Pay for Reviews Online? What You Need To Know Now Before You Do.
Do you have a love-hate relationship with reviews? Everyone wants the influence, trust and sales that come from positive endorsements. Yet many hate how long it takes to get a winning number of reviews. We’ve all heard of others paying to get more. Here’s what you need to know before you pay for reviews.
Can You Pay For Reviews? (Or Amazon, Yelp, Facebook, Etc.)
The short answer is no. Google considers this deception. As hard as Google is working to uncover paid reviews, getting caught is nearly inevitable. When Google finds out, it’s very hard to overcome the penalties. Yet there’s an even more important reason to avoid all this.
Whether Google or Facebook, if the reviewer didn’t disclose they were paid, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can fine you a ridiculously large sum of money.
What about Amazon, Yelp and other platforms? The FTC says: “Before you ask people for reviews, know the rules of the platforms and websites on which those reviews may appear.” Amazon has “zero tolerance” for paid reviews. The same is true for Yelp.
Even If The Policy Says It Is Okay
If you find a site that will accept paid reviews, the FTC outlines what is ethical:
How To Get More Without Having to Pay For Reviews
Take time to respond to reviews – positive or negative. If you cannot respond to all of them, decide how many you can address. Most people want to buy from a company that cares. You send this message loud and clear when you thank people for positive reviews and do your best to answer negative ones.
How do you respond to negative reviews? There are 3 main steps:
- Apologize whether the complaint is legitimate or not: “We’re sorry to hear…”
- Be proactive: “We’d like to do what we can to change that.”
- Offer help: “Please contact our customer service here…”
Always focus on reviews from the most effective platforms. Google, Facebook and Yelp are the top 3 for most businesses. Yet many are industry-specific. For example, Houzz is the main review site for home builders. People find lawyers on Avvo and doctors on Healthgrades.
Strive to give every customer stellar service. This alone motivates more people to leave positive reviews.
Ask every customer to leave a review. You might be surprised how many respond. More reviews mean more good reviews. Doing this raises your average and gets you noticed.
Make it easy for everyone to leave reviews. You can still contact people a few days later, but always try to reach them immediately after every interaction. Ask for reviews using text, email, phone calls or online surveys.
Incentivize your employees to invite and collect reviews. You could reward them for invitations sent and reviews received.
What This Means For You
You need more reviews. One study says 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
You can still find ways to pay for reviews, but it’s not worth the consequences. Focus on getting more reviews the right way.
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