Customer reviews are key in any industry, for any product, on any platform. Social Proof is one of the top things potential new customers look for, and it’s the thing they usually check first. This applies across the board, from Netflix (how many shows have you skipped based solely on the review rating?), to selling things on Amazon and everything in between. In this digital age reviews have become critical — and incredibly available. Not only is it easy to leave a review, as a potential customer it’s easy to review reviews.
Never has what people are saying about you been more important.
The Way It Was
Many of you have been through the days of review clubs, and possibly further back where restrictions on reviews were even more lax. Because of the importance of social proof Amazon has struggled with ways to ensure the legitimacy of customer reviews — realizing their own legitimacy rides on it. If customers can’t rely on the authenticity of feedback from other customers … well, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere.
As we know Amazon has recently been focused on cutting down on disingenuous reviews. This ranges from eliminating outright false or faked reviews, to placing restrictions on the once-popular incentivized reviews, which were inevitably colored by the fact that the customer was rewarded for their feedback. Trouble is, this last method, incentivized reviews, had become a great way to launch a product, as well as a great way to build the apparency of legitimacy for an existing product. Incentivized reviews were solidly entrenched, and when Amazon banned them it created a short-term problem for many sellers.
New Era, Classic Approach
We’re now through this ban and into a new era. The upshot is that, over time, customer reviews will be much more organic and free of any influence other than their direct experience with the product. In the long run this is good. In the short term it creates challenges, and many Amazon sellers are struggling to adapt to the new playing field.
What this means for you as a seller is that the classic approach to customer satisfaction is now more critical than ever. Get back to basics. Things like:
- Caring for your customers. Really caring. Focus on what you can do for them, not what more they can do for you.
- Giving more. Send them things, and not just coupons. Send them valuable info, newsletters — things that help them, and for which you ask nothing in return.
- Go easy on your follow-up emails. Thank them for their purchase, inform them of shipping info, give them cool things, like maybe a cookbook, a tips guide, etc., and remind them you’re there to help. Three or even two follow-up emails after purchase are usually enough.
- Make your messages clean and clear. Communicate something that invites participation, if possible — and this doesn’t have to be a direct request for a review.
- Have a great logo and theme, and use it.
- Subject line. This is one of the most important things for open rates. A good subject can dramatically affect response. You can use A/B testing in SellerMail to test subject lines.
- In essence, this formula: fanatical customer service leads to positive customer feedback and future sales.
The Long Game
Not to suggest any of us have entirely forgotten these principles in our haste, but let’s face it: It’s hard to ignore the impulse to get instant results, instant sales, and the way we’ve done that in the past bordered on badgering, heading toward an overload/disconnect with our customers. Whether Amazon changed anything or not, there would probably, eventually, have been an Armageddon of some sort anyway.
But Amazon did do something, and in the end it’s probably a good thing they’ve taken this tack. By locking out the shortcut options, Amazon has forced sellers to go back to the things that really work. Yes, the classic strategy takes a little more time, but once you begin to build that critical mass your customer feedback will routinely be more positive, more consistent, and in the long run your sales, and your success, will show it.
All the best,
The ManageByStats Team