Amazon Review Scheme Shakedown–Get Your Reviews the Legitimate Way. Guest Post

Amazon Review Scheme Shakedown–Get Your Reviews the Legitimate Way.
by Paul Johnson – SellerLabs


Paul(co-founder of SellerLabs) loves e-commerce and software development almost as much as he loves playing guitar and snowboarding. Most of all, he loves his wife and 4 boys at home.

 

A few days ago we read an article on GeekWire about Amazon filing its first-ever lawsuit against a company that sells fraudulent reviews. We think many more of these kinds of fraudulent practices will have light shed on them by the media in the near future. Honesty and transparency are what give consumers confidence to purchase online instead of a brick-and-mortar store. If consumers feel like they won’t get what they expect out of a product they’re likely to lose confidence in shopping online. This is something that is bad for Amazon and all online merchants, which is why Amazon is diligently working to keep fake reviews off its site.

As a company that specializes in helping merchants build brands on Amazon, we are compelled to weigh in on this issue. Hopefully we can set the record straight and answer some questions many people are asking about acquiring legitimate Amazon reviews. Below are answers to five common questions most Amazon merchants should understand.

1. What are Amazon’s official rules on product reviews?
Seller Central has defined guidelines for merchants that explain what is allowed for product reviews here. You have to be logged into Seller Central to view the guidelines but we have paraphrased them below.

  • You may not write reviews for products or services that you have a financial interest in, including reviews for products or services that you or your competitors sell.
  • You may not provide compensation for a review other than a free copy of the product.
  • If you offer a free product, it must be clear you are soliciting an unbiased review.
  • The free product must be provided in advance; no refunds are permitted after the review is written.
  • Review solicitations that ask for only positive reviews or that offer compensation are prohibited.
  • You may not ask buyers to remove negative reviews.

Generally, the above section can be applied to most review situations and we will use them to help answer some of the other questions along with our own experience and insights. You can also go here to learn more about Amazon rules from the buyer side.

2. Is asking for product reviews against Amazon’s terms of service?
Short Answer: No

You’ll see the answer to this question directly above from Amazon when they state, “Review solicitations that ask for only positive reviews or that offer compensation are prohibited.” Clearly you can solicit reviews on Amazon if you follow the rules.

Using our tool Feedback Genius, merchants successfully send millions of messages every month to buyers asking for product reviews. These messages have taught us a lot about Amazon and what they are comfortable with. It is important to keep your email part of the transaction. Soliciting reviews for dated purchases is risky, and usually not very effective. In Amazon’s buyer seller messaging guidelines it states, “In general, you may contact buyers only to complete orders or to respond to customer service inquiries.” This means it’s imperative to send email communication about an order, and make sure it’s relevant. It’s also imperative not to specifically ask for a positive review.

3. Is giving away a product for free or a discount in exchange for a product review against Amazon’s terms of service?
Short Answer: No

The answer to this question is also found above in the following guidelines:

  • You may not provide compensation for a review other than a free copy of the product.
  • If you offer a free product, it must be clear that you are soliciting an unbiased review.
  • The free product must be provided in advance; no refunds are permitted after the review is written.

It’s important to know what the Federal Trade Commission says about free and discounted products.

Amazon doesn’t mention “discounted” products in its rules, but in staying compliant with FTC guidelines, we require our Snagshout shoppers to mention they received a product at a discount in exchange for an honest review.

Read the Federal Trade Commission’s Revised Endorsement Guides here.

Our new service Snagshout has helped merchants get thousands of Amazon reviews since it’s launch a couple of months ago. In this short time we have been further educated about getting Amazon reviews, using discounts, and sampling. The key to this is being honest and transparent. We modeled our system off of Amazon’s own system: Amazon Vine, where vendors give away samples to top reviewers in exchange for an unbiased review. Amazon tells Vine reviewers as well as all other reviewers to clearly disclose if they received a free or discounted product in their review. We also require every Snagshout shopper to do the same.

4. Can my Amazon product’s reviews be deleted?
Short Answer: Yes

Amazon category managers have numerous tools at their disposal to help weed out fraudulent reviews. Be careful, because even if your reviews are legitimate your listing could still get flagged. If you have lots of reviews in a very short period with a very high review to order ratio your listings may also get flagged. We don’t know Amazon’s entire process for dealing with these flagged reviews but it probably works something like this: A listing is flagged by the system, then a human looks at the site to manually to view the questionable reviews. If the reviews are all 4 and 5 stars, and do not contain an disclaimers that the review was in exchange for a free or discounted product, they may get deleted. Five star reviews purchased with a 100 percent free promo code, and no disclaimer are typically more prone for deletion.

Snagshout is different from other review sites, understanding our system can help you. First, we let you set your price, this means all your products do not have to be free. Second, shoppers agree to leave a disclaimer that they received the item for free or at a discount. Finally, we allow you to set daily limits. This can help spread your activity over time, which will help you from getting flagged in the first place, and to keep a healthy ratio between promotional and organic sales. Keep in mind using Snagshout is completely within Amazon’s terms so if you happen to get reviews deleted, and they contained a disclaimer, you should contact Amazon and ask them to reinstate your products’ reviews. We keep record of every review so you can use it as a reference if there are any deletions. With the thousands of reviews we have helped Amazon merchants generate we have only had a couple of cases of reviews getting deleted.

5. How can I legitimately build Amazon products reviews?
The key to building legitimate reviews is to develop a genuine and honest strategy that follows Amazon’s guidelines. You should work with partners who are honest and experienced at building brands on Amazon. Consider your business goals and develop a long-term strategy. We encourage brands to think about the long run, not a short-term burst.

Understand that negative reviews are possible and soliciting feedback can work both ways. For example, recently a customer threatened to leave Snagshout because they received a negative review. After researching the reviewer we noticed they had a history of honest reviews and the negative review seemed to be legitimate. We decided not to interfere with the situation because the honesty of that review is what will keep our service legitimate.

Below is the breakdown by star rating of the thousands of Snagshout reviews we have helped sellers receive so far:

Snagshout_5-Star-Reviews

Positive reviews are obviously the goal when selling on Amazon. But don’t let a negative review shatter your confidence as a seller. Negative reviews are great opportunities to learn about you as a seller and the products you offer. Use them to adjust and correct any problems and move forward.

The Takeaway

Take time to evaluate your Amazon marketing strategy. There is no shortage of companies offering services claiming to be experts on Amazon and promising you success. Separating impersonators from authentic partners you can trust is difficult. We offer a selection of tools to help you get legitimate feedback with the goal to be as transparent and genuine as possible.

Amazon Feedback Management
http://sellerlabs.com/bob  

About SellerLabs                           sellerlabs
We love e-commerce and we love technology. Luckily we get to work with both every day. Our number one goal is to give online merchants the tools and information that they need in order to succeed. We don’t just create the best e-commerce technology around, we conduct endless research at our E-commerce Lab. It’s important to us to provide each business that works with us with powerful data, information and tools. Discover “The Science of Selling”!

Based in Athens, Georgia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *