Having easy access to the web has radically changed the way people shop for almost everything today. From mobile phones to dental services, it’s rare to blindly make a purchase decision without reading through several online reviews. In 2016, 90% of shoppers read at least one online review before deciding to visit a business. More importantly, 94% of online shoppers reported that a negative review has convinced them to avoid visiting a business. Of course, with the inclusion of public opinion brings its own share of unpredictability. Is the review true to a user’s experience? Is it subjective? Is it paid for? For brands, it all comes down to perception.
For example, in the online gambling sector, you will find multiple reviews of slot games online which will explain the features, bonuses, gameplay, potential return, volatility and so on – essentially giving you all the information you need about that game. However, there is no way of knowing, unless disclosed by the site itself, whether a particular review is paid for or genuinely independent. There are some sites which are trustworthy – for instance, you can have a comprehensive check at betting.co.uk of various websites and games, but it can often be difficult for users to understand whether a review is honest or not.
Consumers tend to believe a customer review 12 times more than what the brand has to say about the product. But this is quickly being extended to experiences, services, people, and jobs too. With reviews being used on search engines too, more and more brands are starting to interweave a marketing strategy that’ll get the most out of a review.
More and more brands are starting to include soft incentives (like discounts on the next purchase) for those who review their products. And it’s not just all about quantity either. Businesses are making a conscious effort to curb negative reviews, including calling out fake reviews on social media. Poor reviews on fairly new restaurants on Zomato are almost always followed up by a call from management, asking you how they can make your next visit better. But knowing where to draw the line in dishing out freebies and discounts, all in the name of garnering positive reviews, makes all the difference when thinking about the ethics of it all.
Given that consumer-generated reviews can result in an 18 percent increase in sales, there’s bound to be the odd apple in the business world that’s going to try something shady to achieve that number. It’s unfortunate because it clearly hurts the digital space, but fake reviews are still readily available on freelancing sites like Fiverr.
There are a few ways to know whether a review is fake or not –
- Check the Feedback and not Just the Star Rating
While the star ratings don’t really give you much to go on, the feedback or comments tell you exactly what the reviewer liked/didn’t like about the item in question. Sometimes, the reason behind the review may not even add value to your decision.
E.g.- a 1-star rating complaining about the length of a pair of trousers, posted by someone who’s 6’4’’ while you happen to be 5’10’’.
- Check if the User is a Verified/Validated Buyer
One of the easiest ways to check if the review is real or fake is to look for a “Verified Buyer” tag. While this is specific to Amazon, other e-commerce giants have similar functions in place to help their customers choose better.
- Consider the Quality of the Review
Reviews in the range of one to five words long should hold very little if not no merit at all. If someone takes the time to spell out exactly why they either love or hate the product, then you have a higher chance of them being honest, than someone who said a pair of jeans was “Terrible” with no mention of whether it was the colour, wash, or fit that was “Terrible”.
- Check the Reviewer’s Profile
Most sites give you access to view the profile of the person leaving the review. Not to sound too much like a detective but running a small background check to survey the products the person has previously reviewed should give you a fair idea of whether or not the review is legit.
- Keep an Eye Out for Extremist Behavior
If the reviewer has a tendency of rating only in either one or five stars, you might not get a clear representation of the product even if the reviewer is genuine. In this case, it would be best to remove the review from the consideration process altogether and base your decision on other reviews and your own judgment.