Over the past few days I have been doing a lot of research for a client which required me to find a particular solution unique to their industry. While doing this research I came across several applications and, eventually, made a shortlist of the ones most likely to do exactly what my client needed them to do.
I won’t bore you with the details of what the software needs to be doing, the objective here is to explain my findings and why I find it so frustrating trying to siphon out the bogus online reviews and determine which reviews are actually genuine.
I visited the websites for each of the applications we had shortlisted to confirm that the feature set of each was suitable.
Next I went in search of users comments in the form of written reviews, video reviews, video walk-throughs, blogs written about these software packages, etc.
I thought I was finding amazing comments by genuine users. But, it seemed the more I clicked around, the more I ended up coming right back to where I started via an affiliate link. Basically, several reviews were written purely with the intent of the reader clicking the affiliate link.
I came across one review, found by a Google search, that actually had the software name followed by the word ‘review‘ in the domain name. This website was either the software developer themselves creating a website to appear as a independent review or somebody else had created the site to generate affiliate clicks.
After several hours of reading different ‘reviews’ and following the click structure (laid out nicely for me) I came to the conclusion that none of what I had read was, in fact, an independent review.
Let’s face it, most reviews are a few lines long. A couple of paragraphs at most. A genuine review is not going to be 14 pages long! A genuine review is more likely to be found written by john365B7 rather than MyAmazingSoftwareReview.com!
Most reviews would not contain a nicely designed screenshot/product packaging or ‘ come and buy me now’ type images.
I’m not sure if this was just the luck of the draw and I came across software that had in fact been written about many times extremely professionally but, in most likelihood, I am simply witnessing the ‘web of distrust‘ in full swing.
It is so cheap and quick to set up a website that is left waiting for people to find when they search for a particular product and it is so easy to create content that appears convincing to the unsuspecting reader. I feel like I’ve been robbed of several hours and my client has been robbed of the cost of my time.
Like the feeling I often get when reading reviews, whether on Amazon (where I do a lot of review reading), YouTube videos that claim to be ‘independent’ user observations (walkthroughs and reviews), and the countess blog posts written at extreme length to convince me the product or service they are writing about is the best thing since sliced bread – I feel duped.
The feeling of being duped is not a good 1st impression and, is quite simply a bad marketing strategy!
In the real world this sort of activity would be classed as false advertising, misrepresentation and misleading potential customers. What a shame we don’t live in the real world anymore and we now have this lawless platform called the Internet where anybody can lie for a few dollars and nobody will bat an eyelid.
Needless to say, I did not buy any of the products on the shortlist.
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