business, from hotels and restaurants to online retailers like Amazon. 

Types Of Online Reviews

There are many different types of online reviews, including transactional, social, and brand reviews. However, not all review types are created equal, and it’s important to know the difference between them. 

Transactional Reviews

Transactional reviews are reviews that take place during the purchase process. In other words, shoppers leave reviews after they’ve purchased the item. 

Transactional reviews are believed to be the most reliable because the reviewer has experienced the product or service at hand. On the other hand, social and brand reviews are not as reliable because the reviewer may have never even tried the product or service in question. 

Social Reviews

Social reviews are reviews that are posted on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social reviews are top-rated because they’re very easy to leave. 

All you have to do is click a few buttons and the review is posted. Unfortunately, these reviews are often not reliable because they’re not as objective as transactional reviews. Many people will just leave a review simply because they saw the product on a friend’s social media feed and thought it looked cool. 

Brand Reviews

Brand reviews are reviews that are posted on websites that allow customers to review a business. These reviews are not as reliable as transactional reviews because the reviewer may not have used the product or service in question. These reviews are often posted on websites like Trustpilot, BBB, or Google My Business.

Online Reviews Problems

Fake Reviews

Online reviews are nothing if not subjective, so it’s almost impossible to verify the authenticity of every review. However, certain red flags can help you identify fake reviews. Here are a few examples:

  • Reviewers who claim to be long-time customers, even though the company is relatively new.
  • Reviews that appear to be too good to be true.
  • Reviews that are poorly written and lack detail.
  • Multiple reviews from the same IP address.
  • Reviews from people who are not verified, customers: 

While this isn’t always a sign of fake reviews, it’s important to recognize that anyone can leave a review on these platforms.

Bait And Switch

Bait and switch are significant problems among online review websites. Many of these websites offer businesses a guaranteed number of positive reviews in exchange for a fee. As a result, some businesses might go as far as to pay other customers to leave fake reviews on their pages. 

If you come across a review website that guarantees positive reviews, proceeds with extreme caution. While it’s normal to have a certain percentage of negative reviews on your page, there should never be a 100% positive ratio on a single page. By the same token, be careful that you’re not getting lured into false promises from the review website. 

Many review sites claim that you won’t have to pay for anything. The reality, though, is that you’ll likely have to pay for some level of service. Whether that means paying for premium placement on their page or paying for certain services, you’ll rarely get something for nothing in this industry.

Paid Reviews

As we mentioned above, it’s important to be careful of reviewing websites that guarantee positive reviews. However, it’s equally important to be wary of review websites that guarantee the total number of reviews on your page. 

In other words, if you pay a certain amount of money, the service provider guarantees that you’ll have a certain number of reviews on your page. While this may seem like a good idea at the outset, it’s important to recognize that you could get yourself into more trouble than you bargained for. If you pay for reviews, you could be violating FTC regulations. 

What’s more, it’s not just your company that could face consequences. If you’re working for a company that promises to deliver a certain number of reviews, you could be held liable for any fraudulent activities.

Inauthentic Ratings

Many businesses are now using online review websites as a way to solicit customer feedback on current products. This is a good thing, as it allows customers to provide valuable insight into what can be improved. 

However, some businesses have gone as far as to solicit positive reviews on current products while soliciting negative reviews on competitors’ products. To be honest, this is a pretty bold move. 

After all, it’s easy to tell when a review is fake. Consequently, asking customers to leave a negative review on a competitor leaves you open to being out as a company that’s guilty of inauthentic ratings.

Hidden Costs

When choosing a review website, be careful of those that don’t have a free option. While premium placement on a review website is reasonable, hidden costs are a red flag. For example, some review websites will give you premium placement for free, but require you to leave a certain number of reviews to get that premium placement. 

While this practice isn’t unethical, it does pose a hidden cost that not all businesses are upfront about. Another example of a hidden cost is having to pay to have your initial reviews removed or edited. 

While some businesses don’t allow you to remove reviews, others will require you to pay a certain fee. If you’re ever forced to pay a fee to remove a review, it’s best to find another review website.

Online Reviews Have More Benefits

Reviews are one of the best ways to improve your business. They help your customers see how you can help them and how happy they are. However, you should note that there is a difference between positive reviews and critical reviews.

Positive reviews can be very effective at boosting your reputation, but critical reviews can be even more beneficial. When someone leaves a critical review, it shows that you have a serious customer. And the customer is likely to be more likely to purchase from you again in the future.

Online Reviews As Basis Of Customers

There are several ways to use online reviews to your advantage. You can also use them to get a better picture of what your customers are thinking and saying about your brand. Of course, you don’t want to simply focus on the negative reviews. 

You also want to read the positive reviews and see how you can replicate that experience for other customers. However, if you find that the majority of the reviews are negative, you’ll have to figure out what the underlying problem is and try to fix it. 

That’s why it’s so important to use online reviews as a basis for customers. You can also use customer surveys to get feedback, but again, these are not as objective as reviews. Reviews are very straightforward in that the customer is telling you what they liked and disliked.

Future Of Online Reviews

Online reviews have become more prevalent than ever before. Customer reviews have become so common that more than 70% of consumers expect to see them on every website. 

And businesses are taking notice, with more than half of companies saying that online reviews influence their buying decisions. As online review sites continue to grow and evolve, there will be new opportunities for businesses to earn positive reviews and improve their reputation online. 

And this could be especially beneficial for small businesses, which are often less likely to have brand awareness than their larger counterparts.

The Bottom Line

Online reviews are a great way to get feedback from customers, but like anything else, they can be a source of problems as well.

If you want to make the most of customer reviews, make sure you have an effective system in place to respond to them. This will help you address any issues that customers have with your product or service and resolve them quickly.

As you solve these problems, online reviews will be an essential part of customer service. They can help you improve your business thus making you more money from happy customers.

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