Why incentivizing people to leave reviews is a bad idea

Many small business owners struggle to get an average positive review. But, unfortunately, customers mostly leave a review online only if they are dissatisfied with the products or services that these small businesses offer. As a part of seeking personal justice, people often leave a negative review online. In fact, testimonials and reviews are powerful public proofs of your businesses’ capabilities. However, it is really hard to receive one. Incentives like contests, direct rewards, and discount coupons will definitely increase your review counts. But at what cost?

NEVER Incentivize Reviews

If you are requesting your customers to review your business, ensure not to provide them with any sort of rewards or incentives. Even providing discounts are considered as incentives. According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act, incentivizing customer reviews is no more minor. Recently, FTC cracked down on AmeriFrieght, an auto shipment broker, for its misrepresenting online reviews. The company was reluctant to disclose that it rewarded the customers who posted positive reviews. Thus, the company was guilty of deceptively representing its growing reputation.

According to FTC Act, it is illegal to incentivize reviews even if the reviews aren’t positive.  FTC’s website states that reviews must be truthful and not misleading. “If there is a connection between the endorser and the marketer of a product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed,” it mentions. Requesting the customers to provide reviews shouldn’t be stopped, but providing them with rewards must certainly be stopped.

Yelp:

Yelp looks for reviews from active Yelp users. Reviews are considered authentic only if the Yelp users have had engaged with other users and have written multiple reviews of various businesses already. If there are a lot of reviews from people who have not even completed filling up the basics of their profile and have provided reviews for no other business apart from yours, Yelp will hide the review or classify it under “not currently recommended” category.

Google +:

 

Google has a lot of tools to detect fake reviews and there are also instances where businesses have lost legitimate reviews temporarily or permanently for crossing Google’s guidelines. Though Google encourages customers to leave reviews, repercussions of incentivizing customers to provide reviews with Google are often quite serious – they easily remove all your reviews, penalize your site, and even keep your products or services from showing up in search results completely.

Amazon:

Amazon has its own system for tracking the incentivizing reviews of particular products and is quite particular about incentivizing or compensating customers for reviews. Reposting reviews from one review site to another or even asking customers to provide the same review in multiple places is a bad idea. As search engines are not keen on duplicate content, most online review sites follow suit.

 

Other alternatives for generating reviews:

In order to increase the number of online reviews, local businesses can:

  • Strengthen the reputation: The higher your ratings are, the stronger your online reputation gets. The quality and quantity of your reviews will help you minimize the negative comments and low ratings that your business is suffering from.
  • Understand customers better: An endeavor to create structured opportunities to comprehend customers’ attitudes better and identify various aspects for your performance helps in overcoming the reviews that are not overwhelmingly positive and contain some harsh but warranted criticisms.
  • Boost local search performance: Reviewing the quality and quantity of testimonials are important ranking factors in boosting local search performance.

Do not refrain yourself from asking customers for reviews. But, just don’t give them incentives for it. In fact, there are lots of other resources which tell you about getting more online reviews for your business. These tips and tricks will certainly help you with your review and reputation management programs.  Learn more on how we Reputation Shielder can help you increase your reviews not by incentivizing your happiest customers and having them market for you with little effort.

 

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Author: Susan Miller

Susan is an accomplished graphics designer, published author, and writer with 2 different publishing companies, & over 5yrs of experience. She is Reputation Shielder's online content manager and graphics designer.
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