Free Consumer Product Reviews, Are They Real?
Free consumer product reviews, are they real? Or are they Fake?
Are most product reviews truly “authentic” product reviews?
In other words, can we honestly look ourselves in the mirror every day with an absolute clear conscience and believe our product reviews are truly authentic if WE as reviewers ONLY are basing those product reviews on other reviewer’s reviews – no matter how highly authoritative, reputable, and reliable the original source happens to be?
If we are mostly only basing our product reviews on other people’s reviews without trying out the product or service ourselves and formulating our own opinion of the product or service, aren’t we as marketers being somewhat disingenuous?
Yes, I do realize this is a very uncomfortable question to ask.
And I do anticipate the possibility that some of my readers here may turn to be immediate enemies as I may be deluged with criticism and blow back from writing this article. Some may even infer I am “calling them out” here in this article.
I am not.
And I hope not.
However, this post is recognition that we as online reviewers and marketers all share an ongoing responsibility to our readers of delivering not only high quality, but the most accurate content.
There are affiliate links within this post. What this means is that if you decide to purchase anything through one of my links, I'll be rewarded with a small commission at absolutely no extra cost to you. This small commission helps me run and maintain my website.
Free Consumer Product Reviews Convert, There is No Doubt
There is no doubt that writing high quality product reviews from a position as a perceived high authority in a given niche is one of the GREAT ways to drive boatloads of traffic to your website to gain many new customers that will convert to sales.
This has been a proven evergreen strategy and continues to be one of the best to this day.
In fact, from what I’ve seen it may even be the FASTEST and single MOST EFFECTIVE evergreen strategy to drive premium conversions and sales through your websites and landing pages. Statistics I‘ve seen in fact point to this.
However, I’m talking about our RESPONSIBILITY as marketers in giving our readers the most RELIABLE, and ACCURATE information for every post, for every minute, hour, day, week, and month of the year.
Not only based on other reviewer’s reviews, but based on our own FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE as a trusted reviewer in a given niche for any product or service.
No matter how well skilled we become at landing our product review posts on Google Page 1 in the first four positions by using methods like “Google Page 1 Ranking Tips: Position 4 in 3 Minutes” or “21 Minute Ranking Method in 7 Minutes”, the authenticity of any review would ALWAYS be in question if WE the reviewer had not tried the product or service first-hand ourselves.
I see reviewers who are writing upwards of 500 product reviews in a limited time period on their websites, and I often wonder HOW they can actually be testing EVERY product out first-hand for themselves.
Often I just shake my head…..
If you are writing >500 product reviews in less than one year based on accurate first-hand information, the barriers of entry alone in personally testing every single one of these products and services would simply make this process both time constraining and cost prohibitive.
A New Standard is Required
You can be the most AMAZING writer, possess the greatest oratory skills on video, publish the most highly engaging content, be incorporating the best SEO strategies using the best low competition keywords in your reviews, have LSI totally working for you, and fully monetizing your product and service reviews with using the best CTA’s.
None of this will matter if you are not being 100% authentic in your product review content.
After a great amount of deep thinking on the subject over the weekend based on my own feelings, personal experience, and also from conversations with others, I’ve come to a conclusion. I’m very sorry
We all need to subscribe to a NEW higher standard.
It’s not good enough that WE ourselves are TRUSTED; or that we believe our content is authentic based solely on someone else’s reviews – no matter how much trust and authority the original reviewer has earned- there has to be a NEW standard.
Even benignly not being aware we are being disingenuous to our readers, something will eventually backfire on us. It may not happen tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow or even 3 months after tomorrow. But if we are doing 100’s of reviews without doing first-hand testing ourselves of the product, eventually one of these reviews we’ve made (based on another reviewer) will turn out to be a bad lemon, and we will target the wrong person.
That “wrong person” at the very least will send out their own unfavorable reviews about us through forums and live chats bad-mouthing and damaging our hard-earned reputations. On a second level, a disgruntled reviewee who lost money in a venture due to our review could slap our online companies with lawsuits for personal liability damages.
And in certain specialized health niches, it may only take one irresponsible review to cause someone a very serious injury or even worse. Which would place you, the reviewer, in highly serious trouble.
Therefore for our own safety, the only way is to TEST or at least personally TRY EVERY product or service that we review ourselves first-hand, formulate our own decision, and then only use other product and service reviews to augment our decision as supplemental corroborative information.
If you aren’t doing all of the above, then you are simply not qualified to write a review.
