Amazon Policy Update on Product Reviews

On October 3 Amazon caused a wake in the Seller Community after announcing on its blog that it now violated Amazon’s policy to provide discounted products in exchange for a review. This was a policy set to enforce their previous warning that, “Any attempt to manipulate ratings, feedback, or reviews is prohibited.” While this practice had been used by many sellers to help launch new products legitimately, it had also been used to manipulate product ratings and by extension product rankings, by giving away thousands of free or discounted products in exchange for reviews.

Read Amazon’s October 3, 206 Blog Article Update on Customer Reviews for the full update.

While it is unfortunate that this is no longer an option for many sellers, it will help to level the playing field again and should ultimately be viewed as a good thing by sellers. The benefit is primarily to brands and manufacturers who have resources to promote their products outside of Amazon which I will discuss later in the article.

So Who Can’t Write Product Reviews For You on Amazon?

Amazon has been pretty clear about who isn’t supposed to review products on Amazon for awhile now as stated in their Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions:

  • You can’t write reviews for products you have a financial interest in
  • You can’t write reviews for products that you or your competitors sell
  • Family Members or Friends cannot write customer reviews for your products
  • Customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product

Their post made it fairly clear that anyone caught attempting to violate this policy would not likely be a happy seller. While the last two are no longer part of Amazon’s Community Guidelines it has been my experience that those would likely be filtered from Amazon’s reviews anyways so if you’re thinking of ways to get around it, it’s better to simply go the legitimate route.

So Who Can You Ask For Product Reviews?

Basically? Past customers. That’s it. You can ask someone who has purchased your product before to review your product on Amazon. Cheryl Lee MD a Sensitive Skin Care line recently launched on Amazon used the creative tactic of putting together an email blast from past website customers asking them to review the new product on Amazon:

Email Blast Feedback Request

 

This email blast provided just a handful of product reviews which was enough to get them started driving paid and organic traffic to their listings and begin converting that into sales. For companies that have already been selling on Amazon and have not requested product feedback, consider signing up for Feedback Genius which allows you to request feedback from customers who purchased your products within the last 60 days.

Updates for SnagShout & Feedback Genius Users

So what does this mean for past and future customers of Seller Labs SnagShout? For Starters, SnagShout no longer requires customers to provide feedback in order to get future “snags” (deals) on Amazon. Instead, it operates solely as a deal platform that allows sellers of new products to generate interest and conversion rates for their products at a discounted rate. This can still be extremely valuable to sellers launching new products and looking to gain product exposure and generate initial sales.

Feedback Genius also now becomes more important than ever, by creating automated customized feedback requests from past Amazon customers with the ability to generate the more heavily weighted “Amazon Verified Purchase Reviews.” It is important to note that while SnagShout is explicitly prevented from pairing discounted products and reviews it is completely in compliance to run SnagShout promotions and request feedback from those customers just like you would any Amazon customer. The caveat is that it is no longer a 1-to-1 exchange which is likely to increase the reliability of honest and unbiased reviews.

How Do I Get More Product Reviews?

The simple answer? By selling more products. The more products sold, the more chance you have of getting customer reviews. On average, we’ve found that approximately 3.5% of orders generate product reviews. That means that for every 100 orders on Amazon you can expect 3-4 product reviews. This is typically higher when requesting feedback so automating that process is important. Below we’ll discuss a few specific ways to drive more traffic and generate more product reviews.

Introducing Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program

In response to their own initiative, Amazon has taken the proactive approach to introduce the “Early Reviewer Program”. This is set to do legitimately what most sellers are looking to achieve when launching new products. It aims to incentivize early purchasers of Amazon products using Amazon Gift Cards $1-$3 to provide authentic and honest reviews of their purchase. The difference here is that since Amazon is selectively choosing the products and reviewers and requesting the feedback there is less likely an opportunity for sellers to meddle or influence the product feedback.

Read more about Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program

This program was also likely introduced to satisfy the needs of Amazon Seller Central users since Amazon Vine is currently exclusive to Vendor Central and charged a hefty up front fee. It is important to note that Amazon has incentive for newer products to get reviews as well. The more reviews a new product gets the more it is likely to sell over the products lifetime on Amazon and the more Amazon is likely to make from referral fees or product commissions. As mentioned previously, their goal is always customer experience and if customers feel that they can rely on the validity of the customer reviews that influence their decision to purchase products, they are more likely to retain their trust in the Amazon platform.

Three Ways to Drive More Traffic and Sales to your Amazon Listings

1. Optimize Product Listings to Gain More Organic Traffic

This starts with fundamental SEO Keyword research. It’s not enough to simply guess what the highest searched keyword phrases are, it’s important to actually do the research and decide which phrases are the most critical, relevant and applicable to your product and include them in the product title as well as throughout the product features, description and search terms. We use and recommend SEMrush for the keyword volume data and comprehensive features it provides.

2. Drive Internal Traffic Within Amazon using Amazon Campaigns

If you haven’t already, there is great incentive to start using Amazon Campaigns to drive traffic inside of Amazon. While the average CPC has been growing over the past year or so, a well managed campaign can still generate tons of traffic with a decent ROI especially when launching new products in need of conversions.

3. Drive External Traffic from Outside of Amazon using Social Media, SnagShout, etc.

In addition to capitalizing on traffic inside of Amazon, driving external traffic can also be a great opportunity for driving conversions and sales. From targeted Facebook Campaigns to promoted YouTube videos, the ability to reach a wider audience and direct them to your product pages can be essential for a successful launch. In addition, deal discount sites like SnagShout can provide the same opportunity in which the cost is in the discount instead of the cost to boost or promote it.

If you’d like more information on how to optimize your product listings, launch new products or gain product feedback, check out our full list of Amazon Courses. Feel free to post any questions or comments and we’ll be happy to help if we can.

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