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What's a Client Review Worth to You?

February 01 2012

Since the world wide web transformed from being somewhat editorially regulated to more participatory and user-generated (a.k.a. web 2.0) merchants and professionals have slowly opened up to product (or client) reviews on their web sites as a way to market their goods and reputations. Yet, everyone involved still has concerns. Customers may worry that the reviews are canned (written by people hired by manufacturers) and professionals may worry that competitors will find a way to publish bad reviews on their sites. This is why merchants like Amazon and sites like ReachFactor have safeguards in place to verify the testimonials so that a customer can simply concentrate on what’s being said about the product or professional. In the matter of real estate testimonials, it’s stressful enough trying to find the right real estate agent for a home transaction than to have to worry about whether the agent’s testimonials are legit and not reviews spamreviews spam.

Which makes last week’s New York Times article For $2 a Star, an Online Retailer Gets 5-Star Product ReviewsFor $2 a Star, an Online Retailer Gets 5-Star Product Reviews as interesting as it is disconcerting. Retailers, the article explains, have been offering major discounts to customers who write positive 5-star reviews on Amazon and other retail sites, in some cases offering a rebate that results in a free product. This is great for the consumer and a brilliant marketing campaign, but needless to say it also corrupts what has become an almost essential element to product purchases these days.

The article notes that Bing Liu, a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is trying to devise mathematical models to uncover fake endorsements. He says, “More people are depending on reviews for what to buy and where to go, so the incentives for faking are getting bigger… It’s a very cheap way of marketing.” So, certainly such practices can be combated and regulated, but the article brings up a larger point about the “value” of client testimonials. If a company is essentially offering free products for positive reviews, it’s a sign that more and more customers, prospects and clients are consulting user-generated reviews and making major decisions based upon them.

Where your real estate business might have relied on word-of-mouth and print ads and home-sale figures to promote itself, now it’s important to focus on engaging past, current and future clients with social media and making testimonial-gathering part of your closing process.

[To learn more about ReachFactor’s review verification process, click here.]

To view the original article, visit the ReachFactor blogReachFactor blog.