Originally published on August 15, 2019, updated June 4, 2020
Liz Fickenscher joined Tinuiti's Q4 Amazon Advertising & Operations Summit to talk about seller reputation and how it can impact sales on the Amazon marketplace, especially in Q4. Topics covered included:
Watch the video above or read the recap and transcript in the show notes!
During Q4, your seller reputation matters more than ever. There’s simply no way to overestimate the importance of good feedback and product reviews. eComEngine’s Liz Fickenscher joined Tinuiti’s Q4 Amazon Advertising & Operations Summit to share tips and discuss key strategies for improving and maintaining seller account health and putting your business in a position to make the most of the busiest selling season of the year.
The end of the season is fast approaching and you want to look your very best. With so many people shopping during the holiday season, Q4 is the best chance to have your products seen and purchased. The last thing you want is to give a bad first impression when traffic is at its highest.
Even if you feel like everything’s set, go through your product listings and images. Are they optimized? Are you putting your best foot forward? Are your product pages inviting? Are you making the most of the space provided to you? Take your time to make your descriptions clear so that buyers know exactly what to expect from your products.
This is the time to get proactive about managing your seller reputation so that your feedback and product reviews are working for you instead of against you. “The healthier your account, the more you can focus on the busy holiday season,” said Fickenscher. “If your seller health drops, you can lose privileges and even your account.”
After you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll know that there are people out there who aren’t happy with anything. They will complain about the most trivial issues, and you may not be able to do much about it. When their displeasure is drowned out by a chorus of happy customers, a little negative feedback won’t hurt you too much.
There are, however, legitimate reasons why buyers might be frustrated with the service you’ve provided. The following complaints are important to address year round, but they take on a whole new meaning in Q4:
The smartest way to avoid negative feedback, therefore, is to get familiar with these common problems and tackle them ahead of time. After all, feedback is not about your product — it’s about how you’re performing as a seller. When issues arise, respond to customers in 24 hours (sooner is better!), commit to resolving the issue and then ask for the removal of the negative comment (note — this is allowed for feedback, but not for product reviews).
The first thing you should do to get more positive feedback is give your customers what they want — an experience worth praising! Keep your inventory in stock, perfect your packaging, and be responsive when they have concerns. Overall, your goal should be to “wow” your buyers, especially during Q4 when competition can be unbelievably fierce.
When it comes to feedback, you want to ask for it wisely and consistently. Half of Amazon’s customers don’t leave feedback, so you need to make it easy for them. Optimize your subject lines so that they feel compelled to read your emails. If they don’t even open your campaigns, your efforts will fall flat.
It’s also essential that you understand Amazon policies to avoid doing something that could get you into trouble. "You can’t offer incentives. You can’t offer discounts in exchange for positive feedback or the removal of negative feedback," said Fickenscher. So, when you’re crafting your feedback requests, be sure to keep these guidelines in mind!
Nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. In fact, that number might be even higher! Think about the last time you were researching an item. Didn’t you want to see what others were saying before buying it? In the online retail space, having positive product reviews can make or break your Amazon business.
Much like feedback, you should be asking for reviews consistently. Remember that some people shop on Amazon every single day, so be clear about what you’re asking. Provide details about the order to help them remember the transaction. You can’t ever ask anyone to change or remove product reviews. “Unfortunately, if you get a bad one and it’s legit, it will be near impossible to have it removed,” Liz says.
What can you do instead? Don’t let a couple bad reviews ruin your Q4 success! Immediately respond to each and every negative product review in-line on the product page. Show potential buyers that you are invested in providing great customer service, apologize and provide an explanation for what went wrong. Be accountable and engaging in order to best protect your brand and seller reputation (and boost Amazon sales!) during the busiest selling season of the year.
Persephanie: All righty. Good morning, west coast, and good afternoon to you east coasters. Thanks for taking the time to join us today. My name's Persephone. I'm the webinar coordinator here at Tinuiti, and I will be your host for today's webinar. Today we'll be covering, it's our third day of our Q4 Amazon Advertising and Operations Summit and we have the pleasure of having eComEngine cover our first session, How Feedback Interviews Can Boost Holiday Sales.
