Kris and Dustin discuss ways to get reviews for your products and some tools Amazon sellers can use to increase their number of reviews.
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– Got him so, we’ll switch topics with Andrew. Hello and welcome to Episode 10 of Two Amazon Sellers and a Microphone. I’m Dustin Kane and with me is Kris Gramlich? How are you doing Chris?
– Doing good Dustin, thank you. How are you?
– I’m fantastic. I’m looking forward to this topic. This is a popular topic where we’re gonna talk about how to get reviews in 2020. A lot of questions behind this so we’ll touch on a lot of those. But first I have to talk about how I’m gonna keep my jealousy and anger in check as you go to the Chiefs game night live at Arrowhead and I will be at home watching it. So yes, I’m mad, but I won’t, I’ll try to keep that at bay while we cover this.
– I may be calling in early tomorrow, we’ll see–
– That’s right.
– Gonna be a great game Peace and Patriots but I know that’s not why people are here to listen, they don’t wanna hear us talking about all of that. So let’s talk about reviews in 2020. It’s a wild topic, there’s lots of ways that you can get them, there’s lots of ways also that worked in the past that you definitely do not wanna be doing.
– I can start off real quick talking about the good old days back in the 2013, when I started, I was able to reach out to Amazon’s top reviewers and send them an email, which was right there on Amazon. And they’d–
– it may take them a week but they’d write a review and there was as many of those as I wanted to ship out, I could get pretty good reviews, it was a different era.
– Yeah and then they had the old instead of ours where you would just do giveaways you just give away a product to everybody.
– There was these services out there and then in exchange they would have to leave a review on your product. And then you would see all these reviews that said, “I got this product in exchange for a positive review,” like at the bottom of it. And then that got wind and then somebody wrote an article about it and those got banned. So that’s that… These are things that you do not do you do not do that–
– These are the old tactics and for obvious reasons, Amazon stopped that. I mean, It’s good for everybody even though, yes, it was great to get those reviews, I mean, they’re obviously fake It’s not fair. If your competitors can do that, it’s bad it’s not good for the customer, It’s not good for them to get misleading review information. So yes, to Amazon’s credit they’ve really cleaned up their act on the reviews, so you have to do things the right way to get them.
– Yeah and that’s what we’re gonna talk about today is things that you as a seller, you can be doing now for your products that are following the guidelines so that you can get reviews on your products, ’cause we all know that reviews give your product some type of authority or people feel a little bit more comfortable when they buy it. So getting those initial reviews is super powerful more so when you’re launching a new product.
– Oh yeah. It’s your first step. I mean, you don’t even wanna be doing anything like running ads or anything to a listing that doesn’t have them I mean, it’s–
– you’re gonna be really low so you definitely need to get those first couple of reviews. So let’s dig in, I’ve got a list of just some tried and true measures for 2020 that are gonna help you get those reviews. So let’s talk about the first one is just trusting Amazon’s automated followup system that’s already existed where you don’t even have to do anything–
– It’s there, Amazon periodically is sending emails to buyers ask them to leave a review.
– And I mean, there’s no way you can run afoul the terms of service because it’s generated all by Amazon. So just having some trust in that–
– Now in order to do that, you have to have sales coming in, so this type of review will be generated automatically if you’re able to generate some sales but that’s a good one.
– Yeah but that’s like the first one to do is trust that Amazon system is gonna go out to the people that are buying your product now they made it easier now for customers to opt-out of this message. So they may not get the message anymore, you may not get as much return back on that as far as reviews go, but Amazon does still send those emails out. So you may not get a good reviewer rate but just know that Amazon is still actively sending those out to customers on your behalf for the product.
– And Amazon made it easier to leave a review. I mean, if you get that email, if I get an email from a seller and I just bought their products to my phone, I can just click on the stars like which star I wanna give it and I don’t even have to type anything, they call that a rating but it shows up as stars, just like a review and if you wanna write something, you cant. So in terms of ease for the customer, their system really works. Piggybacking off that, another way that you can generate reviews is using Amazon’s Request a Review button which is new-ish, that what it is that’s definitely something that was not around when we started, but that’s where you can click a button and it’ll force Amazon to send out the email sequence we talked about their trusted, automated email you can generate that and get it started yourself. You can go to the Order page and up at the top right, there’s a little button says, Request a Review you just click that and Amazon will send out the review request email directly from Amazon.
– Hmm, yup and there’s tools out there that can automate this so if you have multiple hundreds of orders and you don’t wanna do this all manually there’s providers out there that have made an extension that will just do it all bulk or you can automate it where you could set it up for every three days, send out these requests. And hopefully, in the next few episodes, we’re gonna get some more expertise on this and we’ll have somebody on here so we can interview them. So look for that to come but yeah, the Request Review button it just says that customer an email, and all that customer has to do is just rate the product and that counts as a review on your product.
