11 Ways to Get Amazon Product Reviews in 2019

October 5, 2019 in Amazon, Blog, Portal: Amazon
11 Ways to Get Amazon Product Reviews in 2019
Reviews are critical to your product’s success but are increasingly harder to get. In this article we’ll review 11 sure fire ways to get reviews for your products on Amazon.

11 Ways to Get Amazon Product reviews in 2019

Updated September 2019 with up-to-date tactics and strategies
As we all know, reviews are critical to a product’s success on Amazon. As of October 2016, Amazon removed incentivized reviews. For many, this has made getting those first reviews on newly launched products more difficult.

In this post, we’ll discuss the current state of affairs for Amazon reviews and how to get those critical first reviews. I’ll also discuss some of the black hat ways other sellers are using to get reviews.

Amazon Today – No Incentivized Reviews

As mentioned, Amazon changed its review policy in late 2016 to remove incentivized reviews. Amazon now prohibits the following activities related to reviews:

  • Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services.
  • Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your competitors’ products or services.
  • Creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products, refunds, or reimbursements) or on behalf of anyone else.

Let’s rephrase this wording in Plain Amazon Seller English

  • Amazon will now remove reviews (or at least make them unverified) for products purchased with a discount code greater than a 50% discount
  • Amazon will remove reviews if they can determine there’s a close connection between you and the reviewer

What Amazon is really trying to eliminate is the blatant and systematic abuse of the review system which happens frequently, especially for high demand items. I’m personally of the mindset that getting some initial review traction is critical and even Amazon probably turns a very big blind eye to this (after all, if it results in more sales that’s a good thing for Amazon).

Amazon Today – Limited Automated Emails with Customers

Amazon made it even harder to get reviews in March 2017 when they allowed customers to opt out of unsolicited emails.

If you send review requests through an email automation service like Feedback Genius you will increasingly receive an undeliverable message like below:

Undeliverable Email Message

Most customers were tuning out these messages anyways but this was one more blow to automating reviews.

Amazon then made it even harder to solicit reviews by only allowing you to ask for a review one time. As per Amazon’s policy:

“After an order is completed, Amazon automatically sends an email to buyers asking them to leave a review and provide feedback. Additionally, you are allowed to send one email per order to request a Customer Review.”

Also, Amazon does not want you to word your emails in such a way as to only solicit positive reviews. For example, “If you love our product, then leave a review”. Amazon does not want if/then statements in your email autoresponder series.

Again, as per Amazon’s policy:

“If you decide to ask a buyer to provide a Customer Review, you cannot ask only for a positive review, nor can you request reviews solely from buyers who have had a positive experience.”

Related Listening: Episode 153: How to Get Amazon Reviews in 2018

How Does Amazon Calculate Product Ratings?

You may have noticed that Amazon uses a complex weight-average algorithm when calculating the average rating of a product. A product with just one five star review could potentially have a rating of anywhere from 0-5 stars.

how amazon calculates review ratings

Mathematically, this product should have a 4.0 star rating but Amazon has weighted it as 4.1.

Amazon does not reveal the factors considered in this algorithm but it’s commonly accepted the following variables are important:

  • Review age
  • Reviewer profile (number of reviews, average rating of reviews left, etc.)
  • Verified or non-verified

 

White Hat Review Strategy

Here’s a solid white hat review strategy for getting your first product reviews:

White Hat Tactic #1: Amazon Early Reviewer Program


When Amazon removed incentivized reviews they also nearly concurrently released their Early Reviewer Program. This program allows a select number of customers to write reviews for products enrolled in it. In return, the reviewers receive small credits of $1-3 from Amazon. The Early Reviewer Program costs $60 and the product must have less than five reviews and you must be brand registered.

Early Review Program

Early Review Key Points/Requirements

  • The cost is $60 and you pay it after you get your first review
  • Eligible for Amazon.com products only
  • Eligible only for products with less than 5 reviews
  • No condition for the reviews to be 5-star
  • Selling price must be over $15

Overall, the Amazon Early Reviewer Program is extremely good value and everyone should immediately enroll their new products. The program is actually cheaper than using ‘review clubs’ but the downside is that the results can sometimes take weeks or months to take effect.