Persephanie: All right. Before we dive into our first presentation of the day I did want to go ahead and review a few event logistics. All right. So for those of you being introduced to us for the first time, welcome, and thank you for joining us. I hope to see you attend more of our hosted events in the future. The platform we're using today is GoTo Webinar. So go ahead and please submit any questions that you might have in the chatbox in the right and I'll be sure to add those to the queue of questions for our speaker at the end. Also, there is plenty of resources available for you to download so feel free to take a look at these, and if you're having any trouble accessing these features go ahead and let me know and I'll troubleshoot the issue in the backend. And lastly, this webinar is being recorded for you to reference and share with your colleagues later this week. So keep an eye out in your inbox for those by tomorrow morning.
Persephanie: All righty. And a little bit about for Tinuiti for those of you who are just being introduced to us for the first time. Tinuiti is a performance and data-driven marketing leader focused on every aspect of the customer journey across the span of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and beyond. You may have heard of us previously as CPC Strategy SCM or one of our recent acquisitions including CPC Strategy, Email Aptitude, or O'Ryan CKB. However, in May we rebranded and under one name deliver the best results by bringing experts together to create an integrated media strategy powered by people and driven by data and insights.
Persephanie: All righty. And then we have the pleasure of having Liz Fickenscher as our first speaker for today. Liz is committed to providing valuable information to Amazon sellers through blog posts and informational webinars. Liz is the affiliate ambassador engaging with customers and strategic partners to build relationships between eComEngine and the eComEngine industry.
Liz: Hi, everybody. Thanks, Persephone. That's a great introduction I think we're going to start with a little poll.
Liz: So we're going to talking about Q4 today like Tinuiti's been doing for the past three days. So when do you start prepping for Q4? Is it in August or earlier? In September or in October or later? That'll help us get an idea of how to help you.
Persephanie: Yeah, I just launched this poll so everyone feel free to vote. Let us know. I'll go ahead and share those results out loud and then Liz can let us know what she thinks about those. All right, and it looks like almost everyone's voted. So huge thank you to those that participated. I'm going to close the poll and share those results out loud. So for those of you, when do you start prepping for Q4? It looks like 61% of you said in August or earlier, 39% said in September, and it looks like nobody voted for October or later.
Liz: That's good. That's really good news. Well, so it is August and it's early August so this is a great time to be having these conversations with sellers and a great time to get our strategies together for how we're going to tackle Q4. So I guess we're going to get started with our agenda. As Persephone said, I'm the industry liaison here at eComEngine. I do webinars, I do events, I try to do blog posts and get information to you guys on social and all that kind of stuff. I have a couple of my favorite topics that I like to talk about and I'll be tackling some of those today, but we're generally going to talk about your seller reputation, feedback and reviews, and how they impact or can impact your Q4 sales. So seller feedback, it's important to seller health. The impact on the Buy Box, why it's still important and then we'll get into how to get more feedback and how to manage negative feedback, which is a real hot topic with a lot of people I talk to.
Liz: Then we'll jump into product reviews, which is always a hot topic and why they're crucial for good sales. Then we'll get into how to get more verified purchase reviews, how to manage =negative product reviews, and I'll probably talk about Amazon's terms of service in regards to email templates and we do have compliance checklists and all kinds of resources we're going to be sharing with you. So that's a lot to cover and I think we should get started.
Liz: All right. Feedback and reviews, how they impact your sales on Amazon. We are starting with a quote from our founder, Jay Lagarde. I'm not going to read this to you. You guys are going to get this deck after the fact, but what Jay is saying basically is that the holiday season means that there are more shoppers on the Amazon marketplace and more opportunities for your products to be seen and purchased. So not only do your listings and your images need to be optimized, but you need to proactively manage your seller reputation to make sure your feedback and product reviews are working for you instead of against you because they can.
Liz: So this is an interesting statistic. Your seller ranking can drop when your feedback is below 96%. In an upcoming blog post that we're going to have on the eComEngine blog, Liz Adamson gives us some great insight on how your seller feedback can impact your sales and seller reputation, and she says something to the effect that Amazon doesn't spell this out anywhere but there's a correlation between how you show up in organic search and your feedback rating. And an Amazon insider told her that the threshold is about 96 or 97%. So below that, your ranking starts to take a hit and will continue to drop as your feedback drops. So if you've been on the Amazon marketplace for a long time and your feedback's awesome that's great, but keep in mind that as sales increase and you're getting more orders you need to really stay on top of your seller reputation because a drop in your feedback can hurt you with more than just your seller reputation.
