After removing the incentivized reviews, getting reviews on Amazon has become extra difficult. Supporting this is the fact that 73% of buyers say that a business’ positive customer reviews encourage them to trust the brand and eventually make a purchase. Reviews enable customers to make informed decisions, making it Amazon’s duty to make sure they’re legitimate, helpful, and best of all, coming from a verified purchase. This is all possible through Amazon’s updated algorithm which eliminates manipulative reviews that create false perceptions of products.
As more and more brands and stores pop up on Amazon, verified reviews from buyers have become increasingly difficult to get. To help you get started, here are some of the best ways you can get great reviews on your Amazon listings quickly and in the most legal way possible:
Amazon’s Criteria for Reviews
When selling on Amazon, it’s very important to understand the importance of Amazon’s criteria for product reviews. While some sellers may think that Amazon takes the quality of reviews very lightly, they don’t. In 2016, Amazon made the discovery of sellers using discounts and rewards to over-inflate their reviews. This then led to many products having too many 4-5 star ratings, thus boosting the popularity and sellability of products that only promise freebies and price reductions rather than authentic buyer experience.
The Risks and Penalties for False and Unverified Reviews
To help give customers a better and more honest experience when dealing with product reviews, Amazon and even the Federal Trade Commission have put efforts in place to ban the practice of sellers profiting from dishonest product review strategies.
Amazon’s Fake Review Penalties
Amazon has its own anti-manipulation policy for customer reviews.
Their policy indicates that if a seller is found to have manipulated reviews or have violated Amazon’s guidelines, their Amazon privileges could be terminated, their questionable or fraudulent reviews could be removed, their products could be delisted, and worst of all, their account will be suspended. Amazon accounts that are found to have engaged in manipulating reviews will also have any payments and remittances forfeited and withheld.
If matters need to be escalated, Amazon may also pursue lawsuits against Amazon sellers and manufacturers who participate in purchasing or attempting to purchase fraudulent reviews. They warn dishonest Amazon sellers to follow the selling platform’s guidelines as several of the lawsuits they file commonly result in sellers paying after receiving monetary judgments that often exceed their Amazon store’s annual revenue.
In a blog post, they detailed their efforts in creating a trustworthy reviews experience by mandating selling activities and constantly filtering the product reviews on the platform. They also mentioned making innovative technological efforts to make sure the products in their platform have genuine reviews which can help guide buyers into making sound decisions and receiving products that are as advertised. Amazon warns sellers about the different tactics that Amazon sellers use to create fraudulent reviews such as sellers soliciting fake reviews outside of Amazon, hiring third-party service providers and the so-called “bad actors” to create reviews, or using social media services to perform the fraudulent activity. They have also stated that they’ve managed to take report more than 300 groups to social media companies where the bad activities have occurred, helping shut down the market for fake Amazon product reviews.
The FTC’s Fake Review Penalties
Last October 13, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released an official statement that discusses the penalty offenses for individuals who deceive customers through fake reviews. They highlighted social media as one of the key factors that impact the struggle to have authentic content and advertising in any selling platform. Through social media, it has become quite easy for advertisers and sellers to create their own false reviews, deceiving customers visiting their chosen selling platform each day. While fraudulent activities are easy to accomplish, the FTC ramps up their statement by sending a Notice of Penalty Offences to more than 700 companies in the US, warning them of a $43,792 per violation penalty if found guilty of deceptive conduct. These companies are composed of large companies, leading retailers, major advertising companies, top advertisers, and consumer product companies.
The official statement also mentions the offenses are not limited to failing to disclose an unexpected material connection with an endorses, misrepresenting that the experience of endorsers represents the consumers typical or ordinary experience, using an endorsement to deceive customers of performance claims, falsely claiming an endorsement by a third party, and misrepresenting an endorser as a current and actual user of the product/service.
The Big Differences Between Verified and Unverified Reviews
Whether they’re for a new product or for advertising more sales to an existing product, reviews play a significant role in making or breaking your conversion. Similar to every eCommerce platform, the better your product is and the more glowing reviews it has, the more likely it’ll be bumped upwards by Amazon’s algorithm.
There is more than one type of review that sellers receive on Amazon: Verified and unverified reviews.
Verified reviews are those reviews that are tagged as “Amazon Verified Purchase”. This indicates that the author of the review actually bought the product via Amazon. If the item they bought was discounted, their review won’t be tagged as a verified purchase. To be able to leave a verified review, the customer must also spend a minimum of $5- on their Amazon account using a valid debit or credit card in the past 12 months.
Unverified reviews, on the other hand, are those reviews left by people who did not purchase the product via Amazon. It may also mean that the customer had bought the product at a discounted price.
How to Get Legitimate Amazon Reviews
It’s every Amazon seller’s dream to reap thousands of stellar reviews. But with everything else in the world of eCommerce, nothing comes easy.
Before you sell your product and expect reviews to come flooding in, remember that you have to touch on your customers’ emotions first. It’s a known fact that potential customers not only buy with their needs in mind but their emotions as well. It also helps if your product makes them question whether your product can solve their problem and if they can recommend it to the people they know as well. If your product description meets their emotional needs, then you’re more likely to be a few steps away from making a sale.
