3 Steps to Building an Amazon Review Strategy

by Joanna Lupo

Who is your No. 1 salesperson?

It’s a common question for experienced sales managers to ask a group of cold-calling greenhorns on their first day of training. And it’s supposed to be a trick question. The answer isn’t the regional sales director responsible for the most bookings, your website’s marketing automation software or even your Amazon storefront.

The answer is: your customers. For Amazon merchants, more specifically, it’s about the seller feedback and product reviews posted by your customers. The problem is that there is often greater emphasis placed on simply getting reviews from influential buyers, faster and in greater volumes, than on looking at the big picture of reviews in a more strategic sense.

With the spotlight currently focused on review authenticity and Amazon’s lawsuit against a number of faux review generation companies, now is a great time to refocus on how reviews are woven into your overall business and marketing strategy from day one. Here are three steps to consider for getting more out of your customer feedback and reviews:

1) Consult Product Reviews Before You Do Anything Else

This is easier said than done. Odds are, you’re already up and running with a well-established Amazon presence. That’s OK. Whether you’re an Amazon veteran or newbie, there are things you can do to improve your product reviews, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You could be the most proactive, honest and well-intentioned merchant with the reviews to support your good business practices, but ultimately, the products you sell through your storefront – and more importantly, their reviews – will set the ceiling for your success.

The volume, star rating and even customer anecdotes shared should play as large a role in your decision to sell a product as factors like potential margins, fulfillment strategy and more. In other words, it’s tough to overcome a 3-star product with hundreds of reviews even if you have near-perfect seller feedback. This presents a special challenge and opportunity for merchants selling private label items. On one hand, you don’t need to worry about steering through any peripheral negativity generated by dissatisfied customers of other vendors. (Even though Amazon.com, Inc. ("Amazon") instructs customers to reserve merchant feedback for seller reviews, it doesn’t mean that a poor experience won’t drift over to a product review and indirectly impact you.) But, as a private label seller, you also don’t get the instant shot of credibility that selling a known item with a positive review history created by offering that product alone. By leveraging your solid seller feedback and being responsive with the initial batch of product reviews, you’ll set yourself up for success.

2) Review, Recognize and Respond

While your business ultimately tracks to your bottom line, seller feedback and product reviews are the true pulse of your customer relationship. Read them correctly and you’ll be able to address challenges and seize opportunities much more decisively. For example, if fresh complaints about inadequate packing materials start randomly showing up in feedback comments, you may be able to seek out the warehouse manager gone rogue and fix the issue before it noticeably impacts your star rating. Similarly, if poring over product reviews yields a pattern of shoppers stating the color of an item is dramatically off from the description photos, you may be able to investigate and reconcile the issue with the manufacturer sooner rather than later. For better or for worse, our customers are often the first ones to communicate critical changes to us before they arise from other, expected sources. Your ability to read between the lines of feedback and to evaluate these potential issues is hugely important.

3) Leverage Reviews into Your Overall Marketing

Whether you have eCommerce sales channels apart from Amazon, a brick-and-mortar presence or you’re simply contemplating growing outside your storefront, don’t forget about your Amazon reviews. With their clout, you can position yourself as a 5-star merchant to increase sales in other areas of business. If you have a great Amazon rating, call it out and be proud. Additionally, review content that you previously considered insignificant or secondary as it may take on added importance. For example, product packaging plays a much more significant role on actual store shelves than in virtual storefronts, but you can learn about how buyers feel about your packaging from your Amazon reviews and make adjustments that can boost your brick and mortar business.

Your customers are your number one salespeople. Their reviews and feedback will work harder for you than your SEO strategy, affiliate marketing program or cross-promoting partnerships. By following these three steps for including them strategically in your business plan, you’ll be able to take full advantage of their selling potential.

Originally published on June 30, 2015, updated August 14, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.