Liz: So seller feedback is a metric that rolls up into your greater account health. The healthier your account the more you can focus on the busy holiday season. If your seller health drops you can lose privileges and even lose your account. That type of complication can ruin more than just Q4. Negative feedback is a metric that's included in the order defectory. So along with your A to C guarantee claims and your chargeback claims negative feedback is one of those metrics that rolls up into the ODR.
Liz: And then there's the return to satisfaction rate. So if your order defectory is part of your overall customer service experience note that the return to satisfaction rate also rolls up into your overall customer service performance, and the ease of returns is one area related to customer feedback, and late response is also a metric on your return to satisfaction rate. So all of these things touch feedback in ways that aren't explicitly explained but it's important to note that all of those buckets, and we'll get into those in a second, all of those buckets that inform your seller feedback roll up into these two metrics that are pretty important to your seller health.
Liz: So one of the metrics is response time, and sellers who respond to messages within 24 hours receive 50% less negative feedback on problem orders. We've seen that over all of these years that we've been in business we've had FeedbackFive on the market for over 10 years and we've noticed that sellers who are really, really responsive to buyer questions and buyer complaints get less negative feedback. I mean, it just makes sense, doesn't it?
Liz: And even Amazon points out that their research shows that orders with messages responded to ... So this is a stat actually from Amazon. So this counts for returns, product questions, any reason why a buyer might contact you it's important to respond ideally sooner than 24 hours, as fast as you can and that keeps your negative feedback rating down. Amazon is customer-obsessed. They say that all the time. Jeff Bezos says that all the time and you need to be too.
Liz: So what causes negative feedback? If you look at seller central and you look at the ways to avoid negative feedback you get an idea of the areas that inform your seller feedback. As you know your seller feedback is different from your customer reviews. Reviews about your product, seller feedback is about you as a seller, your performance as a seller. So stock-outs, late shipments, complicated returns, not as described, wrong size or item, the product quality and packaging specifically, and customer service issues are all part of your seller feedback rating. The best way to avoid negative feedback is to avoid problems that can lead to negative feedback. So tackling these types of issues ahead of time is the smartest way to avoid negative feedback, and I can actually make sure we link to the area in seller central that has that but it's the how do I improve my feedback. It's that part. You can just search it in the seller ... But we'll get it to you.
Liz: These things also roll up into your order defect and return to satisfaction rate, and reflect what Amazon thinks is important in terms of your seller performance. So again, it's not about your products. It's about how you're performing as a seller. So how do you get more feedback> how do you get more positive feedback? Obviously, with FeedbackFive we recommend that you ask for feedback on your orders, and you need to ask politely and in the terms of service compliant way and I'll get into that in a little while. Also, we see a lot of bad feedback because of packaging. So that's something that you can control even if you're selling FBA you can control the packaging that you're sending into FBA, and there's no reason to get bad feedback just because of your packaging. I actually ordered hot sauce one time and everything was broken so I had this soggy hot sauce spicy don't touch your eyes kind of situation and it was all about the packaging.
Liz: So also, stock-outs, if you can't fulfill and order then obviously you're not going to get good feedback on that order. And find a way to wow your buyers. Amazon says that happy customers don't leave feedback and they do in seller central say that you can ask once for feedback. So, again, there are terms of service you have to follow on that but if you can wow your buyer with great service and have super-fast responses, and offer terms of service compliant, cool extras, great information, that kind of stuff, obviously, nothing that's against terms of service you're more likely to get positive feedback.
