Can you trust online reviews?

Nowadays most customers check out online reviews before purchasing a product or service. The online world is so extensive and there’re so many brands and options to choose from, that most customers trust reviews of other peers to help them choose before buying over traditional advertising or marketing content.

When it comes to online reviews, it’s easy to be influenced towards purchasing or shopping elsewhere. When users search for reviews they expect to find real opinions from real customers; but while the opportunity to read about other people’s experiences and thoughts is helpful, online reviews are open to abuse.

unnamedSo how can we trust online reviews and how do we know if the reviews we find are really true and not just another dirty technique to fool us?

This question is not only essential for buyers but also for companies as online reviews can make or break a business.

Amazon, for example, is suing more than 1.000 people for advertising their services by writing fake reviews in exchange of cash… so it’s important to learn how to decipher customer feedback to become a smarter shopper.

So how can we distinguish fake reviews from real ones?

Fortunately, there are a few good techniques that can help you tell truth from fiction:

  • No info about the reviewer.signs for a fake review
    Users who only post a small number of reviews or have no profile information or social connections are more likely to be faking.
  • Examine the review’s language.
    Think about how you would write an opinion… Is too specific? does it read naturally? Do several reviews all sound the same? Beware of opinions with formal product names or specific terms a normal person wouldn’t typically use, as well as those using extreme and over-exaggerated expressions like “best ever”, “greatest” or “absolute worst.”
  • Look at the date of the reviews:
    Make sure there aren’t multiple reviews posted within a short time period (e.g. 200 positive opinions all posted during the same month)
  • Compare reviews: 
    Take a quick look at reviews of a same product on other sites to make sure there are no similar ones. Or even in a same site, make sure there are no similar reviews with repeated wording or writing style.
  • Customer vs expert reviews:
    Consumer reviews tend to be more detailed while expert reviews discuss general matters.

However, I must point out that there are less fake reviews each time as companies are taking measures to avoid this problem by building detection models to filter them out.

15-20% of all reviews are fake.

Big companies like TripAdvisor or Google for example, have created advanced algorithms that filters the fakes (meta-data features, reviewer user ID, the time the review was posted, user computer IP address, etc).

But there are still some fake ones out there so keep your eyes open; so whether your an e-commerce wanting customers to engage or a customer in search of reviews, make sure you leverage this new marketing revolution in the most real and efficient way. Check out one of our previous posts about the benefits of adding online reviews to your marketing strategy.

93% of customers read reviews before making a purchase decision.

reviews benefits

This post is also available in: Spanish

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