Testimonials a thing of the past, verified reviews take their place

Many companies use testimonials to prove the superiority of their products. The trouble is, some testimonials can be written by anyone, and they are often accompanied by initials only. So the average testimonial does not offer a lot of proof that it was written by a genuine customer. Also, businesses are unlikely to feature negative testimonials on their websites, so they cannot be considered as unbiased reviews.

Expert and celebrity testimonials and reviews are frequently used by large companies, but according to recent research these are the type of testimonials that consumers trust the least.

Which should you trust?

Research by Osterholm Digital Marketing group found that 90% of consumers surveyed, trust reviews and testimonials most when they are provided by people they already know. But they trust the opinions of complete strangers far more than those of celebrities and experts. Just 27% of those surveyed trust expert testimonials and reviews, and only 8% rely on the opinions of celebrities when making a purchase decision. Yet 70% trust reviews by complete strangers.

Unpaid reviews by real people who have used a product or service are automatically seen as more genuine.

The trouble with celebrity and expert endorsements and testimonials is that they are often paid for. So this type of recommendation is little more than a form of advertising. Unpaid reviews by real people who have used a product or service are automatically seen as more genuine.

But the type of review is equally important. Anyone can visit an online review site and write a glowing testimonial for their own products and services, or pay someone else to do so. This has been a problem for Trip Advisor, the largest online travel review site. Trip Advisor came under ASA investigation, after more than 2,000 business owners contacted online reputation management firm, KwikChex.com because fake Trip Advisor reviews were harming their businesses.

Not all reviews are the same

According to Chris Emmins, KwikChex.com, “As many as five million of the most current reviews on the website could be fake, and of the 25 million left, up to 20 per cent of them could be bogus.”

As many as five million of the most current reviews on the website could be fake, and of the 25 million left, up to 20 per cent of them could be bogus.

Because there are so many fake reviews online, verified reviews are becoming increasingly important to businesses and consumers across all industries. Verified reviews can only be submitted to a site by real customers who have actually made a genuine purchase. While there are many options for gathering reviews, there are fewer options available to verify buyers before approving a review. Online services like TrustPilot, PowerReviews, and BazaarVoice offer a solution for businesses and consumers to receive, submit and read verified reviews, and some businesses now enable customers to provide verified reviews on their own websites.

Where can you shop for products with verified reviews?

Websites that offer third-party verified reviews include travel companies Expedia, and Alpharooms, bed retailers such as AstraBeds, AmeriSleep, and SimplyRest, and fashion and beauty retailers including ShopBop and Sephora.

As so few people trust celebrity and expert testimonials, and the law continues to clamp down on massive review sites that have no control over the content submitted, it seems that verified reviews are the best solution for both retailers and consumers.

PARTICIPATE: What do you look for in a helpful product review?

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