The internet and the explosion of smartphone ownership have made the opinions of anyone with an internet connection an indispensable part of almost every consumer decision. Whether you’re in the market for a new car, wandering into a coffee shop, or browsing store aisles, there’s a good chance you might weigh the collective wisdom of the crowd.
Unfortunately, online reviews are a mess. They’re still the first stop for consumers looking to buy stuff, but also the scene of an ongoing battle between conflicted platforms, aggressive businesses, and angry customers.
Businesses know this, and they’re still working to game the system. From mattress startup Casper to online travel site TripAdvisor, plenty of companies have been found to be manipulating reviews.
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The good news is that people are getting a bit more savvy.
“I do believe that people make their purchases off highly rated products—just as I do—but there is a good deal of skepticism if reviews skew positive with little to no negative commentary,” said Tamar Weinberg, a marketing consultant and author. “I think the concept of ‘is it too good to be true?’ rings loudly in their minds.”
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Even a simple promoted review that’s clearly marked can tank trust in the site overall.
“What we’ve seen is there were sites that would incentivize reviews,” Kurushko said, “and well-known retail sites would syndicate those reviews, and it just completely destroys trust.”
Link to the rest at Mashable