Amazon early reviewer program

My results from the early reviewer program have been limited but still incredibly worth it.

White Hat Tactic #2: Request Reviews from Customers Who Have Left Positive Seller Feedback

amazon seller feedback

Most buyers on Amazon don’t quite understand the difference between seller feedback and product reviews. Most of us have probably seen product reviews left in Seller Feedback at some point. It is essential to constantly review your seller feedback.

Proactively email all customers who have left positive seller feedback, especially those who left product reviews, and request them to leave product reviews. I even include an attachment like this with my emails explaining how exactly to leave product reviews. Only a small minority of buyers leave any feedback and those who have left seller feedback are more likely to leave product reviews.

White Hat Tactic #3: Request Reviews from Customers You’ve Provided Customer Service To

If you engage in a conversation with people and provide great customer service, most people are happy to leave a great review regardless of the product. And I mean real engagement – not some Feedback Genius autoresponder. Engagement can include:

  • Questions about a product before a purchase
  • Technical support after a purchase
  • Returns for a product that is simply no longer needed
  • Making an unhappy customer happy

If you have a conversation with a customer and you ask them “can you leave a review?” most customers will happily oblige. The easiest reviews to get are from customers who ask a product question and then order. Check up on them in a week to make sure they got the product. AFTER they respond to your email confirming they got the product then ask for a review.

how to get amazon reviews directions

White Hat Tactic #4: Use Product Inserts

Product inserts can be useful when reminding customers to leave a review although you must be careful not to provide any if/then statements in the insert verbiage, for example, “If you leave us a review then we’ll give you a lifetime extended warranty”.

Amazon reviews and inserts

In Fall of 2019, Amazon warned sellers about using inserts to ask for positivereviews.

One effective and relatively risk-free way to use inserts is to ask customers to register their product for an extended warranty (or something similar) to get their email. Afterwards, you can enter them in an email auto-responder series to remind them to leave a review.

Amazon send an ominous email to sellers reminding them not to use inserts to ask for positive reviews. Reminding the customer to leave a review is still OK, you just can’t ask them to leave a positive review.

White Hat Tactic #5: Use ManyChat to Engage With Previous Customers

If you’re not using ManyChat to help increase your Amazon sales you should be now. The full details of how to setup your ManyChat bot are beyond the scope of this article but you can do it within a few minutes. A sample flow would like the following:

Many chat to get reviews

You can use an append service to target previous customers or use an existing audience you have set up (if you don’t use either of these two things you’ll basically be employing a spray and pray approach).

White Hat Tactic #6: Product Giveaways and Discounted Products

By using steep discounts, you can get more sales for your products and increase the likelihood of more reviews. I price all of our prices with a 25% discount when launching them to get stronger immediate sales.

amazon giveaway customer page

Using Amazon Giveaways is another effective way to get a significant boost of your sales. Giveaways are an Amazon sanctioned program where a select number of winners get your product for free and non-winners get an offer to purchase your product at either full price or a discount (use a discount for maximum results).

There are also discount and rebate clubs which push the boundaries of white hat tactics but are still technically TOS compliant as of this writing. RebateKey is one of the most popular of these services. These services often are more aimed at getting sellers full price credit for sales than reviews per se but a high percentage of purchasers do in fact leave reviews.

Amazon Ratings vs Reviews

Amazon in 2019 began testing a new ratings system that allows customers to leave ratings for products without actually leaving a written review. The goal according to Amazon is to allow customers to leave authentic reviews more easily.

Only verified purchasers can leave reviews.

They also began allowing customers to rate individual features of product such as durability,ease of assembly, etc.

amazons new review ratings

How these individual ratings affect a product’s overall review rating is still to be determined.