You also want your potential customers to get exactly what you had promised them on your Amazon product description. If they feel like they’ve been fooled and misinformed, you need to get ready for an onslaught of negative reviews. The same applies to your product photos. They need to be able to describe your product, what it does, where and what it can be used for, and everything else that clears confusion.
Your negative reviews will help tell you what you need fixing as many customers would become very detailed when it comes to leaving a negative review with a complaint. While it may not always be an error on your part and a mistake from the customer’s end, it pays to respond to their issue and offer a solution. Issues that customers are consistently having must be addressed in the Q&A section or simply added to the product description, photos, or other areas where suitable.
While it’s not easy to get the positive reviews you want, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are several ways to get stellar Amazon product reviews starting from the product you’re selling to the information you include on the listing…
White Hat Tactics
Here are safe and legal techniques you can try to help you get the 5-star reviews you want and need:
Insert cards inside packages
Slipping product inserts into packages is just one of the easiest ways to encourage your customers to leave a review. While Amazon allows the presence of insert cards, they’ve noticed that some sellers have been including messaging that asks customers to divert negative reviews and to reach out to the company instead. While this may be a great opportunity for customers to be given a better experience after a poor one, it defeats the purpose of leaving reviews and goes against Amazon’s terms when it comes to product inserts. These terms include:
- Promising incentives (e.g. coupons, free products, and etc.) in return for five-star reviews or any kind of reviews are not allowed
- Showing an image of five stars and asking customers to leave a five-star review is against Amazon’s guidelines
- Avoid trigger words like happy, 5-star, satisfied, and any words that can affect the customers’ judgment
- Product inserts may also have the company’s email address or contact information to help customers resolve issues. But to keep things safe, it’s better to tell customers how to contact you on Amazon instead
- Adding links and messages that prompt them to go to another website is also not allowed. It’s best to only use links that go to your Amazon store
Make sure to review Amazon’s product insert policy if you’re thinking of adding them to your packages.
Amazon Launchpad is a supplemental program that’s created for helping Amazon businesses accelerate their influence and sales. This unique platform is considered to be a marketplace within a marketplace for innovative products launched by vetted startups. While there’s always an option of having their listings posted on Amazon itself, Amazon Launchpad gives small businesses the type of boost they need for their specific market. The product listings in Launchpad are designed for intuitiveness by way of having more editorial spaces, bigger images, a section dedicated to videos, and access to the Amazon Imaging Services Team (guarantees highly professional photography). Launchpad vendors are able to get more impressions through in-house advertising as well as a widget on their Amazon storefront landing page.
For the logistical side, Launchpad vendors may also access the Services Hub where they can ask colleagues and other service providers for assistance. More established service providers may also help through different categories from creating prototypes to funding and sales assistance.
While not every startup can be approved to join Launchpad due to Amazon’s criteria for eligibility, there are still ways to try and apply for the program.
Ask popular Amazon reviewers for help
Amazon reviewers can help you gather honest reviews for your products. Simply visit the “Top Customer Reviewers” Page. These reviewers are considered trustworthy as many of them may have earned several badges from Amazon such as the “Top 10 Reviewer”, “Vine Voice”, and “Hall of Fame Reviewer”. Some of these reviewers may leave their contact details in the About section of their profiles. But before you decide to contact any of the reviewers on the list, make sure to check their profiles first and maybe snoop around if you need more information. Always do checks on reviewers before you get in touch with them as it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Generate a list of criteria of who you want to get in touch with for an honest review. For good measure, only contact those who are actively reviewing products and are leaving decent and professional reviews. Similar to the Vine Program, you may also send a free sample of your product to these top reviewers. Be extra vigilant when choosing reviewers you would like to reach out to especially if your items are higher in value.
Encourage Organic Reviews via Social Media
Another great way to get legitimate and honest Amazon reviews are through your store or brand’s social media channels. Most people following you on social media would be people who know your brand, people who have just discovered your brand, and those who have bought from you and are constantly buying from you. Given their advantage of knowing about your brand and the products you offer, these groups are some of the best people to ask reviews from. Ask them for reviews via social media posts and invite them to leave reviews on your Amazon store.
Once a customer buys from your Amazon store, Amazon then sends them a generic templated email that asks them to leave the product a review. While this is a nice gesture from the eCommerce giant, many customers ignore it. Everyone tends to ignore emails like this, making it your goal to create one that captures their attention. But since you won’t gain access to your customers’ email addresses, you have to take an extra step to make sure you get it. Here’s where Sage Mailer comes up.
Sage Mailer is an FBA tool that gives FBA sellers the advantage of communicating with their customers directly. Some of their offers include a “Request a Review” button, Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging and Management, an Amazon Autoresponder, ASIN Product Review tracking, A/B Email Testing, Shipping Labels, VAT Invoices, Review Monitoring, and Performance Statistics Tracking.
