Online Reviews: Love ’em or Hate ’em…or Whatever

The internet is on it’s way to creating a new paradigm:  to be persuasive, you need online reviews.

In the world of instant content, finding out what other people said about their experience with a service or product is as simple as searching the business name with the term “reviews”.

You find websites like Yelp, Angie’s List or Top Rated Local.  Other sites are only for complaints, with names like Pissed Consumer or Rip-off Report.

The expectation for reviews is probably most grounded in Yelp (mainly for restaurants) and Amazon, which offers product reviews on pretty much everything.

Proactive business websites do a good job of designing reviews (testimonials) right into their content.  On many business websites now, the first thing you see is a testimonial from a happy customer.

The paradigm shift is a result of several things, all connected to the instant information portal of the internet.

First, we’re so bombarded with overt sales messages that we’re immune.  How many times can you hear “Great savings, limited time only” before the message becomes totally inert?

Even worse is that we are drowning in a flood of experts.  Every business now offers “thought leadership” on topics from car dents to divorce law.  Hacks spew a never-ending flow of wordy blogs, talking about inane topics like “paradigm shifts”.

And even worse is everybody’s the best.  Generic, self-serving claims abound on business websites.  Apparently all of those “first place participant” trophy’s we all got in middle school convinced us of our greatness.  Everybody’s sure they’d be the next American Idol – if they decided to try it.

A third party review offers a refuge from sales messages, infomercials, and over-done swagger.  This is the old word-of-mouth.  A referral from someone who has no other reason to give it than they got value out of the product or service.  Or a complaint that we hope will save us from the disaster of greasy burger or unsightly plumber’s butt.

These reviews go online for each of us to use as consumers.  Finally some information right from the mouths of people who use the product – the truth!

So, I want to eat breakfast at a local diner in Loveland, CO.  I find one online and like the look of their menu, and decide to see what people think on Yelp.

Wow, a bunch of 5 star reviews in a row.  This place must be great.  Huh?  Then a one star…some guy got cold pancakes from a colder waitress.  Well, several more 5 star reviews in a row…ugh, somebody else said this was all a bunch of hype, the food was just okay and overpriced…

Whatever.

Maybe I’ll just go back to the website.  They say their food is wonderful.   I think I’ll just take their word for it.
Software Reviews – Marketing 360 Reviews