– Absolutely. And I’ve actually seen… We’ll talk about using a third-party software to automate emails here in a little bit. But since this came out since Amazon opened up the Request to Review button since those emails are not coming from me as the seller, they’re coming directly from Amazon, they’ll get a higher open rate they get a higher click rate, interactive rate and so I’ve seen my reviews that I’m manually requesting the rate of that has gone up slightly. So that’s good, I think that will continue I think it was really the Amazon’s done a good job with that button. So now moving on number three, another way is you can enter Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program. Chris, explain what the Early Reviewer Program is.
– Yeah, this is a good way to get your initial reviews pretty fast. This is a program where you enroll an ASIN so your new product that you just launched you enroll that ASIN into this program and Amazon will charge you $60 every time you get a review to be enrolled in that program you use $60 and then they’ll gather, Amazon will reach out to your first buyers for up to a year, they will reach out to them to try to get a review and if that customer leaves a review Amazon incentivizes them and gives them an Amazon gift card.
– A $5 gift card is what they’ll get.
– Yeah I think its like five, I can’t remember exactly what it was, but they get a gift card for just leaving their review, and then when that customer leaves a review on the review itself above their name, it’ll say, “Verified Purchase” and then it says, “Early Reviewer Program” so that you know that customer came from that program. And then again it’s pretty inexpensive, $60 but you’re gonna get your initial five reviews and that’s gonna help start your product to rank a little bit better ’cause you now got reviews and show a little bit more about authority ’cause you’re getting feedback.
– Yeah and $60 for five reviews is probably the best money value in terms of getting reviews.
– Yeah, I’m surprised.
– I know, but that’s a great program that Amazon had again, that didn’t exist when we started. So Amazon’s doing a lot of really good things for sellers right now, they get to knock a lot of times for being more customer-centric and not helping out their sellers but they’ve launched some really good products that can help the seller out. Another program that Amazon has that you can get enrolled in is the Amazon Vine Program. But this one, you have to go through a few more steps I believe you have to be brand registered to get into the Vine program. So you’d have to maybe either have your trademark or this is your second or third product that you’re launching down the road, but go over a little bit more about how the Amazon Vine program works, Chris.
– Yeah, so this is a program that Amazon had a while back and these were like Vine reviewers who are… It’s a program in four, five years ago where they would leave good reviews like the photos and someone have a video, but they would always show up like on the top of the reviews for your product. Now Amazon and you had to reach out to these and try to get them. Now, Amazon has opened that up where you can enroll your product in the Vine program. In order to do that, you have to technically give away product and you can choose how much product you want to give away, the max is 30 units. And so what you would do is just enroll the product into this program, tell Amazon how many products you’re willing to give away and I’ve always done 30, and then just let it sit out there, and then you’ll just start to see orders come through and they keep a track for that in the Vine program there’s metrics there that keep track of it. But something you got to be careful with is these reviewers are gonna give you the brutally honest truth like if you have a bad product or the opening experience or the packaging is awful or whatever, they’re not incentivized to leave a positive review so this can be a way where you may get negative reviews if your product is not that good. So I would make sure that your product is really, really high quality. A little tip you can do here is maybe is have two different ASINs and enroll the first ASIN into the Vine program and if they come back as positive reviews great, they’re gonna stick on the listing but if they come back as negative you can enroll the other ASIN and try to get some more reviews. I mean, it’s the same product but this is a kind of way to kind of combat if you get negative reviews from there. But the Vine program is great, you’re basically giving a product and hopefully, they leave a review for you on your product.
– That is a great tip, Chris. That is a good tip. Yeah, but the Vine program, I mean it’s just another program sponsored by Amazon it’s theirs so it doesn’t mean no terms of service and fraction at all, utilizing Vine. And I do like what you mentioned about the double-edged sword here they’re professional reviewers. I mean and that’s one thing that just go off topic a little bit back in the day, when we were talking about how we could just go find and Amazon would rank like their reviewers and who left the most reviews et cetera, et cetera and you reach out to them. And there was this whole industry and it probably still exists, I mean obviously, it still exists through the Vine program, whole industry of these professional reviewers that would just get product after product after product for free. I used to be some Facebook groups and I mean, where like the UPS truck was dropping off at some professional reviewers house and it’s like unloading a treadmill, like a big screen all this stuff this guy is getting for free I was like, oh man maybe I should try that.
– Just leave it real.
