This is our second article in a series on improving your Amazon Best Seller ranking. If you missed our first one on keywords for product listings, check it out here.

Product reviews can play a powerful role in how well (or not) your products sell on Amazon or any other ecommerce platform.

According to Vendasta, 88% of online shoppers consider reviews in their purchase decision. They’re a big deal, but of course many businesses are afraid of the bogey — the bad review.

Look, right off the bat, if you’re one who wants to shy away from reviews because you’re afraid of a bad one, you’re in the wrong business. Besides the fact that reviews are built in for all products on Amazon so you’re going to have to live with them anyway, reviews can actually help to boost your business quite significantly.

With that established, how can you manage and get more Amazon reviews?

How can you ask your customers for a review? Check out our free template.

Why You Need More Reviews

We indicated at the beginning that this is related to your best seller ranking on Amazon, so that is the first reason we will highlight here.

You might remember from our previous article that Amazon is basically a giant search engine powered by its A9 algorithm. While it has some similar hallmarks of other search engine algorithms, Amazon has its own set of ranking factors which decide the order in which products are displayed on search.

This is important for you because people are searching for your products on Amazon first — there are more product searches made there than on the search engines.

Where do reviews come in? You guessed it, they are a ranking factor for Amazon search results. Not just any review either, as this SEM Rush article explains, verified reviews are what Amazon cares about. This means that the customer has bought the product using their Amazon account then placed a review using the same Amazon account.

Amazon favors the verified review because they view them as being more reliable. Anyone can ask their friends and cousins to go and give them a positive review, but someone who has handed money over for the product is less likely to be trying to game the system.

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Reviews Bring Customers

Customers bring reviews and, in paradox, reviews bring customers. Which are you more likely to purchase? The product which sounds good but has zero reviews, or, the product which also sounds like it will work for you and has good reviews to back it up?

You need reviews because customers are telling us that reviews matter to them. Consider these statistics from Vendasta:

  • 92% of customers read online reviews.
  • 73% form an opinion by reading up to 6 reviews.
  • 88% form an opinion by reading up to 10 reviews.

These statistics tell us that not only do reviews matter, but the number of reviews matter too. If more people are going to read up to ten, then you’d really like to have more than ten good reviews for them to read, right?

Social proof can be a powerful motivator — everyone likes to have confirmation that others are buying and enjoying the same things they are looking at.

How to Get More Reviews

Alright, so we’ve established that more reviews are better, both for your reputation as a seller and for the implied roll-on effect upon your best seller ranking. It follows that you now want to put some focus into getting more reviews of your products.

Not all customers are inclined to give reviews, in fact, one thing to note about online reviews is that they can easily be skewed by the vocal few who want to express their displeasure. Research has found that bad customer interactions are much more likely to be shared and talked about than the good ones. This is unfortunate for businesses who usually have perfectly happy customers, but are let down in reviews by those unhappy few.

So, you want to be encouraging more of those reviews from satisfied customers too — where should you start?

Complying with Amazon Requirements

Before anything else, you need to be very aware of the Amazon rules on getting reviews. They are concerned with preventing people from gaming their system and are very clear in their terms of service.

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Here are some quick points:

  • You may not post reviews or ratings to your own account.
  • You may request reviews from buyers however, you may not pay for them to give you a ‘good’ review.
  • You may give products away in exchange for a review, however it must be made clear that you are asking for an ‘unbiased’ review.
  • You are not allowed to intentionally manipulate rankings by giving away large numbers of free or discounted products for reviews.

Ok, now that you’re aware of what not to do, let’s move on to acceptable ways to get more Amazon reviews:

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Photo credit: bfishadow via Visual hunt / CC BY

Provide a Great Customer Experience

Our success online always begins with our customers, so make sure you are delivering the kind of customer experience which makes them want to say nice things about you.

This begins with how well you set up your products in the first place. Make sure you have written strong, accurate product descriptions and set the right expectations with customers.

Send Follow-Up Emails

Going beyond Amazon’s generic post-sale email can deliver a much better response for individual sellers. Ideally, you should send out a personalized email timed to arrive shortly after the customer has received their order, then follow that up with one or two more.

Upfuel recommends emails be sent after an order is placed, 5 days after shipping and 10 days after shipping. You could choose to send them out one by one, or use an automated software which makes it easier on your time. Tools such as Feedback Five or Salesbacker have been built to automate this process.

Reach Out to Top Reviewers

Did you know that Amazon keeps a list of their top reviewers? You can usually find contact information with a little digging and reach out to them to see whether they would provide an unbiased review in return for free product.

If you’re not sure who to ask, you can click on their reviews and see whether they have reviewed similar products, or at least products in your category previously.

Reach Out to Bloggers

There are a huge number of bloggers who are open to doing product reviews, though the caveat here is to do your homework. What’s worth more to you? A blog with a large audience where most of them aren’t ideal customers for you, or a blog with a smaller audience, a large proportion of whom would be a good fit? We’d suggest you target those with an audience similar to who you are specifically looking for as much as possible.

While some bloggers might review on Amazon, others will review on their own site but point a link to your product on Amazon. Some very influential bloggers will expect to be paid for a review, which is ok if it is clearly unbiased, however you may not have that kind of budget available.

Use Review Services

There are a number of services out there which have been set up specifically to get you more Amazon reviews. These are paid services which allow you to promote your product to groups of reviewers and are conversant with Amazon rules for product reviews.

Just be wary of any service which offers guaranteed 4 or 5 star reviews. Amazon has been cracking down on fake reviews in an effort to ensure the integrity of their site. Remember, you can pay a reviewer as long as they genuinely do get the product to review and it is clear that an unbiased, truthful review is requested. Sites such as Review Kick offer this service.

How do you ask for more reviews? Grab our email template here.

Final Thoughts

While many business owners get nervous at the thought of reviews, they are a necessary part of doing well online. Customers are looking for the social “proof” of your business and can be put off if a product does not yet have reviews as it becomes an unknown quantity.

Customers do tend to have a natural inertia when it comes to reviews, unless they have had a bad experience! This means that you need to be proactive about encouraging reviews of your products.

As long as you remain within the Amazon guidelines and make it clear you would like unbiased reviews, there is nothing wrong with asking customers to review your product, or even using professional reviewers or paid services for reviews.

In the end, the best way to begin is to always offer a great customer experience. This way, even if you are paying a review service, hopefully your reviews are good anyway.

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