Online reviews are a valuable tool for consumers. Reviews help them identify quality businesses and ultimately help them make purchase decisions, but that might not always be the case. Right now trust for online reviews is high. In fact, 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. There is, however, a caveat to that trust. Consumers will only trust those online reviews as long as they believe they are authentic.
As more and more reports surface of businesses trying to game the system and buy positive reviews, consumer trust in online reviews will dwindle. Below we highlight the top reasons why businesses shouldn’t buy online reviews.
1. It’s Against the Rules
The biggest reason businesses shouldn’t buy online reviews is it’s against the terms and services of many online review sites. Businesses that ultimately do buy reviews or post fake reviews on behalf of their customers could suffer legal action or face sanctions.
Yelp has been very active in trying to ensure its reviews are authentic. Its Consumer Alerts program was created to make sure its reviews are properly vetted and provide helpful, accurate information to consumers conducting online research. If a business on Yelp is found to be purchasing reviews, their profile will be tagged with a warning to consumers about the dishonest activity.
2. It creates distrust
As we mentioned, online reviews are a valuable tool for both consumers as well as businesses. If trust in reviews declines, that value will diminish. According to survey data from BrightLocal, 31% of consumers trust online reviews as long as they believe they are authentic. That number is up from nine percent from the previous year’s survey.
Overall trust is still high for online reviews, but some consumers are leery of businesses either posting fake positive reviews on their sites or trying to sabotage their competition by posting fake negative reviews on their competitor’s sites. To ensure that trust is earned, businesses should make every effort to be transparent in their collection of online reviews.
3. It’s unethical
Don’t lie to your customers. When you buy online reviews, you are lying to your customers even if you don’t think you are. Customers are looking for businesses that are open and transparent. Consumers use online reviews to help make decisions and set expectations for what type of experience they will be receiving. Fake reviews could lead to disappointment when your business doesn’t deliver on those expectations. Good online reviews should be earned not purchased.
4. You miss out on valuable customer feedback
When you buy online reviews, you are missing out on valuable feedback from real customers. Feedback from online reviews can help you identify problems that might exist in your business and gives you the tools needed to fix them. Businesses that are focused on the customer and care about the experience being delivered won’t need to buy online reviews or post fake ones because their customers will be motivated to post positive reviews on their own.
The best way to capture that feedback is through an online review management platform. A good platform will streamline the process of managing your online presence and enable you to monitor and respond to reviews from a single dashboard.
Don’t Buy Online Reviews, Earn Them Instead
Request a demo to see how Podium’s cloud-based solution can help you use text messages to invite all of your customers to review your business. Podium’s efficient, mobile process can help your business build a strong online presence on the sites that matter most. This will, in turn, improve local SEO and ultimately boost revenues.