Originally published on May 3, 2019, updated June 4, 2020
In CPC Strategy's Amazon Product Launch Series, eComEngine's Colleen Quattlebaum presented on how to create your Amazon product launch strategy and start getting your first reviews. Colleen covered:
Watch the video above for this great information, and read the recap and transcript in the show notes!
In this second part of the Amazon Vendors Product Launch Acceleration Series, Colleen Quattlebaum presented on Amazon product launch strategy and how to get reviews.
Regardless of your business model, product reviews matter. First and foremost, they indicate whether customers have been satisfied with their purchase. When you see negative reviews cropping up, it's a good idea to investigate and address the issue.
Now that online shopping is so popular (in fact, many product searches start on Amazon), customers look to product reviews as an indication of whether or not to buy a product. When others are saying they had a good experience, it gives them the social proof they need to complete the transaction.
When your business is proactive and engaged in responding to negative reviews in a timely and professional manner, it can go a long way toward protecting your brand and improving your reputation. Combined with an abundant amount of social proof, you will build customer trust and brand loyalty.
As Quattlebaum explained, “The best way for a brand to grow and improve is by listening to [its] buyers, and reviews help you to identify risks or understand where you may need to make improvements to your products. You can really learn a lot from your reviews.”
“Tracking product reviews is a great way to see what buyers are saying about your product — and your competitors’ products,” Quattlebaum said. This can be time-consuming, of course, but there are tools (such as FeedbackFive) that can streamline and automate the process, giving you accurate information at a glance.
By keeping your finger on the pulse of your customers, you’ll be better able to make informed inventory decisions. If something is under-performing, why continue to stock it? Additionally, reading through comments can help you come up with kitting or bundling ideas which can be especially helpful for seasonal or holiday pushes, particularly during Q4.
While monitoring reviews is important, Quattlebaum warned that it’s not enough. “Vendors need to be ready to jump on and comment immediately on any reviews with a rating of one to three stars,” she said. “As you know, they can be damaging to sales and the brand’s overall reputation if they are not handled correctly.”
Before launching a product, there are some things that you should do in order to be best prepared to enter the Amazon marketplace. Quattlebaum goes into fantastic detail about this in the webinar, so it’s definitely worth seeing, if you haven’t already. Topics she covers include:
There are a variety of ways to get Amazon reviews, but it varies depending on whether you are a vendor or seller. Here are some of the ways in which Quattlebaum suggests getting more reviews:
While each of these tactics has its own strengths and weaknesses, there’s something to be said about good, old-fashioned customer delight. In fact, no matter what approach you take, you should be striving to leave buyers happy and satisfied after every single transaction. When you commit to excellence (and wow your customers with great products and service), you’ll be elevating your brand’s reputation.
One of the most important things you can do is get familiar with Amazon’s policies. The online retailer is very specific about how to conduct business on the site, and this includes asking for reviews. In order to remain compliant, thoroughly read the guidelines and stick to them.
According to Quattlebaum, some of the things you absolutely cannot do include:
Don’t try to trick the system — you’ll get caught! It takes effort, but it will be worth it in the end. Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered! Download our Amazon Product Review Compliance Checklist, which includes links to relevant Amazon policies as well as guidance for avoiding suspension.
Persephanie: Alrighty everybody and welcome back to our part two session of our Amazon Vendors Product Launch Acceleration Series. Session two from eComEngine, a smart product review strategy for launching new products as a 3P seller. Alrighty, and let's go ahead and dive in. So right now, we just covered in case for those of you that just helped on the first steps for profitable product launch with our in house speakers, Stewart and Eric. We talked about the born to run program, and forecasting when launching a new product as well.
Persephanie: And let's see, just a few logistics for those of you that did hop on for the second session, maybe relate to the first one. If this is your first webinar with us, welcome. We hope to see you attend more for hosted events in the future. The platform we're using is GoToWebinar. So go ahead and please submit questions in the chat box to the right. I'll be sure to add this to the queue of questions for our speaker at the end. And then there's also plenty of resources for you to download in the handout section. So go ahead and take a look at those please. And if you're having any trouble accessing these teachers, please let me know and I'll help troubleshoot this in the backend. And lastly, this webinar is being recorded. So we will send you the recording and slides for your reference to share with your colleagues by tomorrow morning.
Persephanie: And just a little bit of background about our company before we dive in. Some of you may either know CPC Strategy or Elite SEM separately. But as of 2018, we're all under the Elite SEM umbrella. And combined, we're an award winning performance marketing agency that drives paid media strategy and management for top brands.
Persephanie: Our expertise spans all stages of an integrated media marketing strategy. This includes paid search, shopping, Amazon advertising, social media advertising, email marketing, and much more.
