Here's the great Amazon paradox that has frustrated sellers for years. Amazon products need reviews to sell, and they need to sell to get reviews.
Having the correct amount of product reviews and a high rating is not just about making you feel warm and fuzzy. It has a real impact on your conversion rates and how often Amazon shows your product in search results.
Here are some stats you should know (credit to DataHawk)...
- Conversion rates on average go up from 5% to 19% between 1 review and 10000 reviews
- Products with an average of 10K reviews convert 2X better than products with 10 reviews (on a median average)
- 97% of consumers read reviews before purchasing
The quantity of reviews is important, but the average rating is just as important (if not more important)
As you can imagine, the data supports the idea that higher review ratings lead to higher conversion rates.
In this article, you're going to learn everything you need to know about Amazon product reviews. You're going to learn.
- Some critical terminology (ratings vs. reviews vs. feedback etc.)
- How to get more positive Amazon reviews and ratings.
- How to remove negative Amazon reviews and ratings.
- What Amazon's review terms and conditions do and do not allow. We will fill in the gaps for things that they don't say explicitly.
Ready? Let's get into it.
Let's start with the terminology that will be used throughout this article.
Product Review vs. Product Rating vs. Seller Feedback
This article is focused on product reviews and ratings. Reviews and ratings are similar but not the same, and neither is the seller feedback.
Amazon Product Review vs. Amazon Seller Feedback
Product reviews are what Amazon shoppers see on specific products, and seller feedback is what they see when choosing which offer to purchase from.
Product Ratings vs. Product Reviews
Until 2019, buyers had to leave full text reviews on purchases. In late 2019, Amazon created a "one tap" rating option that allows buyers to leave a rating without a text review.
Product ratings are like reviews with no text. They are just a rating on a 1 to 5 star scale. These count in the product review counts.
More people leave ratings than text reviews (about 3X as many people leave ratings only).
Both are important, especially if you sell private label items and need your brand to showcase that you can be trusted.
Amazon Sales to Ratings Ratio
How many sales do you need to get reviews and ratings of your products? Probably more than you think!
It would be amazing if every customer left a review on our products, but most do not. On average, most products will be lucky if over 3% of their sales lead to a review.
This means that, all things being equal, after you've sold your first 100 products, you'll likely have about 3 ratings. Of those ratings, you might not even have a single review (which includes a text description of their experience with the product).
My book, for instance, has sold 2,213 units, and has 97 ratings, which means about 4.4% of my buyers left a rating.
Of those ratings, only 24 left reviews.
Knowing how rare ratings are, relying on organic ones to come is a slow and arduous task.
For that reason, let's dive into some white hat, gray hat, and black hat methods for getting more Amazon product reviews (and ratings).
Amazon's Rules for Collecting Product Reviews
You can, and should, read Amazon's official customer product reviews policy for yourself, but I'll summarize it here in my own words. You should also read Amazon's Anti-Manipulation Policy for Customer Reviews, which shows how Amazon wants customers to approach reviews.
- Sellers cannot leave reviews on their own products.
- Sellers cannot leave reviews on competitor's products.
- Family members and employees cannot leave reviews of your products or competitors' products. Amazon does NOT state that friends and acquantances cannot leave reviews, but I have seen them remove many from people I am connected to on social media.
- Sellers can't engage in any quid pro quo type of transactions for reviews on their products or products of their competitors. You may use discounts, promotions, giveaways, and outreach campaigns, but you may NOT make any sort of offer contingent upon the buyer leaving a review.
- Sellers can't use a third-party service that offers free or discounted products tied to a review, as stated above. In 2016, Amazon banned incentivized reviews, and the rule has remained ever since. (Using a tool like Jungle Scout to automate review requests is ok, though.)
- Sellers cannot offer to provide a refund or reimbursement after a buyer writes a review (including reimbursement via a non-Amazon payment method) and asks the buyer to change or remove the review before or after the refund or reimbursement.
- Sellers cannot directly ask buyers to remove or change their reviews.
- Sellers cannot trick customers into leaving negative reviews on a different, non Amazon feedback system. For example, you can't say "visit our website if you had any issues with your product, but leave us a 5 star review on Amazon if you liked it!"
- Sellers can't create a variation relationship between different Amazon products with the aim of manipulating reviews and boosting a product’s star rating. This means you can't hijack an existing listing and take their reviews.
- Sellers can't leave package inserts that request a positive Amazon review or offer some incentive in exchange for a review. This doesn't mean that the seller cannot use inserts to remind the buyer to leave feedback; they just can't incentivize it or suggest that it must be 5 stars.
