Last week saw 19 companies fined a total of $350,000 for posting fake reviews of their products and services online. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been vocal in its condemnation of such practices, and Operation Clean Turf targeted both the companies soliciting the reviews and the online marketing agencies that did the deeds.
Given the boost that online reviews can give to a company’s reputation, however, it is not hard to see where the temptation to cheat came from. Once it is known (or suspected) that some businesses are cheating, others worry that if they do not do likewise then they cannot compete. Fortunately, there are still legitimate ways of persuading members of the public to produce real reviews:
- Making it simple – customers are much more likely to engage if a button on a business website directs them straight to a review form. If this includes a star rating, it is likely to get more responses than a form that only includes a box for writing. Sending a follow-up email to customers a week after purchase, with a direct link to such a form, is a good way to solicit reviews and also sends the friendly message that a business cares about customer satisfaction.
- Making it personal – it is no longer acceptable to pay for reviews, even with discounts or other store privileges, but there are still ways to make it rewarding. Most people enjoy doing things to help others, especially if they feel those others have helped them. It is always in the interests of businesses to make a personal connection with customer, and an individual business owner asking for a review as a favor can expect a positive response more often than not.
- Making it relevant – the average customer may not see much point in writing a review. Letting them know that it could be useful to other potential customers can make all the difference, as can assuring them that the business will take heed of suggestions for improvement. Most people like to feel useful and are more likely to use a business that they feel values their opinions.
Legitimately obtained reviews can make an important contribution to content marketing and significantly increase prospective customer confidence. They are likely to grow in value as search engines and government agencies clamp down on businesses using fake ones. For more advice on how you can obtain reviews, contact Xcellimark at 888-318-3950 ext 211 to speak with an internet marketing consultant today.