Product reviews are an essential part of building a successful business on Amazon. Without them, it’s impossible to build trust with customers, stand out from the competition and sell products. For this reason, a lot of sellers actually try buying product reviews.
We’re going to go over whether this activity is legal, and how you can maximize your reviews while staying on the straight and narrow.
Why Are Reviews Important?
A customer shopping online can’t physically see the product, or hold it in their hand, so they rely on others to verify you are selling exactly what you say.
Buyers are more likely to be skeptical of a product with little or no reviews. And with thousands of similar products available in the marketplace, a little bit of doubt can be enough to make the customer go with a competitor.
Psychologists have performed studies that show the impact reviews, or lack of reviews, have on the mindset of shoppers. They have come up with a term – social influence (or social proof). This means people are more likely to take action on something if they see others doing the same thing.
What does this mean for Amazon sellers? The more evidence a shopper has that people are buying a product, the more popular it appears in their mind. And the more likely they are to follow the crowd and buy the product.
This study from BrightLocal says 85% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. A study from Fan & Fuel Digital Marketing Group showed 92% of online customers think twice if a product has no reviews.
You can have as much information on your listing as you like, but it’s not going to have the same impact as a review.
What Are Amazon Verified Purchase Reviews?
Because of the positive impact of reviews, sellers try many methods to increase their reviews inorganically. These methods include paying for fake reviews or offering free or discounted products in exchange for reviews.
Amazon introduced the “verified purchase” tag to increase the level of trust in their reviews. Reviews get this tag if it is confirmed that the user actually bought the product in question. The reader doesn’t have to worry about it being a paid fake review.
Verified purchase reviews also eliminate cases in which the customer received a significant discount. The exact number is unknown, but many believe it is around 50%. Which means if you sell a product at a larger discount, it will be invalid for a verified purchase tag, or the review may even be removed outright.
Consumers are becoming more aware of sellers using fake reviews. Having verified purchase tags on your reviews is the best way to ensure your products have the highest level of trust.
Is It Legal to Buy Amazon Reviews?
Sellers understand how much weight reviews carry. So why not get a leg up on the competition, many think, and buy Amazon reviews?
Unfortunately, this is a good way to get kicked off Amazon. Paying for reviews is explicitly forbidden by Amazon’s terms of service. As are some other methods that produce reviews that are not 100% impartial.
“Buying” Amazon reviews can be thought of in three categories:
- Offering a customer a large discount- there is nothing wrong with this, as long as you don’t ask for reviews in return. However, your reviews will be ineligible for the verified purchase tag.
- “Incentivized Reviews” – offering something in return for reviews. We’ll go over this in detail in a second. This practice is against Amazon’s terms. If they find out, your reviews will be removed, and your account may be suspended too.
- Paying people directly to buy your product and leave a review. This is definitely illegal. If Amazon finds out you did this, they will likely remove you from the marketplace, and you may potentially face legal action.
In short, it is not legal to buy Amazon reviews. Paying for reviews will put you on the wrong side of Amazon’s terms. The methods you use will decide whether your reviews are simply removed, or if you face a more serious punishment.
What Are Incentivized Reviews?
We’ve already established that it’s a bad idea to buy Amazon reviews. A common alternative is to offer incentives for reviews – such as a free or discounted product.
The bad news is that this is also against the Amazon TOS. It was a common strategy up until October 2016 when Amazon changed their terms to forbid incentivized or manipulated reviews. Amazon wants their reviews to be organic, giving their customers an unbiased view of the product.
Here is a list of actions that Amazon considers review manipulation (and is thus against its terms):
- Offering discounts in exchange for reviews
- Giving away free products in exchange for reviews
- Paying people to leave reviews
- Asking friends and family to leave you reviews
- Asking people to specifically leave a POSITIVE review
- Writing a review for a product that you have a financial stake in
- Trading reviews with other sellers
On the less severe end, breaking these rules might only result in removal of the review. However, trying to game the system this way could have you removed from Amazon or even sued. Amazon’s Anti-Manipulation Policy for Customer Reviews explicitly states they pursue lawsuits against sellers and reviews providing dishonest reviews.
How Can I Get More Amazon Reviews?
So you realize the importance of reviews, particularly Amazon verified purchase reviews. But how can you get more reviews?
You can’t buy them. You can’t offer incentives. Is there a way? Or do you just have to sit around and wait for reviews?
Not at all! There are plenty of ways to proactively get more reviews while staying firmly within Amazon’s seller guidelines. We’ll break down a few of the best ways, but you can also view our in-depth guide on getting legitimate Amazon reviews, here.
A simple but effective method is adding a small product insert with the product packaging. On the insert, you thank the customer for their purchase, ask if they are satisfied, and encourage them to leave a review.
As long as you watch the wording you use, this method should be within the scope of Amazon’s terms. Make sure you’re not offering incentives for reviews, and always ask for honest feedback.
The problem for many people with leaving reviews is that they just forget. After buying the product and waiting for shipping, they might not go back to Amazon for some time. Sometimes, all you need to do is send them a reminder.
A lot of tools are available to link with the Amazon API to automatically send reminder emails. Examples include Feedback Genius, Feedback Five and Jump Send.
These tools have templates to help you easily create your follow-up message. Set the message, and set the time-frame you want it sent out (make sure the customer has had time to use the product!). The software will do everything else for you.
Build an email list with a landing page
An alternative to dedicated Amazon tools is to use a multi-purpose email marketing program, such as MailChimp or Drip. This method takes a little more work, but gives you more control and sets you up better in the long run.
To avoid breaking the Amazon TOS, you will need to collect customer emails before the sale. How can you do that?
The best method is to use a promotional landing page. LandingCube helps you make an effective landing page to catch traffic before they hit your listing. Drive your potential customers here, where you can offer discount promo codes in exchange for email signups. Use your email marketing tool to send out follow-up emails encouraging the customer to leave a review.
As long as you don’t state that the discount is in exchange for a review, you’ll be well within Amazon’s terms. Just remember that a discount of more than 50% won’t be eligible for a verified purchase tag.
We’ve put together a guide of different Amazon review tools you can use, and how to make your Amazon review emails hit the mark.
Once you’ve collected customer emails on your landing page, you can use these emails to target users with Facebook ads. Create a custom audience from the customers who clicked through from your landing page, and run ad campaigns asking them to leave a review. This is a great way to reach customers in the middle of their regular browsing activity.
LandingCube supports integration for the Facebook Pixel, making it super easy to set up Facebook retargeting. See our guide here on Facebook Retargeting for Amazon Reviews.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about buying reviews for your product. Perhaps another seller suggested it. But the quick boost this method gives you is not worth getting kicked off Amazon and facing legal action.
Be proactive and earn reviews the right way. Product inserts, email follow-ups, and social media retargeting can bring you more reviews while growing your brand and marketing channels at the same time.