- Sellers can't use someone else's Amazon account to write or change a review on his or her competitor’s product.
What stinks is that Amazon's policies are not as clear as they can be. There are things that they DON'T say in the terms that make some methods seem like they would be prohibited when they really are fine.
That seems like a lot, but for the most part, it is pretty straightforward.
Your reviews need to come from actual customers, not from you or your employees or family members.
Customers cannot be bribed or nudged to leave a 5 star review. We can request "honest" or "authentic" reviews but not a positive rating or 5 star review.
Other clearly nefarious things like sabotaging a competitor's listing or hacking into someone's seller account to manipulate reviews shouldn't even need to be said.
Got it? Let's move onto how to actually get reviews now.
I've broken down these methods into three categories.
- White hat - Methods that perfectly comply with Amazon's review terms of service.
- Gray hat - Methods that might in some ways technically violate Amazon's review terms of service. These are methods that are less likely to get you caught or in serious trouble if you do. Use these methods with discretion, but I don't recommend them.
- Black hat - Methods that are absolutely against Amazon's review terms of service. These should not be used and can lead to a full suspension of your storefront. Some companies have even faced legal charges for engaging in review fraud.
Let's get into it.
How to Get Amazon Product Reviews [White Hat]
Here are the white hat methods that you can and should use.
#1 Amazon Vine Program
Amazon understands that getting your first reviews is difficult. It's in their best interest to give the best products a chance to get exposure to customers who will want them.
But, fake reviews are also a huge problem, so they created their own review program called Vine in 2021.
Amazon Vine lets "Voices" (Amazon's most trusted reviewers) test and review new product releases.
Sellers have several criteria that they must meet to be eligible for this program.
- Must have Amazon Brand Registration
- Fewer than 30 reviews on the product detail page
- Has an FBA offer in ‘New’ condition.
- Cannot be an adult product
- Must be in stock at the time of enrollment
- Have an image and a description.
- Must have already been launched before enrollment
The Vine program will only help you get your first 30 reviews. If you have 10 reviews already, you can only get 20 more through Vine.
Amazon Vine is free to use if you meet the requirements above. You will have to cover the cost of your inventory that is given to Vine Voice members to test.
#2 Request a Review Button
In September 2020, Amazon added a "Request Review" button to seller central. You can find this on the top right of a product order details page.
We can't customize these, but we can write our own responses if the customer replies.
You can only do this within 5-30 days of the product order delivery date, though, so stay on top of it.
If you want to automate this process a bit more, you can use a tool like the Jungle Scout Chrome extension, which will let you request reviews in bulk with just a couple of clicks.
#3 Request Reviews from Customers Who Left Seller Feedback
Most customers don't know the difference between seller feedback and a product review. Lots of times, seller feedback was actually the customer's attempt at leaving a product review; they just got lost somewhere along the way.
Assuming the feedback was good, we can attempt to get these customers to add a product review as well.
How to Get Amazon Product Reviews [Gray Hat]
Here are methods that are not compliant with terms of service, but many sellers still do. Typically, these do not lead to suspensions or go undetected.
I don't recommend using these, but my article wouldn't be complete without sharing them.
#1 Ask Family and Close Acquaintances
Although this is absolutely a direct violation of Amazon's review terms of service, I've included it in the gray hat list for a couple of reasons.
- Amazon doesn't catch most of them. You might wonder how Amazon can even know who is a relative or friend. Although there are rumors they can make connections via social media, the most straightforward way they know is if you've ordered something for or received an order from a person who has left a review. If you haven't done this, it is not as easy for them to actually identify who is a relative or not. If you have shipped them something, it is almost guaranteed to be removed, eventually.
- Amazon will remove them later, but a suspension is unlikely. Most reviews are removed without even a notice. Amazon seems to understand that family and close acquaintances will find out about a seller's product and want to support them. This isn't always nefarious or intentional, so they don't treat it like a mortal sin that results in a suspension or ban.
- The trade off for initial reviews is "worth it" to some sellers. The hardest reviews to get are your first ones. This method helps you get immediate reviews, which will make people more likely to purchase your product. People don't like to purchase products that have no reviews or that have low review scores. Although this method is gray hat, many sellers are ok with that because it gets their product off the ground. Research has shown that there is a massive change in conversion rates that happens once a product gets 10+ reviews. Rates on average jump from 6% to 14%! The rates do not increase as quickly after 20+ reviews, so getting those first ones is very valuable.
