A Guide to How Brands + Retailers Can Take Control Back From False or Unfair Reviews

Learn to Identify + Take Action Against Fake or Suspicious Reviews on Your Own Product Pages and Other Review Sites

The reviews of your products, no matter where they appear, are a natural extension of “word-of-mouth” marketing. Studies show that 94% of consumers say an online review has convinced them to avoid a brand or business. But not all of your negative online reviews are real. Spammers, competitors, uninformed influences, and upset customers may post reviews too. Here are some tips to identifying these reviews and advice on what you can do about them.

Tips to Spotting Fake, Unusual, or Suspicious Reviews:

  1. Be wary if too vague. Are your product reviews extremely positive or negative but don’t specifically mention what makes them good or bad? (like “Love it!” “Great,” or “Doesn’t work!”) – those reviews may be fake. 
  2. Check out the % of 1-to-5-star reviews. It’s the 80/20 rule: If 80% of your reviews are 4 or 5 stars and 20% are 1-star reviews – that’s unusual.
  3. If the review mentions a competing product, flag it. If a user says to instead check out another brand – definitely suspicious. 
  4. Look at the reviewer’s history.  Most sites will allow you to click and see a reviewer’s profile, where you can check if the reviewer has too many reviews using the same language – a tell tale sign.

What You Can Do:

  1. Start on your own site by setting up a process to review your own product reviews. Define criteria to flag reviews that are definitely fake, may be fake, seem unusual, or are suspicious. While you do not want to take down bag reviews, you do want to make sure those bad reviews are valid and addressed. 
  2. If the review seems fake and appears off your site, try to get the review removed. Of course the ideal scenario is getting the fake review removed asap. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get it taken down. However, depending on the site, you may be able to request that the review be assessed.
  3. Consider Responding Publicly. Here’s the thing about responding to false or inflammatory reviews: It’s all or nothing. If customers see you respond to one negative post, but not to others, they might assume that the other negative posts are accurate and that’s why you’re not responding. But if you receive a ton of online reviews, it’s time-consuming to respond to every one that you feel is wrong. So weigh your options before you decide to write back to a false post. If you do decide to speak up, draft a polite response that addresses the points made in the post. Regardless of how you respond, we recommend always leaving the door open for the possibility that the review is actually not fake, and also invite the reviewer to contact you to resolve the issue. This makes it apparent that you actually care about your real customers.
  4. Provide an Incentive to Get More Positive Reviews. One nasty or false review looks really bad when it’s the only review your product has. When you have 100 glowing reviews, however, that one nasty one looks less significant. In fact, when you consistently get more reviews on a steady basis, that one negative one effectively gets pushed by the wayside. One way to attract a great number of positive reviews is to provide an incentive to satisfied customers to post a review in order to get a promotion or get entered into a contest. 
  5. Post Your Own Higher Quality Expert-Driven Reviews. Consider getting an expert in your industry to review your product as a definitive way to cut through the clutter and provide a 3rd-party, trusted validation. One professional-driven video review can actually be more meaningful and informative than multiple customer reviews that provide little to no valuable information about your product. 

Tackling your product reviews can seem like an insurmountable task. Don’t wait for bad reviews to pile up. They say the best defense is a good offense, and the best way to address bad reviews is to operate strategically and with a plan of action.

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