Through their service, you can personally craft emails intended for your customers where you may be able to thank them for purchasing from your store, explain how reviews can help businesses like yours a lot, and encourage them to share their experiences with your brand to make others discover and enjoy your products as well.
However, be extra careful about your wording as you might break Amazon’s communication guidelines about coercing customers to leave a positive review.
Black Hat Tactics
Where there are good ways to get reviews, there are also bad ones. Here are some of the illegal (based on Amazon’s review policies) ways that Amazon sellers have tried to gather Amazon product reviews:
Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints on black hat Amazon review tactics expressed below are those of the various authors and resources we’ve gathered our information from. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of AMZ Pathfinder and its members, nor the companies affiliated with AMZ Pathfinder.
Friends and Family
The race to get as many authentic Amazon product reviews as possible is never-ending and has surprisingly several inevitable loopholes that exist in any eCommerce platform. What’s the easiest way to achieve that? To get them from friends and family, of course. While that has been something that many aspiring Amazon sellers have thought of, it comes with great risk.
On their community guidelines, Amazon has mentioned, “In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) is not allowed, including: Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services.”
Amazon may be able to detect unusual activity from people who leave reviews on your products. It’s a known fact that they may be able to find out if your family members participated in product review fraud when they check the IP address that your family member used to post the review.
Gather customer data through email append services
Given that Amazon doesn’t give sellers access to their customers’ contact information, specifically, their email addresses, it poses a bigger struggle as it limits the amount of contact they can do with their customers. This limitation doesn’t allow them to send marketing emails and campaigns that can inform them about new products, releases, news, price cuts, discounts, and everything else that can help sellers enhance the potential for more sales. If there is an email address that’s given by Amazon, it would be a scrambled email address that could only be used using Amazon’s own system.
This is where email address appending service becomes an option. This type of service makes use of your customer’s first name, surname, and mailing address and located the email address they use in nationwide databases. After getting your customers’ email addresses appended, it’s important that you still stick to the global emailing guidelines as your new email recipients from the appended list have not consented nor requested to receive an email from you. Review the CAN-SPAM Act by the FTC any make sure to comply with their rules.
Get reviews deleted
Since 2020, the number of negative reviews on Amazon has increased by 170%. Amazon sellers find it very hard to receive their buyers’ trust or to even get their attention without any reviews on their platforms. Like any intelligent buyer, they will mostly flock to listings with a higher amount of reviews and 5-star ratings, sometimes even disregarding the price if their budget allows.
While it’s very rare for Amazon to delete negative reviews that comply with their guidelines, you can still contact Amazon to get negative reviews deleted. To do this, you have to send an email to [email protected] or report the negative review you wish to delete by clicking on the “report abuse” button on the products details page. If you opt for the email strategy of deleting negative reviews, simply add the date, and name/pseudonym of the reviewer, the ASIN of the product, and the link to the negative review.
If the customer doesn’t necessarily talk about the problems with your product, the product itself, or if they use vulgar language, it will eventually be removed.
Negative reviews coming from your competitors may also be reported to Amazon’s support team. Include your evidence to prove your claim that it has come from a competitor. It’s also important not to get too carried away with reporting negative reviews. Don’t try to report them in bulk. Only report those that you think have violated Amazon’s guidelines and you’re good to go.
Read more about Amazon’s Feedback Policies here.
Pay for fake reviews
Over the years, fake reviews have swarmed several areas of Amazon, making it very difficult for both Amazon and buyers to figure out which products are genuinely 5-star rated. Unfortunately, freelancing platforms like Fiverr are littered with Amazon review creation gigs that guarantee high ratings with a small amount. While getting fake reviews is as easy as 1-2-3 on those websites, it can backfire terribly. Amazon sellers caught using services to get fake reviews will have their Amazon accounts suspended, forfeiting any pending payments and other finance-related aspects of their account.
Join Fake Review Facebook Groups
With cheap fake reviews on the rise, Facebook groups dedicated to buying Amazon product reviews and selling them have become rampant, too. When you join Fake Amazon Review Groups, you’ll find that there are several offers of free products and fees in exchange for product reviews. These incentivized reviews go against Amazon’s Terms of Service and were resolved when Amazon launched their Verified tags for reviews from people who actually bought the product off of Amazon.
However, the devil works hard, but Amazon Sellers who are hungry for instant 5-star rating success work harder. They’ve bypassed the Verified and Unverified tags tactic that Amazon set by making the fake buyers purchase the product, leave a stellar review, and later on reimburse the fake buyer of the money after their review has been posted.
Similar to paying for fake reviews, if Amazon finds that you’ve participated in buying fake reviews via Facebook Groups, your account will be suspended as well.
Selling on Amazon can either be heaven or hell depending on the tactics you use to gather authentic reviews. While it’s easy to pay for people online to create fake reviews for you, it won’t be worth it in the end when Amazon suspends your seller account. The best thing you can do is to practice ethical ways of doing business. Improve your marketing strategies, product listings, communication, advertising campaigns, and just do things that align with Amazon’s selling and communication policies and you’ll receive positive results in no time.