Keep in mind, people can leave reviews without purchasing your item, but it will not show as verified. Truthfully, the impact difference seems negligible between a verified review and an unverified one.
#2 Use Product Inserts to Turn Customers into Email Subscribers You Can Contact
It's crazy to not include inserts in your product packaging. Amazon makes it clear though that we cannot add inserts that tell the buyer to go leave a 5 star review.
So, how do we use the insert to get reviews? We use the insert to get the customer to join our email list. Once they're on our list, we can send them email reminders to go and leave a review. We can also send them promotional broadcasts in the future when we bring new products to market.
But what do you print on your insert to coax them into providing their contact information?
You can do several things in exchange for their contact information.
- Extended product warranty registration.
- Discounts on next purchases.
- Entry into contests.
- Early bird list for upcoming products.
You will just need to send visitors to a landing page and then use an email marketing software to contact them in the future.
I recommend using an Amazon specific email automation tool like FeedbackWhiz for this.
You can set up an automated email sequence that sends broadcasts to all new opt-ins on a timed basis. This will ensure that you contact your new subscribers as often as you should and boost the chances of getting them to leave a positive review or buy something else.
Stop waiting around for product reviews, proactively drive them with FeedbackWhiz.
- Email follow up automation
- Feedback alerts and management
- Order management
Smart sellers use FeedbackWhiz. Click below to see why.
#3 Discounts and Promo Campaigns
We can't buy reviews, but we can give discounts do increase sales. More sales means more reviews.
Yes, the discounts will cut into, or potentially even negate, your profits, but it's a cost worth making.
Services like RebateKey.com and Rebaid.com help facilitate promotional offers and show them to customers looking to buy items for a discount.
How to Get Amazon Product Reviews [Black Hat]
Alright, now to the methods that are absolutely black hat and shouldn't be used. Again, I am including them here just for the completeness of the article. I want to show you all the things sellers do.
#1 Buy Reviews
Just straight up finding people and saying, "here's some money, leave me a 5 star review." About as straightforwardly against the terms of service as it gets.
#2 Review Groups
There are many groups on Facebook and other platforms that engage in black hat review exchange. Typically, these groups give refunds on products to people once they've left a positive review.
Again, wildly against Amazon's review policy and very likely can lead to a suspension.
#3 Email Append Services to Contact Buyers
Amazon guards customer contact information as best they can. However, there are ways to find email addresses for customers by running the addresses through big databases of user data.
Doing this isn't usually illegal (it depends how the data was collected), but contacting sellers via their emails you harvested through these services is a big no-no.
#4 Bribing Amazon Employees
Now we're getting to the next level, cloak and dagger type stuff. This method actually goes beyond simply getting your account suspended. It can lead to legitimate criminal charges.
Part II Removing Negative Amazon Reviews
Ok, we've covered how to get reviews, but that's only the first half of ensuring our product reviews and ratings are optimized. Next, we need to know how to remove negative reviews that can hurt our overall ratings.
There's no nice way to put it. Negative reviews on your Amazon listings absolutely suck. You pour your heart and soul into your products and scratch and claw your way to get positive reviews and boom, a bad review comes and seems to negate all your hard work.
You're not wrong to be upset. Emotionally, it's painful, but bad reviews can also hit your wallet, especially if they drag your overall rating down in a meangful way.
Check out the difference in conversion rates based on a products rating on Amazon.
Negative product reviews can...
- Dramatically lower conversion rates.
- Lead to ASIN removal or disciplinary action from Amazon.
- Dramatically damage your rankings for keywords in Amazon search results.
The damage is heightened when you have a new storefront or product with few positive reviews to soften the blow.
So, we need to work to remove as many negative reviews as we can as soon as they appear, and in this article, I'm going to show you how to do that.
Amazon's Rules Around Review Removal
Amazon upholds very strict rules on just what you may do when removing negative reviews. They are very similar to the rules for obtaining reviews.
- You cannot bribe, intimidate, or otherwise entice people to remove negative reviews.
- You cannot use any external software or service to delete reviews.
- You cannot use any sort of enticement or external resource to pad negative reviews with fake good ones
- You cannot communicate with sellers outside of Amazon's ecosystem. This means through their messaging system only.
Amazon doesn't mess around with customer reviews and ratings. Amazon has a system in place for removing negative reviews, and if you deviate from their system, they will suspend your license and ban you forever if you let them.
