Consumers overwhelmingly trust online reviews when making purchasing decisions. This statement is just as true for retail behemoths like Amazon as it is for small businesses like restaurants and auto dealerships. Unfortunately, consumers may be placing too much trust in a system that is easily manipulated by fake reviews, and this can have devastating consequences for your business’s bottom line.
Consumers trust online reviews more than ever before. In fact, four out of five customers won’t buy from companies with negative reviews. But despite sites like Amazon cracking down on fraudulent feedback, 65% of reviews may be fake. Whether false reviews positively boost a competitor’s products, or target your own business with complaints, the result is lost revenue.
These facts are terrifying to small business owners. Whether negative complaints are rooted in legitimate grievances or totally fabricated, they will carry the same weight with customers who aren’t able to discern the difference. While most of us understand that mistakes happen and are willing to overlook a few blemishes, repeated negative reviews will drive your customers away.
The actual costs of a bad business reputation are obviously difficult to pinpoint, but estimates exceed $500 billion in the United States alone. Here’s how the math breaks down by segment:
A number of that magnitude is shocking and illustrates how widespread the problem is, but what does it really mean for small…