So given the definition of our NEW standard, we must ask ourselves honestly, “Were we truly being ethical online marketers when we wrote our product reviews “the old way”?
Are We Fooling Ourselves?
I do understand. Really, I do.
There is an overwhelming temptation to continue what has been working well for all of us all along, especially if it is bringing us consistent revenue growth to our businesses through ever-growing commissions and referrals.
Money talks. BS walks.
However the danger is that once we find that “magic bullet” that continues to work over and over again for us like clock-work, it will be almost impossible to deviate from it.
There is also an overwhelming temptation to justify to ourselves that we are conforming to a certain current de facto “standard”. “Hey, everyone by default is copying everyone else, so there is nothing wrong with what I am doing” one might say to oneself.
After all, didn’t Picasso once say “Good artist’s copy, Great artist’s steal”?
What Picasso was referring to by his comment in the early 20th century is something we call today the “remix strategy.”
That is borrowing the best elements in creative art, writing, innovation, technology, etc., and applying it in a hybrid context to our own work. This has been done effectively and repeatedly since time immemorial.
However, I’m talking/ referring about a different form of plagiarism here, something much more dangerous.
Copying the format, syntax, or style of an article is different than copying someone else’s opinion or review based solely on someone else’s infallible reputation, no matter how famous or how reputable of an authority in wide circles they are known to be.
Many times, I have also heard a similar related quote from Tony Robbins:
"If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you'll achieve the same results."
Also I am sure Tony was NOT referring to copying that person’s opinion without personal investigation and confirmation; he was referring to replicating a successful someone’s format, style, and syntax.
In other words, utilizing the “remix strategy.”
There is a HUGE difference between copying a person’s STYLE, format and syntax (and assimilating it into one’s own work) as opposed to copying someone’s opinion and content without irrefutable proof.
Hence, this is not about the quality of our own work through our product reviews or our personal judgment of the original sources’ character; no matter what we read, we can NEVER know the true integrity of the original source.
4 Reasons Never to Base Your Free Consumer Product Reviews on an Original Review
- No matter how reputable the original reviewer or anyone else will claim to be, we can NEVER know the true integrity of the original source.
- No matter what the original reviewer or anyone else will claim, we will never really know the methodology or standard the original reviewer used to formulate their original review.
- No matter what the original reviewer or anyone else will claim, we will never truly know if the original source was biased.
- No matter to what degree the original reviewer was well-intentioned, we will never know whether the original reviewer based his/her review on a poor older review.
In other words, this would be like Wealthy Affiliate covering a product review of SEM Rush based solely on a review by Neil Patel. But disingenuously claiming the review was based on WA’s own first-hand testing.
In fact, I would also argue that possessing such high proficiency skills in these areas will only add to the danger.
Call me pious, call me a purist; call me ANYTHING you like.
WE have a responsibility to our audience, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Case Example #1: Free Consumer Product Reviews of “Arctic Canadian” Special Air Purifier
Here is one first example of what I am talking about.
Put yourself in the following reader’s shoes.
I want to use the following extreme example of a fictitious company in the air purification niche “Arctic Canadian” so you get my gist.
But this dangerous methodology may apply to ANY niche.
Let’s say you are in the Pure Air niche and are reviewing an ”Arctic Canadian” Special Air Purifier for people who have COPD (a serious life-threatening disease involving severe difficulty breathing).
You have done several hours of your own Google research carefully reading through many different product reviews about this “special” highly recommended Air Purifier.
You have also even gone so far as conducting exhaustive background checks on 5 different original reviewers who each wrote their own article about this product, and only after many hours of diligent research you are now thoroughly convinced you have narrowed down this field to 3 original reviewers who are the most eminent authorities in the field of Pure Air.
Only after totally convincing yourself, you then base your own NEW product review of the same ”Arctic Canadian” Special air purifier upon those 3 most highly reputable reviews.
And YES, within one week your review drives a great amount of traffic to your landing page, and it converts to sales.
However, one week later the FDA comes out with a health warning that ”Arctic Canadian” Special Air Purifiers has been found to contain and emit a harmful chemical substance in the air, and due to this negative publicity Amazon and other high online retailers are “pulling” the product off their virtual shelves and totally eliminating “Arctic Canadian” from their affiliate networks.
You later find out there for more than one year there had been several previously reports of people getting sick with flu-like symptoms who used this Arctic Canadian air purifier product in their homes. The victims were not only COPD patients, but normal everyday people of good health.