Persephanie: And today we have the pleasure of having Colleen, marketing manager from eComEngine as our final speaker for today. Colleen is the marketing manager for eComEngine and she joins us from Richmond, Virginia where eComEngine is headquartered. Colleen is committed to helping Amazon sellers succeed. She's constantly reviewing the latest market trends and strategizing on how to improve eComEngine's offerings so she can pass the insights and value onto Amazon merchants. So without further ado, I'll go ahead and pass it onto Colleen.
Colleen: Great, thanks. And hello everyone, all of our Amazon friends out there. I'm excited to talk with all of you today about product reviews and how they are crucial to launching your product into success.
Colleen: First I'd just like to share a little bit more background about the company I represent. So many of you probably have heard of eComEngine. We have been around since 2007, which is a pretty long time in eCommerce years. But we have three software tools. If you aren't familiar with the name of our company, you might be familiar with one of our tools. FeedbackFive is our feedback and product review management software. We also have an inventory management and forecasting tool called RestockPro and a product research tool called market scout. But FeedbackFive not only allows sellers to automate email requests for product reviews, but vendors and sellers can manage product reviews with FeedbackFive.
Colleen: But onto the presentation today, I am here to talk to you about your product review strategy. So whether you are a vendor or a seller, product reviews matter. So we'll get into that a little bit, and then I'll share some tips to set yourself up for success and for different tactics to help you get reviews the right way by being TOS compliant when you ask for product reviews. And I do have a few checklists and email templates that Persephanie will help me share in the handout section there in the GoToWebinar toolbar. So I'll be sure to mention these as we touch on them in the presentation so you can keep an eye out for those freebies. And then of course we'll open up for questions at the end as well. So feel free to put those in the chat. All right, so let's go ahead and get started.
Colleen: So why do product reviews matter? As CPC Strategy mentioned at the end of their last presentation, the decision to sell both to Amazon as a vendor and on Amazon as a third party seller is known as the hybrid model. One of the reasons that brands leverage a hybrid model is because each platform has its own benefits. There is some risk associated with putting all your eggs in one basket. So more and more vendors have been operating in a hybrid model, and some have been transitioning from vendor to seller. There's also been some reports of Amazon One Vendor coming soon, which would mean that there would only be one system. So Amazon could essentially force vendors and sellers into a hybrid model. So a sale of this, just to address that, I know some of you on this call are using the hybrid model already. Some of you are strictly vendors, some are strictly third party sellers, and some of you might be vendors transitioning to seller central. But regardless of your business model, product reviews matter. And I have some valuable information to share with all of you.
Colleen: So when a vendor sells to Amazon and not directly to the customer, vendors don't have access to customer details to make direct contact or solicit reviews. But there are still ways that vendors can communicate and engage with people who purchase their products through Amazon. A great way to get feedback on products is through these product reviews. So number one, customer satisfaction. Even though brands might not be selling directly to the customer, it's important to still check in and ensure that the buyer had a good experience with your product. And if they are unhappy, work with them to resolve the issue.
Colleen: Social proof. More and more customers want to hear what others are saying about the product before they make a purchase. And customers are constantly looking at reviews for that. So it's important that you have strong reviews for good social proof to lead to more purchases.
Colleen: Brand reputation. When a brand interacts with their end customer, they're showing that they care. It helps to build a customer trust and brand loyalty. And it can also inspire others to ask questions and share experiences. And it just helps to deliver a more positive customer experience, which can then lead to more positive product reviews. Which can also help boost conversion and sales.
Colleen: And one way for a brand to grow and improve is by listening to your buyers. So look at reviews, they'll help you to identify any risks and understand where you may need to make improvements to your products. So reviews are valuable, and you can truly learn a lot from them as a vendor.
Colleen: And then for third party sellers, as with vendors, customer satisfaction is very important. And positive product reviews again can help boost conversion and sales. But reviews are also valuable to sellers to help them make inventory decisions. So for instance, if a product is getting poor reviews, that might indicate that the sales are declining and you might not want to restock those items. And conversely, if the reviews are increasingly positive, that might be a good sign that you want to increase your inventory for that product.
Colleen: Reviews can also give you some insight into kitting or bundling your items. So maybe in the reviews, buyers are mentioning that they would like to purchase multi-packs of the item or maybe have printer ink bundled with the printer that they purchased. So reviews can give you that type of insight, kitting opportunities.
Colleen: And of course reviews help to build your organic ranking. So the bottom line is that you need reviews to get seen on Amazon, and you can learn a lot from them. Now there are conflicting theories on how many reviews help to build your organic ranking, and how many reviews it takes to impact the algorithm. But we have heard through the grapevine directly from a seller central rep, that all you need is 21 reviews to turn the algorithm in your favor. But as many of you, if not all of you know, it can be really difficult just to get a handful of reviews, not to mention more than 20. So as promised, in a couple of minutes, I'll share those four tactics on how to get reviews.
