Should You Pay for Online Reviews?

It’s no secret that having lots of positive online reviews can be a big boost to your sales and marketing efforts. But, that’s leading a lot of otherwise smart and savvy business owners to take the ethically-dubious step of paying for online reviews.

Should you follow their example?

The Case for Paid Online Reviews

The arguments in favor of paying for reviews are straightforward: you get reviews faster, and sometimes from influential people (or least individuals who know something about your industry and products or services).

For a new company, one trying to make a big marketing push, or even a business trying to overcome a slew of bad reviews that have been posted in the past, getting some positive public feedback can be priceless.

Why You Don’t Want Paid Reviews

The downside to getting paid reviews, of course, is that no one believes anything at paid reviewer has to say. And, if you don’t disclose the fact that someone was compensated for reviewing your product or service, you aren’t just skirting a gray line, you’re actually breaking the law.

Federal regulators have started to pay closer attention to Internet advertising activities, and particularly reviews seen on social media sites and elsewhere. They’ve made it clear that businesses must say so when things like reviews and recommendations are coming from paid sources.

The Fine Line on Getting Reviews

There’s nothing wrong with asking satisfied buyers to write good reviews for you, and you can even give customers incentives for offering their feedback. What you can’t do, though, is require them to say something good if you’re giving away prizes, discounts, or other compensation.

The bottom line? Your business needs reviews, but paying for them usually isn’t the best way to go about getting them.

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