How to avoid review manipulation on Amazon

It’s been more than a year since Amazon changed its community guidelines and banned incentivized reviews tied to free or discounted products—and sellers are still suspended regularly for review manipulation.

What is review manipulation?
Amazon defines it as any attempt by sellers or manufacturers to gain unfair advantages by creating false, misleading or inauthentic feedback about products or services.

The importance of product reviews
Product reviews provide a forum for sharing authentic feedback—positive or negative—and are a key factor in swaying shoppers’ purchase decisions. Plus, the more positive reviews a product has on Amazon, the higher it will rank in search results.

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Why Amazon updated its policy
Amazon’s community guidelines always prohibited incentivized reviews, except in cases where the reviewer disclosed that they had been compensated in some way in exchange for a review.

Last year, the company updated these guidelines to ban any incentivized reviews not facilitated through its Vine program, which was set up in 2007 to offer a more honest customer review system.

According to Amazon, Vine has “important controls in place” and has proven to be useful for “getting early reviews on new products that have not yet been able to generate enough sales to have significant numbers of organic reviews.”

The cost of review manipulation
If Amazon determines that a seller has attempted to manipulate reviews or violate its community guidelines in any way, the company will immediately suspend or terminate that seller’s account, remove reviews and delist related products.

That’s not all: Amazon may also withhold or forfeit that seller’s remittances and payments, and pursue legal action.

So, why are sellers still being suspended?
Ed Rosenberg, founder of Amazon Sellers Group, an online forum that sources Amazon seller-related issues, recently pointed out that many sellers are being suspended for using wording that’s considered to be review manipulation.

To reiterate, Amazon’s Terms of Service do not allow any language that attempts to influence positive star ratings or the content of reviews. That includes asking a buyer to leave a review “if you’re satisfied with your purchase.”

How to encourage customers to leave positive reviews on Amazon—without directly asking them to do so
An angry customer is two to three times more likely to leave a bad review than a satisfied shopper is to write a favorable one. That being said, 68 percent of people post a review when asked.

Remember, you can ask your customers to leave you a review. You just can’t request a positive one. But there are ways to nudge your customers toward doing that.

First up, the order confirmation email. Rather than treating it as a necessary evil, make it count by providing your customer with some value-added content that they didn’t expect to receive. This can be anything from a support manual to a product suggestion that complements their purchase. That sort of surprise-and-delight tactic will play a big part in getting a great review later on.

Once your customer receives the order, send a review request—but don’t ask outright for a glowing one. Here’s an example of a good message:

Subject: Tell us what you think!

Hey #customer_first_name#,

Thank you for ordering your #product_name# from us!

We wanted to reach out to ensure that your purchase arrived on time and that you’re happy with it. We would also love to get your honest opinion of the product, so if you have any thoughts to share, please click here to leave us a review. It will help other shoppers make smart decisions.

And if you are having any problems at all, just reply to this email and we will do our best to help you out.

Thanks again,

#your_name#

You’re not asking the customer to leave you a positive review. You’re making sure everything went smoothly with their order, offering to help solve any problems they might be having and asking them to share their experience with other shoppers.

If there’s no sign of a review after five to 10 days, follow up with your customer one last time to remind them how valuable their opinion is to your business.

How can xSellco help?
A surefire way to ensure you get positive reviews is to only ask happy customers for feedback. Our software sends smart, selective requests that not only improve your reputation but also help increase your sales. You can tailor your strategy to target orders by product type, on-time delivery, destination and more.


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