The topic of product reviews on Amazon is on everyone's lips in the media, in particular the flood of so-called "fake reviews" is increasingly being referred to.
The great importance of generating product reviews for the respective sales success on Amazon is well known to every Amazon Marketplace seller. Products that receive many positive product reviews have clear advantages with regard to Amazon SEO and the conversion rate.
Because of this important importance of product reviews, I would like to present in today's article various possibilities of how product reviews can be generated. These are not recommendations for action, but only the presentation of different ways to generate ratings.
Since on average only 5% of orders on Amazon are rated, it needs productive support from the sellers to get as many positive ratings as possible.
What advantages do products with positive ratings have?
- Products with many positive ratings are usually preferred by the Amazon A9 algorithm and are thus more often displayed on the first search results page
- The purchase probability of products with positive ratings is significantly higher than for products without ratings
- The advertising costs incurred per generated sale via Amazon PPC are significantly lower for products with positive ratings compared to products with no or average ratings
- Products with positive ratings have an above average click-through rate (CTR)
Fake it till you make it is no solution
Before we go deeper into the matter, one important thing must be clearly stated once again: A bad product will remain a bad product even with good short-term ratings. If your product is more expensive than the products of your competitors, but does not offer any significant advantages and is not a branded product, positive product reviews will not help you in the long run.
Even the generation of fake reviews by friends & family is not a long-term strategy and will sooner or later be recognized by Amazon and can lead to the blocking of your Amazon seller account!
So first make sure that your products have a valued advantage over your competitors, otherwise you will sooner or later be ousted by other market participants from Asia.
What types of ratings are available on Amazon?
Before we look at the different methods of generating ratings, we need to get an overview of the different types of ratings.
In the first step we look at the difference between customer reviews and seller reviews.
What are seller ratings?
Seller ratings are used to evaluate both the seller and the shopping experience (communication and shipping performance). These reviews are not displayed at the product level, but appear on the seller's Information Summary page. Seller Ratings directly affect sales performance and can cause the seller's account to close temporarily if performance is poor.
What are customer reviews?
Customer reviews are used to evaluate the product being offered and its features. These reviews are displayed for each individual product. It is important to note that customer reviews do not affect sales performance!
With customer reviews, we also distinguish between reviews with the addition "Verified Purchase" and reviews without this addition:
Reviews with the addition "Verified purchase
If a customer review contains the words "Verified Purchase", it means that the order was placed through Amazon and that the buyer did not receive a significant discount.
Reviews without the addition "Verified Purchase
In the case of customer reviews without the "Verified Purchase" addition, the product was either not purchased on Amazon or the customer paid a price significantly lower than the current product price offered.
The different methods of Amazon review generation
1st Amazon Vine
Amazon Vine is an Amazon service that was only available to Amazon Vendor Central participants until December 2019.
Since December 15, 2019, however, Amazon Marketplace merchants who sell a registered trademark can now also use the Amazon Vine service.
If sellers decide to generate product reviews using Amazon Vine, the following requirements should be met:
- Products must be shipped via Amazon FBA
- Products with more than 30 product ratings are not allowed
- Erotic articles cannot be submitted
- Amazon trademark application must have been filed
- They must be new products
If these requirements are met, products can be registered for Amazon Vine. These products are made available to reviewers free of charge.
The reviewers are only top reviewers who have been selected by Amazon to review your products.
Amazon Vine reviewers will then usually write a product review within 30 days of receiving the product. These are product reviews that cannot be influenced, so that negative product reviews can also be written. The subsequent removal is as good as not possible. For this reason I emphasize once again how important it is to offer only products in perfect condition. Otherwise these reviews can also have negative effects on your average product rating.
2nd Amazon Early Reviewer Program
The Amazon Early Reviewer Program is a relatively unknown service from Amazon, which is currently (as of December 2019) not yet available for the German marketplace. Currently, the Amazon Early Reviewer Program is available to US and UK sellers. However, it is only a matter of time until it is also available for the German marketplace.
With the Early Reviewer Program Amazon automatically sends emails to your customers with a review request for a flat fee of $60. As an incentive the reviewers receive a credit of between $1-3 per review written.
Once you have been approved for the Early Reviewer Program, you can join the Early Reviewer Program at →. Once participation begins, selected buyers will receive a message from Amazon asking them to write a review for the product.
Within the Amazon Early Reviewer Program there are also requirements for your own participation:
- Product price is at least $15
- Product has less than 5 reviews when participating in the program
- fee of 60$ must be paid
3. request evaluations
Since recently, there is the possibility to request ratings on the order level. To do so, go to Orders in Seller Central → Manage Orders and select a completed order. On the page "Order Details" we now find the button "Request Reviews".
I cannot judge whether this kind of request for ratings is in accordance with the current jurisdiction. For this reason my customers as well as I have not yet made use of this function. For this reason, I cannot yet judge which chance of success there is for a rating.
4. email funnel with refund
One method that has gained popularity, especially in recent months, is the integration of an email funnel with full refund of the purchase price after submitting a product review. Here potential customers are first of all sent to a separate landing page, where an email query is made in the first step. After successful registration, the product will be purchased and evaluated at the normal purchase price. After the purchase has been made and the evaluation has been written, the customer contacts the seller and receives a full refund of the purchase price.
