If you can’t get reviews for your ecommerce product, you may as well not be in business. That's a harsh statement, but it’s true.
Product reviews are the currency of ecommerce. Algorithms rely on them. Consumers trust them. SEO uses them. Bots read them. And you, the ecommerce merchant, need them.
Certainly, digital marketing involves a lot of different factors. But in the ecommerce marketing world, much of the strategy lies in gaining reviews. Here’s why:
- Product reviews lift sales by 18 percent.
- Customers who read product reviews are 105 percent more likely to make a purchase -- even if the reviews are bad!
- Consumers trust online reviews 12 times more than seller or manufacturer descriptions.
- 85 percent of consumers read as many as 10 reviews when considering a purchase.
All well and good. But how do you get this sales elixir to work on your product? What are some practical methods for gaining customer reviews?
The eight methods listed below focus on Amazon, because I personally had success implementing them there, but you could apply the same strategies to other sites. However, if you're running an ecommerce store, definitely take advantage of third-party ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, Ebay and Gilt, to diversify your product distribution.
Before you engage in an all-out review-requesting spree, by the way, make sure you know and comply with Amazon’s rules. Failing to do so could result in the termination of your account. These terms will take you ten minutes to read, but could salvage your Amazon livelihood. Read them! Now, here are those methods for gaining reviews.
1. Send a follow-up email to the customer.
This method is straightforward, simple and honest. Send the customer an email following his or her purchase. The best time to send this email is after the customer has had a chance to receive, open and use the product. Amazon’s policy on follow-up emails goes like this:
Unsolicited email communications with Amazon.com users, email communications other than as necessary for order fulfillment and related customer service, and emails containing marketing communications of any kind (including within otherwise permitted communications) are prohibited.
Keep in mind, then, that your email should be non-salesy and related only to the product. Here are two services that optimize and automate the process:
2. Enclose information with the product.
Including a note or flyer with your product is easy and cost-effective. Even if the product is FBA (fulfilled by Amazon), you can enclose written materials in the box or packaging.
The purpose of your note should be simple -- to provide stellar service with or without a request for review. If you’ve done your job of providing an outstanding service, the buyer will be more likely to leave a review.
3. Provide free products in exchange for a review.
Several of the techniques that I describe below are built upon this free model. You give away a product for free; the customer leaves a review. This method of soliciting for reviews is popular, but often abused. Here are the two main mistakes:
- Offering compensation for the review. The free product itself is the only “compensation” allowed.
- Asking for a five-star review.
Those who receive the item feel obligated to leave a five-star review, and many times the seller encourages this either implicitly or explicitly. So, be careful. If you offer a free product, moreover, tell the recipient that you expect an unbiased review, not a gushing one.
Also keep in mind that you’re not allowed to pay people for reviews.
4. Identify and contact review-ready customers.
The people most likely to review your product are those who have already reviewed other Amazon products. How do you find these people? Here is a process:
- Start on your Amazon product page.
- View the sections titled “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and "Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed . . .” (available on some items).
- Within these two sections, open up similar products in new and separate tabs.
- Scroll to the review section, and click “See all ## customer reviews.” You should be able to see all the reviews with sorting options.
- The list of reviews is your source of reviews for your product. Click a reviewer’s name. Some reviewers provide their email addresses on their profile page and allow you to contact them directly. Some will even supply parameters on how they provide reviews, including the type of products that they choose to review.
- Offer this person the product for free in exchange for a review.
5. Find top reviewers and ask them for a review.
Some people make a hobby or a living from providing Amazon reviews. Those identified as “Hall of Fame” or “Top 10 Reviewer” are most likely to leave an accurate, thorough and helpful review (even if it’s not five-star). Who are these people? Amazon is happy to tell you.
- List of Amazon's Top Customer Reviewers with Top Reviewer Rankings
- List of Amazon's Top Customer Reviewers with Hall of Fame status.
You can find their contact information by clicking on each reviewer’s name. These reviewers expect to be solicited for reviews. Often, these reviewers are serious professionals or devoted hobbyists.
6. Find niche bloggers who review products.
Every niche has its reviewers -- the kind of people who build an audience by reviewing products. From techy products to quirky sub-niches, all you need is a bit of Googling and some patience.
- Search for the product name (longtail keyword) on Google, and look specifically for blogs that discuss the product.
- Reach out to the blogger, and ask for an Amazon review of your product in exchange for a free product.
Review-focused sites are in the business of providing reviews like this, so your request won’t come as a surprise.
7. Search Twitter for reviews.
Twitter’s advanced search functionality makes it easy to find exactly what you want. In the case of product reviews, try this:
- Place the name of the product in the “Any of these words” field. If your product has a very specific name, use “This exact phrase” or “All of these words” in order to narrow down your search.
- Search “#productreviews” or “amazonreview[s]” to find users who are reviewing products.
Contact these people with an offer for review.
8. Use an existing legitimate service to locate reviewers.
Finding reviewers is time-consuming. As with any inconvenient or arduous task in life, there are smart entrepreneurs who have identified the need and have risen to fill it. For example, you can boost your customer reviews by listing your product on Amazon and use platforms like Honest Society to get honest feedbacks from Amazon reviewers by giving them your product to try for free.
Steer clear of places like BuyAmazonReviews.com or Fiverr. Sure, you might snag a few reviews in the short term, but this shady and unauthorized method of gaining reviews will most likely get your listing banned, not to mention that it's unethical.
The rise in review-based algorithms is a huge benefit for consumers. Clearly, however, it presents ecommerce sellers with a challenge. As with any growth hacking strategy, there are ways to ethically, legitimately and powerfully improve the process of getting reviews. With these eight techniques, you’re sure to increase your positive reviews.
What methods have you tried to get Amazon product reviews?