Unless you’re a 1 LB bag of Haribo Sugar Free Classic Gummy Bears, there’s nothing like a bad Amazon review to bring down your product sales.
Haribo’s slew of rather gruesomely-detailed 1-star ratings depicting the disastrous gastro-intestinal effects of their unassuming little bears have since turned into 5-star reviews hailing the gummy bears as “The perfect revenge candy!”
Just to give you a little preview...
But, even after 65+ 1-star reviews, Haribo has managed to maintain a rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars.
Most Amazon sellers aren’t so lucky.
The dreaded 1-star review can sometimes feel like a death knell, and even 2- and 3-star reviews don’t feel much better.
In fact, we’d all like our products to have perfect 5-star reviews if it were possible.
While the elusive perfect score is hard to attain, it’s not impossible to maintain a high Amazon review score near the top when you have a good product, great customer service, and know how to deliver on what you promise.
But why do we care so much about reviews?
Sure, our vanity gets a nice pat on the back with every glowing 5-star product review that comes in, but the real reason we care so much about getting good reviews is that all our customers care about them too.
In an increasingly ecommerce-driven world, reviews are everything. They are the modern-day equivalent of “word of mouth” and can do more to convince your customers of whether or not they should buy than practically anything else you can put into your listing.
It's no secret that every seller is constantly working on getting more reviews ( hopefully in a legal way) for their product, but the challenge, of course, is that you cannot control what people write in their reviews.
And, after Amazon abolished incentivized reviews in 2016, there is no easy way to guarantee the continual influx of positive product reviews to your listing.
However, there are still numerous good business practices you can put into effect that will increase your chances of getting plenty of 5-star reviews.
And there are even steps you can take to mitigate the effect of bad reviews or even change the negative feedback on your Amazon product, if not eliminate it completely.
In this article, we will first dive into why reviews have such an impact on product sales and then we’ll look at how to get more of the good ones, outline some review “don’ts”, and finish off with some tips and tricks for dealing with the negative Amazon feedback.
With this strategy in place, you’ll be well on your way toward a high Amazon product rating and the corresponding sales that should come with it.
How Amazon Product Reviews Can Affect Your Sales
Product reviews can affect your product sales by impacting two essential factors: Discoverability and Purchase Likelihood.
While there is debate about whether or not reviews factor into the Amazon Best Seller’s Rank, there is no doubt that reviews can impact the organic discoverability of your product.
The more reviews you have, the more likely it is that you’ll show up in Amazon’s search engine.
Not only that, but people can and do search by review rating. Amazon allows customers to search items by Average Customer Review and this is one of the most prominent and commonly used filters on the site.
Because of this, if you can get your product rating at or above a 4/5, you will dramatically increase your chances of showing up in searches.
Another way that reviews can affect your discoverability is through their use of keywords.
Amazon scans reviews for keywords, which means that the reviews themselves play into the overall SEO product ranking in Amazon’s algorithm.
If your customers are using your keywords in their review, that is a reflection of how well the item actually fits the keywords in question.
You can place keywords in your front and back end and stuff your listing all you like, but the real test of a good keyword is if your customers will use it as well.
And, if they do, your chances of showing up for that keyword will undoubtedly go up.
2. Purchase Likelihood
The place where reviews really make an impact, however, is by influencing customer purchase behavior.
There are loads of factors that go into getting customers to your page (i.e., discoverability) but none of that really matters if you can’t close the deal.
Reviews are the deal breaker.
Other than product images, reviews have one of the greatest impacts on the likelihood that a customer will make a purchase.
If you can’t hold a product in your hands, the next best thing is to look at the images. And the next best thing to actually using a product before you buy it? Get the inside scoop on how the product worked for other customers.
This is one reason why even potential customers shopping in a traditional brick-and-mortar store will look up Amazon reviews before making a purchase as well. The power of social proof means that if other customers bought and liked a product, they probably will too.
A customer really won’t know how well a product will perform until they buy it, but relying on others’ experiences with the product will reduce the risk of purchasing a dud.
Reviews can often reveal more information than is possible to cover in a product description or features section of a listing, as well. They can even communicate what the customer service experience was like.
