We’re all familiar with the old adage, “nothing worth having comes easy.” And while we’re hesitant to rely on clichés, the saying definitely applies to Amazon reviews.
With all the rules and restrictions surrounding reviews, it can be tempting to cut corners and use black hat tricks as a quick fix to get more and better reviews. At times, it can feel as if these regulations exist just to make your life difficult; but, in fact, they’re there to protect customers from immoral sellers and provide the best possible e-commerce experience.
This is why Amazon is committed to cracking down on sellers who use dishonest practices to get good reviews, and also why they reward those who follow the rules. At the end of the day, playing by the rules is the best plan of action for your business, for your customers and for Amazon as a whole.
That being said, we understand that it can be challenging to navigate Amazon’s review rules and find success along the way. But with the following tips, tricks and best practices, you’ll be on the straight and narrow path toward better reviews.
A Review Rundown
Every experienced Amazon seller understands the importance of reviews – both quantity and quality. That’s because product reviews have a significant impact on your product ranking.
Research shows that more than 80% of consumers say that they value online reviews as much as they do a recommendation from a friend. Amazon understands the power that reviews have in helping a shopper make a purchase decision and uses that information to assess sellers. It does so in two ways: seller ratings and product reviews.
Seller rating is a record of a seller’s sales history and a measure of their credibility. Seller ratings can only be submitted by shoppers who have made a purchase and fill out the seller feedback form on the Amazon account orders page.
While seller ratings are about the overall experience a customer has with the seller, product reviews focus on the individual item being purchased. Although seller ratings are valuable, product reviews are most important because listings with 4-star reviews and above tend to rank the highest in search results.
The catch with product reviews is that proof of purchase isn’t required. Anyone with an Amazon account can leave a product review. This makes product reviews slightly more difficult to verify and monitor than seller ratings.
Why is it So Hard to Get Amazon Reviews?
While extremely valuable to sellers, cultivating reviews is more often than not incredibly tricky and time-consuming. A lot of this has to do with Amazon’s updated Terms of Service. Over the past few years, Amazon has tightened up its review regulations, making it harder for sellers to target customers with automated emails and offer incentives in exchange for reviews.
Customers have the choice to opt out of unsolicited emails. This presents a significant roadblock to sellers who automatically send follow-up review requests to customers.
The truth of the matter is, most customers won’t leave a review unless there is something in it for them. Unfortunately, Amazon has made it more difficult for sellers to incentivize shoppers for their reviews by:
- Removing reviews for products purchased with a discount code of more than 50%
- Removing reviews if the platform discovers a close connection between the seller and the reviewer
Amazon is continually updating its review policy, so make sure you monitor changes often. Even one violation could lead to a suspension, or even shutdown, of your listing or account. To review all guidelines, simply log in to your Seller Central account.
Best Practices for Reviews: New Products
Getting reviews can feel like an uphill battle, especially when you’re releasing a new product. But you can gain traction early on by soliciting reviews at launch. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.
Build Buzz Via Email
This is an excellent technique for businesses that have an existing database of customer emails. You can use your current email list to drive traffic to your product listing when it goes live. These customers already have a relationship with you, making them more likely to both purchase your new product and leave a review.
Impress with Packaging
Believe it or not, the packaging your product comes in can be just as important as the product itself. Impressive packaging suggests that your product is high-quality and helps build credibility for your brand. It can even help reduce buyer’s remorse.
Great packaging pulls customers in and informs them of what they can expect from your product. It should serve two roles to both impress and set expectations. Be careful not to oversell your product, as this can lead to disappointed customers and resulting bad reviews.
Use Product Inserts
Getting a review can be as easy as asking for it. Product inserts can be a great tool, especially when you’re trying to encourage reviews for new products. Here are a few tips on soliciting reviews via product inserts.
- Use emotion to inspire customers to act
- Make it easy to leave a review by including a QR code or direct URL
- Include customer service info for any questions or concerns to head off negative reviews
- Offer coupons or incentives for signing up for emails or following you on social media – make sure it is clear that these are not tied to the review itself!
Best Practices for Reviews: Existing Products
It can be even more frustrating when your product listing has been live for a while, but you’re seeing only a few reviews. If you’re in this position, don’t get defeated. There are always ways to encourage reviews on new orders, no matter how long your listing has been active.
Automated Seller Feedback Requests
Amazon has an automated tool that helps sellers collect reviews from verified orders. We suggest enabling your account to send feedback requests as soon as an order is delivered. The longer you wait, the less likely a customer is to submit a review.
When constructing your automated messages, make sure you read the guidelines carefully to avoid prohibited words and phrases. Be careful that your message doesn’t try to sway them toward a positive review. Simply ask them to share their opinion, good or bad.
Early Reviewer Program
Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program encourages select shoppers to provide feedback on products with minimal reviews in exchange for $1-3 in Amazon credits. You can enroll your listing in the program for $60, charged after you get your first review, if it has less than five reviews and costs at least $15. Here’s how:
Log into your Seller Central account
Choose Advertising from the top menu bar
Select Early Reviewer Program
Input the SKU you would like to enroll
Once you’re enrolled, Amazon will continue to drive reviews for your product until you reach your fifth review.
Positive Seller Feedback Requests
Most Amazon shoppers don’t understand the difference between a seller rating and a product review. Therefore, shoppers will sometimes provide a seller rating without offering a review of the product they purchased.
In these cases, we recommend that you email those who have left a positive seller rating and request a product review. These customers are more likely than most to provide a review – and a positive one at that.
Customer Service Requests
When they have been given excellent customer service, most shoppers are happy to leave a review. We always recommend that you request a review after you answer a product question, provide technical support, facilitate a return or satisfy an unhappy customer.
What Makes a Good Review?
Most sellers have their own ideas about what makes a good review. But did you know that Amazon has it’s own criteria, as well? This includes:
Detailed and lengthy reviews – around 5 lines or 50-750 words
Images or videos to help give prospective customers a first-hand look into the customer’s experience
Purchases that can be verified – reviews from buyers with verified purchases always outweigh non-verified reviews
How To Handle Negative Reviews
Negative reviews are just part of the deal. Every seller gets them, and every seller must learn to accept them. The most important thing to remember is that you should never ask a buyer to change their negative review after it’s been given. This is both unethical and prohibited by Amazon.
So, what can you do? You can take responsibility for the negative experience and mitigate damage by:
Contacting the buyer, apologizing and asking what you can do to resolve the issue. Usually, a refund or replacement will suffice.
Work to fix the issue until the buyer is fully satisfied.
Respond in the comments section so other shoppers can see that you’ve done your due diligence to resolve the problem.