Amazon & Reviews
A few months ago, Amazon banned incentivized reviews. Since this game-changing policy change, merchants have developed new tactics to generate product reviews and stay compliant. However, Amazon has again changed the rules……
Before we get started, let’s establish a golden rule: Amazon needs to ensure that their shoppers remain confident in its platform in regards to the integrity of the review system.
Amazon loves product reviews and it needs honest product reviews to sell goods. It is not surprising that the last major review policy update happened at the start of the 4th Quarter of 2016. Amazon’s Product Review team achieved what they wanted with click-worthy headlines that stated they are cracking down on product reviews gained via incentives – freebies, discounts, etc. Amazon often makes policy changes and then uses technology to enforce them. One such technology is Amazon’s “Machine Learning Algorithm.” This software does a spider-crawl through product reviews looking for patterns that could be violations of the review policy. If your business or product is flagged, someone at Amazon will often review your account with a fine toothed comb. This is why you want to be compliant from the start.
Avoiding Policy Violations
Do not give away deeply discounted or free products in exchange for reviews. You can sell discounted products but you need to make sure there is no expectation to leave a positive product review. Sellers should also avoid platforms that allow you to select and approve deals for individual Amazon shoppers. Yes, this includes Facebook review groups. To be clear, you can sell your products at a discount. Problems arrive when you are getting a bunch of positive reviews on these items sold at a discount. If Amazon’s algorithms detect reviews coming from discounted sales, this could trigger a manual account review. If you are found to not in compliance with Amazon’s TOS, you risk account suspension and / or termination.
Do not ask buyers to only leave positive reviews. Sellers should never ask a buyer to leave you a “positive” or a “five-star review.” Do not use this type of language in your communication. Sellers should also avoid language like: “If you have a problem with this product please contact customer support. And If you are happy with this product please leave a review.” Please note that this language was previously allowed and many online scripts suggest using phrases like this.
Do not give shoppers review suggestions. Some sellers will email buyers several examples of reviews they could write. Providing suggestions is now against Amazon’s Terms of Service.
Do not SPAM shoppers. Keep all messages about the order and the buyer’s purchasing experience. Be sure to be offering follow up customer service and then ask for a review. Do not SPAM shoppers with multiple review requests. I suggest sending one email after the order is paid for (customer service), one when the unit is out for delivery (request for feedback) and a final email one four days after delivery (request for feedback).
Do not ask friends, family, employees or paid Internet celebrities, also called influencers, to write product reviews. Amazon clearly states that no one who has financial interests in a product can review it – be it a stake in the selling business OR someone who has been paid, in any way, to review the product.
Do not trick sellers into not writing bad reviews. Amazon wants honest reviews. Language that used to be in compliance can now be considered in violation of Amazon’s TOS. Directing good comments to reviews and bad comments to customer service could be viewed as manipulation. To avoid this situation, ask the customer if they need help from a customer service representative in one email. In an separate email, ask for a review or feedback.
Great customer service is key. Always think as yourself, your mother and your grandmother as the buyer. Do not use any language that would confuse anyone or potentially manipulate the feedback and review systems. Do not send repeat emails requesting the same thing. Finally, make sure that your buyers can opt-out of automated messages.
Our Message Template
We would really appreciate it if you could take just a few seconds to leave honest feedback on your purchase for our family owned business. Feedback really impacts our ability to sell and be successful on Amazon. One of the things that makes Amazon such a great place to shop is the feedback system and active participation by buyers like you!
[[feedback-link:Leave feedback for ______ ]]
This message is specific to our business model but it can be easily adapted to fit your needs. If Amazon reads this message it will clearly see that our company is offering great customer service and not trying to manipulate the buyer into leaving a positive feedback.
Want more Amazon tips and tricks? These and other Amazon FBA tips are often shared in our private Shoe String Selling Community on Facebook – where we show people how to sell on Amazon without spending thousands of dollars in training programs. If you are tired of searching for answers across blogs, YouTube videos and Facebook groups, you should consider joining our EXCLUSIVE community! Click here to get more information.