Colleen: But first I'd like to talk briefly about monitoring and responding reviews and doing it the right way. So vendors and sellers need to be monitoring their customer reviews regularly. So vendors on their products and sellers on the products that they're selling. Tracking product reviews is a great way to see what buyers are saying about your products, and your competitor's products. So you can monitor your competitors. Analyzing those reviews will empower you to make more informed business decisions from determining whether to restock an item or make changes based on user input. Like kitting or making changes to the actual item.
Colleen: And obviously this can be time consuming if you have a lot of ASINs, but there are tools like FeedbackFive for instance, that allow vendors and to manage and analyze this and high volume. Again, both for your own ASINs and your competitors. And you can also receive notifications on neutral and negative reviews.
Colleen: But just monitoring your reviews is not enough. Vendors need to be ready to jump on and comment immediately on any reviews with a rating of one to three stars. Because as you know, these can be damaging to sales and the brand's overall reputation if they're not handled correctly. And that's why setting up automated alerts on negative reviews is so important so you can respond in a timely manner.
Colleen: Responding to reviews is tricky. You cannot ask a buyer to change or remove a review, but you can respond publicly to address their concerns and let other potential buyers see that you're committed to delivering the best experience with your products. So again, just do this in a timely manner because a quicker response is more likely to turn a dissatisfied buyer into a satisfied buyer.
Colleen: Now one thing to note is that if the customer review is against Amazon's review policy, then the vendor can request for that review to be removed. But if it's just down to opinion and the customer's not a fan of your product, then the review will remain and the vendor just has to accept that the customer has the right to their opinion.
Colleen: When responding to negative feedback, always remain professional and level headed. Even if the review is unfair, just thank the customer for taking the time to write the review and offer them a path to resolve the issue. And if the customer needs to be corrected, just again, do this positively and professionally. You don't want to be defensive. But since potential buyers do read the negative reviews, it's important that vendors use this as an opportunity to defend your product and your brand. But of course in a professional way.
Colleen: And lastly, learn from your reviews. You can learn a lot about product defects or errors in your product listings, and just a lot more from what buyers are saying about your products and what questions that they might have. And there is no rule against monitoring reviews both on your own ASINs and competitors. So monitor product reviews and your brand reputation just to stay on top of that.
Colleen: But don't just monitor the negative reviews. Positive reviews with a four to five star rating are also valuable to read and comment on as well. Just because the customer wrote a positive review, doesn't mean they don't have any suggestions for improvement. Some positive reviews might point out areas that they didn't like as well.
Colleen: And when vendors comment on positive reviews, again it shows that they care. So thank the reviewer for taking time to share their positive experience. But when you comment, make sure that you comment as the manufacturer. And to do this, you must be logged in under the same email address linked with your Vendor Central account, and you'll need to have user permissions for the customer interaction section.
Colleen: And customers also like to ask questions on the Amazon product pages. And these questions might be about product information that's missing from the content. But vendors should monitor these questions similar to customer reviews. And you can actually set up email notifications to be received from Amazon when anybody asks the question. Again, it's just in that customer interaction section of Vendor Central. So you can set that up there.
Colleen: And vendors should respond to these questions if they're about the actual item, not if it's an opinion based question, because that could appear biased if you bond. But if someone is interested in your product details, like the dimensions or anything specifically about the product, answer the question because it will help to close the sale.
Colleen: And I've talked a little bit about brand reputation. So to monitor reviews and your reputation. It's important to do that both on and off Amazon. So we do have this brand monitoring checklist that Persephanie has placed in the handout section of the GoToWebinar toolbar. So you can take a look at that, but that's a great way to get some tips and a checklist on how to monitor your brand both on and off Amazon.
Colleen: All right, so let's get into a few tips related to prelaunch of your product. So before you launch, here are some things that you should know or do to be prepared. So you know you're successful when you have a good sales day every day, and you rank high for keywords. And you attain the best seller rank and bestseller badge. But some other metrics that are involved with a successful product launch are your average star rating. And the total number of reviews that the product has. But how do you get those? Well, it all starts with a great product listing.
Colleen: So be sure to take the time to optimize your product listings. Of course, enhanced brand content can help. And be sure you have detailed and accurate listings, because lack of detail or inaccurate listings will lead to dissatisfied buyers and negative reviews.
Colleen: Using professional photos and videos can really help sell your product. I'd also recommend to do some market research before you launch. So it's important to get outside perspectives. People who aren't close to your product might uncover some questions or problems that you didn't anticipate. You might want to consider using an instant polling software like PickFu, where you can actually create a survey to an audience that matches your customer profile and get feedback on your product names, your photos, your listing descriptions. To help make sure that you're choosing the ones that's going to be most well received.
