It’s official: product reviews matter.

In its recent report, ‘How Online Reviews Influence Sales’, the Spiegel Research Centre found that the purchase likelihood for a product with five reviews is 270% greater than a product with zero reviews – a huge difference.

With this in mind, if you’re launching a new Amazon business or product, reviewer feedback will be essential to your venture’s success. But with several options at your fingertips, and some important rules to be aware of, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are our top tips for winning at Amazon reviews.

How to Win at Online Reviews: The Amazon Method

Amazon’s ban on the incentivisation of reviews in 2016 (more on that below) made the process of gaining reviews legally a little more daunting (at least on the surface). Fortunately, Amazon has a few different mechanisms in place to help sellers gather consumer feedback – all of which you should seek to take advantage of if you can.

These include:

Automated emails

Amazon sends each customer a follow-up email to encourage them to leave a review or report any issues.

‘Request a Review’ function

This is a feature that can be found within Seller Central, and allows you to send another follow-up ‘review request’ email to your customers.

Early Reviewer Programme

Through this programme, customers with a good review history (i.e. no abusive or dishonest reviews), who have already bought eligible products, are asked to leave an honest review. If they do, they are rewarded with a £1 – £5 Amazon Gift Card. In order to qualify for enrolment, the product must have less than five reviews; be brand-registered, and have a minimum sale price of £15.

There are benefits to all of these features, but inventiveness is also required. For instance, the Early Reviewer Programme can be highly beneficial, but it may take time to see results – not all customers will respond to the incentive, so it’s likely you’ll have to wait for the pool of purchasers to expand before review numbers will soar. In addition, you’re only able to contact customers once to ask for a review via Amazon’s automated ‘Request a Review’ feature, which may not be enough to gain the results you require.

Thankfully there are other things you can try: for now, you can send certain messages through Amazon’s seller-messaging system (though there are restrictions on the types of messages that can be sent, and these are being tightened all the time, so it may not be an option for much longer); you can build your own email list in order to speak directly with customers, and you can use product inserts to request customer reviews. In addition, there are general business practices that will inspire good feedback – like ensuring your service, product and delivery standards are exceptional, and responding quickly to any issues that are reported.

Don’t Neglect the Rules!

Product reviews are essential to business success – but there are strict rules around what you can do to get them, and Amazon isn’t shy about enforcing its policies. Many sellers have been suspended due to a breach of the rules.

Here are some of the key points to be aware of:

You can’t encourage certain customers to leave feedback over others

Amazon wants to hear from customers across the board – the good, the bad, and the ugly. As such, sellers are not permitted to reach out to customers who’ve responded positively to their brand and avoid those who have had negative (or even lukewarm) experiences.

You cannot incentivise reviews

Up until 2016, it was common for products to be offered at a discounted price (or even for free) in exchange for a review. However, Amazon was concerned that such incentives skewed reviews to the point that they were hugely overinflated. The practice was banned as a result.

Manipulative language is forbidden

This is perhaps the most confusing of all the new rules. Whilst it might seem obvious that phrases such as ‘if you are delighted with this product, please leave us a five-star review’ could be deemed manipulative, Amazon has even been known to crack down on sellers who make statements like: ‘These products are handmade in the UK, please show your support to local businesses’. Careful – and clever – wording is therefore essential.

Reviews are crucial to online business success, particularly on Amazon; but the rules aren’t always clear and missteps can be costly. If you’d like expert guidance and support to ensure you optimise your presence as an Amazon seller, don’t hesitate to get in touch at [email protected], through our website, or call us on 01422728435.