The Ethical Guide to Getting Your First Reviews

A frustrating paradox presents itself to brand-new sellers on Amazon: you can’t get sales without reviews, but you can’t get reviews without sales. Skip the cheap tricks and go for smart strategies that set you up for long-term Amazon success.

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One of the biggest concerns of an Amazon seller is seller performance. Amazon is sometimes vague about what is and is not allowed, and there is little opportunity to reach out to Amazon for guidance on these matters. What usually happens is learning by error— Amazon freezing products or entire accounts at their discretion. Product reviews, and the many ways in which new sellers try to secure them on their products, are often the source of these types of issues.

A frustrating paradox presents itself to brand-new sellers on Amazon: you can’t get sales without reviews, but you can’t get reviews without sales. It was once common to give deep discounts in exchange for positive reviews. Amazon put an end to this with an update of the Terms of Service in 2016, citing the corruption of the review system. Those receiving a generous discount in exchange for their review are likely to feel obligated to leave a positive review, regardless of their true opinion of the product.

So how can you gain traction on your brand-new product? Reviews are still paramount; buyers rely heavily on the opinions of others to make their buying decisions. Luckily, there are ways to legally and ethically acquire reviews by focusing on sales first.

Non-compliant practices

After incentivized reviews ended, a new crop of get-ahead-quick strategies emerged. Some sellers were having friends buy products at full price to review, then reimbursing them via PayPal. This is a violation of both Amazon Terms of Service and federal law. Another tactic was distributing an Amazon gift card to be used to purchase the item— also against the Terms of Service, and risky because Amazon can draw the connection between multiple gift cards being purchased, then used on the same product. Some sellers still use these tactics today. However, they always result in your account being suspended. Skip the cheap tricks and go for smart strategies that set you up for long-term Amazon success.

Optimize for rank using keywords

The first step is to make sure your keywords are right on target. You want to reach your target audience of people interested in your product, and give them exactly what they are looking for. You can use a reverse ASIN lookup tool such as Sonar to uncover the keywords that your product is currently ranking for. It will also generate the values of the terms, and which position you are ranking for under that term. Your next step is to plug your competitors’ ASINs into the tool. Find them by searching for the most valuable keyword that you are currently ranking for, and seeing who comes up in the first few results. Download all of the terms that the reverse ASIN lookup tool generates, and use these in your own listing to start climbing up the ranks. The most valuable terms should appear early in the title, where they will have the greatest impact on your product’s rank. Include them in your bullet points, product descriptions, and backend search terms, whose impact on rank descends in that order. However, keep in mind that your rank will not improve by simply repeating keywords: using the term once has the same influence as using it fifty times. Well-written copy incorporating a variety of valuable keywords will perform better than keyword-stuffed copy with repeated terms. Craft your copy to increase conversions. A goldmine of inspiration lies in the positive product reviews of your competitors. These are happy customers describing everything they love about a product similar to yours. Where better to get an idea of what customers value and appreciate?

Drive traffic and conversions

Advertising within and outside of Amazon will drive traffic to your brand-new products— then, if you have them properly optimized, those clicks will turn into sales. Amazon’s automatic campaigns take time to learn about your product and yield results. These types of campaigns can take 3 to 4 weeks to be fully optimized. A manual campaign allows you to choose which keywords trigger Amazon to display your ad, so you can take a more focused approach. To get started with this ad strategy, check out our post about launching a Sponsored Products advertising campaign. To branch outside of Amazon, Facebook ads are a powerful tool to direct people to your listings. Coupon landing pages are also effective, by collecting e-mails and giving shoppers an incentive to make the purchase. Unlocking the power of smart advertising is your ticket to driving sales on a new product, even before your first review.

Requesting reviews

To recap: if you use keywords strategically, you can rank higher in search results. If you use Sponsored Products ads, you can drive traffic to your products. If you optimize your listing, you can increase conversions. Once you are at this point, understand that it is perfectly compliant with Amazon Terms of Service to ask your customers for a review. You can use Feedback Genius to automate your review requests. If you do this, however, you must be careful with the language that you use. You cannot ask for a positive review, or ask that they leave a review only if their experience was positive. You also cannot make suggestions about the content of the review. Avoid “5 star” language that may be perceived as making suggestions. You should also take care to be polite and ask a maximum of one or two times. Amazon has a feature allowing you to email your customers in order to enhance their experience, not to clog up their inbox with excessive requests. Follow these steps, keep these tips in mind, and you will be well on your way to your first review. Remember that it’s hardest when you’re first starting out: as your brand grows, your listings climb the ranks, and as people discover all the amazing products you have to offer, the reviews will come naturally. Source: Cohen, Jeff. “Launching a Product in a Post Incentivized World.” Prosper Show, 12 April 2017, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. Conference Presentation.

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