Method #1 Review the Review and Report If It Violates the Review Terms and Conditions
Amazon has a strict policy that all reviews follow a specific code of conduct. If customers violate this, it's a quick win for you, since removal is almost guaranteed.
If you see any words that even resemble a curse word or a form of violent speech, it's worth trying to get Amazon to remove it.
Also consider these other situations as grounds for appeal by amazon:
You can also report a review from the Amazon product details page.
You will not need to contact the customer if you can get the review removed this way.
Keep in mind, though, you can't simply report all your negative reviews. Unless they violate the review terms and conditions, you will need to go with another approach to get the review deleted.
The Silver Lining of Negative Reviews
At scale, negative reviews are inevitable. Ironically though, they can actually help drive conversions. Polls have shown that shoppers who filter to only see one-star reviews convert at a rate that’s 108.8% higher than the average shopper. (Source)
Why? First, 5 star reviews simply aren't trusted like they used to be. 1 star reviews are much more likely to be genuine and not fake.
Next, reasonable shoppers understand that not every product is right for every person. Not every customer has the same needs or concerns about a product.
Take this review left on the Amazon Paperwhite Kindle, for example.
On the surface, saying something like "waste of money," seems like a kill shot. I was in the market to buy this for someone as a Christmas gift and guess what? I still bought it.
Why? Because the negative review didn't confirm that my concerns were actually real.
I don't care about customer support. It's a Kindle. What support could I need?This actually made me think the reviewer was probably not very tech savvy, and their opinion on this could be dramatically skewed.
I cared about the battery life though. That was actually the only concern I had since I already knew I liked Kindles anyway.
When this person who is obviously not shy to share a loud opinion praises the battery life, I was sold.
Products with no negative reviews are actually quite suspicious. Surveys showed that 80% of shoppers are less likely to purchase a product with no reviews. (Source) So, if you can't get your negative reviews removed, don't get too down on yourself.
Method #2 Contact the Customer
If the review is not a violation of Amazon's review terms of service, you will need to contact the buyer. This can actually lead to the removal of negative reviews, and sometimes, a change to a 4 or 5 start instead.
According to TrustPilot, when customers are satisfied with a company's response, 13% will delete their negative review and a whopping 43% of will actually change their negative review to a positive one . if they receive a satisfactor reply from the company (in this case the author).
Start off by replying directly to their review and apologize for any inconvenience.
Be calm, patient, and respectful to the customer at all times. If the issue persists, direct them to Amazon customer support.
Again, wait for the reply and be on the lookout for any language that could merit a removal. The best-case scenario is that they see you are a reasonable person, and they remove the negative review after having that positive experience with you.
If they are unsure how to do this, you can direct them to this link that explains how to edit past reviews.
Keep in mind, you cannot contact a customer off of Amazon. You must go through seller central and cannot ask them to reach out to you elsewhere.
Method #3 Spot Competitor Fraud
Some negative reviews could be the result of a competitor sabotaging your listing. There are tools that can help you spot fake Amazon reviews. Use these and contact Amazon support if you believe a review has been left to intentionally damage your listing.
Using Negative Reviews
I've written in the past about using Amazon for a source of copywriting and marketing inspiration.
Your own negative reviews can be a source of growth if you choose to analyze them and view them without emotional bias.
There may be something in your product or product listing and description that you can improve. Making these changes can help you avoid similar negative reviews in the future.
Don't waste an opportunity to grow through negative reviews!
How to Monitor Negative Reviews
If you have a lot of listings or an item that receives many reviews, I highly recommend checking out a tool called Helium 10. They have a feature called Amazon Fraud Detector and Alerts that will notify you of important changes to listings or seller feedback.
Use code ENTRER20 for 20% off your first 6 months or ENTRER10 for 10% off for life.
Summary and FAQs
Ratings and reviews are different. A product rating does not have any text. It is simply a star rating out of 1 to 5. A product review has both a star rating AND text explaining the buyer's opinion of the product. Amazon uses the term "review' more frequently on their website and somewhat inconsistently. The "review count," Amazon shows on products includes not just text reviews, but also ratings that have no text.
It blatantly violates Amazon's product review policy to compensate a customer in any way for a review. We can not even suggest that a customer leaves a positive review. We can spend money though on other efforts to drive more reviews, and we can do things that remind buyers to leave a review (with no mention of what kind of review), but we must stay within Amazon's policies.
Although the number will vary depending on things like niche and product quality, around 3-6% of Amazon sellers leave a rating or review on a purchase. If you make 100 sales, you will likely get between 3 and 6 ratings. You will get fewer actual text reviews than this.