Colleen: Mitigate the risk for negative reviews. So monitor reviews on similar products, competitive products. What are buyers saying about those items? Read those negative reviews. And analyze the review data regularly to see if there are opportunities to make improvements to your listings. Or maybe you need to make improvements to the packaging if a competitor who sells a similar item has a lot of reviews about it being broken. And then you might also find some ideas to improve the product yourself.
Colleen: And I'd recommend just schedule a recurring time on your calendar to making sure that you are carving out the time to focus on reading your reviews. Because we all know we get busy. Time goes by. And before you know it, it's been several weeks and you haven't had a chance to read through those. So read through your reviews regularly. Schedule a recurring appointment with yourself on your calendar.
Colleen: And before you launch, it's important that you have a process in place on how you'll manage your reputation. So for anybody who is operating as a third party seller, you'll need to have an email strategy in place. How do you plan to request reviews? You'll want to set up standardized language for your email templates. You'll want them to be standardized since that's just more scalable, but just make sure that you make them as personable as possible, like creating skew specific emails.
Colleen: And our staff at eComEngine can actually help review your email templates to ensure that they're compliant and have strong subject lines and are optimized for mobile. So feel free to reach out to us, and we'd be happy to help.
Colleen: Timing your review request is important, and the best time to send the email really depends on the type of item that you're selling. So think about how many days after the order is received, how long does it take until they will see the value in the item? Because that's when they're most likely to leave a review.
Colleen: So for instance, for clothing or apparel. Maybe just one day after they receive the item, they'll see the value and be able to feel it, and see that it's comfortable and it fits well. But a printer or electronics, that might be a few days or a week. Give them some time to set it up and use it. And vitamins and supplements, that might be more like a few weeks to see the value. So think about the timing of when you want to send the email based on the individual products.
Colleen: Automating your email campaigns and review requests makes this all more scalable. It will help save time, reduce the risk for error. And standardizing, as I mentioned is important. It reduces not just this minor risks like having spelling or grammatical errors by your staff, but even more so it'll help to avoid any bigger mistakes. Like putting something in an email that is against Amazon's terms of service. And if you put something that you shouldn't or somebody on your staff puts something in your email that you shouldn't, then it could put your store at risk for suspension. So by having those standardized and automated, then you don't have to worry about anybody on your staff accidentally sending something in an email that they shouldn't.
Colleen: And it's also a best practice to automatically exclude refunded orders from your review request emails. Obviously those who are returning an item probably were not satisfied, and are more likely to leave a negative review.
Colleen: And then lastly, what's your action plan for when you have a dissatisfied buyer and they leave you a negative review? So make sure your team knows who's going to respond and how. Train your staff on how to handle the most likely scenarios. And again, I know I mentioned it before, but just set up alerts to get those negative and neutral reviews so you can respond quickly.
Colleen: All right. So now that I've shared some tips on how to be prepared to get reviews, let's talk about how to actually get them. So four tactics to get reviews. The first one is the Amazon Vine Program. So since vendors are unable to solicit reviews, an alternative is that they can enroll their products in the Amazon Vine Program.
Colleen: So Amazon Vine is a product review program where Amazon invites their most trusted reviewers called vine voices to post their opinion in the form of a customer review on certain products. And vendors can be a part of this program by just enrolling the products that they would like, the vine voices to review. There is an enrollment fee, but Amazon Vine is a great way to accelerate the number of customer reviews, especially on new products that have had little or no time to get feedback.
Colleen: And this of course helps increase conversion a lot faster, and it's also the only Amazon approved review program available to vendors. So it's definitely something to consider.
Colleen: The second tactic is the Early Reviewer Program. This is Amazon's way for sellers to generate their first reviews to help improve sales for new products. What happens is that Amazon will contact a randomly selected buyer of the participating products and ask them to provide a review. And in return, the buyer gets a one to $3 voucher from Amazon. And they get that voucher regardless of whether they've given a positive or negative. So there's no guarantee that the reviews will be positive. But because of the voucher offer, the customer has greater incentive to submit a review.
Colleen: Now I mentioned bust or must on this slide because we've heard conflicting reports on this program. We were talking to a group of sellers in California back in January and most of them were saying that the program was slow and not very helpful.
Colleen: But then just a couple of weeks ago, we were in Boston talking to a group of sellers, and many of them said that the Early Reviewer Program was a must for any product launch. So I think that there's multiple opinions out there. The jury is still out on the success of this and a lot might depend on your item. But as far as the guidelines go, as first to get started with the program, it's pretty simple. You just go to Seller Central to your dashboard and select the program, and then you start uploading your skews to enroll. And you can submit up to a hundred different skews for the program. And one of the good things is that child ASINs are automatically enrolled with the parent ASIN, so that makes the fee and cost more worthwhile.