Reviews are the closest a customer can get to the real experience before they choose to make the purchase themselves. With this in mind, the following stats aren’t so surprising:
- 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision.
- 73% of respondents in another study said that positive customer reviews help them trust a specific product or business.
- 79% of respondents said that they trust online reviews like a recommendation given by a close friend.
- Product reviews can lead to an 18% increase in sales
- 84% of online shoppers view online reviews as personal testimonies
- Customer reviews are trusted more than product descriptions by a factor of 12
How to get Amazon reviews ( legally)
If more reviews mean more sales, how do you go about getting them in the first place?
Here are some of our tried and true methods and strategies for building up an arsenal of genuine reviews for your products on Amazon:
1. Generate Your Sales First
While reviews certainly affect sales, there is no “chicken or the egg” scenario going on when it comes to Amazon reviews.
The sale comes first. If you don’t have sales, you won’t get reviews. Plain and simple.
Promotion is the key to getting the ball rolling. Once you have sales coming in, you can turn to all the other tactics on this list. But you have to start with a solid launch to get those initial sales before the reviews can follow.
Well, how do you do that?
(Fair warning, this is where we humble-brag about our awesome service)
At Judolaunch, we specialize in launching products to every Amazon markets and expanding your brand. With every launch, we see the impact of a solid strategy on numerous metrics and, without fail, we see the number or reviews go up significantly.
The Takeaway: More promotion = more sales = more reviews.
2. Post-Purchase Email Sequences
Once you’ve made the sale, you need to meet and even exceed customer expectations and then ask for their feedback the right way.
Within Seller Central, you have the ability to set up a post-purchase email sequence that you can use to thank customers, let them know that they can reach out for help with any issue, and even ask for a product review.
You’ll find greater success when you take the time to tap into your customer base, understand them, and find a way to add value to their customer experience.
The better you know your customer, the better you can customize your message to them and add that value.
For instance, if you sell blenders, send them a few smoothie recipes in your post-purchase email.
Show them you care and encourage engagement. Find creative ways to request reviews.
In the case of the blender, you could send them the recipes and then ask them to upload a picture of their first concoction using the blender – perhaps even using the recipe that you sent.
Images are a great way to encourage engagement in the world of social media as well.
You may not use the invitation to upload images to get reviews, but instead you could have customers upload to your social media page and build your following so that you can get more sales with the next product you launch (feeding back into suggestion #1).
If you can create a feeling of community, you can increase the likelihood of a review and more sales down the road.
People will come to trust you as a seller. The more they trust you and appreciate the value you add, the more natural it will be to ask for a review.
Don’t ever offer anything in exchange for a review, simply ask for help.
Whether you’re asking in an email or via social media, always remember to include a clickable link to the review page.
No matter how much trust you’ve built up with your customers, don’t overdo the requests for reviews. You don’t want to turn the post-purchase experience into a negative one, risking a negative review simply because you got a little annoying.
Keep your emails to a maximum of three.
Focus on your customer base and don’t send them over the edge. Give them a good reason to leave a review, but remember that Amazon will be sending their own post-purchase emails so yours should be as short and sweet as possible.
Post-purchase emails are also a good way to prevent negative reviews by preemptively taking care of any issues.
Ask for feedback and let customers know that they can reach out to you if they encounter any problems.
The Takeaway: Contact customers following a purchase and find ways to add value to their customer experience. Then, reach out and request a review. Just don’t overdo it!
3. The Early Review Program- What Is It?
Amazon has also created a program by which you can get the review ball rolling.
The Early Review Program is Amazon’s response to the demand for incentivized reviews (which they have banned). Instead, they offer you the opportunity to increase the likelihood of a review – be it positive or negative – for a small fee.
You can access the Early Review Program via Seller Central.
Amazon manages all customer contact so as there is no influence from the seller to write a positive review. Amazon will pay the customer anywhere from $1-$5 to write any kind of review.
There is no incentivized purchase since the customer already bought the item, and there’s less pressure to leave a good review since they know Amazon will pay them no matter what they say.
You pay roughly $60 to get five reviews within the first day.
There is no guarantee that you will get a positive or negative review, but the Early Review Program will increase the number of reviews you receive.
