It’s no secret that the quality and quantity of reviews and ratings are critical for the success of a product on Amazon. Shoppers use the ratings and reviews as a litmus test to gauge if a product will meet their needs and expectations, while the Amazon algorithm indexes the verbiage in reviews to better match shopper searches.
So with every product category experiencing increased competition and shoppers spoiled for choice, it’s more important than ever to handle your current product reviews and have a review strategy in place to continue to grow the quality and quantity of your reviews.
First, let’s be sure to mention that Amazon split up the reviews and star ratings a few years back. This allows shoppers to rate the product out of five stars without having to write a review.
With this change, we have seen that shoppers who were not planning to leave a review post a rating instead. It provides a lower effort threshold on the demand of the shopper, opening up a wide variety of people who are willing to provide feedback, whether it’s a rating or a review. If you would like to understand this split in more detail, there is a post detailing the difference between ratings and reviews.
When we look at a client’s product listings on Amazon, one of the first things we determine is what products we can advertise with the current ratings and reviews. The best practice is to only advertise products with a minimum star rating average of 3.5 or better. Anything below that does not convert well when matched up against similar products with better star ratings.
There also needs to be a minimum of 15 reviews. Typically, shoppers will not take the risk of buying a new product with fewer reviews than that unless there is minimal competition in the category or the particular product fits a specific need and has great, descriptive content.
So what are ways to get more reviews and ratings on Amazon? All the suggestions listed here are white hat strategies within Amazon’s Terms of Service (ToS) and have proven to help increase product rankings on Amazon in the long term. It takes work and diligence to do, but so does running a reputable Amazon business.
1. In-product request cards: When packaging your products, add a physical card requesting the customer to rate and review the product. This is within Amazon ToS as long as there is not a link directing shoppers to order directly from you, subverting the Amazon shopping experience, and you are not giving different instructions depending on the shopper’s feedback. For example, you can absolutely use the following wording:
Thank you for your order! We are a growing brand on Amazon and are excited to hear about your experience with our products. Other Amazon shoppers would love to hear from you too! Please consider helping your fellow shoppers learn about our product by leaving a rating or writing a review.
There’s no influencing the review (i.e., if you had an issue, contact us, or if you’re happy, leave a review). That verbiage is against Amazon ToS and can risk the status of your account.
2. Buyer Messages through Seller Central: Those Amazon businesses that use Seller Central can use the buyer messages tool to set up a template to request reviews directly from the Amazon shopper. This can have the same messaging as the in-product request card. Do not include links, and do not attempt to sway the outcome of the review or rating.
Keeping it as a touchpoint to remind a buyer they can rate or review a recent order helps to drive up the review and rating counts for your products. If you would like to automate some of this communication, a tool that I have liked to use is Feedback Genius by SellerLabs. With this tool, you can automate your message requests, set multiple touchpoints, and track the effectiveness of the message campaigns.
If you’re an Amazon Vendor, Amazon automatically sends email reminders on your behalf to shoppers, so this strategy is baked in for you.
3. Utilize Amazon’s Vine program: Amazon has made the Vine program available to all registered brand owners in Seller and Vendor Central. With this program, you can send up to 30 units of product to Amazon and then distributes it to the most active reviews for that particular product category.
Brands that utilize this tool can expect a 75% response rate on average and gain high-quality, detailed reviews that typically include user-generated images and video. They earn a special tag as well, notifying other shoppers that this is a Vine review and the person reviewing the product is a top shopper in that category, lending to the credibility of the review.
4. Use promotions or coupons: If your product listing is brand new to Amazon, we need to get shoppers’ eyeballs on the product before they can purchase and rate or review it. Set up a promotion or a coupon. This, with ad support, helps gain visibility to new listings and can lower the hurdle for shoppers to purchase an underrated or low review count product.
Offering the coupon/promotion to all Amazon shoppers and only requesting a review after purchase does not violate ToS. However, if you offered the discount in exchange for the review or rating, this would violate Amazon ToS. This is a huge no-no on Amazon. It will get your account flagged for review manipulation and have the potential to get you suspended on Amazon.
5. Use your editing customer base: If you also sell off Amazon or have an off Amazon following, you can create email campaigns to ask them to review your product on Amazon. A shopper does not have to have purchased your product on Amazon in order to leave a review. Note that if you go this route, the review will not earn the Verified Purchase badge on the review, but it is still indexed by the algorithm and counts towards the overall rating and review count of that product.
This strategy does need to be managed diligently. While it’s not against Amazon ToS, the review section of Amazon is monitored by bots that track the review count against your sales velocity. If you send a mass email campaign and your customers flock to Amazon to leave reviews all at once, it will trigger the bot to flag the product for investigation. Start small. Ask your most loyal customers, and keep tabs on how many reviews are coming in compared to your Amazon sales.
Hopefully, one or all of these strategies can be layered into your current Amazon review management process. Remember that Amazon takes review manipulation seriously, so going the white-hat route is always best.
Remember these things to avoid:
- Do not influence the outcome of your reviews and ratings. You must offer the same route for all shoppers regardless of their experience. You cannot ask people who had a good experience to review and not offer the same thing to those that had a neutral or poor experience.
- Do not incentivize reviews or ratings. Amazon tracks this meticulously. If you offer a coupon, promotion, discount, free product, or cash in exchange for a review, Amazon will suspend your account for review manipulation.
- Do not buy email lists. This shouldn’t have to be said at this point, but buying email lists to then send coupon blasts or new product release emails with review requests does not work. It’s gray-hat at best and violates the trust of the person receiving that email. If they did not interact with your brand or consent to be contacted, usually they are immediately turned off to your brand even if they are your ideal customer. At worst, the email list you just bought is full of dead, no longer used emails that have been abandoned, and you’re sending your email campaigns into the void.
- Do not use review social media groups and pages. Typically these groups require discounted or free products in exchange for a review. This violates that first bullet. Amazon has been cracking down on this as well. The review bots track the rate at which your products get reviews compared to your sales velocity for that ASIN. If there is increased review volume with no change in sales velocity, the product will be flagged for investigation.
- Do not ask friends, family, or co-workers to review products. Amazon tracks the accounts and IP addresses that leave reviews. Not only are you risking your Seller account being suspended for this, but you’re also risking the Amazon accounts of the people leaving the reviews. If too many reviews come in from the same IP address, state, or town, that is a dead giveaway for the bots that there is review manipulation present for that product.
If you have any questions on what practices are allowed for collecting more product reviews, consult Amazon’s policies here:
Reviews and ratings make or break a product on Amazon. A detailed strategy of how to gain reviews in an Amazon ToS-compliant manner is a must for businesses on Amazon. Remember to keep it above board and genuine. A good review strategy will not gain you 100+ reviews overnight. It is a long-term strategy that, if managed correctly, can increase product ranking, lead to increased shopper trust, and ultimately grow your business on Amazon.