Liz: And also feedback impacts the Buy Box and that's where 83% of Amazon sales happen in Q4. Well, actually all year long and even more than 82% when people are shopping on mobile and more and more people are shopping on mobile every year. And if you're not in the Buy Box your chances of making a sale are pretty slim. So let's talk about how feedback impacts the Buy Box. That's going to be relevant for some of you and not relevant for others. The way the Buy Box works is this. To be eligible you have to be a professional seller who meets certain requirements. Your order defect rate, which is your feedback at work, your performance metrics, customer service quality, the length of time you've been selling on Amazon. So if you sell FBA you'll get approved for the Buy Box faster when you're a new seller and if you're selling a combination as another seller for the same price, and you have better feedback in other metrics you'll win the Buy Box most of the time.
Liz: If you win the Buy Box you'll have more sales. Tinuiti SEPC Strategy actually said, "Amazon generates over 150 billion sales every year. Of those conversions, over 90% occur using Amazon's Buy Box." I mean, that's crazy, and when your product loses the Buy Box sponsored product ads stop. So it's important to keep the Buy Box when you can and keeping your feedback really, really up there is a great way to do that.
Liz: We have seen some evidence that your most recent seller feedback will have the greatest effect on your ability to win the Buy Box. So it's not necessarily ... You can't necessarily rely on your entire history of positive feedback. In situations where you're pretty much neck and neck with another seller for the Buy Box, meaning you've both been selling for a similar amount of time, you both have the high feedback ratings, and your ASINs are priced the same the seller with the most recent positive feedbacks might win the Buy Box over the seller without recent positive feedbacks. So that's interesting and incentive for you to try to make sure you're being proactive about your seller reputation, not just product reviews but your feedback too.
Liz: Another thing to think about along with your feedback is like I mentioned before, running out of stock. We've got this quote from Char Anderson who runs the Wholesale Sourcing Expert's Group. She's super knowledgeable and a great person, but we're actually talking with Feedvisor next week about inventory management because that's a huge, huge topic for Q4 too. So feedback and product reviews aren't the only thing that impact your Q4 sales, as you've learned over the last couple of days and you have so much to think about during the holiday season there's no reason that your seller reputation should mess things up for you. So that's why I'm here today to talk to you about that and we've ... Sorry about that. We've got a couple other. Liz Adamson, Wes Grudzien talking about positive feedback and how you can mage that. So you guys will see that when you get the slides.
Liz: So let's talk about asking for feedback because it's different than asking for product reviews and I think you guys probably know that, but you need to understand the rules. Amazon says, "Send the buyer no more than one polite request for feedback after the shipment has been received." And also somewhere else says," Contact buyers with no more than one polite request or remove the feedback after resolving the problem." You can't offer incentives, you can't offer discounts in exchange for positive feedback or the removal of negative feedback. And they tell you to refer to the prohibited seller activities and actions for more information. There are these certain pages in seller central that I tell sellers to bookmark all the time because they're the hotspots of information when it comes to your seller reputation. You don't really have a clear, concise packaged place in seller central where it says, "Okay, here are the do's and don'ts." The do's and don'ts are spread out over different places. So you have to keep ... That your job to keep up to date on that stuff.
Liz: When you're composing your feedback request keep the rules at the forefront to make sure you're not including any language that's going to be triggering the buyer/seller messaging policing bot. Because they're there now. Amazon's using machine learning to look at buyer/selling messaging and they're flagging certain keywords and certain combinations of words. So it is important to follow the rules, understand the rules, follow them and I talk about that all the time. I do say that you could create an awesome subject line if you're asking for feedback or reviews you can't either if nobody opens your email, and then in your email, you need to provide an easy way for the buyer to leave feedback. Include an image of the product so they remember what they bought from you and offer any tips on unboxing, any value you can add to your email that's TOS compliant will help not only communicate who you are as a brand, who you are as a seller, help win the trust of your buyer, and hopefully bring back return business.
Liz: Rachel Hoover, who is an awesome ... She does account reviews and account optimizations with FeedbackFive and she has really dug in and she understands the rules, and she watches accounts, and she looks at what's working and what's not. She says, "To encourage buyers to click on your email and open it your subject line will need to stand out from the dozens of other emails crowding their inboxes every day." We love Rachel, she's just awesome and she and several other members of our team can actually help you craft your subject line so that you can get better conversions and we do have a way that you can AB test subject lines. So there's no reason for your subject line to keep people from reading your email.
