Everything You Need to Know About Paid Reviews

by Scott Brandley | September 10, 2020

Paid reviews come from customers who were compensated with money or a product from a company. These reviews may put the company that paid them in a positive light, or it could be a negative review for one of their competitors.

While you may hear about companies who pay for reviews, they are definitely not an example to follow. Undisclosed paid reviews—meaning when reviewers do not say they were compensated to write the review—are illegal and unethical. You should never incorporate them into your marketing strategy.

Even if you don’t plan to pay a customer for a review, it’s good to be aware of the ramifications of paid reviews and why these strict guidelines are in place. This will help you know how to avoid paid reviews—and the fines that can come with them.


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Paid Reviews Are Illegal

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) forbids any form of advertising that can be seen as untruthful or misleading. They classify undisclosed paid reviews as fraudulent advertising. 

The FTC categorizes online reviews as “endorsements,” which is giving one’s public support of a product or company. Paying for a person to leave a review is a “paid endorsement” and is allowed as long as the reviewer discloses that they were paid to leave the review. This kind of paid review is not illegal. In fact, it’s common practice for companies to pay social media influencers, content creators, and celebrities to endorse a product.  

If the reviewer does not say they were paid to leave the review, then it is an “undisclosed paid endorsement,” which is forbidden by the FTC. The practice can cost your company tens of thousands of dollars if you’re caught. For example, in 2019, the FTC fined a company $12.8 million for fake reviews on Amazon.


Paid Reviews Are Against Google’s Terms of Service

In Google’s own words, “reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased.” So while soliciting online reviews isn’t a bad thing, promoting reviews that are biased will cause problems. 

Google won’t throw a hefty fine at your business, but they will usually delete reviews they feel are fraudulent. And while it may not be a direct fine, you’ll waste all of the money you spent on paying off reviewers.


How to Get Legitimate Reviews

Paid reviews may seem like an easy way to get positive recognition online, but it’s just not worth the risk. You’re much better off taking the legitimate route, which is to solicit genuine reviews from your customers. 

It may take longer to get reviews, and you may get some negative reviews as well, but this is far from a bad thing. In fact, a negative review can actually help: If your product has literally no bad reviews, consumers might assume you’re using paid endorsements and not trust your brand. 

Here are some tips on how to attract positive reviews.

Ask All of Your Customers

Oftentimes, all you need to do is ask your customers to leave a review. And don’t just ask the customers who you think will leave a positive review; you should be asking all customers to give an honest review—after all, in addition to the power of reviews, you should want the feedback. 

Here are some of the best times to ask customers to leave a review:

  • At the point of sale. Whether they buy your product in person or from your online store, ask them to review the item or their purchasing experience. Tell them you’d appreciate their feedback and hand them a business card with review instructions at a physical location.
  • In a follow-up email. This might be a follow-up to your initial request to a customer. You could also schedule to send the email after a certain amount of time so the customer can give an honest opinion from a place of experience. When sending the request in an email, you can easily attach a link to the review site, making the process easier for your customer.

Ask for reviews from your customers often, but not too often. If you ask too many times, your requests could be sent straight to your customer’s spam folder. You can determine how often to send out review requests by looking at your marketing output. For example, if you send out marketing emails at least once a week, you may only want to ask for reviews once every two months.

Give Excellent Customer Service

A company that excels at all aspects of the customer journey will naturally garner more positive reviews. It may seem obvious, but it can be difficult to execute. Excellent customer service entails:

  • Giving out discounts to thank customers for their service.
  • Hiring customer service agents who know how to make a genuine human connection and help address customer needs.
  • Investing in customer service channels like email, message boards, and social media channels to make it easier for customers to contact you.

There is an endless number of ways you can improve your customers’ experience with your brand, but the main focus should be to address their pain points and do your best to offer them a reliable solution through your product.


Shopper Approved Legitimately Improves Your Review Score

It takes a lot of manpower to seek out customer reviews and technical expertise to know how to build a good mix of reviews—that’s why the idea of paid reviews can be so enticing. But our experts at Shopper Approved can help. We’ve helped numerous businesses get better quality and quantity in their reviews, helping them to outrank competitors left and right. We can do the same for you.

Visit Shopper Approved today to learn how you can get more legitimate reviews from your customers.

Scott Brandley
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