White Hat Tactic #7: Launch New Products to an Email List

Hopefully, you’ve been building your off-Amazon email list. If you have an email list, then when you launch new products do not send them links to your website to purchase, instead send them directly to your Amazon product detail page on Amazon. This accomplishes two things:

  • You get vital initial sales velocity for your products
  • Your email list is more likely to produce satisfied customers who will subsequently leave reviews

Sales velocity is critical for Amazon. There are some who believe Amazon also rewards brands that produce sales on Amazon from outside of Amazon.

Second, your email list is likely to be an audience of people who like your product. Subsequently, they’ll be more likely to leave positive reviews. You can also get into grey-hat strategies and in your email blast ask customers to email you after purchase and offer them some kind of refund via PayPal. You’re not refunding them in return for a review – you’re just offering a product discount. Of course, once they email you, you’ve gotten that critical customer engagement and it’s easier to solicit reviews from them.

How to Find Who Left a Review?

At this point, you may be wondering if there’s a way to figure out who left you a review for a particular product. Amazon certainly does not make it easy to figure out who left a review. Clever services (often Chrome Extensions) for many years have used advanced techniques (specifically something called a profile ID) to help sellers determine the Order ID of who left a review. Amazon has closed these loopholes. As of now the only way to figure out who left a review is if the customer uses the same name on their product review as they use in their shipping address.

Grey & Black Hat Amazon Product Review Techniques

No article on getting Amazon reviews would be complete without speaking about grey and black hat review techniques. I do not endorse these techniques at all (in fact, I would strongly suggest you avoid them altogether) but it’s valuable to know what techniques sellers are using to get reviews in today’s Amazon world.

Black Hat Tactic #1: Friend and Acquaintance Reviews

I suspect most sellers have been guilty of soliciting a review or two from a family member or friend. This is strictly against Amazon’s TOS. Amazon is very good at detecting connections between reviewers and sellers (via shared shipping addresses, IP addresses, etc.) so sellers must be careful to avoid having these connections detected by Amazon if using these strategies. If used sparingly, the detection levels from Amazon are low and generally, if Amazon is suspicious of a small number of reviews, they will simply prevent them from being published.

Account Suspension Risk level: Low

Black Hat Tactic #2: Using Email Append Services to Target/Contact Customers

Amazon famously does everything possible to keep sellers from accessing customer information. They hide email addresses and phone numbers. Email appending services take Amazon shipping information and match it against Big Data databases to obtain a customer’s email address and/or phone number. Some services claim a 40% success rate but most are well below this.

email append services

It’s a bad idea to contact these customers directly once you get their email but these services can be used effectively to remarket to customers on Facebook/Google/etc. with minimal chances of being caught from Amazon.

Account Suspension Risk Level: Medium

Black Hat Tactic #3: Using Zombie Accounts to Get Fake Reviews (Brushing)

Amazon has a serious issue, especially amongst Chinese sellers, with fake reviews. This is done on a LARGE scale to accumulate dozens or hundreds of fake reviews. Essentially these services use fake Amazon accounts to purchase a seller’s products and then leave fake reviews. This sophistication of these services is mind blowing. Prices range from $1-3 per review depending on the likelihood of these reviews to be detected by Amazon.

amazon fake reviews request

Amazon is playing a constant game of whack-a-mole to fight against these fake reviews and they are becoming increasingly better at detecting these fake reviews and suspending sellers permanently who use them. However, you don’t need to dig to find a lot of sellers still using fake reviews with impunity.

Account Suspension Risk Level: Very High

Black Hat Tactic #4: Bribing Amazon China Employees to Delete Negative Reviews

Amazon also has a serious problem right now with employees accepting bribes from sellers to perform a number of nefarious tasks including deleting negative reviews. I am serious – this happens on a relatively large scale, especially amongst Chinese sellers. According to price sheets I have viewed from Chinese vendors, Amazon review deletion services charge around $300 per review deletion so it is not cheap.

Account Suspension Risk Level: Extremely High

Review Maintenance: Review Upvoting, Review Removal, etc.

There are a few other things you can do to improve your review profile, some white hat and some black hat.

Review Upvoting

Do you have a terrible 1-star review that is the first review being displayed? While you may not be able to remove it, you can upvote your top reviews to increase their visibility and decrease the visibility of the negative reviews.

