Any Amazon seller will tell you that customer reviews improve conversion rates. Consumers are much more likely to trust a brand and its products if there have been positive reviews left by past customers. In fact, there is a 65% chance that just having just one review will lead to higher conversions compared to a product with no reviews.
Customer reviews also play a huge role in a product’s organic ranking on Amazon. “Amazon’s A9 algorithm naturally takes into account the number of positive reviews for a product” and uses the data as a ranking factor when crafting the search results for a given keyword. Since shoppers can see product reviews on the search results page, having a 4- or 5-star rating can also help increase click-through-rates to your detail pages.
Although having many positive customer reviews is essential for Amazon success, it can take months or even years for some sellers to become established on the competitive Amazon platform. Furthermore, there are strict Amazon guidelines to prevent sellers from using sales tactics to generate reviews (for example, offering a discount on a future purchase in return for a positive review).
So, how do you get reviews? And, better yet, how can you guarantee those reviews are positive? Keep reading to learn about the Amazon review community guidelines and best practices for generating 5 star reviews.
Amazon Review Community Guidelines: Dos and Don’ts
What You Can’t Do
Giving Away Free Products
Over the past decade, the Amazon ecosystem has grown drastically and, as a result, the marketplace has been forced to crack down on tactics that generate inauthentic reviews. For example, it used to be a popular practice for sellers to give products away in exchange for a good review – but this option is no longer allowed because the reviewer would be motivated to give positive reviews, in hopes of acquiring more free products.
Ask for 5 Stars
Another common practice that Amazon has since removed is soliciting for reviews physically. Sellers would throw in a card with a customer order that asked for a 5-star rating of the product. Amazon thought this, too, was not a source of authentic reviews. Now, if a seller were to place a card in a customer package – even with an image of 5 stars – it could potentially lead to consequences, such as getting their seller account shut down.
Email Drip Campaigns
A third example of review-bait that Amazon has restricted is email drip campaigns. These emails would be sent to customers in a series a few days apart, continuously asking them to leave a review. This was a very common practice until Amazon placed a limit of one email to customers post-purchase.
Pay for Amazon Reviews
Lastly, Amazon sellers cannot pay customers to leave positive or 5-star reviews on their products. You can find the full list of Amazon’s forbidden customer review methods here, which also includes leaving negative reviews on a competitor’s product and leaving multiple reviews for the same product.
What You Can Do
Luckily, there are still tried-and-true practices to generate positive customer reviews. To start, if you’re selling a high-quality product with a good customer experience, you’ll likely generate 5 star Amazon reviews organically. The only “issue” with this method is that it can be a long wait, depending on how authoritative your brand is in the marketplace and how aggressive your marketing campaigns are (i.e., how often you’re selling products).
We estimate that consumers leave reviews on 1-4% of purchases. To generate 1,000 reviews, you’d likely need to sell 25,00-100,000 units. If you’re a new seller with zero customer reviews, the best way to generate them quickly is by utilizing the Amazon Vine program.
Amazon Vine Voice Program
The Amazon Vine program connects brands with consistent and honest reviewers. These customers, who have written helpful reviews on a number of other products, are then paired with a seller’s newly launched product. In exchange for leaving a transparent review, the shopper receives the item for free. So, it can be a win-win for new sellers; customers get free products, and your brand gets a new positive review.
The Amazon Vine program is only offered to shoppers that have left helpful reviews on other products to ensure that participation is taken seriously. The reviewers are labeled as “Vine Voices” to help clearly distinguish them from other customers. For example:
Although we recommend taking advantage of the Vine Voices program, there are some caveats. First, you may still receive some negative reviews. Vine Voices promise to be honest, so if your product is low quality or packaged poorly, this may be reflected in their review.
Further, since giving away free products is part of the Amazon Vine program, sellers who leverage this method must be willing to “lose” money in exchange for a review. It’s also important to note that Vine Voices have no deadline to leave a review, so it’s possible that items sent to participating shoppers are never reviewed – or reviewed months after the product was initially sent. However, Amazon says participating reviewers typically publish reviews within 22 days of requesting a product. Plus, Amazon can remove people if they are inconsistent or untrustworthy in their reviews, as this is exactly what the Amazon Vine program is meant to work against.
Although Amazon removed the ability to send customers multiple emails asking for a review, sellers can still send one email to customers after purchasing a product. Keeping in mind Amazon’s restrictions against salesy language, it’s crucial that the email asks for honest feedback without offering any incentives. Something as simple as ‘Tell us how we did! It means a lot.’ will work. Just keep in mind that you need the customer to see and open your email in order for this method to be effective.
Unlike email automation where sellers are dependent on customers to actually see the email in their inbox, product inserts are delivered inside ordered packages – meaning customers will likely see them upon opening. We mentioned before that you can’t display an image of 5 stars on an insert – or even ask for 5-star reviews – but you can still include an insert asking for transparent reviews or explaining how reviews help you as a seller. Customers are more likely to leave a review if they’re not only encouraged to be honest, but if they also understand the benefit of doing so (for the seller and future customers).
Overall, having a plethora of positive reviews on your products is a great thing – but be careful in navigating the generation of those reviews. It’s not worth a Seller Suspension over inappropriate soliciting of reviews. To ensure you understand all the Amazon review community guidelines, you can read more here.
Keep the following in mind during review generation:
- As an Amazon seller, you should always be looking for ways to generate more positive reviews on your product detail pages – especially for newly launched products.
- Because of the strict Amazon review community guidelines, always encourage customers to leave their honest feedback.
- Pay attention to badge names: Shoppers enrolled in the Amazon Vine program will have a Vine Voice badge next to their review. Amazon also instituted a ‘Verified Purchase’ badge for reviewers who purchased the product they left a review on. For example:
4. If you’re struggling to generate positive reviews, focus on improving your product quality and customer service to better support customers.