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Is It a Scam or Review? Internet Marketing in an Age of Mistrust

Richard Van Beek

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Reviews are a key factor for many people when they are deciding what to buy. But unfortunately, biased reviews are becoming increasingly common, so much so that it is difficult to find reviews that are not written by someone trying to argue that you should join their affiliate program or buy their product instead. These “reviewers" are really cloaked salespeople that use their “reviews" to argue that, unlike the rest, the program or product they are promoting is not a scam. There are even entire websites, supposedly devoted to reviewing and exposing internet scams, that are really just marketing tools to bash competitors programs and make certain programs seem better by comparison.

This scam or review dilemma affects people at two levels. First, if you are trying to research whether a particular business is a scam, it is difficult to find trustworthy information. Second, if you own a business, how do you market yourself and deal with the competition? Do you put out your own biased reviews in order to compete? Or if you are involved in affiliate marketing do you just let others slam your business in their “reviews"? If you try to counter these negative reviews, how will people know who they can trust? Whether you are just trying to find trustworthy information or are involved in internet marketing for your own business, it is important to ask the right questions.

Determining if it is a scam or review involves asking:

1. How complete is the information given by the person doing the review? The more information the better-a full name along with a link to a website or an unlinked web address should allow people to find out more about how credible the review is. Contacting the person by e-mail can allow for further verification. If the person is not reachable, that may indicate a scam or reflect a lack of care. Looking up the name of the person and the company on an internet search should turn up results that can help confirm or allay suspicions that the business is a scam.

2. Is the sole purpose of the “review" to recommend something else? If it is, the review is probably to be dismissed as unreliable or “scammy". However, when exploring affiliate marketing, there are some biased reviews that contain useful information about how various affiliate marketing systems work.

Thus, if you are wanting people to find reliable information and reviews to enhance your reputation, it is important to provide trustworthy answers to the questions above. And if you are someone looking into whether something that is being marketed to you online is a scam or not, asking these questions and exploring the answers can help you decide how big of a risk you may be taking when you buy or sign up for something. These days more than ever, the mantra is “let the buyer beware. " To avoid being scammed or being perceived as a scammer requires careful consideration of how helpful, harmful, or honest a review really is.

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