This method is also against the guidelines and should therefore not be used. Just the effort to check the evaluation and the customer data for a positive evaluation seems to me personally much too high.
A similar procedure can be carried out through a Facebook chatbot, or in personal contact using WhatsApp or Facebook.
5. coupon codes for ratings
One option that has been used very often in recent years to generate as many product reviews as possible is to assign a discount code in return for a written review. In this regard, a promotional campaign was created and coupon codes were distributed. Here the discount was usually above 50% so that as many potential customers as possible were interested in this product. This procedure already violated the evaluation guidelines in the past. For this reason, since August 2018, product evaluations in which the sales price was reduced by more than 30% (in some cases from 20%) by means of a discount code have hardly been published.
6. external valuation platforms
In the meantime, a large number of evaluation platforms have been positioned for the generation of product evaluations, which should help to generate product evaluations. These rating platforms act as matching partners between customers and sellers. On these platforms sellers present their products and hope that customers are interested in the products offered. If customers are interested, they will be reimbursed either the full price of the product or part of it after receiving the review. This method is very widespread, as the standardized procedures here mean that hardly any effort is expected from the salesperson. Of course, this procedure violates Amazon's guidelines and can lead to dramatic consequences for the seller.
7. customer reviews from Friends, Family & Fools
A logical and often used method is to have friends and family members place orders and write customer reviews. Since this is done proactively and the customer reviews are not written objectively, this method does not comply with Amazon's Terms of Services.
8. adoption of customer reviews for products no longer offered
Another possibility is the transfer of product ratings for products that will no longer be offered in the future. Since the product ratings are linked to the ASIN of a product, ratings remain even if the actual product is no longer offered. Now you can use the existing ASIN and assign it to a new product by simply taking over the existing ASIN. For this purpose, of course, the contents of the product listing, such as images, titles, etc., have to be revised so that they fit the new product. The adoption of customer reviews of products that are no longer offered only makes sense if the products are similar. For products that do not have similarities (e.g. printers and suitcases) this is of course not a sustainable method.
Unfortunately I cannot judge at the moment whether the adoption of customer reviews is in line with Amazon TOS. However, I can confirm that we have already successfully implemented this option for several customers.
9. create product variants to bundle reviews
For a variant product, the received product ratings of all variants are displayed in compressed form. Therefore, the display of the product ratings for all variants can be used to add new products to an existing variant family. Thus the product ratings already received for this variant are also displayed.
Please note that negative product ratings are also displayed for all variants.
10. package inserts
The use of package inserts to generate product reviews is familiar to most Amazon sellers. A package insert is used to start communication with the customer and motivate them to leave a product review.
The rating rate is very low, so the additional effort is hardly justified. In addition, a customer's proactive request for reviews is not permitted at this point.
11. automatic email dispatch with invoice and request for product reviews
The last method to generate ratings is to automatically send an invoice to the Amazon customer's email address. In addition, the customer is asked to make a rating for his order.
This method also contradicts the Amazon TOS and should also be strictly avoided due to the data protection laws in Germany. However, there are still many sellers who are not aware of the potential dangers.
Different methods to remove Amazon reviews
Besides generating ratings, it may also be sufficient to remove existing negative ratings. The removal of negative ratings is much more difficult than the generation of positive ratings. Personally I know only two methods, which I would like to mention briefly.
1. report violation of product reviews
The obvious way to remove a negative rating is to appeal against a written rating. The chances of success are relatively low. Usually only product reviews are removed in which the customer instead of the product reviews the seller. Since Amazon follows a strict separation of product and seller ratings, the probability of success of removal in such cases is very high.
Even if the facts are not correct, negative reviews can be removed by Amazon.
2. remove product variants with negative ratings
The second method of removal refers to groups of variants or product groups. Since the product ratings within product groups are displayed in compressed form, negative ratings for one variant can affect all other variants. This can be solved relatively easily by removing the variant with negative ratings from the variant group. In this way, the negative product ratings will no longer be displayed for the other variants.
Frequently asked questions about customer reviews
Which evaluation guidelines are to be followed?
Amazon itself speaks of a zero tolerance policy against manipulated ratings. In the following, I have therefore summarized all types of possible reviews that are explicitly not tolerated by Amazon:
- Reviews by persons who have a close personal relationship with the product owner
- Reviews in return for financial compensation
- Reviews from the manufacturer itself
- Reviews by persons who have a direct or indirect financial interest in connection with the product
- A positive review from an acquaintance or colleague in order to receive a positive review in return
- A negative review of a competitor's product
How are the star ratings for products calculated?
The star rating for each product is not calculated as a simple average, as many people think. For example, a product that has received 4 times 5-star ratings and once a 1-star rating may have a displayed star rating of 3.9 instead of 4.2. This is because Amazon takes various factors into account when displaying the star rating.
The following factors are considered:
- Verified purchase vs. unverified purchase
- Age of the evaluation
- How helpful the evaluation is accepted by people
- Concluding note on the subject of product reviews
Since May 2019, violations of the review guidelines can be viewed at Seller-Central under Customer Satisfaction → Seller Performance → Violations of our guidelines for customer product reviews.