– Yeah, that’s pretty cool. So anyway that’s a little off-topic, but it’s a funny story just what kind of different industries can pop-up. All right, so that was the Amazon Vine program. Now let’s talk about using third-party automated email responders. So this is something that I know both you and I did a lot of, I have really slowed this down. So third-party email responders what they do is you can set up automated sequences to go out through the Buyer-Seller Messaging function on Seller Central. And so you can have a series of follow-ups where it can be some sort of the way it’s set up is like maybe the day after the order, an email goes out or a day after it’s received, or five days after that, you can set up these sequences where you can make sure everything was okay, you can do some customer service type stuff. But this is where the terms of service comes in you’ve gotta be really careful with these because if you do anything that looks like you’re trying to solicit a review or feedback your account could be in trouble. So you gotta really make sure, like Chris and I talked about earlier we are gonna bring somebody on later that’s gonna really dive into the terms of service. So if you wanna go with a third party autoresponder they can work like I said, I used to use these and with the Request a Review button I’d get a higher open rate than I do with my emails I send. And also people opt-out of these emails like you talked about, I was getting a high bounce back rate on my emails over time it got worse and worse and worse. Also over time, I guess the correspondence got less and less and my interaction with my customers got less and less. Early on I was like, wow, thanks so much I can’t believe someone reached out to me and that was great. It was a novelty now it’s happening a lot so I think there’s can be these big customers can get kind of worn out. Now that for me right now, one of the reasons I use autoresponder is I’ve got products that I send out, like guides, tutorials, add on stuff to my product that can be digital. So once the product ships, It triggers the sequence where the day after they get it here comes the guide on how to use the product. So that is sort of an add-on, so I get good engagements from that and I don’t mention anything about reviews there I just trust that that level of customer service and those bonuses might trigger that organically. But in the past, I have used them to… Hey, could you please leave a fair and honest review? That kind of stuff, but still you gotta make sure you’re following their terms of service. What are your thoughts on third party, email responders?
– Yeah, I’m still using one now. I just recently went back and edited it and made it more clear and cut, like as just a follow up if you could leave a review, great and I can’t wait to bring on the guests we’re bringing on because I got a lot of questions about this, but they have really changed and they as an Amazon, Amazon has really changed like the types of wording you can use, types of attachments you can add even like a logo or a photo that you can add. So it’s becoming very difficult to add or to do these types of services but the guests we’re bringing on this is all they do, so I can’t wait to ask how they’re kind of leverage.
– Yeah, it’s gonna be interesting.
– It is and there’s a good reason why Amazon does it. When somebody buys a product on Amazon, it’s Amazon’s customer not yours, as a seller that’s not yours. So if somebody comes to my website and buys it I can get their email address, their phone number I could remarket to them like crazy, but Amazon doesn’t want some of you to sell something on Amazon and then email them, Hey, come to my website and buy from there and just take in with those customer off of Amazon. So there’s a real good reason why they do it, so they are very very protective of their customer information to make sure that you’re not directing them off or doing anything like to manipulate the system like a review manipulation. So they’re really, really, really stiffers on that and if you’re playing the long game like Christina you wanna make sure you’re following the rules.
– Yeah. You don’t wanna get and this is gonna happen to some… Amazon is gonna change all this in November, so it’s right now early October somewhere, we’re excited to bring that guest on ’cause these changes are gonna happen pretty soon. And for all you listeners out there you wanna make sure that your follow-up sequence are following these new guidelines. If they’re not, you’re gonna get a letter from Amazon, maybe suspending your follow up sequences for 30 days or 45 days, whatever that is, but be sure to tune in, so you can learn how to not get that letter ’cause you don’t want that to happen you don’t wanna put your account in jeopardy. I’m excited ’cause I know we’re gonna learn something here when we do that so that’s a good topic to bring on an expert and let them dive in on what is actually gonna change here. It’s super, super important, everybody knows.
– Absolutely. All right another way to try to generate reviews in 2020 is to utilize Product Inserts. This is another area where you’ve gotta make sure you’re following Amazon’s terms of service, but essentially a Product Insert is something that’s a printed piece of paper inside your product packaging. So you have to get with this early on in your system, you gotta have either your manufacturer put this insert that you’ve designed in the product or you do it yourself before you ship it into FBA. So then the customer opens up the packaging and they get the product and they get this insert and the insert has some sort of call to action where now you can communicate with them and then within terms of service ask for an honest feedback or honest review of your product. So there’s different ways you can do this there’s warranties you can offer, there’s discount codes for future orders you can offer, you gotta be careful with that kind of stuff so it’s not construed as basically paying for a review. But I’ve definitely used product inserts on quite a few of my products, I have product inserts and it can be helpful. Now, Chris what are your thoughts on product inserts?
