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Best Practices for Keeping Reviews Authentic

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The Latest Crackdown by the UK CMA Urges Brands and Retailers to Clean Up Their Act

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been keeping a watchful eye on online reviews. Last year, the organization launched a thorough review of the online reviews and endorsements industry in the UK. But they didn’t stop there. Last month, the CMA called out five websites for shady review practices like censoring negative reviews, publishing fake reviews, and failing to mark paid endorsements as such. The organization also issued a warning that more enforcements for online review breaches are coming in 2016.

Consumers trust reviews as the authentic voice of the customer. That’s why it’s crucial for brands and retailers to ensure they’re preserving the credibility of reviews. Unethical review practices not only tarnish the trust you’ve built with consumers, they also put you at risk of breaking the law.

Read on for three best practices for preserving the authenticity and credibility of reviews.

Don’t Delete Negative Reviews
Every once in awhile, you’re bound to get a negative review or two. While you certainly don’t want to aim for negative reviews, allowing them on your site brings authenticity to your review content and helps you build trust with shoppers. Plus, our research with Northwestern University found that the occasional negative review can actually have a positive impact on your bottom line. The probability of a product being purchased peaks when its average star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars. After the average star rating surpasses 4.5, purchase probability declines because consumers perceive perfect ratings as too good to be true.

Be Transparent About Who’s Writing Reviews
Providing incentives, such as entrance into a sweepstakes or a coupon code for free shipping, is a great way to increase your review volume. In fact, a sweepstakes is proven to increase review generation by up to 100%. But when it comes to incentives, it’s key to be transparent. Ask your ratings and reviews provider if they allow you to indicate whether a reviewer received some type of incentive in exchange for writing a review.

Prevent Fake Reviews
If the recent CMA rulings have taught us anything, it’s that fake reviews can damage the trust you’ve worked hard to earn. That’s why it’s important to have measures in place to ensure your reviews are authentic and fraud-free. At PowerReviews, we use advanced fraud technology to prevent fraudulent reviews, slander, and foul language. Then, each piece of content is reviewed by a member of our human moderation team before the content goes live on a brand or retailer’s site. But we never make changes to the reviews themselves. Shoppers’ voice are heard as they are.

Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to ensure you’re abiding by ethical best practices. Consumers trust reviews because of their authenticity, and it’s the responsibility of brands and retailers to ensure they’re providing authentic, transparent content that consumers can trust. Brands and retailers who choose not to heed the CMA’s warnings risk losing customers — and breaking the law.

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Jennifer Szostek

Jennifer is a Sales Director of Global Accounts based out of London. In this role, Jennifer is responsible for identifying opportunities to positively impact clients’ eCommerce strategies. Prior to joining PowerReviews, Jennifer held sales leadership positions at Monster Worldwide and