The Takeaway: The Early Review Program gives you a tiny push, but for many sellers it is worth the cost.
4. (Previously Incentivized) Review Programs
Back in their heyday, an entire industry was built around incentivized reviews.
Companies were created solely to help sellers get more reviews through incentivized giveaways and discounts given to customers who would write a review in exchange.
At the end of 2016, Amazon put their foot down, banned incentivized reviews, and even began deleting these types of reviews.
While this was a blow to the incentivized review programs that had come into existence, many of them are still around – they’ve simply had to change their policies and the wording of their offers to customers.
Their lists are still intact, which means you have a great start on finding many willing buyers who want to buy products at deep discounts and who are accustomed to leaving reviews. They are no longer required to leave a review, but many of them still will.
The Takeaway: While they are no longer a guarantee of positive reviews, these previously incentivized review programs are still a way to get your product out to an eager audience and start bringing in both sales and reviews.
5. Vine for Vendors
Amazon has created a second program called Vine to increase the number of reviews you can receive. However, this program is only available to Vendors – manufacturers and distributors known as first-party sellers.
The program is invite only, utilizing top reviewers who have created a strong reputation for honest reviews by regularly buying and reviewing products.
If they leave a review, a Vine review badge will appear next to their review, indicating a greater level of trustworthiness.
Vendors must pay a couple thousand dollars for Amazon to give the product away to customers without no guarantee that they will leave a review. However, since they are sending the product to top reviewers, the likelihood that they will leave a review is strong.
The Takeaway: For larger companies that have a budget to generate reviews, the Vine program is at least worth your consideration. You should do more investigation into the program’s pros and cons for your particular brand before making a decision.
6. Packaging Inserts
One final tactic for getting more reviews is to leave an insert in the package with your product.
The key here goes back to what we discussed with post-purchase emails: understand your customer base and add value.
Also, be sure to provide a shortened URL next to the request for a review.
Again, you cannot offer an incentive, but asking for a review alongside the actual product can be an effective tactic that will lead to additional reviews.
You may also find that this tactic is more effective in one market (one seller has had wild success with inserts in Japan, for example) than another.
The Takeaway: Include small postcard-sized inserts in your product package and include a request for a review.
Amazon Review “Don’ts”
Almost every seller, especially the ones who are just starting their Amazon challenge, will be faced with a lot of ''expectations vs. reality moments'' when it comes to reviews ( and Amazon, in general.
But there are some common mistakes even more experienced Amazon sellers are making when it comes to getting more reviews.
Here are some big DON'Ts and NOs your should be aware of:
1. Don't Expect High Response Rate
It takes time to build your review base. Learn to manage your expectations and practice patience as reviews trickle in over time.
Only 5% of customers come back to leave a review. (Let this number sink in..)
Amazon understands this though and likes to see products whose review base grows over time rather than in random spurts due to “review campaigns.”
Even though I risk sounding as a shampoo seller- go for natural growth.
2. Don’t Assume Amazon Policies Will Remain the Same
By the time you read this, there is a good chance that Amazon will have changed their policies… again. Make it a habit to regularly check up on Amazon’s policies.
For instance, there has been chatter about the possibility of Amazon restricting or even eliminating post-purchase emails.
It’s a great strategy to use for the moment, but be sure to keep on top of Amazon’s policies to know what you can and cannot do.
You should never, ever review your own product on Amazon.
It is against Amazon’s Terms of Service and could cost you your entire Seller account.
Amazon reserves the right to shut down your listing or even your account for violating this rule, so just don’t even go there. Heck, don’t even have someone who lives in your home or works in your office review your product as they could be confused for you.
3. Don't Offer an Incentive for a Positive Review
If we haven’t made it clear enough by now, you cannot offer an incentive for a review.
That means no free products, no discounts, no future discounts, no entries into a contest, no cash bonus, no incentives!
This is another area where Amazon reserves the right to shut down your account if you violate their terms, so just don’t do it.
4. Don't Look for Loopholes
Are there still ways to falsely increase the number of reviews for your product? You bet.
People find loopholes all the time.
For example, someone recently created a false account and used a gift card to purchase and ship their products to a total stranger. They then left a 5-star review for their product using that false account.
