Every business owner knows that the key to staying open is positive reviews by word of mouth. With the advent of the Internet, that word of mouth has gone online, and now the vast majority of customers check online reviews before making a purchasing decision. You’d think that getting a good review would be a good thing in all cases. And you would be wrong.
An online review only works for a business if it’s legitimate and earned through an honest assessment of the product sold, customer service involved, price and other important considerations that go into making a purchasing decision. Unfortunately, there has been an uncomfortable rise in the number of instances when an online review is placed by an unscrupulous owner in hopes of gaining more positive attention and more sales for their business. It’s a bit like playing Russian roulette because consumers have become more sophisticated in spotting imposter reviews, and government regulators have become more aggressive in weeding out phony posts.
Here are several reasons why a good review can backfire if it’s placed as part of a fake review strategy:
Fake reviews destroy trust. If your business is outed for using imposter reviews and you’re caught doing it, there’s no way that it will translate into anything good for your customer base. Trust is a key element in a highly competitive online environment, and when you’ve lost that trust, chances are you’ve lost that customer forever.
Fake reviews can kill your bottom line. Not only are scam reviews a bad idea, if a business is caught there’s a good chance they may be looking at fines and penalties. Larger businesses have been fined millions of dollars for posting false reviews and false online advertising. Smaller online businesses may not be able to weather the financial penalties they could incur if they are caught in a fake review scheme.
Fake reviews generally sound too good to be true. Faced with a barrage of online information, consumers have become savvier than ever. Many are becoming experts at spotting reviews that sound contrived or too good to be true. Even if you manage to draw customers based on glowing scam reviews, customers will know they’ve been had when they see the reality of your business. And when that happens, they will skew your business with a fresh set of negative online reviews that will do all kinds of damage to your credibility and your bottom line.
Fake reviews kill your local search performance. If your reviews are tagged as false, your local search performance will suffer and your online visibility will drop like a stone. You’ll lose valuable opportunities to connect with new customers and be unable to deliver an experience that matches their expectations.