Liz: So negative feedback, it happens. What do you do about it? The faster you respond to it, like I said before the better chance ... So the faster you respond the better chance you have of not getting the negative feedback to begin with, and then also if you get negative feedback the faster you respond to it the better chance you're going to have getting it removed or changed. So getting alerts when you receive negative or neutral feedback is a really good way to stay on top of things and that helps you respond to the buyer's complaint faster, resolve the problem faster, and create a situation where you can ask the buyer to remove or change the feedback once the problem is resolved. You can ask buyers to remove or change feedback. You can't ask them to change or remove product reviews. That's strictly against the rules. That's a whole different animal. We'll talk about that in a second, but you can actually ask for a removal or for them to change it. So take advantage of that because that can help you keep your feedback rating where it needs to be.
Liz: So now that we've talked about feedback we're going to get into product reviews, which is one of my favorite things ever to talk about. So [Speigel 00:18:26] Research in 2017 said nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. I would venture to say that in 2019 that number is higher, and product reviews on Amazon are important to your product ranking, your visibility, and ultimately your sales. And buyers do read reviews and are more likely to buy when you have good reviews. Now, there is a way to manage your negative reviews so that you have a better appearance on Amazon Marketplace but ultimately the name of the game is positive product reviews, and when your sales volume increases that's a great opportunity for you to increase the number of product reviews you're getting/. So we're going to talk about some strategies around that and what to do when you receive negative product reviews.
Liz: So talking about why reviews are important, I think this is probably a review for everybody who's watching this webinar. They help increase the A9 search rank. They help measure satisfaction. They help you identify opportunities to improve your product. So if, and I can give you some examples if needed during the Q&A but I have a lot of people in the seller community who have said that they have made massive product improvements, they've identified safety issues, they've identified bundling opportunities all by just paying close attention to their product reviews. And they're super important to Amazon because they help buyers make decisions on what products are good and which ones aren't, and Amazon, obviously, over the years has done a whole lot to make sure the product review space is clean and up to date. We'll talk about that in a second too.
Liz: And also, product reviews can impact your advertising options. I mean, not all of them but there is a little ... If you look at this. Hopefully it's not too blurry. Obviously, in Q4 you're going to amp up your advertising on Amazon and there's this part in advertising section of seller central here you can include your star rating on some of your ads, but you have to have a certain amount of positive reviews. You have to have more positive reviews in order to enable that on your ads. So what it says, it's section 2.4.2 in the advertising section of seller central and it says, "Ads can only include Amazon star ratings." So, obviously, you can't do third-party ratings, and to include a star rating the product must have at least 15 customer reviews, a minimum star average of 3.5, and then for automotive campaigns only they can allow star rating based on at least eight customer reviews and a minimum star rating of four, but that's just from one category. So the name of the game there to include those stars on your ads is 3.5 at least and at least 15 customer reviews. And if it's a brand new products this is really hard, right?
Liz: So let's talk about how to get more reviews. There is the Amazon early reviewer program. That was introduced during what I call review gate, which was October 2016 Amazon did away with incentivized review and I'm sure you guys remember that, but it used to be that you could send a deeply discounted or free product to someone or they could review it and say, "I received this product ... This is my honest review." And there were companies based on this. There were groups and Facebook groups, and Amazon said, "Nope, it's getting manipulated too much. We're not going to do it anymore." And what they did was they introduced the early reviewer program.
Liz: And then I think I'm, yeah, I'm going to go into that program. I've heard mixed messages on it but generally, I think it's a good idea for most people. We also recommend that you ask for reviews. Again, there are huge amount of ... Well, not a huge amount but there is very specific rules that you need to follow when you ask for reviews, and I'll get into that and we can help you with that. Then in that message make it easy for the buyer to leave a review, include an image of the product so they remember what they bought. Some people do a lot of shopping on Amazon, like every day so it's important to be clear about what you're asking and it includes CTA buttons that link directly to the review. And ask for them smartly, right? A good subject line, write a good email, don't try to break the rules ever, ever. I ask you not to.