Colleen: But as far as the guidelines go, the ASIN must have less than five reviews when it's enrolled. The ASIN price must be at least $15, and Amazon charges a fee of $60 per ASIN for participation.
Colleen: The ASIN remains in the program for one year or until five reviews are generated, whichever comes first. And again, there's no guarantee that the reviews will be positive, but even a negative review with the right keywords can have some impact on Amazon's algorithm.
Colleen: And then the third tactic is launching on other platforms. So I would encourage you to share links to your products or links to your storefront to drive customers to your Amazon listing. So from Facebook, your Shopify or eCommerce sites. Even from your emails to your marketing list, just make sure it's off Amazon of course.
Colleen: And be careful about asking customers who have purchased your products on other platforms to leave reviews on Amazon. Because too many unverified purchase reviews can be bad for your listing.
Colleen: Consider finding niche influencers and Amazon affiliates. You can find influencers from agencies. That can be very expensive, but you can also find them through media brands like the LA Times or on sites like Social Bluebook and FameBit. Those sites have a portal where you can search for influencers and negotiate with them. I would just recommend that they're relevant to your product or brand. That's really the most important, that they match your lifestyle that you're trying to sell with your product. And as far as affiliates go, you can form partnerships and negotiate paying them a lower price if they're getting a kickback from Amazon.
Colleen: And then the fourth tactic, this is good old fashioned going above and beyond to wow your buyers. So when customers are delighted, they're more likely to leave positive feedback and reviews. It will increase the chance of return customers. Some ways that you can delight customers are with basic things like just providing instructions, a product manual. Lacking detailed instructions on even how to use the most simplest product can lead to negative reviews. So be sure to include your product instructions.
Colleen: Surprise customers with added value. Those little surprises will lead to delight. So you could attach a PDF that's focused on ways to use your product. So for an example, maybe you sell scarves, like fashionable scarves. You could show them five ways to tie a scarf. So they may have bought the scarf expecting to wear it one way and then they realize, "There's five different ways I can wear this." So it just delights them and makes them happy, and then they're more likely to leave a review.
Colleen: Some of our FeedbackFive users, they'll embed a gift in their email to show how to use their product or how to unbox it. So that's another idea of what you can do to delight them. Just make them satisfied by giving them a gift that shows exactly how to do that.
Colleen: And include a free bonus item with each purchase. So for example, if you sell nail products, you might want to think about giving your customers a free emery board or nail file. Or if you sell stationary, you could include a fun sticker.
Colleen: As a buyer or consumer. Me personally, I received a package with this cute desk calendar, which is allowed. And a great idea, especially during the Q4 holiday season with the turn of the new year approaching. So I received this, which was great and a nice little add on. But on the reverse of the calendar included a thank you note. And it asked me to, it kind of vaguely asked me to leave a review.
Colleen: So this is kind of a gray area. It's walking a fine line since it could appear that they're giving me this item for free in return for a review. So it's important to always follow Amazon terms of service, and do not offer any incentives or free items in return for feedback or a review. And don't ask for a positive review. That's strictly against Amazon's terms of service.
Colleen: So speaking of terms of service, I want to just talk about some of the rules surrounding product reviews. So this is a little test that I have here. So if you take a look at this product review request, ask yourself what's wrong with it. So it says, "We hope you liked your Blue Kitchen Widget from Amazon. If you have any questions or concerns, please reply to this email. If you love the widget and want to tell the world, then leave us a review."
Colleen: So you have to remember that reviews are a big deal to Amazon. As a customer-centric company, they envision an ASIN's reviews to be a true representation of how consumers feel about the product. So that means if you tell someone to contact you, if they have something negative to say, in essence what the copy here means and can be interpreted as. But to go ahead and leave a review if they like the product, then you're essentially only soliciting positive reviews and diverting the buyer to contact you if they have a concern or a negative. And you'll get dinged for that.
Colleen: So why is this wrong? You see the words in red. It's trying to direct buyers away from leaving a review if they have questions or concerns, and driving them to leave a review if they had a good experience.
Colleen: So these are two policies that are broken from that email. One is asking for reviews only from buyers who had a positive experience. That's prohibited. Attempting to influence the customer's review is also prohibited.
Colleen: So in an minute, I'll share with you an email template with language that we recommend using. So stay tuned for the right way to ask for a review. But let's review a couple other best practices. Or not best practices. Practices that we know that are wrong. And some of these might be very fairly obvious to you.
Colleen: But asking for reviews from friends and family is definitely wrong. So many sellers do this, and it used to be accepted, but you cannot do it anymore. There's been so much manipulation that's taken place, that if Amazon can link any reviewer back to your account, the review will be removed at a minimum. And at the maximum, your account could get suspended. So don't try to trick the system, or you'll get caught.