Although this information was available through various sources for more than one year, your original reviewer never knew it (or worse yet, withheld this information) and highly recommended this product; and YOU taking this original reviewer as an authority further recommended this product highly in your OWN review even without further researching or testing the product yourself.
Such negative information about a product you foolishly endorsed would create a “storm of complaints” and you would likely be sued, let alone have your once impeccable business reputation irreparably tarnished.
Say Goodbye to writing further future reviews or affiliate marketing, in all likelihood you’d be done.
A once promising future thrown into the garbage due to ONE reckless business decision. The decision of copying a sham review from that original so-called “authority” reviewer.
Case Example #2: The Demise of Montclaire Caterers
Now Ladies and Gents, let me demonstrate to you how avarice, ill-will, and bad fortune can work in the other direction.
There once was an affiliate program in the catering events niche called “Montclaire Caterers.”
Montclaire Caterers had earned an impeccable reputation for more than a decade servicing the catering industry, such as for weddings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, corporate events, bar mitzvahs, senior homes, etc.
In 2016, they started their premiere affiliate program and registered their business with affiliate networks such as Clickbank, Rakuten, and CJ.
A very industrious go-getter, let’s call him “Tommy”, once worked as the New Jersey account sales rep for Montclaire Caterers. His personal accounts included all the wedding halls, senior homes, and many of the Fortune 500 companies whose main headquarters resided in NJ.
Tommy worked for the company for 3 years since 2013, loved his job, and held great aspirations to one day become the District Sales Manager. However due to his competitive nature, one day in 2016 he got into a heated argument with his boss (then District Manager) and was fired immediately for insubordination.
Bitter about his dismissal from Montclaire, Tommy was determined to “show them” what he was made of. As a result he joined an online company, studied online marketing and SEO very hard and within one year became a very successful affiliate marketer.
He built a GREAT website and immediately began writing product reviews in his niche which was still “Catering Events” as he knew this niche so well.
Soon Tommy became an “authority” guru in his niche, well-known and respected in the “Catering niche” community. Anything that Tommy would write, everyone in his niche would carefully listen. Certainly Tommy built up such a reputable mojo as “the authority” in his niche, that he could “snap his fingers” anytime and other affiliate marketers would follow him.
Except they did not know one thing: Tommy was still carrying “baggage” and wanted his severe revenge on Montclaire Catering, who also continued to build on their well-deserved success upon the weight of their continued great products and services.
There was no legitimate reason for Tommy to bad-mouth Montclaire Caterers other than for having a personal vendetta against them. However, any chance he could, Tommy would blog about Montclaire Catering, and he would “spin” their products and services with very negative reviews.
Soon ALL the affiliate marketers in the “Catering niche” were copying Tommy by writing unfavorable reviews about Montclaire Catering, solely on the basis of Tommy’s negative reviews.
This “jumping on the bandwagon” took more than 6 months to unfold, but slowly Montclaire Catering’s stellar reputation was being tainted by the slew of negative product reviews it was receiving online by the entire catering niche review community.
Soon, Montclaire Catering would be losing house accounts due to all the negative reviews – and even more poisonous, due to the negative publicity in the press based on THESE online negative reviews - causing irreversible damage to their business.
Montclaire Catering had to close its doors forever in the early summer of 2018.
Incredibly, Tommy had deviously succeeded by undeservedly “bringing down” a legitimate Great company in Montclaire Catering. A company that was continuing to provide great products and services and excellent value to the catering community.
All because Tommy abused and misused his “authority” because he harbored a deep scathing revenge.
And ALL only due to the fact that EVERYONE writing product reviews in the Catering niche thought and bought Tommy was “the ultimate authority, the catering guru” followed him “like a flock” and copied him!
Although both examples are fictitious, both represent highly plausible conditions that can both ruin personal careers and burgeoning enterprises forever.
Such precarious temptations are offered to us as product reviewers every day, and there are great potential pitfalls that currently exist in the affiliate marketing world.
Conclusion: A Most Important Lesson on Free Consumer Product Reviews
This is a most important article lesson, and I hope you have read this and will heed the call.
Please take product review authenticity very seriously folks; deeply examine how you are writing your reviews, the credibility of your sources, and weigh the positive rewards vs. the negative consequences.
Most imperatively, focus only on writing product reviews that you can test and verify first-hand.
Thank you for your deep and thorough interest in this controversial subject matter.
Please feel free to leave any of your comments below.