Liz: So generally, we see people who used the earlier reviewer program which you have to be brand registered for and it costs $60 per ASIN but I've talked to a lot of sellers who said that I really did give them a little boost. I've talked to some seller that said, "Hey, nothing so far." But they were only in it for a month or so. It's worth doing, especially for new items that you're launching but in terms of asking for reviews, always go through buyer/seller messaging. Obviously, I think you should use FeedbackFive but it helps to use an automation tool because then you can just ... With us, you have a contact. You've got somebody that can keep you in line and make sure that you're not breaking the rules, and I'm not going to into a whole TOS but you can ask me questions during the Q&A about that.
Liz: So let's talk about when you get negative reviews because that's coming up a lot. First you need to resolve the problem. The bummer about negative reviews is that you can't ever ask anybody to change or remove the review. You can learn from the problem. You can learn inventory, product quality issues, you can monitor your product reviews, learn from them, but unfortunately, if you get a bad one and it's legit it's pretty much impossible to get rid of. Then even if you get one that's not totally legit, if it doesn't violate community guidelines you're probably going to have to jump through some hoops but we do have some tips on that too on our blog and you can always contact me.
Liz: You can, however, respond to a negative product review in line on the product page. I think you should probably respond to all the reviews you get because that shows that you're paying attention, that shows that you're customer service focused, it shows that you care about the people who are shopping on your store, but you should especially respond to negative reviews because that's pretty much your only line of defense. So if someone leaves a negative review and you say, "I'm so sorry you had that experience." You explain what happened then the next person comes along who's reading the reviews sees that you've responded and that makes you look better. It's not a huge consolation. I know it would be better if you just didn't have the negative reviews, but you do, so do the best you can and leave a polite, well-worded explanation of the problem, how you solved it, and all that kind of stuff so that your future buyers can see that you're proactive. And there's a picture here that shows you what that looks like.
Liz: Our friend, Irina, says about Q4, "This is the busiest time for many retailers." And she's got some nice things to say about FeedbackFive and all that kind of stuff but you guys can take a look at that when you get the deck later. I did say I would say a little bit about TOS compliance. Reviews are super important to the Amazon Marketplace. They provide a forum for positive or negative feedback about a product, but the TOS, the terms of service are hugely important and there's been an uptick in sellers who've been suspended for reviews abuse in the last few months because Amazon is trying to figure out how to weed out the bad actors. They're trying to eliminate black hat tactics and in some cases, sellers who aren't really doing anything knowingly wrong are getting penalized because they might have outdated language in their template. They might not be up on TOS and what it means. They don't really understand the spirit of Amazon's terms of service.
Liz: So it's really important to dig on and we actually have some resources around that. We've got a feedback compliance checklist and a product review compliance checklist. So if you're composing those messages and you wonder if you're doing something that's against the rules you can use these checklists, they're free, and that will keep you out of trouble and we do update them as TOS changes as it will. Which is why you should bookmark those pages in seller central today.
Liz: So we do have some free tools and templates on our tools page. I think it's just ecomengine.com but use this bit.ly. You can get there. We've got spreadsheet templates for things, we've got review guides, everything you want to know about feedback, product reviews. How they impact the Buy Box, how they impact Prime Day, how they impact Q4. Email templates to keep you out of trouble, compliance checklists, and all that kind of stuff. So I encourage you to take a look. Go there and all that stuff's free. We just want you to be successful and we want your seller reputation to be awesome. So, Persephone, I feel like I've been talking non-stop. Does anybody have any questions?
Persephanie: Yes, so I have been queuing up some questions from our audience in the backend. So let's go ahead and get started with that,
Persephanie: First question is from Dean. With regards to the 96% feedback affecting ranking, is this in terms of the lifetime percentage?
Liz: I think so. So if you've got a lot of really great feedback historically, because Amazon does measure it, your lifetime feedback. So I think it's your lifetime rather than your 365. I'll double-check with Liz though, and if it's the Dean I think just email me and I'll ... And if it's not, then I'll tell Persephone and she'll tell everybody else.
Persephanie: Thank you. Let's see. This next question is from Gustavo. How does Amazon rank the order of the reviews that are shown and how can we as sellers manage them?
