Whether you’re new to Amazon or a seasoned seller, you likely came to the fast realization that surfacing products to potential customers requires much more than a snappy listing description. And for some, the shock and frustration is all too real.
With nearly 50% of all U.S. e-commerce sales taking place on Amazon, there’s certainly no shortage of eyeballs to get in front of and carts to fill. However, it’s also the sheer volume of users that further complicates a brand’s selling strategy.
Similar to that of Google, Amazon’s search engine ranking algorithm functions as a way of better connecting consumers to content (i.e. products) that are most relevant to them. Measurements around search intent and relevance may differ slightly between the two services, but the purpose remains the same.
Both sales velocity and building out your Amazon product pages with conversion-centric content positively impact a product’s search ranking on Amazon. One of the most important elements of this conversion-centric content?
Why Amazon Reviews Matter So Much
Amazon reviews in and of themselves are not drivers of high rankings through Amazon search. What they do, however, is fuel conversion. This is precisely what makes the e-commerce company such a master of social proof done right.
For potential customers, the feedback from those who have already purchased products of interest is extremely valuable. It puts the content of the page — the images, description, specs — into context in a way that either confirms or defies expectations. After all, these Amazon reviewers are seen as people “just like them.”
Some review factors that help or hinder an increase in conversions for your product listing include the following:
Relative Number of Amazon Reviews (Quantity)
Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer on this one and think about the last time you searched for something on Amazon.
Before even clicking on one of the products that came up for whatever query you searched, how many times will your eyes immediately seek out not only the existence of, but also the number of, Amazon reviews?
The volume of reviews fuels credibility — especially when compared to other products in the same category.
Another important Amazon review factor to remain mindful of is the review rate. This is essentially a measurement of the number of reviews left in relation to total purchases made. Not only does the overall number of reviews rise with a higher review rate: it also serves as an indicator of greater vested interest in a product post-purchase. This should be seen as an important KPI for brands that needs to be tracked and improved upon over time.
Star Ratings (Quality)
As far as buyers are concerned, products with anything less than a 4-star rating might as well not exist. This idea is further nurtured through Amazon’s transition into brick and mortar with the Amazon 4-star stores.
With the volume of products made available to shoppers through Amazon, customers really don’t have to settle for anything less than exactly what they want in terms of quality. And having been conditioned around Amazon’s star rating review system, they certainly won’t.
The Best White Hat Practices for Getting Amazon Reviews
If Amazon reviews are so important for conversions then — and ultimately, a higher ranking in search on Amazon — how does one going about obtaining them? As with any digital marketing venture, the answer is usually a culmination of various tactics and touchpoints.
Don’t be tempted to offer free products or to pay people to share positive Amazon reviews — Big Brother Amazon is pretty savvy to this behavior and the punishment just isn’t worth it. Instead, some of the best white hat practices for getting Amazon reviews involve the following:
Send an Email Post-Purchase (Seller Central ONLY*)
* This tactic is not available for brands selling on Vendor Central
One of the simplest ways to encourage reviews for your products on Amazon is to simply ask. This can be easily accomplished by customizing the automated emails sent to customers after they’ve made an Amazon purchase.
It’s worth mentioning that using these emails to solicit reviews alone is not an optimal strategy. Think of this tactic as a means of nurturing your customer relationships. You want to build affinity for the brand over time, not expect that purchasers are going to jump at your first ask for feedback.
Use these emails to provide an expanded view of your company’s values and service. Provide further insight into your product’s capabilities. Then to wrap things up, state your ask for additional feedback.
Another way to go about this is to generate another email specifically targeted to those who have left seller feedback. If they’ve taken the time to display positive feelings towards your dealings as a seller already, it can’t hurt to further position them as a valued customer and request additional insight via specific product reviews.
Include Inserts in (or on) Product Packaging
Another way to get in front of customers in driving reviews is through physical product packaging. With the popularization of “unboxing”, many customers assume that the opening of a product will prove as much of an experience as actually using it.
Place an insert front and center as part of the mailer for your package. Similar to an email, you can expand on brand messaging, loop in asks to follow on social media, and, of course, request Amazon reviews.
This tactic requires creativity, testing and often times iteration. Brands may need to add product packaging (i.e., put your product in a box so you can pack an insert in the box) to execute this tactic. Other brands may prefer to put a sticker on the product packaging.
Respond and Dispute Negative Reviews
While at first glance negative Amazon reviews can be a blow to the merchant ego, they should actually be viewed as an opportunity more than anything else. Negative feedback can result from any number of factors, and not all of them may directly stem from the product itself.
If the subject of a customer’s complaint is something you can easily address and potentially fix, expressing your desire to do so as a public response to the review is the first step in doing so. This displays a level of investment from your end in customer satisfaction and leaves the reviewer much more likely to change the tune of their review in the future.
If a negative review does not meet Amazon’s policies, you can dispute it and get it removed. For example, if a review complains about shipment and the product was shipped through Amazon FBA you may have grounds to get the review removed.
Of all reviews we’ve disputed, we’ve observed a 9% success rate getting negative reviews removed.
Additionally, for customers at the beginning stages of their product searches, seeing reviews (both positive and negative) that include commentary from the seller further solidifies trust. It provides visible verification that even if the product does not meet expectations, they can depend on a high level of service to fall back on.
Ask for Reviews From Customers and Followers in Your Other Channels
As a brand, you can communicate with your customers and followers in multiple channels outside of Amazon and ask them to leave reviews on Amazon. Common channels for communicating this request include email, Facebook and Twitter.
The best practice is to simply ask people to buy the product on Amazon at full price and then leave an honest review, no strings attached. Be careful to avoid inadvertently violating Amazon’s TOS regarding product reviews. Notably, do NOT incentivize customers and followers to leave reviews. Avoid language that conveys you’re ONLY looking for positive reviews. NEVER ask family members (or individuals with a financial stake in the business) to leave reviews.
Influencers are a great target audience for this request, especially if you’ve already established communication with them. Curating a group of brand ambassadors is another great way to build an audience that you “activate” with a request to leave reviews.
You can also utilize this tactic in tandem with product inserts. If you have a compelling, simple call-to-action (CTA) that opens up further communication with the customer through your other channels, you can leverage it. For example, add a sticker with a shortlink to your website where the customer can provide their email address in exchange for a free resource, then after obtaining double opt-in permission to email, request them to leave an honest, unbiased product review.
Final Thoughts: Amplio's Best Practices for Securing Positive Amazon Reviews
Reviews are essential to search rankings on Amazon but not necessarily because they’ve been built as such into the algorithm. Instead, it’s what they represent and aid in as it relates to a customer’s likelihood of purchase that makes them necessary to sales velocity over time.
If you’re curious as to how you can further leverage your customers on Amazon as advocates for future sales, contact the team at Amplio today.