Informed buyers know to look for reviews and testimonials from people who have already purchased, before they buy something themselves. There are quite a few inherent problems with this strategy, even though it’s a lot better than just buying blindly. Let’s explore what they are.

Sneaky Sneaky

Testimonials are wonderful when they’re real. The trouble is, a very large percentage of them are bought by the seller. When this happens, it skews the perception of a product by making it appear to be much better than it really is, or to conceal actual, real, bad reviews by flooding that section with bought reviews that obfuscate the truth. Some sites require that bought reviews come with a disclaimer, but since disclaimers are legal jargon and read at a much more difficult level, watch for words like redacted, censored or tergiversate. Redacted means, “to select or adapt for publication; to obscure or remove text”, censored means the same thing basically. Tergiversate is a verb that means, “to be evasive or ambiguous.” While this last word isn’t used as much, it is still a huge word that most people don’t hear regularly, so likely will not know.

TIPWatch out for products that have ALL 5 star ratings. A real review will, inevitably have at LEAST one which is less than 5 stars, as well as one which is considered a negative review. Also watch for broken English as many of the bought reviews come from places where writers can be found on the cheap.

5 Minutes of Fame

Not all testimonials or reviews are bought, and this doesn’t mean that everyone out there is intent on fleecing you for all you’re worth. However, some are simply looking for their place on the Internet, and they’ll post a review to be funny, to gain attention, or just to be a troll. (An internet troll, for those unaware, is someone whose sole existence seems to be making others upset, mad, or frustrated for their own obscure enjoyment) For example, an innocent banana slicer sold on Amazon has nearly 6 THOUSAND reviews, most being people trying to top each other for the best and most funny comment. The same fate befell Haribo’s Sugarless Gummi Bears, also sold on Amazon, which became a siren’s call for pranksters who discovered the laxative effects the bears give when eaten in large quantities.

The trouble with both of these products, is that while some of the reviews are real – most say they’re verified, including the ones meant to be funny or a joke. Clearly all these people didn’t buy the items, but thanks to an imperfect system – it appears they did. It also makes it hard to filter out the fake or funny reviews from reality.

Spam and Eggs

Does ANYONE actually enjoy spam?

Another problem with areas meant for reviews is the spam that fills up the space with questionable characters placing shortened links, or other links on comments that send people to sites or pages where they get phished or worse, end up with a worm or virus in their computer – including the newest and worst of them: Ransomware. This virus basically holds your files, information, everything on your computer hostage until you pay the attacker using Bitcoin or some other form of payment that is nearly untraceable.

When comments/reviews include spam like this, most innocent people looking to purchase something will see it and be turned away. Nobody wants to be associated with a shady element, and they haven’t committed to buying yet, so they leave the page before purchasing because now the content is questionable. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t publish those comments yourself, it only matters that they’re there. Don’t forget that people can buy your product or something similar in ten thousand other places these days, and that people tend to be very fickle.

TIPRemove spam links on a daily basis, if not multiple times a day, it’s not good for you or for your customers and those people posting that kind of thing need to be removed/banned/IP blocked so they cannot do it to you again.

Stats Matter

If you consider that 70% of people actually actively look for those bad reviews, and look to see just how bad the product might be, just so they know it’s real, then you know how important it is to have a review system in place people can trust. We’ve spent a great deal of time in our posts about trust, because it’s a fragile thing which takes a lot of time to grow. Trust is critical to success, and when it’s lost it’s hard won back if at all. 63% of people are more likely to purchase when there is a section dedicated to reviews and testimonials. The marketplace has changed drastically from the past when people had to actually go to the store to purchase something. With digital storefronts and the ability to shop online becoming easier than ever, people are having to find new ways to make up for a lack of sensory input about a product. The only tool at their disposal is to ask their friends and family, or to read reviews. This one area is so important, yet it continues to be one area that sites fail because of the inherent problems with reviews and testimonials.

The Future

The future in testimonials and reviews may just be in a product we’re excited about and will be telling people about very soon. Be sure you subscribe to ensure you are the first to hear about it!