Liz: Well, that's a great question. Unfortunately, only Amazon has the answer to that. People can downvote and upvote reviews, and that's changed the math on how reviews appear on a listing. If people upvote it then the one that's upvoted the most is the most helpful. So I don't know that we have a lot of control over that as sellers, but I know you definitely shouldn't upvote and downvote yourself because that can get you into big, big trouble. That's new cause for suspension that's happening. So it should be in order of when the review was actually left but now there's different math to it because of the upvoting and the down voting.
Persephanie: Got it. Thanks, Liz. Let's see. This next question is from Dean also, "You mentioned a way of AB testing. I have FeedbackFive but haven't seen this option. Can you point it to me, please?"
Liz: Absolutely, and definitely schedule an optimization session. Frans, Rachel, or Liza can help, or I can help but basically what you do is you set up two different campaigns in FeedbackFive with two different templates and the only thing different is the subject lines. Then on the main campaigns page ... Then you send one campaign to orders ending in one number. I can go into it later but there's an easy way to do it and then you can see right on the campaigns page which has the best open rate, and then you can start AB testing other things like whether or not you should use the product image with a description and you can start Ab testing other stuff once you get your awesome subject line in place. So just schedule something with the optimization team or you can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll point in the right direction.
Persephanie: Got it. Thanks, Liz. Let's see. This next question is a follow-up from Gustavo to his previous question. How to make the five star review show up before the lower star reviews.
Liz: You can't actually control that as seller. You can hope that people upvote the more positive reviews, but you can't manipulate that in any way and I really warn you not to manipulate upvoting or downvoting. If you are getting negative reviews and you don't feel like they're legit you can open a case with Amazon, you might not get a response right away but you'll get a case opened if you ... And likely, the first time you're going to get somebody that says, "that doesn't violate our community guidelines so we're not going to take it away." But if you suspect that a competitor is leaving you and reviews, or you suspect that they're actually leaving a review on an ASIN not the ASIN that is yours there are things you can do, and you can also get a professional involved if you're not getting anywhere with your cases at Amazon. But in terms of how your reviews show up on a listing, I don't think there is any way that you can personally configure that.
Persephanie: Got it. Thank you, Liz. This is a question that seems it's been asked a couple times from multiple times in the audience so I'm just going to bundle this. What are some of the automated tools used to generate or request feedback? Is there third-party or software that you would recommend for product reviews?
Liz: Well, sure. I would recommend FeedbackFive. There are third-party tools that will let you automate your feedback requests and product review requests. So answer number one, yes. There is software out there that you can use to do that and that's a lot easier than doing it in seller central, even though buyer/seller messaging is a little better than it used to be it's still not the slickest email system ever, right?
Persephanie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Liz: I do think that FeedbackFive is the best tool in the market. I mean, I am biased but we've been around for a really, really long time. So we've watched the trends in what works to get feedback. We've seen all the changes that have happened with Amazon and with sellers, and we've been able to respond to that. So we've got some tips and some techniques that are related to the time that we've been in the business, and the length of time we've been paying attention to buyer/seller messaging, and trends and that kind of stuff. So yeah, I would recommend that you use FeedbackFive for that.
Persephanie: Thank you, Liz. Let's see. It looks like we do have a little bit more time so I'll go ahead and just run through these few other questions. This one's from Rebecca. Is it acceptable to recommend other product recommendations in response to a neutral or negative review?
Liz: Amazon says that you're not allowed to include any promotional language, or images, or links. I mean, no links at all actually but you're not allowed to be promotional in your communications with buyers. I don't recommend that you respond in line to a product review and promote another product. Not only do I suspect that's against terms of service. I also think it's bad business because your point there is to respond to the negative review, respond to the problem with the solution and not be like, "Well, buy this instead."
Liz: There are situations where you can ... I have all these tips in the world on how you can promote your Amazon storefront on different marketplaces, but in terms of a negative review, you really need to think about why you got that negative review and respond to that. Don't see that as an opportunity to upsell because Amazon wouldn't like that.
Persephanie: Okay, great. Thank you. Let's see. A few more questions here. If I have a lot of positive feedback do I need to keep asking for feedback or can I pivot and ask for positive reviews?
