Avoiding Illegal And Unethical Customer Review Methods

Avoiding illegal and unethical customer review methodsThere are many ways to game the online customer review system on your website and review sites.
While all these methods are unethical, not all of them are illegal but if discovered they could very well spell doom to your business reputation and success.

Here are three methods that you want to avoid using to collect customer reviews:

1. Financial incentives
Many underhanded marketers advice small business owners to use financial incentives to encourage clients to submit positive online reviews for them.
These incentives may not involve giving hard cash, but instead involve giving away coupons, gift cards, complementary vouchers, discount offers and so on.
While the practice may appear harmless to a business owner, it is actually bribing people to give a favorable opinion about your business which will be used by third parties to make a financial decision in doing business with you.
This has been one of the worst practices in the internet marketing field and has made the Federal Trade Commission crack down heavily on marketers who use false information to promote their business.
To stay out of trouble, use your financial incentives for other marketing purposes that will build trust and honesty with your customers and then encourage them to leave online reviews out of their own free will.

2. False personas
Another underhand trick marketers use is to create false online identities to submit reviews.
This is a difficult method for authorities to track since different IP addresses are used by each identity to submit the reviews.
However in this day and age of technology and so much public interest in exposing unscrupulous businesses, it wouldn’t take long for someone investigating your reviewers to wonder why the IP addresses of the submitters are from India, Philippines and Malaysia yet your client base is in Little Rock, Arkansas!
3. Submitting reviews yourself
This is often a sincere mistake most small business owners make.
They get customer reviews in their store on their feedback form, manually submit each of them to a review site profile and think it’s perfectly alright because they are from real customer.
Unfortunately it’s not possible to do this with review sites since each of your customers should submit their own review.
If you have collected reviews on feedback forms, emails, videos and other methods, you can post them on your website but only if you have that express signed permission from your clients to do so.
Otherwise you need to point your clients to review sites to submit their own reviews.

How to collect legit customer reviews using email marketing:

A creative way to collect customer reviews for your website or on review sites is to use email marketing.
This is an easy way if your small business already has a database of email addresses or has been regularly sending newsletters to your client base.

The beauty of using an email marketing system is that:
* You can get your clients attention when they are already online reading your email instead of trying to convince them to get online.
* You can provide links in the email to redirect them to your profile on review sites like Google Places or to a form on your website.
* It is easy for them to just hit the reply button and give you a personal review via email.

If your business doesn’t have an email marketing system in place, the first step is to collect your clients email addresses.
* You can do this by offering them incentives such as free coupons or discounts that will be delivered to their email address, making it necessary for them to submit their email address.
* You can also use your in store feedback forms to get their email addresses.
* You can also collect email addresses from your online social networks such as your business Facebook or Twitter page fans using valuable offers as incentives

Once you have collected the email addresses, you need to write friendly but convincing emails encouraging them to leave their reviews on your website or on your profile listing within review websites.
A good idea is to give simple step by step instructions on how they can do this so that they can see how easy and quick the process will be and how it won’t take more than 2 or 3 minutes of their time.

Some businesses often try to “bribe” their customers with freebies in exchange for reviews, but this is often deemed unethical as it may skew your reviews and is seen as a corrupt inducement for a process that is supposed to be completely objective. So it’s best not to financial incentives in exchange for reviews.
Instead appeal to your customers to give their honest review and to participate in the success of your company.
If you have established a community of friendship with your customers, many of them will be happy to support your business.
Use fun and inclusive words like “Let others know that Papa Joe’s have THE best burgers in town!”

Bonus Method
If you have ever received emails from happy customers complimenting your business on your great services and products, consider this a bonus and use the opportunity to thank them and direct them to review sites where they can let others know how they feel.

This is one of the most overlooked ways of tapping into positive customer feedback.

How to collect legit video and photo customer reviews

An often overlooked method of collecting online customer reviews is through videos and photos.
With so much emphasis on written reviews, no one bothers thinking about video and image reviews yet they have a more powerful influencing effect than text due to their visual and audio benefits.
A majority of people take in information better and actually enjoy doing so when it is present in picture or video format.

As with anything there is a right way and a wrong way to collect video and image reviews.
Let’s start with how NOT to do it. Do not try recording videos or shooting photos of your customers on an ordinary business day at your shop.
There will be no excitement necessary to portray all the right mix of emotional energy to make the review enjoyable and convincing.

The right way to do it is to capitalize on an event that is taking place at your business or being sponsored by your business. Events include:
* Parties
* Concerts
* Product Launches
* Store Openings
* Holiday Celebrations such as Halloween, Christmas, Independence Day
* Community Events
* Fundraisings
* Sporting Events
* Family Fun Days
* TV Coverage of your business such for a show.

These are all opportune moments to take video footage and photos when your clients are exhibiting positive emotions – they are excited, attentive, entertained, astonished, cheerful, engaged and relaxed.
If asked a question about your business, they will be able to naturally and enthusiastically give a positive customer testimonial.
With their permission, you can post these videos and photos on
* Your website
* Your facebook page
* Your YouTube channel
* Your review site and business directory profiles

Videos do not have to be lengthy – in fact the shorter they are the better.
A 60 second video clip is just the right length.
While you may think you need expensive equipment to make this happen, a simple point and shoot digital camera or a good quality mobile phone camera will do the trick. Y

ou want your videos to look amateurish because that makes them look more credible.
Super professional videos just look fake and hard to believe so it’s best to keep it simple and believable.

SEO/SEM Specialist

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Posted on by MATFlawless Posted in Misc

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