- Shivani Pai
Fake Reviews: What can eCommerce Brands Do?
Product reviews are an essential part of any e-commerce business. Reviews not only help the buyers decide whether to spend on a product but also prove profitable for the sellers as positive reviews encourage more sales. Additionally, when the reviews are favorable towards the seller, it increases sales and revenue.
However, the internet is also home to malicious users and bots who significantly affect the online marketplace.
Over the past few years, there has been a rise in fake reviews. So much so that it has cost losses worth $152 billion. According to the official figures and self-reporting by top e-commerce sites, including Tripadvisor, Yelp, Trustpilot, and Amazon, around 4% of all online reviews are fake on average. The direct influence of these on global online spending is $152 billion. Even an extra star on a restaurant's Yelp rating tends to increase the revenue by 5% to 9%.
Fake reviews boost search positions and ranking that can last four weeks, even after the deletion or detection. In general, fake reviews get removed after around 100 days, giving fraudsters enough time to make a decent profit. When it comes to inflated reviews, the economic benefits outweigh the risks and costs of being caught that serve as an incentive to fraudulent sellers.
You must note that the practice of posting fake reviews about businesses can harm both the companies and the consumers who get influenced into purchasing the product or service.
According to a study, 90% of surveyed consumers admitted checking online reviews before making a purchase decision. Further, an average of 31% of these customers will spend on a business whose reviews are incredible. All this turns out to be enough motivation for a business to want to have more positive reviews. But when there is an existence of fake reviews, customers who use reviews as a primary tool before spending their money will fall prey to poor quality of goods coupled with a lack of faith in the brand.
Also Read: E-commerce brands and their battle with fake online reviews
What can e-commerce businesses do to combat fake reviews?
1. Recognize and remove invalid reviews:
Bots usually post online reviews rather than valid users. Therefore, it is important to recognize such users and do damage control accordingly. The primary intent is actually to stop the reviews from happening in the first place. Knowing what the problem areas are and acting fast is critical. Even the most basic fake review bot attack is created and executed within a few hours. Businesses can retaliate by making sure that fake users on review sites don't find their way to the company's site. Plus, customer acquisition security technology applications will ensure that the marketing efforts don't pivot towards malicious bots.
The tell-tale signs of fake reviews
There are 4 ways to find if a review is fake or not:
a) The review lacks details: Fake reviews often tend to contain general praise, rather than elaborating on any of the specifics.
b) The review has a lot of verbs, and not many nouns: A general trend with fake reviews is that they contain way too many verbs. On the other hand, genuine reviews focus more on describing situations with nouns.
c) The review is mostly either one or five stars: If a review sounds too positive or too negative, it may be an attempt from a fake reviewer trying to dramatically increase or diminish the average rating for the product or service.
d) The reviewer's profile is shady: In most sites, you can click a reviewer's profile and check their other reviews. If the reviewer doesn't feature any other reviews, then the profile is more likely a scammer's.
2. Protect global economic growth and small businesses:
The direct costs of fake online reviews refer to the immediate losses imposed on society by the bots and invalid users. To understand the impact of the issue, study both the financial and non-monetary effects. Understanding how fake online reviews impact different industries and markets and the level of risk they pose to a specific business can be more accurately assessed. And will bring clarity on how these have a domino effect on other businesses and revenues. Education can be the first step toward better protecting an online reputation.
3. Watch out for enforcement costs:
Court situations can get messy and expensive. The costs of enforcement, lawyer's fees, court time, executive and employee headspace, and litigating over fake reviews can run into millions of dollars. However, businesses can avoid these costs by filtering online reviews through a few simple development steps. If the company pays no heed to the problem plaguing, it will only multiply as new technology creates new bots in the online space. Ergo to protect their reputation, companies must actively block false reviews, resulting in minimized enforcement costs.
4. Prioritize elimination of fake reviews:
Negative reviews lead to a negative economic impact on businesses. And when malicious bots and invalid users create these fake reviews, it gets even more frustrating. An Australian plastic surgeon's business reportedly dropped by 23% after posting a fake review in one such case. By protecting brand reputations through the filtering of fake reviews, companies can protect their revenues. Sometimes it's okay when unhappy customers tend to give their 2 cents by posting constructive criticism. But when invalid users are taking over your review platforms, eliminating fake reviews should be a priority.
5. Maintain trust of customers:
The presence of fake reviews puts a dent in the customer's confidence. With 85% of consumers believing the reviews they read were "sometimes or often fake." Elsewhere, 28% of respondents said a fake review would cause them to distrust other reviews. Meanwhile, 26% have said it would make them lose trust in the brand. Therefore, removing fake reviews helps with revenue and authenticity and builds trust among your existing and future customers. Furthermore, it's common knowledge that customers will incline towards the brand they think endorses ethical trade practices rather than focusing on making the sale for selfish gains.
We are aware of the impact reviews can have on the mind of a buyer. Even online sellers can get great assistance from them. So when a product gets rated with a high number of positive reviews, it's evident that the product has pleased the buyers. However, when a product attracts negative reviews, it is clear that the customer is disappointed with the outcome upon purchasing. Reviews even tend to catapult sales numbers. They help understand customer sentiments, preferences, level of satisfaction, customer perception, opinion, experiences, and more.
For this reason, we find businesses opting to scrape review data. Being one of the leading e-commerce sites, scraping amazon reviews data will provide an unparalleled advantage to online product sellers in multiple ways.
Web scraping of Amazon review data also enables the online seller to make product-based strategies. The seller gets an insight into how the products can improve and what measures are necessary to improve the customer's experience.
However, these sellers should continuously monitor product reviews to assess the performance of their products in the market. Scraping also makes the data collection process less tedious and time-consuming.
While genuine online reviews from customers created new opportunities for the sellers to understand their product better, fake reviews have foiled the bridge of trust between a customer and the brand. In the present technology-driven era where the customers choose to purchase a commodity only after careful analysis of the available reviews, the products with, say, 5 star ratings are likely to be trusted more by the customers. These reviews and feedback are beneficial sources of communication that the companies procure from the public. Not only can it help the company grow, but monitoring reviews can also build customer loyalty. But when the online space contains less trustworthy content, it can tarnish the brand image.
It's time to turn off fake online reviews and take the necessary steps to mitigate the risks of the wave of fake reviews. While there's no clear answer on how to resolve the issue, it's a wise strategy for businesses to partner with social media platforms to better understand how fake reviewers get recruited. Finding ways to shut down this activity would be like striking gold. It would bring down unlawful activities on social media platforms, increase trust in e-commerce platforms and enable a satisfying experience for consumers.
Ready to combat fake reviews for your eCommerce brand? Reach out to us at Datahut to learn how.
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