Amazon normally displays the most helpful reviews at the top.

Upvoting Amazon Reviews

You can ask friends and family to upvote (re: mark as Helpful) a top review. There are also services that will upvote reviews for around $0.50-$1.00 per upvote.  This is not TOS-compliant but also something Amazon does not appear to be monitoring vigilantly.

Even more black hat, in 2019 there are reports that a large number of Abuse reports for a particular review will automatically trigger that review being removed.

Review Removal

Believe it or not, Amazon will actually remove negative reviews in certain circumstances.

The easiest reviews to get removed are ones that contain offensive language (swearing, racist terms, etc) or URLs.

However, recently, Amazon is also willing to remove reviews that are entirely fulfillment based for products fulfilled by Amazon. If requesting this type of removal simply open a case within Seller Central, give a link to the review and clearly state the reason that you are requesting removal. Amazon loathes to remove reviews but it’s worth trying, even with a low success rate.

Conclusion

The landscape for obtaining reviews on Amazon has completely changed in the last year. Launching products has gotten considerably harder but this can actually be a good thing for many sellers as it keeps out a significant portion of the competition.

What is your review strategy for launching a product? Do you have any tactics not mentioned here? Please share in the comments below.

  • About The Author: Dave Bryant

    Dave Bryant has been importing from China for over 10 years and has started numerous product brands. He sold his multi-million dollar ecommerce business in 2016 and create another 7-figure business within 18 months. He's also a former Amazon warehouse employee of one week.

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29 Comments

  • Joe
    September 19, 2017 Reply

    Great post Dave. I do not have any tactics for getting reviews to add but I do have a question that might make for a good post.

    How do you deal with competitors who are clearly cheating the review system.

    For example, I have a competitor who is selling a product for $9.99. I have purchased the product and it is very cheap and overall I believe it is low quality. At best I would give it a 3 star review.

    They launched their product only a couple of months ago. They use every sneaky trick in the book including intentionally placing their product in the wrong category just to get "Best Seller" status etc from Amazon. But it is obvious that they are buying reviews by the simple fact that a large majority of their reviews have images attached to them and they have 5 customers who have left video reviews (a couple of which are pretty high quality for a customer review).

    I have purchased their product and they do not use inserts to request any of this and they do not use Feedback Genius or anything similar to follow up. When I looked at the review profile for the 5 star reviews that they have it is quite obvious that the reviewers are in some sort of review group (who needs 15 fidget spinners, 10 pair of earbuds, 5 pair of headphones, etc over a month's time... and all are 5 star)

    To be even more annoying I believe they are paying these same reviewers to buy my product and leave 1 star reviews (I have not been able to make a connection besides I'm getting negative reviews from the same type of fake looking profiles buying high quantity of the same products and giving mostly 5 star reviews)

    To me it is clear that they are cheating. If you ran into this issue with a competitor in your space would you do anything or let it go and focus on your own products? On one hand I want to report them but on the other hand I've heard so many people say it is a waste of time and that Amazon doesn't do anything anyway. So far I have decided to focus on my products and my business and not worry about them. But it is more and more dificult when I see them beating me in ranking.

    I thought that in time it should balance out if real customers buy their products in quantity and if they truly are poor quality that the true negative reviews would come through, and they have, but when they get a negative review all of a sudden they end up getting 10 5 star reviews. They are clearly playing games.

    Thoughts?

    • Dave Bryant
      September 23, 2017 Reply

      Hey Joe,

      Yeah, the underground review groups are highly annoying and a lot of other very nefarious things going on with reviews. I've never tried reporting a review cheater but I suspect it would be dealt with the same way Amazon deals with most complaints - with no action. I think faking reviews can win in the short term, but in the long term, the best products will have longevity. Probably the only real thing you can do in the short term is to try your hardest to solicit more reviews on your products.

    • Hansa Yu
      May 7, 2019 Reply

      I very much agree with your statement.
      I am also deeply hurt.
      I also sell products on Amazon and experience like you.
      Now I redesigned my product line to ensure that others can't sell the same product and then focus on my products and services.
      Can we get contact in facebook?
      Email address is my facebook account.