Colleen: The second one here is regarding discounts, promotions, giveaways. They're great for business except when they aren't. So even if you don't ask for reviews from buyers who received a discount or free giveaway, Amazon could equate the rise in positive reviews to those steep promotions that you offered. So for the Amazon review team, it just smells like incentivized reviews to them, and it could result in suspension. So be very careful when you're doing promotions, that it's not too steep and too they're getting such a deal that they feel obliged to give you a review.
Colleen: Oops, sorry. There's obviously a lot of black hat third party services out there. They'll help you track down buyers who've left reviews. Some of these services will even offer really fake reviews on your competitors' ASINs to tank them. Just stay away from these black hat services, because you're not going to win in the long run if you team up with folks who are out to break the rules.
Colleen: And Amazon's terms of service clearly states that you can not request a review when you know it's going to result in a positive review. But a lot of sellers think that you can stay compliant by just asking for an honest review instead of a five star or positive review. But that's wrong. That if and then language that we just looked at on that previous email sample, so many sellers use that. And while it may not have been a problem in the past, it's now a big red flag to Amazon. And we are seeing or have seen or heard of some sellers getting suspended for it.
Colleen: So we talked a lot about the don'ts or what you can't do. So what are some best practices that you can do? Definitely recommend include your logo and other brand identifiers in your email. Just don't link to your website or your social accounts, or even your Amazon storefront in your email. Of course be polite. Offer something helpful like tips on how to care for your product. Or as I mentioned before, a GIF showing how to use your product or attaching a product manual.
Colleen: Be brief. Don't write paragraphs full of copy in your email because buyers, they just won't read it. And write an engaging subject line. Try maybe even including an emoji in your subject line if that works for your brand identity. And take the time to A/B test your subject lines for the best open rates.
Colleen: And some more best practices. Or really these are musts. It's your job as a seller. You must keep up with the changes in Amazon's terms of service. And I know it's not easy because the rules are spread out all around Seller Central and they change from time to time, but it's still your job to know the rules. So this compliance checklist that's also in the handouts here in the GoToWebinar toolbar, this can really help. So definitely recommend to take a look at this. It's a quick little checklist to make sure that you're compliant.
Colleen: And avoid sending too many emails. So this is a topic of debate because in the good old days, people used to send three or sometimes four emails per order and didn't worry about it at all.
Colleen: But then Amazon introduced the buyer opt-out, which made everyone really think about what is appropriate when it comes to buyer seller messaging. And the truth is that Amazon policy says you can send one email per intent, and that leaves some room for interpretation. So I recommend sending one email per order to be safe, and that's it. So choose whether you want to ask for feedback or product reviews, and segment your solicitations accordingly.
Colleen: You can never ask someone to change their product review. So I know I mentioned that earlier. You can ask them to change feedback once you've resolved the problem. But product reviews are different. That's a no no. You can not ask someone to change or update their product review. Just leave those alone.
Colleen: But one thing you can do as I mentioned earlier is respond in line, to show that you care and polite, just be polite and that you're fixing the problem.
Colleen: So as promised, I wanted to share a TOS compliant review request email. This is our actual default email language that we use in our FeedbackFive email templates. So it says, "Dear Jane, how did you like your Blue Kitchen Widget? Would you mind taking two minutes to leave a product review on Amazon? In doing so, you'll share your opinion with millions of fellow Amazon shoppers who are waiting your feedback. We would love to hear from you and are committed to your total satisfaction. Regards, the Kitchen Widget Company."
Colleen: So note that it does not attempt to divert the buyer at all. It shows you care, that you're conscientious, and that you're customer-centric just like Amazon wants you to be. So this is the type of language that we would recommend. And I actually have also in the handouts, there's a copy of this email template as well. So you can also download it through this Bitly, but it's in the handout, so it's easily accessible there as well.
Colleen: So I know I've shared a lot of information today, and I'd be happy to follow up with any of you if you want assistance. So before we open it up for questions, I think Persephanie has a quick poll that she'll share. Where we're just asking if there's anything in particular you want us to follow up on, on anything that I mentioned today. Whether it's compliance questions, support with email templates, how to monitor product reviews or get more reviews. Or if you want to learn about FeedbackFive or any of our other tools. Feel free just to let us know in that poll and Persephanie will get us your information. We'll be sure to reach out to you.
Persephanie: Perfect. Yeah, thanks Colleen. So I actually went ahead and launched this poll just to kind of build off what Colleen said. I'll read the poll out loud, for those of you that are listening. Would you like us to follow up with you on any of the following? So compliance questions, support with email templates, how to monitor product reviews, how to get better/more views. So go ahead. I'll leave that open for just a couple of seconds. You can select multiple answers as well. And then without further ado, I'll go ahead and dive into our Q&A having kept these questions from the audience throughout the presentation. So let's go ahead and see.