You can find creative ways to get reviews, but this seller clearly went too far. Do NOT look for loopholes like this.
Amazon will eventually shut down this particular loophole, but even if they don’t, you can find better, more honest ways to get your product reviews.
How to Avoid/Eliminate/Change Negative Amazon Reviews
The last way that you can influence your review rating is to address negative reviews. You can do this two different ways.
One is to prevent negative reviews from every occurring. The second is to know how to deal with negative reviews once a customer leaves one and potentially change it.
Here are our best suggestions for doing both:
1. Provide Customers With a Positive Buying Experience
This seems like a no-brainer: provide a positive experience and get a positive review.
But there are some details that you may not have thought of that you can easily adjust to make the customer’s purchasing experience the best it can be.
The first thing to do is to set adequate expectations. You've checked everything out of the Amazon seller's list, you did your product research and made a great product, now it is time to provide an accurate product description.
A large majority of negative customer reviews come from customers who feel that they have been misled.
Don’t try and pull people in with false promises and gimmicks. Be clear about what your product is and what it is not. Use high-quality images and create well-written descriptions.
Do not stretch the truth to get sales. It will come back to bite you when customers feel you have misled them and leave a bad review.
You can also improve the buyer experience by responding to customers quickly.
If a buyer sends you a message with a question or problem with your product, the quicker you can respond with a solid solution, the happier they will be.
And happy customers are MUCH less likely to leave a bad review.
Amazon has backed this theory up with their own research. They found:
“Providing timely, high-quality responses to buyer inquiries is an important factor in buyer satisfaction. Our research shows that when sellers respond to buyers about their orders within 24 hours, they receive 50% less negative feedback compared to when sellers responded after that time period.”
In fact, if you treat these customers well enough, they may be able to completely overlook the initial problem and will leave a stellar review that will not only promote your product but leave a shiny impression of your customer service, making potential buyers even more likely to purchase because they know they can trust you.
2. Ask for Your Customer's Feedback
As we mentioned earlier, you can use your post-purchase email as an opportunity to mitigate potential negative reviews.
In your email(s) ask for buyer feedback and let them know that they can reach out to you if they have any issues with the product.
Doing so will allow you to fix problems before a buyer leaves a negative review, which is much easier than trying to get them to change it once they’ve left their opinion for the world to see.
3. Address Negative Feedback
If you do receive negative feedback, don’t treat it as a lost cause. You still have an opportunity to make the customer happy and reestablish trust.
Amazon allows buyers to remove their negative review up to 60 days after they write it.
If you can resolve their issue as quickly as possible, you have the chance to change their impression of you and your product, and potentially the review itself.
Send them a brief, sincere apology along with a plan to fix their problem. Show them that you want to understand the problem so that you can fix it… and then actually fix it.
If the buyer responds and you are able to fix the issue, you can then politely request that they remove or change their negative Amazon review.
4. Make your Customer Service Transparent
If you send a message to a customer who has left a negative review and they do not respond, you have one more option.
You may not be able to have the negative review removed, but you can show future customers that you are willing to solve any problem that may arise and maintain your reputation by responding directly to a buyer’s negative feedback in the review section.
Show that you’ve listened to the buyer’s problem and that you are willing to resolve the issue.
This will show other buyers that you have made an effort to fix a customer’s problem, inspiring greater confidence and leaving a better impression of your customer service.
How Much Should You Focus On Reviews?
Reviews are incredibly important to your overall Amazon seller strategy, but how can you know how much time and money to invest in getting positive product reviews?
The truth is, if you have a good product and great customer service, the reviews will mostly take care of themselves.
( If you're still not sure what makes or breaks a good Amazon product, check out our video.)
Focus on promoting and improving your product and the sales will come, followed by reviews.
There are certainly some extra steps you can take to increase the number of reviews you have, but it would appear that Amazon wants sellers to focus more on providing good products and great customer buying experiences than on generating reviews.
The good news is that if you take care of those two things, the reviews are sure to come. For this one we can actually say: ''If you build it, they will come.''
Focus on what you can control and then find positive, natural ways to interact with your customers and build that relationship or, simply put, show them some love so that they’ll want to leave a positive review for a product they love.