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Archive for March 16, 2019

How to Spot Fake Online Reviews

fake reviews online

Fake it ‘til you make it…right?!? Wrong! But it seems that’s how some sellers try to do it. Amazon is reportedly “fighting a barrage of seller scams on its website,” The Wall Street Journal reports. They have deleted thousands of reviews that could have been fake; fired workers who gave sellers inside information; and killed some techniques that might have helped products surface higher on searches when they shouldn’t have, reports the Journal. “If bad actors abuse our systems, we take swift action, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, taking legal action and working with law enforcement,” an Amazon spokeswoman told The Journal.

And Amazon is not alone. Fake reviews are a problem across all retail platforms. Why some businesses think that trashing the competition is the quickest way to the top is beyond us, but more and more are doing it online every day.  Whether it be review sites, blogs, or even Facebook – it seems that no one is safe from the fake reviews or comments these days.

What’s funny is that it DOES NOT work.  No matter how sneaky/tricky/brilliant you think you are with your made up review or comment, you’re not fooling many, if anyone.  Did you know that website owners can look up your IP address to see where your post is coming from?  You may think this is a good way to get a leg up on your competition, but really, it’s just making you look foolish.  Even if you get away with it for a while, when word gets out, you’ll just look silly at best.  Worst case scenario, you (and possibly your business) will be banned from the site that you’re posting to.

A survey released last year found that nearly 8 in 10 consumers say they think they’ve read a fake review in the past year; and 84% of consumers say they can’t always spot a fake review. Can you tell what is fake and what is real?

Try these tips:

Look at the Timing of Reviews – “See if there is a spike in the total number of reviews during a very short time frame. This can indicate a targeted campaign to add new artificial reviews,” says Derek Hales, the editor-in-chief of product testing and research site ModernCastle. If reviews are obviously favorable or negative towards a specific product or business, that can be a red flag. Also, if a review is published before the product being reviewed is released, it is likely not authentic.

Dig Deeper into the Reviewer Profile – On sites like Amazon, Yelp or TripAdvisor, look at the user’s profile and read other reviews they’ve posted.  If their only reviews are praise for one particular place or product, or complaints about a particular place or product, they’re likely fake. Another common type comes from a “professional reviewer” — someone who was given the product for free and given extra money to give a five star review, explains Jean H. Paldan, the founder and CEO of marketing firm Rare Form New Media. If the reviewer has a big trend of giving all five star reviews without any negativity, most likely they were bought and paid for. Another hint is if they’ve done a lot of five-star reviews for products owned by the same company.

Look for verified purchases or when in doubt, reach out to the reviewer. Most fake reviewers will not respond, but real reviewers often look forward to opportunities to be more helpful.

Look At The Lingo – Keep an eye out for industry specific words that the average reviewer would not likely use.  Most restaurant guests are not going to say “delectable cuisine” when reviewing a meal. Phrase repetition is another clue. “Look through several reviews and see if any words or phrases are repeated in different reviews. Reviews that use the same phrase(s) may have been instructed to do so by the party faking the reviews, says Derek Hales, the editor-in-chief of product testing and research site ModernCastle.

 According to research from Cornell University, online reviews that frequently use “I” and “me” are more likely to be fake than those that don’t — possibly because when people are lying they try to make themselves sound credible by using personal pronouns. Additionally, “deceivers use more verbs and truth-tellers use more nouns,” the research found.

And, says Michael Lai, the CEO of review site SiteJabber.com, “Check the spelling and grammar of the review. Many fake reviews are outsourced to international content farms and are either written in poor English or not in a way a real consumer would express their opinion.”

Watch Out for the Untrustworthy – The first clue would be generic names (i.e. John Smith) or a profile with no picture. Next, look for reviews written in all caps, have terrible grammar, swear frequently, or put seven exclamation points at the end of every sentence (or right smack in the middle for extra emphasis!!!!!!!) It is very hard to take these reviews seriously, let alone see them as credible.

And we’ve all seen the “I tried this product, hated it, and promptly bought the {competitor product here} and I LOVE it! Go buy it here now for 20% off!” review.  What’s even worse is reviewers who leave a link to their own site in their review. Instant credibility loss!

