Betway, a gambling firm, has admitted to giving their customers free bets in exchange for online reviews. Customers were given a £5 wager for leaving the company a review on the UK’s largest review site Trustpilot.
After the offer, Betway skyrocketed from eight five-star reviews as of June 2016 to well over 6,000 in total in 2019. The offer has been available since 2017, as reported by The Times.
Many reviews did little to reflect the actual thoughts and feelings of the reviewer. For instance, you could find a five-star review that only reads “good morning” on Betway’s Trustpilot page.
In addition, evidence points to the fact that many reviews were written specifically for the sake of claiming the £5 incentive offered by Betway. More than 40 reviews had the customer’s Betway username appended to the review itself.
Betway attempted to justify its actions by claiming the incentive was offered for both “positive and negative reviews” when its activities were brought into the light by the deputy of the Labor Party.
While some view Betway’s actions as unethical, a spokesman for Trustpilot made it clear where the online review platform stood on the issue: “We have looked at how Betway runs its incentive and have no evidence to suggest that Betway is using incentives to request only positive reviews. Their invitation templates currently fall in line with our guidelines.”
What can we learn from Betway’s situation?
As of this time, Betway has yet to be found guilty of any wrongdoing. However, there are still lessons to be learned.
There are several reasons why you should never pay for reviews. For one, they’re misleading. Customer reviews are supposed to show a true unbiased reflection of your business. If it comes out that you’ve been paying for reviews you will lose the trust of your customers.
No one can say what will happen in Betway’s case, but there is a very good chance they will lose goodwill due to their current debacle.
In addition, fake reviews do more than mislead potential customers. They also destroy any real insight that could be used to improve your products and services. You’d be surprised by the insight you could derive from a bad review.
Bad reviews, while sometimes ugly, reveal areas in your business that could use improvements. In turn, you could take that feedback and make the appropriate corrections to provide a better product/service for your customers.
It isn’t our job to condemn Betway, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn lessons from their situation. Paid reviews provide short term benefits but rarely provide long term gain. In the instance of Betway, thousands of positive reviews may very well be negated by the loss of consumer goodwill, and frankly, it could take years for them to rebuild trust once more.
Learn from Betway and earn your reviews the right way. Taking the easy way out isn’t worth the risk if you’re caught. Just remember, your reputation is on the line.