Liz: That's a great question. If you've got a whole lot of great ... You've got a great lifetime of positive feedback, you're at 100%, you're at 99% and you're not actively competing for the Buy Box on an ASIN, I would recommend that you go ahead and pivot and ask for product reviews. If you are competing for the Buy Box though, I would keep trying to get feedback on that ASIN because that can help you in a competitive way.
Persephanie: Got it. Thank you. And this is a follow-up question that how can I make sure my product review requests get opened by my buyers?
Liz: Well, subject line basically is the answer to that. There are couple of things that I usually et asked during a session like this and one is about buyer opt-out. So in 2017, Amazon started letting shoppers opt-out of non-critical emails and obviously a product review request is not a critical review email. I mean, it's critical to you but it's not critical to your shopper. So buyer opt-out is a thing and so fewer of your orders are actually getting your emails because they've decided they don't want to get your emails. That's a good thing I think because you don't want to send an email to someone who doesn't want to get it, they could leave you spite reviews. I've seen that happen.
Liz: When it first rolled out you could put important in rackets in the subject line and there were sellers manipulating that and selling their product review requests with that bracketed term in their subject line, and people left them terrible reviews because they could and because they had specifically told Amazon, "No, I don't want to get those types of emails." And they got them anyway and we haven't seen a big decrease in the amount of product reviews people are getting, and we've actually seen an increase in open rate since opt-out happened.
Liz: So the biggest thing you can do to get your emails opened is to make sure your subject line is absolutely perfect for your brand, for your product and we can help you with that but also do some reading up and understand who your customers are. Understand your segment, your little quarter of Amazon and that will help you make a subject line and, you know, test the subject lines too. But your subject line is the gateway to your review because if nobody opens your email then they're not going to click on your link.
Persephanie: Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more there, Liz. Let's see. This question is from Dean. He's saying, "I've been selling privately owned products on Amazon in California for about two years with decent sales volume. We are the only seller ..." Or no. "We're only selling one ASIN." Excuse me. "Performance metrics are good yet we still don't have the Buy Box. Do you have any idea why this might be?"
Liz: Do you have good feedback?
Persephanie: Let's see. He followed up with I said, "I have a product with over 600 reviews, five stars." And he also states, "A competitor copied for the most part my own listing including almost identical title and keyword content to sell their own private labeled product, and with no reviews, they are ranked a lot higher organically than my products?"
Liz: Are they winning the Buy Box?
Persephanie: Let's see what Dan says. IF he ...
Liz: So in answer to the original question, that's weird and you should be winning the Buy Box. So I think that probably you need some help looking into that. If someone has completely copied your ASIN and they've done anything shady, you can report them. Email me, email@example.com, and I'll point you at somebody that can help you.
Persephanie: Awesome. Thanks, Liz. And then probably just one last question before we come to a close here what I do if I thin another seller is manipulating product reviews?
Liz: Report them. But be careful because there's the little boy who cried wolf syndrome at Amazon right now, but Amazon is actively encouraging buyers, sellers, vendors, anybody who happens to look at Amazon to report bad actors. There's a lot of really shady stuff going right now there's a lot of people talking about black hat tactics. There's a lot of bad stuff going on and Amazon's trying to crack down on it.
Liz: So what I would do is collect the evidence. Usually, the people that are doing that kind of stuff are leaving a pretty good trail. I did have one guy who said that he got a negative review on an item that was clearly shipped to his competitor's mailing address. So I mean that's pretty compelling evidence that that's manipulation and you can send that to Amazon. Make sure you've got your case altogether, be concise with your communication, and don't jump the gun. So get your evidence together and then report them, and depending on the response you get, escalate. If you don't have to escalate that's great, but there are also professionals in the industry that we can recommend that can help you with those types of complaints to Amazon.
Persephanie: Great. Thank you so much, Liz. That's all the questions that we have right now. Huge thank you to you for taking the time to join us today. Always a pleasure to have you join our webinars.
Liz: Thank you. It's always a pleasure to join your webinars.
Persephanie: Thank you. However, before we did end our first session of the day don't go anywhere, we do have two more sessions from Pay ability and Avalara. So go ahead and stay tuned. We will be back in about 20 minutes. So go ahead and hold and we'll be right back. Thanks, everyone.
Originally published on August 15, 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.