– No, they’re good and I like to keep track of this if you wanna see what’s changing in the industry, just go buy a supplement on Amazon and see what they’re doing ’cause the supplement niche is usually the niche that’s ahead of every other category, ’cause it’s so competitive.
– So you’ll see a lot of, probably again such a service is going on in there, but inserts are good, I would just be careful. Sometimes you can get a competitor who may contact Amazon or something about it, but they’re good as long as they follow the terms trying to do an extended warranty or you’re making a call to action I wouldn’t do like extended warranty only if you leave a positive review, like nothing like that’s not what you wanna do there. And quite frankly, everybody’s doing inserts like anytime you buy a product, there’s usually some type of insert in there that is kind of making a call to action for you as a customer.
– Sure. But if that customer goes to your website, because they want to sign up for the warranty, they leave you their email address. Well, now you’ve got an ability to communicate with that customer and they were signing up for a legitimate warranty for your product, but again make sure you’re staying within those terms of service. All right, another thing that you wanna do now this is sort of the flip side of getting reviews is you wanna mitigate negative reviews, right? So you don’t wanna have a terrible product and then enroll in the Vine program and get 30 negative reviews. You wanna make sure that you’re selling a quality product so that you don’t get negative reviews. I mean negative reviews are almost worse than having no reviews.
– So bad.
– Yeah, it’s just your end. And the worst is your first review as a negative review, I’ve had that happen on products of mine, they ended up having like a four and a half star product. It just so happened that the first guy that bought it for whatever reason was unhappy and he left a review then it was really difficult to get over that. So yeah, you wanna make sure that you’re trying to mitigate that doing everything you can to make your product the best it can be. And then also if you do get a negative review you can reply to that review and then that gives people who are reading the reviews It shows that you’re willing to accept responsibility and make something right if a customer is unhappy, that can go a long way to mitigating the impact of the negative review. Any thought on that Chris?
– Yeah, that’s a good point. It’s so tough when you get a negative review not to get emotionally tasked about it You’re like, ah man, I got a negative review but sometimes it is like, what star didn’t like? It’s like come on now like I would have done whatever it could take to make you like, even if you wanted a full refund, but yeah, it’s tough. You’re gonna get negative reviews you just gotta make sure that you reply to them let the customer know what can do to help. But these are really hard to get off your listing like I’ve reported them, I’ve opened cases, kudos to Amazon, it’s very difficult to get these removed from your listing. So yeah, this goes back to your product and past episodes we talked about like having a good product and do a good product research and making sure you’re testing samples and stuff like that. You just don’t wanna throw something up there just because the volumes there and you wanna start getting sales. ‘Cause if it’s a bad product it’ll kill your listing then you gotta fight this battle again of like recalling everything, relabeling it again, start a new listing. Like it’s difficult. So make sure that the product you have or the product you’re sourcing is high quality ’cause this will help with your reviews as you move forward.
– Yeah. And I mean, basically, all this comes down to, if you’re really playing the long game, you treat yourself like a real business you’re really trying to put out good quality products you’re not gonna have that many issues, okay? Amazon’s customers, they will leave a bad feedback if it’s bad. And if you’re getting, there’s some outliers obviously which you’re talking about, I’ve lost sleep, I’ve walked around my house thinking about who Frank in Baltimore is that left one-star review the I was just.. Or the one star, don’t believe a one-star review and be like, it works just fine. One star and you’re like what… What are you doing?
– Yeah, very frustrating.
– Those are few and far between as you start getting more and more and more reviews, those negatives just lose their impact so just keep playing the long game and you’ll be fine. but those are some really actionable ways right now to get reviews whatever you do, don’t go into the gray area, don’t get shady. Chris and I have been around a long enough time where we’ve seen competitors come on and you’ve never heard of them or seen them before and you’ve been studying your niche like crazy daily and all of a sudden this guy comes in, he’s got 500 reviews and you’re like, where is this guy come from? You know he’s manipulating it, he may be a bother for awhile, but then next thing you know Amazon comes in and slaps him and he’s loses all of his reviews ’cause they’re all fake and he goes away. So you just have to do it right, thus doing the short term play is not what you wanna do for the business. And then on an upcoming episode I can’t wait to talk about terms of service, that’ll be fun digging into that, but these are great ways, go out there, utilize these programs Amazon designed to most of these to help you, help you get reviews. So make sure you’re taking advantage of all of these programs out there, Chris that was fun
– Yeah, I can’t wait to the next one either. It’s gonna be good this next up so its gonna be good so check it out.
– Yeah. All right, everybody have a great day out there and we’ll see you on the next episode.