The Importance of Amazon Reviews
Reviews are many sellers’ bread & butter on Amazon. Good reviews and lots of reviews help improve product ranking, which in turn can impact your chances of winning the Buy Box & improve your Amazon ads. Reviews are also part of the Amazon community, which allows for a better shopping experience. Consumers are able to use others’ experience to advise their own decisions, and both vendors & sellers can have an open discourse with their consumers to address concerns.
Reviews vs Feedback
Many sellers (and consumers!) often confuse product reviews and seller feedback. Product reviews stick with the listing, and therefore are important to both sellers and vendors. Vendors get weekly reports on which products have received reviews, while sellers must check their listings manually. These are supposed to be about the product only.
Feedback is seller-specific and applies to the buying experience. This is where consumers can let a seller know about poor shipping experience, complaints about price, and more. Vendors do not have access to feedback, because Amazon is the seller and deals with customer service.
Can I Solicit Reviews?
Strictly speaking, no. Amazon does not allow the incentivized solicitation of reviews and will remove any such reviews. They made this official in October 2016 and have since taken a very strong stance. When this policy was first initiated, Amazon backdated the removal of reviews and DBW witnessed a seller losing 30% of their reviews.
This means sellers & vendors are prohibited from buying or otherwise incentivizing reviews. You may run across companies who advertise deals or even offer full reimbursement for a purchase upon proof of a review. These reviews violate Amazon’s TOS and both sellers & consumers found participating in such practices can have their accounts suspended.
Amazon Approved Tactics for Garnering Reviews
Even though Amazon prohibits solicitation of reviews, there are still tactics that can be used to request and acquire product reviews. Not only that, majority are Amazon-sanctioned. They know you need reviews, and they want to help.
Amazon Buyer Messaging
Sellers have access to the Buyer Messaging system. This system allows your customers to reach out and ask questions or bring up concerns. Sellers are also able to reach out to their customers via this system for a variety of purposes: communicate order status, provide additional product information, follow-up on customer satisfaction, request reviews/feedback, etc. In fact, most sellers will use this system to request reviews and feedback.
Messaging Does Not Guarantee Reviews
The industry average review rate is estimated at 1% of orders. Sellers who have an optimized messaging system may see up to 5% of orders receive reviews. Amazon also allows customers to opt-out of non-essential communication. This means emails you send that aren’t related to the order itself (such as shipping updates) will never make their way to some customers.
Early Reviewer Program (ERP)
This is a paid for service, charged per parent ASIN, in which Amazon will solicit reviews on your behalf, for a period of time up to 1 year or until 5 reviews are received, whichever occurs first. Products that are brand new to Amazon or have less than 5 reviews qualify for enrollment
Reputable Amazon reviewers who have made a certified purchase of your product will be asked to participate in the program. They are chosen randomly from a list of all customers who have purchased products in the program, as long as they have no history of dishonest reviews and meet the eligibility criteria. If they accept the invitation, they will leave a review and receive a $1-$3 gift card after the review is approved.
ERP Does Not Guarantee Reviews or Ratings
While Amazon will actively solicit for you, they do not guarantee any amount of reviews. However, you will not be charged until your first review is received. After that, Amazon will actively solicit on your behalf for up to 1 year. If you do not receive 5 review during that 1 year, you are not eligible for any refund or additional solicitation.
Regardless of the star rating of the review, the gift card amount will not change, and the reviewer will not be asked to participate more or less often. The reviewer will not know at the time of purchase whether the product is involved in the program so that the purchase remains authentic and there is no incentive to entice the buyer.
Another paid service, limited to vendors only, that provides an opportunity for your products to receive reviews from Amazon’s top and most trusted reviewers, known as Vine Voices. They are chosen based on their quantity of reviews and comments, being upvoted from other customers for being helpful and trustworthy, and ultimately for providing insightful and informative reviews which aid in purchase decisions. These reviews help drive early awareness and generate referrals within the Amazon community.
This service is significantly more expensive and requires the provision of free products for your reviewers. This is the only program where Amazon approves a free product in exchange for an honest review. For most vendors, this is an option only if you have a large marketing budget.
Amazon Vine Does Not Guarantee Reviews or Ratings
Just like the previous method, participation in this program does not guarantee reviews or the rating. Amazon does not require their review participants, even in funded programs, to leave any specific star rating. Another important note is that Amazon Vine reviewers do not have any specific timeframe in which to write their review. However, Amazon Vine is the method most likely to get you reviews, as the participants are known to leave detailed reviews and they actively choose to participate in the program.
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