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We’ve talked at length about the benefits of ranking your products highly on Amazon and the methods you can use to improve your rankings, but not all ranking methods are created equal. In this article we’re going to take a look at one of the most important factors you need to be aware of.
Reviews serve multiple purposes on Amazon, the most important of which is that they let Amazon know what customers actually think about your products and they can use that information to affect your ranking directly.
Secondly they provide social proof for other customers and help ensure you make sales when people visit your listings. To understand why that’s important we need to look at the concept of Social Proof.
Social Proof is a term you hear in digital marketing all the time, but what is it? The term was coined in the 1984 book “Influence” by Robert Cialdini, and it is defined as a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.
In simple terms it’s the “monkey see, monkey do” of the marketing world. Consumers like to follow the crowd and when they see an overwhelming amount of support for one particular product their instinct is to join in that support.
In practical terms for Amazon sellers, this means more reviews will lead to more sales, so you should always be actively soliciting reviews when possible.
In fact a Nielsen study showed that 70% of people trusted online reviews when making a purchase, so taking advantage of reviews, as well as other social proof avenues can be massively profitable.
The important thing to take away from this, is that reviews are important, they are the best way for a customer to get an impartial opinion on your product, and as such you need to encourage positive reviews, and actively work to prevent negative reviews.
Of course, as we mentioned before there is another, more important, reason you need to focus on reviews, and that is Amazon’s ranking algorithm. While no one knows exactly what factors affect Amazon’s algorithm, or how much those individual factors affect the listings, we know for sure that Review scores are a major part of that process. Simply put, Amazon wants to promote products that customers like, so good reviews can jump you right to the top of the listings in some situations.
So by taking advantage of good reviews and actively seeking reviews you can make Amazon’s algorithm work for you and increase your sales with no need to spend money on PPC advertising or other marketing approaches.
So how do you get the most out of your reviews? The first step is to get as many good reviews as you can, so how should you approach that?
This seems like an obvious point, but you’ll generate much better reviews in much higher volume if your product is great quality and your customer service is good. Making sure your customers are happy after a purchase is the best way to build a great reputation as a seller, and also has the happy benefit of promoting repeat business from previous customers.
Amazon automatically asks customers to review your products, but you can send a second review request from your Seller Central Orders panel using Amazon’s Request A Review feature which can significantly increase the chances of a customer leaving a review. This takes so little effort, and can be so rewarding, it’s something you should get in the habit of doing routinely anyway.
Product inserts are one of the most underrated marketing tools that an Amazon Seller has at their disposal. Including an insert that encourages customers to leave a review, or even to sign up for your mailing list can be one of the most effective methods of building a loyal customer base and garnering positive reviews.
Not all reviews are going to be positive, it’s the nature of the review process that you will have some unhappy customers eventually. In most cases there isn’t much you can do about unhappy customers, but when the issue can be fixed, or smoothed over, it’s always worth reaching out to the customer and fixing the problem. In some situations you can appeal to Amazon for a review to be removed if it is provably false, or based on something outside of your control (Delivery complaints on FBA products for example) but usually the best solution is to try and deal with the customer as promptly and professionally as you can.
So after reading all of this, you may have had some ideas about how to build up reviews. But before you jump headfirst into that endeavor, here are some things you need to avoid at all costs.
A lot of people have the temptation to place fake reviews for their products, and that is possibly the worst instinct you could have when it comes to reviews. Amazon’s rules around reviews are airtight and frequently enforced. All reviews have to be from genuine customers, that means people who found your product because they wanted to buy it.
You might get lucky and some fake reviews will slip by unnoticed, but if you get caught you risk your products getting delisted, or even worse your entire account being banned. It’s just not worth the risk.
Another topic that Amazon covers explicitly in their guidelines, is Cherry Picking reviews. That means you can’t just choose to ask people you know are happy with the product for reviews in an attempt to skew the listings. This is something Amazon has in their guidelines, but it’s difficult for them to enforce.
Possibly the vaguest of Amazon’s restrictions on soliciting reviews is their prohibition of Manipulative Language.
Essentially, what they consider manipulative language is anything that could be considered as biasing a customer towards your product that isn’t directly related to the product’s utility itself. Examples are using terminology such as “Small Family Owned Business” to court empathy, or “If you feel this product is worth a five-star rating, please leave us a review, otherwise contact us”.
This restriction is potentially the most difficult to navigate, as what constitutes “manipulative language” is incredibly subjective. When in doubt in regards to this, try to keep to neutral language when possible.
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