Persephanie: This question is from Nikki. "Can you be on Vendor Central to participate in the early reviewer program?"
Colleen: You cannot be on vendor central. That's only done through Seller Central. There are ways around it though. As a vendor, if you set up some of your ASINs through seller central, then you could submit those. But it is not accessible through vendor central.
Persephanie: Okay, great. Thanks. And then let's see. Mark is, "I asked current customers who do not buy on Amazon to post reviews on Amazon, and Amazon has blocked reviews. How do I get this book lifted? I use FeedbackFive but have not been successful in getting reviews from the emails sent. What should the expectation be and what should be done to have greater success with the program?"
Colleen: So in regards to the latter part of that, so thank you for being a FeedbackFive customer. We would love to do an account review to take a look at your account. And specifically, it's best for us to look at it on a one off basis to see what your subject line is. What emails you're sending, what it says right now. So we do what we call campaign health checks where we'll take a look at all of your campaigns and help you optimize them. So I'd love to look at yours individually. Rachel Hoover is one of our account advisors. She's really good at that. So yeah, we would love to look at your individual account so I can better understand what you're saying in your emails and how we can potentially improve those to get more reviews from the emails that you're sending. If it's an open rate issue or something else.
Colleen: And the first part of that was you asked customers who did not buy on Amazon to post reviews, and Amazon has blocked those reviews. So they probably see them as unverified. How do you get the block lifted?
Colleen: So one of our friends at Marketplace Seller Courses, Shannon Roddy, he speaks a lot about unverified reviews. So I would have to say that I'd have to reach out to him probably to ask specifically how to get that block lifted. Because I honestly am just not sure, but I think Shannon Roddy would be one who would definitely know. So I'll have to get back to you on that one.
Persephanie: Perfect. And let's see. This one is from Keith. "Is it against Amazon TOS to provide a link to your Amazon storefront?"
Colleen: In buyer-seller messaging, yes. Do not put links to your Amazon storefront in those emails.
Persephanie: Okay. Thank you. And then this one is from Ben. "On FeedbackFive, can you build a template through your program or do we need to know HTML?"
Colleen: Nope. We have templates already set up where you can just tweak the language. You don't have to know HTML at all. So yeah, it's what we call an advanced editor or like a little wizard where you can just pop in the content or an image if you want to add your brand logo. The HTML will be automatically applied on the backend through our email wizard.
Colleen: If you want something fancier, we do have a graphic designer on staff that works with our customers. So if you have an idea of what you want and something fancier, then we're happy to do a complimentary email design for you as well.
Persephanie: Lovely. Thank you Colleen. And this question is from Laura. "Do you have any tips for increasing the Vine participation rate? Example, we sent 30 units. But of those, only 15 to 16 get requested, and then only 10 or so actually reviews are received."
Colleen: So sorry, say that again.
Persephanie: Yeah. "Any tips for increasing the Vine participation rate?" Let's see. "Example is we said about 30 units, but of those, only 15 to 16 get requested. And then only 10 or so are actually reviews received."
Colleen: So I would say it's probably best to talk to your vendor rep. Carina McLeod is a partner that we work with, and she has a group called Vendor Society. I know that they speak a lot about this and have a lot of great tips for vendors, and especially specifically on Vine. So I would recommend reaching out to Carina McLeod through Vendor Society or talk to your vendor rep specifically.
Persephanie: Okay. Thank you. And then let's see, this question is from Jeff. "If a verified buyer, why is it a problem if a friend or acquaintance leave a review?"
Colleen: That's a tough one. Because I know it's a legit buyer. But if a third party is looking at it, if Amazon's looking at it, it just could be considered manipulation. So I would just be very careful about that.
Persephanie: Perfect. Thank you. And then let's see, just a couple more questions. "How many times can I send emails asking for reviews?"
Colleen: So how many times, we recommend only one. So Amazon says to send only one email per intent. So you can send, like I said, there's a theory that you can send one email requests asking for feedback and one email request asking for review because those are two different intents. One, the intent is to get feedback. One, the intent is to get reviews. But I would not send two emails asking for a product review. So just one to be safe.
Persephanie: Okay. Thank you. Another question. This one's from Dean. "How do I get the customer's email who purchased the products?" Excuse me.
Colleen: How do you get the customer's email who purchased the product? So that is not allowed. We actually used to have a feature when it was allowed, we used to have a feature called buyer match where we would match the buyer to the seller. But Amazon no longer allows that. So that's no longer in our tool. Just to be TOS compliant. Amazon just really wants to protect the integrity of the customer and wants the reviews to be anonymous so customers are more likely to leave legit reviews. So Amazon just doesn't allow you to get that customer email. So I know that's hard, but that's reality.