So is it even worth reading online reviews?  Actually, yes.  Many sites are cracking down on fake reviews, due to the importance of legitimate ones.   Sites like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor continue to work on their fraud detection, even allowing other reviewers and businesses to submit questionable reviews to be moderated.  Yelp claims that an astounding 20% of reviews never get published due to reviews not meeting their content guidelines.

Your best bet is to read the middle-of-the-road reviews. “It’s often helpful to sort reviews that fall in the middle of the pack (e.g 3/5 stars). These reviews are often the most honest and insightful about both the positive and negative aspects of the venue and can be used to cross-reference other reviews to look for trends in both positive and negative feedback,” says Marc Nashaat, an enterprise SEO & digital PR consultant.

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How to Develop your Digital Customer Experience

digitally connected customer

In today’s crowded marketplace, brands are finding it more difficult to differentiate themselves from one another. When you have multiple brands in multiple industries offering the same products you do, you need to give customers a reason to choose you over them. Many brands today are working to find that differentiation in customer experience. In fact, experts believe that by 2020, customer experience will be even more important than price or product quality in differentiating one brand from another.
Companies need a digital customer experience strategy to ensure that they build the right experiences to suit their customers’ needs and expectations. It’s important that your strategy supports business objectives, accurately reflects your brand, and aids in prioritizing which customer goals to support and how to support them.


Organizations that aspire to differentiate based on digital customer experience need a clear, cohesive execution strategy. Customer experience professionals have the expertise required to create experiences that deliver value to customers and the business and should take the lead in developing a digital customer experience strategy for their firm. To start:


• Define your business and brand objectives. Your company’s mission and value statements should guide all activities and investments. A customer experience strategy that defines what the role of digital interaction points will be — and will not be — must be built on the foundation of the company’s overall business objectives and brand attributes.


• Identify and seek understanding of your target users. A digital customer experience strategy must define how the company will deliver experiences to its target customers through digital touchpoints. Therefore, a digital customer experience strategy must include a deep qualitative understanding of the audience members’ key goals, how they accomplish those goals, and their expectations of the brand.


• Prioritize and fund critical touchpoints. The world’s largest organizations market and sell to many customer segments, but an experience designed to serve the needs of all segments in the same way will not work. A customer experience strategy prioritizes the most important channels for delivering on customer goals, keeping focus on the activities that provide the highest value to the most valuable customers, the most important business objectives, and the brand.

How Can Digital Experience Management Help Your Business?
The digital experience used to revolve around strategic posts on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But today’s companies are dealing with far more digital reach…managing email communication, website landing sites, checkout experiences, inventory, ad placement, and more. And all of it has to work together. Digital Experience Management (DXM) can manage it all.
In short, DXM helps customers “shop” rather than simply “buy.” It makes the entire shopping experience more memorable for them—and helps you know what’s working (or not) at the same time.


According to Dushyant Mohanty, Global Transformation Head – Industry Unit, Industrial Manufacturing, Energy, Banking & Financial Services, at Tata Consultancy Services, that means moving from being product-centric to being customer-centric. When creating a customer experience journey, companies should put themselves in the shoes of their customers to see if they are getting a solution that meets their needs, or if the company’s offerings are outdated.
In a digital transformation, the customer experience needs to be customized and in real time. That means adjusting as needed and using the correct customer persona. Mohanty points out that a digital strategy is more than just updating a few processes. For many companies, it’s a complete overhaul of their approach to service and customer experience. To make a real change, executives need to take a step back and look at things objectively to see if they are reaching customers and achieving their goals. The underlying technology structure has a huge impact on customer experience, as does the data strategy. Start with these as a foundation to customer experience.


In the end, it really comes down to having a growth mindset. Companies that can embrace digital transformation for customer experience are the ones that don’t simply do what’s always been done but instead look for new solutions to meet customers’ needs. Businesses need to always be evaluating their approach to customer experience to stay on top of new trends and technologies. A digital transformation can help companies become more customer-centric to guide their customers through the changing digital world.

digital customer experience
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