I can name several sellers I know, personally, who have tripled their sales since Amazon’s TOS update. How? They took the opportunity to work harder and explore more strategic, creative ways to get reviews. That’s the heart of entrepreneurship: instead of complaining about a roadblock, take it as an opportunity to innovate and hustle.
Know the Rules
I have four strategies I use to get tons of reviews on Amazon without breaking their new Terms of Service, but first, you need to understand what isn’t allowed anymore. In their prohibited seller activities, Amazon makes it very clear what you can’t do when it comes to reviews:
“You may not provide compensation, including free or discounted products, for a review. Review solicitations that ask for only positive reviews or that offer compensation are prohibited. You may not ask buyers to modify or remove reviews.”
If you break this down, they’re really saying four different things:
- If a buyer writes a review for you, you may not refund them the money they spent.
- You may not ask for positive reviews only.
- You may not ask for reviews in return for a discount.
- You may not ask a buyer to change or remove a review.
But here’s what Amazon isn’t saying. Amazon isn’t saying you can’t ask for a review and isn’t saying you can’t ask for a review when a product is discounted to everyone.
For example, Bobby McGee might say, “I want to do a review for you. Can you give me a discount?” The answer is no, but if you discount the product for everyone, and Bobby McGee happens to buy it, you can ask him for a review. You can’t ask him to leave only a positive review, but you can still ask him for a review.
Innovative Review Strategies
Now that you know what you can and can’t do, here are my four strategies (and a bonus strategy!) to get tons of Amazon reviews while honoring the Terms of Service:
#1: Do a 24-hour flash sale
Run a 24-hour discount, but make sure it’s on your FBM listings, and not your FBA listings, so you can manually control your inventory.
Let’s say I’m selling fake eyeballs, and I have 500 at home or at my warehouse that haven’t been sent to Amazon FBA yet. I can set the inventory count to 25, drop the price to $1.99 with free shipping, then reach out to people I know and trust and ask them to buy the product. I can tell them they don’t have to do a review, but they can if they want to. How can you go wrong? They would be getting the product for less than the cost of a cup of coffee.
A month ago, I released three new fashion products with my wife, and we used this method to reach out to some women my wife knew would love the products. We reached out to them with an email that went something like this:
“Hey, ladies. I picked a few of you who I thought would take advantage of these hugely discounted products in my shop, no strings attached. We released three new products in our Amazon fashion store, and we’re reducing the price to $1.99 with free shipping for 24 hours only. All you have to do is purchase the three items from our Amazon store in one order, and we’ll ship them to you within 24 hours. We would love for you to leave us a review, if you’d like, for each of these products once you’ve received them. Because Amazon does not allow incentivized reviews, we have to make this product available to the general public, so when the discount starts, buy it sooner rather than later, in case we run out of stock!”
Why have the customer buy all three products together? It’s a little hack. In the future, when someone views one of the products, Amazon will recommend the other two products with it. It’s also important to ask them to review each product individually, so they don’t assume that just because they bought them together, they only have to review one.
#2: Ask for a review 7 days after an organic purchase
A week after a customer orders a product, send out a letter. Make it personal, professional, and polite, something along the lines of: “Thank you for your purchase. I hope you love it. I would appreciate if you left us a review. We will throw a party in your name! If you have any issues with the product, please contact us before leaving a review so we can resolve them.”
Our reviews went up 18% after we started sending this letter!
#3: Reach out to top reviewers on Amazon
This is similar to the first strategy. Discount your product to $1.99 with free shipping for 24 hours, but instead of reaching out to friends, reach out to Amazon’s top reviewers. Because the discount is available to the general public, you don’t have to bother with special links or discount codes. All you have to do is send the reviewer the regular link to your product.
#4: Network with other Amazon sellers who are also looking for reviews
This one couldn’t be easier: just ask other Amazon sellers to buy your product and leave a review. There’s nothing against this in the Amazon TOS – just make sure not to discount the product for them unless the discount is available to the general public.
I love this bonus strategy, because it’s super effective.
Find a social media influencer with a strong following who already reviews products similar to yours. Send them a message saying, “I would love to send you my product for free if you would review my product on your channel. In fact, I’ll send you two additional products for free, so you can keep one and use the others to do a contest or giveaway for your followers.”
Why are you allowed to send them your product for free? Because you’re not asking them to review the product on Amazon. Rather, you’re asking them to review the product on their YouTube channel or blog. This won’t get you Amazon reviews, but it will get you exposure. Exposure leads to sales, sales lead to ranking, and ranking leads to reviews.
Influencers also love having extra products to use in contests and giveaways. It helps them connect with their followers, and that’s valuable to influencers. That’s the best way to negotiate: know what’s valuable to the person you’re negotiating with.
Now, I’ve heard some people complaining that some social media influencers charge a fee in exchange for their reviews. But, let’s say the fee is $300. If the influencer has one million followers, and just 1% of their followers buy your product, that’s 10,000 sales! Isn’t $300 worth 10,000 sales?
Don’t forget to think big. Make sure you have plenty of inventory before you try this strategy, because running out of inventory can seriously hurt your rankings.
After I get my reviews, I send most of my product to Amazon FBA, but I keep some at home to send out to other people with strong social media followings. It’s amazing how much exposure you can get with this method, and all the click-throughs from outside of Amazon will help your product rank.
What do you do if the promised reviews never show up? The problem is, it’s hard to tell if someone actually left a review or not. You can’t trace an Amazon review to the person who bought the product unless the names are the same. Some people who set up an Amazon profile just to review even leave their name blank.
So, don’t assume a customer did or didn’t review. Instead, follow-up politely with a message through Amazon:
“Hey, [Customer Name]. I hope you enjoy your new product. I just wanted to send a quick request for a review on this item. We’re a new business on Amazon and your review would be a huge help to us. If you’ve already reviewed the item, could you please send me a link to your review? I would love to read it. Thanks so much! [Your Name]”
By adding “if you’ve already reviewed the item,” you’re giving the customer a chance to save face. If they didn’t leave their promised review, they still have the opportunity to review and send you the link after the fact.
These strategies work but you'll have to work to make it work. If you set a goal for 25 reviews and only get 12 that is not bad. It's better than zero and if your product is differentiated well, there is no reason it should not take off selling with just a few solid reviews.