Persephanie: Okay. And then this question is from Rachel. "Do you have any tips to increase seller feedback specifically for a new selling account?"
Colleen: I would recommend to work on your subject line. We actually have some tips on subject lines in our help center. So I'd be happy to share that with you. But one thing that we've seen that works well is asking a question in your subject line. I mean, the key is you've got to get them at least to open the email first. So you really need to A/B test your emails and have a strong subject line, using emojis. Sometimes just keeping it short and sweet is the best way, just short and to the point. But I would just recommend make sure that your packaging is perfect, make sure the experience is good. And solicit for every item that you sell.
Persephanie: Great. Thanks. And then just a couple more questions. I know we're slowly approaching the end of our time here. What are some examples of great subject lines?
Colleen: So great subject lines. So again, leaving a question is good. But it really depends on your product. Short and sweet is what we find works the best. Emojis, questions, make it match your brand personality. So yeah, but I'd be happy to share ... I think Liz, if you're on the call, if you want to share the link to our help center about what subject line should I use. I think we have a help center article on that. You can put that in the chat. Yeah, we have a few like a transactional one is how do you like your item that you purchased from? Kitchen Widget Company. a question. There's a short way to do it. But you can also insert customer specifics in your subject line like their first name to grab their attention. But a lot of it depends on your product too and who your audience is.
Persephanie: Okay, great. And then let's see, probably just a couple more questions before we come to a close. This one is from Paulina. "I know it can't be added on automated emails, but can you add your brand website on the insert cards?"
Colleen: No, no. I mean a lot of sellers do. I mean, I'm an Amazon customer and I see sellers do it all the time. But no marketing is allowed by Amazon. So you're not supposed to market in any way that would divert people away from Amazon. So by putting your website address in a card in the package could be diverting them away from Amazon. So that's not allowed.
Persephanie: Okay, great. And then I think just maybe a couple more questions. "What's the point of sending emails when all buyers have opt-out?"
Colleen: So actually we hear that a lot, but they haven't. We're seeing about 65 to 75% of Amazon sellers have actually opted in or are still opted in and have not opted out. So while it seems like a lot have opted out, there are still many more that are opted in. Amazon definitely encourages sellers to ask for feedback and reviews. The only difference is that buyers can choose to opt out of those emails. And really, you probably weren't benefiting from soliciting to those people anyway if they didn't want your emails. And there's probably a case to say that the ones that opted out could be the ones who were more likely to leave negative feedback. So it's probably in your best interest that they've opted out at this point anyway. And FeedbackFive does have a global opt-out database, so that gives you access to the most accurate database of opted in Amazon buyers.
Persephanie: Great. Thank you.
Colleen: And we do have this special offer here on the screen as well. So as I mentioned, we do have a few tools. And feel free to contact me. My email is up there in the screen. Well that email does come to me. So it will go directly to me, the email@example.com. I just have a long last name so it's a lot to put my whole email on there. But feel free if you're interested in any of our tools, we do have a coupon code, CPC 19 which will give you an extended free trial. But feel free to chat with me first if you'd like.
Persephanie: Awesome. Thank you. And I think maybe just one more question before we come to the end. This one is from Catarina . "Some verified customers reach out and tell us they want to write a review, but they were blocked by Amazon and some also don't know where they leave the review. Are we allowed to send the link for the review site?"
Colleen: Yes, absolutely. You can send a link directly to the review site, and that's what we recommend in FeedbackFive. We have shortcut tags that will take them directly to leave a review on that product. So you want to make it as easy as possible just within two clicks, get that review to leave a review. So yeah, I'm not sure about the ones that were blocked by Amazon. But if they don't know where to leave a review, yes, I definitely encourage you to make it as easy as possible and include the link for them to leave the review very easily.
Persephanie: Great. Thank you. And I think that we are reaching the end of our time here. Colleen, did you want to go ahead and add anything before we close it up?
Colleen: No, I think that's it. Thanks for your time everybody.
Persephanie: Yeah, thank you. So I just want to go ahead and say thank you to everyone. I hope you enjoy these insights on receiving product reviews on Amazon. Go ahead. I'm going to just launch one last poll for the CPC team. So if you'd like to schedule an Amazon strategy evaluation, let us know. Otherwise, thank you so much for taking time to join us today and I hope to see you attend more of our future events as well. And Colleen, huge thank you. And Liz, for you in the back-end as well. Looking forward to working with you guys later on, and have a great rest of your day. This is for Persephanie signing off from CPC headquarters downtown San Diego. Thank you.
Originally published on May 3, 2019, updated June 4, 2020
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.