In this blog post we are going to look at an important subject; reviews. More importantly, fake reviews online
Having helped businesses remove fake reviews, I took the liberty of investigating what the government was doing about this issue and was pleased to discover that they intend on doing something about it.
In April 2022, the government proposed new rules that will effectively make leaving fake reviews in the UK illegal. The proposal is to give the competition watchdog new powers which will allow them to fine firms up to 10% of their global turnover for bad business practices.
Also, platforms such as Google Reviews, Trustpilot and Feefo will have to take ‘reasonable steps’ to confirm the reviews are genuine. This would mean the watchdog could directly impose fines on bad business practices (i.e. paying someone to write a fake review for them), and the review platforms, rather than action having to go through the courts.
Why fake reviews effect SMEs
Reviews of your products and services have long been an important cornerstone for many SMEs in generating referrals, and recommendations. They can also form a key part in building trust with prospective new customers.
It’s been estimated that the average UK household spends around £900 a year after being influenced by online reviews. You only have to think of your own purchasing behaviour to understand that the star ratings you see from aggregated product and service reviews sway you to find out more or to move on.
What are the providers doing about it?
Each review platform is managing fake reviews in a different way. We suggest that you select your review platform and actively manage it. Trying to manage multiple review sites will simply add resources without a great deal of benefit,where you could allocate that time into other marketing activities.
For example; Feefo you can give a list of customers who will then be contacted by Feefo asking for a review on your behalf. This ensures only real customers have the opportunity to leave a review of you and your business and drastically reduces the chances of fake reviews. The issue we predict with this is only giving the select number of customers in order to skew results therefore not giving an unbiased overall view of the company. Feefo do have other measures in place for example, verifying that the the customers from the lists they’ve been provided with are real.
The subject of fake reviews is naturally a negative one and the negative consequences may leave you feeling like this is a marketing minefield not to tread into.
However, that would be a mistake. A lot SMEs do experience problems with fake reviews, but you are in a much stronger position than larger businesses to handle fake reviews because you know your customer and there are rules and measures in place on the review platforms too. If your business becomes the victim of a fake review contact the review platform to find what steps you can take to remove it.
The benefits of great reviews far outway the risks of receiving fake ones so don’t be afraid to get yourself set up on a review platform.
Don’t forget to showcase your reviews on your website and social media as social proof is an important part of building brand trust.
Thanks for reading.