Buying the right fitness equipment for your home gym can be a daunting task. If you are like most people making a significant purchase for your home, you will probably turn to the Internet to do some research on product reviews, or even make a purchase. It has become almost second nature for a majority of the population these days.
Although the Internet is a wonderful invention that has significantly changed the way we live our lives, it has also become a source for an incredible amount of misinformation and marketing chicanery. Like shopping or researching in any channel, you should consider the source. A combination of affiliate marketing websites, product reviews and pay-per-click advertising can make your research more challenging. However, there is a ton of accurate and legitimate information out there. Here are some tips to help you find reliable information.
Get Information Directly From the Source
Use manufacturers’ websites to find correct product information (features/specifications) and local distributors’ websites for information on where you can actually try, test and talk to a sales professional about the products you are interested in. Exercise and your health are very personal, and what is right for your friend or cousin, may not necessarily be right for you. I encourage you to take the time to educate yourself on the programs and equipment options that are available to you.
Be wary of the temptation of late night infomercials
Some fitness “gadgets” sold on TV are of inferior quality and questionable design. However, there are some very successful workout programs out there. If you do watch infomercials, don’t forget to do your research before making a purchasing decision. Look for those products that offer a guarantee without charging fees for returns, show results from actual customers and have research to back up their claims.
Educate Yourself on Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing websites have grown significantly over the years. Affiliate marketing is using one website to drive traffic to another via methods such as search engine optimization, paid search engines, email marketing, loyalty programs and product reviews. The affiliate is then compensated when the customer purchases from the original merchant.
Affiliates can help manufacturers generate awareness and sales through their large network. Affiliate websites are usually sales or content focused. Affiliate sites that are content focused often promote product reviews. Consumer product reviews are generally the most credible. If a specific website features product reviews they should list their review methodology and their experience in the health and fitness space to help you decide for yourself if the review is credible. Look for websites that offer original content and not just content that is copied from the manufacturer.
Read credible product reviews
Product reviews can be a very useful way to get the inside scoop on a product you’re considering purchasing. However, the source of the reviews should be considered. Some online shopping sites are well known for their reviews, and a manufacturer’s website tends to be a good bet. Look out though for websites with no negative reviews. Not to say it’s impossible, but tread carefully as sites with purely positive reviews may not be transparent.
Fortunately there are ways to spot fakes and bogus reviews. One study conducted at Cornell University, found that fake reviews focused more on narratives and superlatives than concrete product descriptions – probably because reviewers rarely have actual experience with the products. According to the website www.wikihow.com, the following tips can be used to spot a fake review.
- First, check to see if the outgoing links on reviewed products include an affiliate tracking code.
- Look at what else is on the site.
- Look to see if the date of the review is current or has been changed recently. Often fake reviewers will change dates to make their page look more recent that it really is.
Affiliate reviews may contain questionable ethics, as low and behold, the products they are trying steer you to buy from their partner merchant often end up as the “number-one rated” or “best buy” when they really are not. Of course, there are award-winning and number-one products out there, but it is a good idea to confirm directly with the manufacturer or awarding entity to make sure the award is accurate.
If someone else praises a product, we’re more likely to think it is worth our time and money. Yep, there are still some fabricated reviews out there but that is why you should look for products with multiple reviews from multiple people. There should also be reviews that are not 100% positive.
When Reading Blogs, Look for Full Disclosure
Paid bloggers is becoming another way for corporations to spread the word about their products on the Internet and to create buzz. It is a relatively inexpensive way to advertise. And bloggers are very eager to turn what was once a hobby, in to a way to make money. The Internet is becoming so populated with paid bloggers, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is considering imposing new laws regulating how products can be pitched on the Internet. Full disclosure of compensation is one way in which a blogger would have to inform their readers about the products they choose to talk about. It probably won’t happen soon, but the fact they are looking into it is recognition enough that this practice should be monitored.
Use the web to educate yourself on certain models and specifications, and then go talk to a fitness professional at a nearby store and try different models to see which one fits your body properly. The experience will be worth your while and will help get you on the right track to a healthier lifestyle.