  • Jamie
    November 20, 2017 Reply

    It's definitely getting tougher and tougher to get reviews. However, it's still possible to get reasonable sales without a single review using a bit of ppc and good organic rank. I've proved this recently. There is some research pointing to the idea that good organic rank gives customers a feeling that the product is trustworthy - as algorithms don't lie - even if there is a lack of valid social proof.

    I'm finding that although I have a handful of 5 star ratings in seller feedback , getting an actual product review is hard. The flip side is the system is a bit fairer now that Amazon have cracked down. I'd rather have a handful of genuine reviews gathered over time than 50 unverified or suspect looking ones in the first few weeks.

    • Dave Bryant
      November 20, 2017 Reply

      One thing to consider doing is messaging those people who left seller feedback and ask them if they will consider leaving a product review as well :)

      • Dave
        February 8, 2019 Reply

        Hi Dave,

        I listened to this podcast a month or so ago and have been thinking about messaging those who left seller feedback. I have not done this to date, mainly because I don't want to impose on people (and perhaps some degreeof laziness). Well, in an effort to be more proactive, I'm going to start doing this, but I do have one question:

        What subject should we select in the dropdown menu for these messages?

        I think it is an important question, because you want the best chance the message gets through to the customer, but you also don't want to violate any terms of service.

        When I try to contact a customer who left a bad product review, I typically select "Order Information," but I rarely ever hear back from customers, even when I offer a free replacement or no strings attached refund. I suspect many of these messages do not get through to customers.

        Thanks for any insight you can provide,
        Dave

        • Dave Bryant
          February 11, 2019 Reply

          Hi Dave - Feedback request is the most TOS compliant. "Additional information required" will always get through, even if they have asked not to receive marketing messages, but it's not TOS compliant.

  • David ghiyam
    June 19, 2018 Reply

    Hi Dave,

    I own a company that sells on Amazon and we are approaching 8 figures this year. I’m also part of a closely knit group of 200 7-8 figure sellers who are discuss everyday strategies and hacks to be at the top of our game. Of all groups I’ve ever been part of, this one has given me the most value in ways I can’t describe. 70 of us just went to Cancun together for a summit. We are always looking to bring smart talent into our group, especially someone who can add lots of value. In return, you obviously will get a wealth of info. Let me know if you’re interested. You might have heard of us, we are called MDS.

    • Dave Bryant
      June 21, 2018 Reply

      Hi David - Mike is an active member in MDS and I believe he just spoke there as well :)

  • jz
    June 19, 2018 Reply

    nice post dave.

    I'm beginning to think that all the review services are going to be less and less useful as more and more customers opt out of emails.

    The way to go for USA FBA small sellers is to get the customer on your email list somehow. Direct contact and asking for a review after providing some kind of personal service is the way to go

    • Dave Bryant
      June 21, 2018 Reply

      Yes, it's an effective way right now to get reviews.

  • Nima Sadrpanah
    November 20, 2018 Reply

    Hi, I have a question : I have a listing in food category and have been selling the product for 2 years so there is a database of my customers with name, address and "amazon email address" no their real ones. Now I am launching a new product in household category and I wonder if I can use those information to contact my customers to offer them a discount code for the new product. Is it against Amazon TOS? if not, what would be the best way or service for contacting them?

    • Dave Bryant
      November 21, 2018 Reply

      No, you can't contact them (especially with Amazon tightening up post purchase communication). The only thing you could do is use an append service like zon pages and try to match emails...these services cost around $0.1 per email though.

  • Kassandra
    December 6, 2018 Reply

    Thank you for sharing these tactics!
    Here's what I've noticed:

    - EBC reviews come too slow (can be even a month until you get your first, depending on your sales volume)
    - the Seller Feedback Emails are effective, I recommend sending them manually and not via a 3P platform. Had serious open rate issues with those
    - getting reviews from happy customers who reached out to you is the easiest as long as you know how to hook them and not be against the TOS
    - the product inserts don't work as well as they did so you have to find a very cool design or story behind the brand to get them to work
    - ManyChat rules!! The QR codes they create for the flows can be placed directly on the product packaging.
    - GA aren't what they used to be, I wouldn't rely much on them for reviews, maybe for drawing traffic to the listing or boosting the sales for the day
    - Email lists are ideal and there's a TON of things you can implement with them: contests, landing pages - they are the MVP.

