Who can resist accessing over 480 million products with thousands of candid reviews, free, fast shipping, streaming shows, movies and music, cloud-based services, an enormous list of printed or e-books, and a no questions asked return policy? Over 244 million active users can’t. Amazon is known for being obsessively customer-centric, and online shoppers unequivocally love this leading e-tailer with the largest resource of positive and critical buyer-generated product reviews.

A Buying Revolution

Word of mouth has been around since the 19th century horse and wagon peddlers sold their wares and medical elixirs pueblo by pueblo. When brick and mortar shops popped up, purchasing decisions were greatly influenced by tactile product contact. User testimonials boosted product popularity or sent them to the graveyard.

A shopping paradigm shift took root in the 1990s with the emergence of online stores. No longer in the same physical space as products, web consumers had to become completely reliant on the expressed experience of strangers.

In a 2015 survey by WebRepublic, results show that 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their decision-making process. Amazon counts on that and actively defends the integrity of its reviews so that buyers can shop with confidence and remain loyal. Billions of dollars in sales are at stake.

Review Power

44% of web shoppers go directly to Amazon for product searches, and that is good news for the merchants selling on this platform. It means they can be found by millions of consumers who otherwise might never know of their existence. Searches may lead prospective buyers to a seller’s page, but it is mainly the reviews that keep their attention and persuade them one way or another.

Sellers thrive or die by reviews, and Amazon provides guidelines for posting honestly and beyond the “It’s a great product” testimonial. Customers learn to improve how they write about their product experiences when prospective buyers respond and comment by indicating if the review was helpful or not as in this example from Amazon:

“Reviews absolutely, more than anything else, drive that social proof for your product,” say Keith O’Brien, CEO of iLoveToReview.

Sellers need to be vigilant and monitor every message buyers leave. All of that content and feedback is another great source of information for merchants not only for title, bullet points, and keyword enhancements but also for product development, inventory, and strategic placement decisions.

How To Generate Authentic, Amazon Compliant Product Reviews

Amazon states that only 1 – 2% of buyers leave reviews. This means seasoned sellers must actively encourage buyers to submit them. Here are the top 5 recommended ways.

1. Inspire buyers to leave a product review. Offer quality products that users really want. How does the product satisfy a need or common issue? Manufacture or source the most affordable quality version of the product so that it isn’t considered cheap by customers. When deciding what to sell on Amazon, make it a product worth raving about.

2. Include well written inserts. Clever letters or postcards inside the product box asking for feedback is an attention grabbing option. Encourage reviewers to include videos and/or selfies of products in use.

Keep in mind that it is against Amazon’s Terms of Service (TOS) to ask for a 5-star review, but you can certainly invite them to leave honest feedback.

3. Send follow-up emails. Amazon sends an automated e-mail asking for feedback after a purchase; however, don’t depend on those generic messages to spur reviewers into action. Allow the buyer time to receive and use your product, then reach out with a follow-up message via your Amazon seller account. Make sure the content is friendly and genuinely expresses interest in their satisfaction. Try to personalize it whenever possible as that increases its response rate.

Be sure to include a “write a review” reminder with a link to your product page, but make it clear that you would like an honest rating and that there is no obligation to do so.

4. Approach Amazon’s top reviewers. Amazon has a list of recognized top reviewers holding various titles such as “Top Ten Reviewer”, “Hall of Fame Reviewer”, “Vine Voice”. These badges are displayed next to their names, under their star ratings. It does make their reviews ultra-valuable.

Getting one of these Amazon critics is not necessarily easy, but it is not impossible. This may be time consuming considering it is one person’s review; learn about what reviewers’ interests are through their bios, previously rated products and from their wish lists. They may be more likely to respond.

5. Use a legitimate review service. “Legitimate” is the keyword. Buying reviews on FIVERR or any other non-compliant site can and does get a seller account suspended – sometimes permanently. Amazon is so serious about this that they continue taking legal measures to prosecute those involved with publishing fake reviews. Make sure that the review service being considered is 100% compliant with Amazon Terms of Service.

Upward Bound

Reviews absolutely make a difference in product ranking. More high quality reviews earned lead to a greater conversion, which then begets an organic upward move on page listings. Reviews provide additional content about your product, which also increases SEO. Ultimately that could mean showing up on the first page from search results. All points being equal for competing products, the listing with more and better reviews WINS every time.

Guest post by Tina Marie Bueno, Marketing Director at iLoveToReview

iLoveToReview is the #1 product review service for professional Amazon sellers in the U.S. and U.K. With a strict commitment to compliance, our industry leading review rates, systems and seller support, iLoveToReview is the highest value solution in the industry for quality product reviews.