Product reviews can make or break you on Amazon, which is why we hear so many stories of sellers getting suspended or even banned from Amazon for using shady tactics to amass positive reviews on their listing. When it comes to Amazon’s customer review guidelines, they have a zero-tolerance policy for violators. Luckily, playing by Amazon’s rules isn’t very complicated. We’re summarizing Amazon’s policies on reviews, explaining the various ways sellers can generate more reviews, and sharing our strategies on minimizing negative reviews...
What You Can’t Do to Get Reviews
- You cannot purchase fake reviews
- You cannot write reviews for your own products, or ask friends/family/employees to leave you reviews. Reviews cannot be biased.
- You cannot offer money, discounts, or gifts in exchange for customer reviews
- You cannot trade reviews with other sellers (on any platform)
- You cannot accept a review for a product before the customer has made the purchase
- You cannot cherry-pick review requests. This means you must ask all customers equally for reviews, not just customers that you know were satisfied.
How to Generate Reviews without Violating Guidelines
End of the Early Reviewer Program
Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program first launched in 2018, and was designed to help brand new products generate early reviews. In March 2021 Amazon announced the end of the Early Reviewer program, likely due to lack of participation and inferiority to the Amazon Vine program. Vine reviews tend to be more in-depth (because Amazon hand-chooses the reviewers). Additionally, the Early Reviewer program would sometimes take months for reviews, and sellers find Vine to be much faster.
Amazon Vine Program
As an alternative, the Amazon Vine program can help vendors and sellers ramp up sales and advertising on new products. While participation in Amazon Vine has been free thus far, starting October 12, 2021 Amazon Vine will charge a USD $200 fee for each newly enrolled product to ensure long-term sustainability of the program. The fee will only apply to products enrolled in the program after October 12, 2021.
How Amazon Vine Works
Amazon invites trusted customers who have a history of consistently writing helpful reviews to participate in the program as what they call “Vine Voices”. These participants receive free or discounted products to review, but are not paid to leave reviews. Reviewers are encouraged to leave their honest feedback (positive or negative). Reviews from “Vine Voices” often include images and detailed descriptions about the usage and features of the product. Amazon indicates in the review that it is from a “Vine Voice” customer.
Eligible sellers and vendors enroll in Vine and submit their products to be reviewed by “Vine Voices”. Participating brands have no say in which reviewers give feedback on their products and cannot contact the reviewers directly. Amazon matches the products with the most relevant reviewers and tags their reviews with a Vine Voice Badge.
Amazon Vine is a great way to increase the number of reviews of your products and improve customer trust in your brand. Sellers can even send samples of their product to reviewers before their official market launch to acquire essential early reviews. Additionally, enrolling in Vine can help increase your visibility, as Amazon’s algorithm gives more weight to reviews from “Vine Voices”, as they are giving an expert opinion.
How to Participate in Amazon Vine
To participate in the program, sellers must be a professional selling partner, have registered a brand in Amazon Brand Registry, be identified as a brand owner, and have eligible FBA offers. Additionally, in order for the items you enroll to be eligible, they must meet the following criteria:
- Be brand registered in Amazon Brand Registry.
- Have fewer than 30 reviews on the product detail page.
- Have a buyable FBA offer in ‘New’ condition.
- Not be an adult product.
- Have already launched at the time of enrollment.
- Have available inventory.
- Have an image and a description.
Amazon Request a Review Button
Amazon also provides sellers with the “Request A Review'' button. The button allows you to solicit a review for each of your orders in Seller Central within 4 to 30 days of customer purchase. Clicking the button triggers an email that Amazon sends to the customer, telling them that the seller wants their feedback. The “Request a Review” button has proven to be a very effective way to get customers to leave their feedback, however, going through each and every order to click the “Request a Review” button can be very tedious and time-consuming. Read our post on everything you need to know about the request a review button for more information.
Automating the “Request a Review” process with myHorizons
For brands with high volumes of orders, the process of individually requesting reviews is not efficient. At Envision Horizons, our in-house technology does this for you! Our myHorizons software includes a functionality to help you fully automate the Amazon Request a Review feature. Just set your parameters once and myHorizons will continuously submit requests to trigger the Request a Review system as your orders become eligible. Learn more about myHorizons and how you could get free software access for 6 months!
Ask for Reviews Through Product Inserts
An easy and popular way to solicit a review from your customer is to leave an insert in your packaging. However, be very careful that your insert does not violate Amazon’s rules on review solicitation. When asking for a product review, you must remain completely neutral, you cannot ask your customer to “leave a positive review” or even include a 5-star graphic. What you can do is give your contact information for the customer to reach out to you if they have an issue with your product. You cannot, however, say anything along the lines of “If you like our product leave us a review, but if you have any issues with the product please contact us first”. You must request reviews from all of your customers equally.
How to Limit Negative Reviews on Amazon
Now that we’ve reviewed the various ways to generate reviews on Amazon, how do you ensure these reviews will help you and not hurt you?
If your product is a “performance product” that advertised results, your customer is going to expect results! Be sure to educate customers on how to properly use your product and explain in detail the expected outcome in order to manage their expectations. This includes how long it’s going to take to see performance and how often you should take the product to see results. Always be transparent and never claim your product can do something it cannot. As a customer, there should also be an understanding that every person is different. Due to whatever reason, a certain product might not work for you. As a brand, you’ll need to assume some customers still may not use your product properly, yet will still expect results. Have a customer service team always ready to combat negative reviews.
Include Helpful Information in Your Product Listing
One reason your product is getting negative reviews or high return rates could be a lack of detail included in your product listing. By adding information to your product listing, you are helping to manage your customer’s expectations. Make sure that your product descriptions include details like exact product dimensions, size, color choices, weight (if relevant), and material. For apparel (or any product that varies in size/measurements), including a detailed sizing guide helps customers choose the best fit for them. When building a sizing guide, make sure to include exact values so buyers can take measurements at home to choose the best fit. You should also include manufacturing information, warranty information, and any policies you have such as your return policy or satisfaction guaranteed policy. Providing answers to frequently asked questions in your product listing can also be a very effective way to manage expectations. Lastly, for products that require assembly or have detailed instructions for use, make sure to include this essential information.
Use Negative Reviews and Return Reasons as Actionable Feedback
At Envision Horizons, we always advise clients to be looking at negative reviews and even the three and four-star reviews for valuable information on the customer experience. Additionally, looking at your return reasons can provide valuable insight. For example, if you are receiving common concerns such as apparel sizing being too large, you have an opportunity to fix this issue and improve reviews by either adjusting the product detail page to better set expectations or updating the product itself. Amazon lists 72 different official reasons for a customer's return, and many of these return reasons can and should be used as valuable feedback.
Include Helpful Creative Assets
Having professional product photos is key to success on Amazon. Not only do they help your products stand out from others, but they can also be used to provide transparency for your customers. High-resolution photos at multiple angles are essential, and if you have different variations of your product you need photos per variant as well. Also, leverage enhanced brand content and video to give your customers an even more in-depth look at your product. For makeup products, it can be helpful to include imagery that shows your product on a variety of different skin tones. For some products, a close-up of the ingredient label gives the customer valuable information and demonstrates transparency. Helpful imagery can be an effective way to increase sales and positive reviews.
Inspect Your FBA Products
Finally, inspect your FBA products thoroughly! Damaged packaging or product in less than perfect condition will not only result in negative reviews, but can hurt your brand reputation, and seller feedback score. A thorough inspection is especially essential for brands with luxury or high-ticket items. Sellers might consider creating a replacement agreement with your supplier if you frequently find defective products during your inspection, or look to find a new supplier if problems persist.
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