    As for the grey & black-hats:
    - there are others that include appending another ASIN to your parent product to draw in its reviews or deleting asins that have the bad reviews
    - friends and family don't work anymore, they block the asin from receiving reviews OR they delete the review entirely. I recommend friends of friends or contacts that cannot be traced back directly to you
    - email append still works BUT I'm pretty sure you're only allowed to send 1 email per customer since they didn't give their consent to receive direct emails from you. That and the GDPR is a bit tricky.
    - those zombie ones are FREAKY. But explains why so many CN sellers rank so easily.

    Thanks again for a very informative blog post!
    Looking forward to many others

    • Dave Bryant
      December 6, 2018 Reply

      Wow Kassandra - this comment is incredible!! Thank you for your candid feedback from the trenches.

    • Mego
      September 6, 2019 Reply

      Hi Dave, do you have any more info on how to use manychat and appending services? Would be great if you dedicate a whole article to that strategy

      • Dave Bryant
        September 10, 2019 Reply

        For ManyChat we have a whole course on it in EcomCrew Premium(shameless plug for Premium). For the append services, I'll add it to the consideration list for in the future :)

  • Meda Maria
    December 10, 2018 Reply

    Getting reviews is getting harder and harder these days. Only a good customer serice will drive good reviews. But unfortunately there is no easy way to provide one for every client. Because most of them have opted out of receiving emails.

    • Dave Bryant
      December 10, 2018 Reply

      Yes agree, the inability to send any customer messaging makes things difficult.

  • Taylor West
    February 8, 2019 Reply

    Wow, this is a terrific list of ideas. Most of them appear to be geared toward Sellers rather than Vendors. Our brand is a vendor on Amazon, and we can probably only take advantage of a couple of the ideas above. If there are any additional ideas for Vendors, please let me know! Our competitors are mostly Sellers and certainly tap into these more proactive review generation mechanisms, which puts us at a disadvantage.

    • Dave Bryant
      February 8, 2019 Reply

      Being a vendor gives you a lot more flexibility with inserts et al because you can't really get your account banned. Lots of Vendor Central customers who abuse this fact, for better or worse :-(

  • Jason B
    February 18, 2019 Reply

    Awesome, thanks!

    • Dave Bryant
      February 18, 2019 Reply

      You're welcome :)

  • Communal News
    April 10, 2019 Reply

    You should read:
    Amazon Rewards Fake Reviews – The Ebanel Case
    https://communalnews.com/2019/04/02/amazon-rewards-fake-reviews-the-ebanel-case/

    • Dave Bryant
      April 11, 2019 Reply

      Interesting!

  • Sasa
    May 14, 2019 Reply

    Hi dave, hope all is well. I have a question. I recently launched my product on Amazon but only got one sell, I'm not sure what it is I am doing wrong to get more customers to purchase, I have good photos and have also paid for ads with no success, I am so confused and discouraged. I have yet to receive any reviews, can you please give me some tips or advice as to why the customers aren't buying. Thanks

    • Dave Bryant
      May 19, 2019 Reply

      It's hard to say without seeing the listing. You either have a traffic or a conversion problem. Check your business reports to figure out which one. Sounds like a conversion issue though which may mean you have a pricing issue.

  • Zubida
    October 16, 2019 Reply

    Thanks for sharing such effective tactics that will work for getting Amazon reviews.
    Besides learning how to get reviews, we have to learn how to deal with bad reviews too. Because a negative review lead people leave a business immediately. So, for responding to a foul review take enough time to create a peaceful and picked up response that may be seen by outsiders as a well-thought out response and not one written in rage. Be polite, simply apologize, offer the customer a solution.

    • Dave Bryant
      October 17, 2019 Reply

      Agreed.

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