Getting Good Amazon Reviews
“Ever since October 2016 . . .” begins a sentence I often hear from Amazon sellers. You likely know what those four words mean and where the sentence is headed. You can probably even finish the sentence based on your own experiences, and that sentence would go something like, “Ever since October 2016 when Amazon banned incentivized reviews, my sales are down, launching a new product is harder, and getting reviews nearly impossible.”
To compound difficulties, after doing away with incentivized reviews, Amazon then restricted the language that sellers were allowed to use in emails soliciting feedback. No longer could customer messaging in any way ask for reviews outright or rely on the old conditional standby of “If you loved it, leave a five-star review; if you didn’t, contact me directly.” Whom did this restriction benefit? Not buyers or sellers but black-hat tacticians scurrying to fill the reviews-void with glowing reviews for their customers and damaging reviews for their customers’ competitors.
So what can you do to get legitimate reviews, reviews that are honest, helpful to shoppers, good for your sales, and in compliance with Amazon’s policies? The trick is . . . the trick is that there is no trick. You have to work for these gold nuggets and the way to do so is to provide the customer service and contact that creates in the buyer a desire to leave you a good review—not because you asked but because your product delivered and you followed up strategically.
Guide to getting good Amazon reviews and seller feedback:
Don’t sell garbage (or even not-so-great products).
If you’re a private-label seller, don’t just sell these products, don’t even put your brand on them. Here I cite the GIGO rule: garbage in, garbage out. In a nutshell, if you sell substandard products or list products falsely, you’ll get substandard sales and reviews not to mention lots of returns and the wrath of Amazon.
Price your products competitively and fulfill orders expeditiously (or let Amazon do so via FBA).
This is the heavy lifting and when you do it, what you have is a good deal on a quality product that is delivered fast. Trust me when I tell you that working within these practices is the bulk of the battle in terms of sales and reviews. Don’t believe me? Well, flip it and consider that all of the incentives in the world will not get a disappointed buyer to leave a good review for a bad product.
Add post-sale branding and customer service that will keep your product top of mind.
Packaging: When you ship your product, make sure that it is packaged with branded elements. This isn’t just about promotion, it’s about you taking pride in your product. If your product is unassembled or requires set-up, make sure that you include instructions in the packaging along with a contact for support if the buyer runs into problems.
Responsiveness: A sale is not complete when the product is delivered. In fact, that’s still very much the middle of the transaction. When a buyer contacts you about delayed shipping or a problem with a product, don’t view this as a burden so much as a time to shine. Respond quickly and in a manner that is friendly and professional. Never blame the customer even if the issue is his/her fault. Assist the buyer and you will be repaid not only in reviews but in repeat sales and word-of-mouth referrals.
Follow up with every buyer who has not opted out.
You probably thought that this is where I was going to begin my tips, maybe even that I had some super-template that somehow solicited positive reviews while adhering to Amazon’s rules. That’s not how it works, but just as “please” and “thank you” are considered magic words when getting along with others, there are some magic words in the world of Amazon follow-up customer service.
Mindset: Shift from the belief that the point of emailing buyers is to get positive reviews. The shift toward the mindset that post-purchase communication is about customer service and how you can further enhance the experience of the buyer.
Value: Don’t even ask for a review in a first post-purchase email. Consider this first message to be one of giving. You’re giving information and assistance, all without the buyer having to ask. You’re providing added value by including something extra. For example, if you have a buyer of kitchen gadgets, show him/her that more is happening than just a transaction by including bonus tips such as recipes or clean-up tips. Give what feels like a thoughtful little follow-up gift and be sure to include your brand name.
Timing and Patience: Allow time for the product to actually be delivered. Then allow more time for the product to be tried and used. No one wants to buy a toolkit and be asked to write a review of it the day after it shipped. That’s a fast unsubscribe.
Word Choice: Don’t push the buyer to do anything. Check in with a second email saying that you hope the buyer is enjoying the product. Also, offer a bonus tip and ask if you can assist in any way. Thank the buyer for choosing your product and tell him/her that sharing thoughts on the product helps other shoppers.
Mobile: Today, most people read email on a phone or tablet. With a smaller screen, you need to be mindful how your message renders. Keep the subject line short. You don’t have to use the full product name there, just keep it identifiable. This will help your open rate.
Reciprocity: If you and another person are entering a building that has two sets of doors and you hold the first open for the other person, he/she is likely to hold the second open for you. You didn’t pay the person to do this, you didn’t even ask; you proactively set up a situation where the other person wanted to return the good deed. Great customer service opens a lot of doors (and garners a lot of positive reviews).
Tools: As you’ve gathered, getting feedback is crucial and it’s also a delicate process. You can’t do it on your own, so read what experts have to say and use software like Seller Labs’ Feedback Genius. Feedback Genius allows sellers to easily customize and automate triggered personal messages in ways that encourage buyers to leave reviews and to want to be in touch with you—all while respecting opt-outs via a blacklist feature and staying in line with Amazon’s guidelines.
Start your 30-day free trial of Feedback Genius today to start improving your Amazon seller feedback and growing your product reviews.
About the Author: Jeff Cohen is the Chief Marketing Officer at Seller Labs, a leading-edge firm that develops and supports software applications that help Amazon merchants increase profits. Seller Labs provides solutions for seller feedback, product reviews, keyword research, listing optimization, product research, Sponsored Products ads, and business intelligence. Seller Labs is the leader in the Amazon third-party solution space. The company works with more than 15,000 sellers who earned a combined total of $7 billion in 2016. Sellers choose Seller Labs’ applications because of their ease of use, ability to drive sales, top-notch customer service and industry knowledge.