If you see one product with 40 reviews and a similar one with 400, which do you buy?
400 is popular.
400 is trustworthy.
400 is tried and true.
Reviews increase social proof, click-through rate, and conversion rate. They're the silent force that drives sales.
And today, we'll look at 6 ways to get them:
(1) Friends & Family
(2) Facebook Groups
(4) Review Services
(5) Build an Email List
(6) Customer Service on Amazon
Each has its pros and cons, to be sure. I'll analyse each based on 5 criteria:
(1) Review Rate (the percentage of products sold that get reviewed)
(2) Hours to Generate 100 Reviews (time you spend getting to 100)
(3) Risk to Account (how to avoid Amazon suspensions in each case)
(4) Profit (your per unit margin)
(5) Verified Reviews (will reviews have a "Verified Purchase" badge or not)
Friends & Family
Friends and family will write positively skewed reviews, and are no longer allowed.
The days of driving over to uncle Joey's pad to drop off free silicone baking gloves are over.
From Amazon's Review Creation Guidelines: "family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write Customer Reviews for those particular items." But if it's any consolation, approaching people one-by-one is really time-consuming.
Take to the net and find a Facebook group of reviewers. Actually, we collected 100 of them for you in exchange for your email address (we'll send you awesome articles like this one and offer HonestFew services from time to time).
There are two breeds of Facebook review groups.
(1) Wild West: it's a group of Amazon sellers posting photos of their goods, and reviewers claiming them in the comments section. Make the post from your own account, screen reviewers, distribute codes where you see fit, and ensure that purchases and reviews are made.
(2) Administered: if there's an Admin who runs the review group, they'll post your product for you and distribute the codes to reviewers on your behalf. You'll often pay them for their time.
> Review Rate: 60%. That's a rough estimate. These groups vary wildly in their tactics and promises, so 60% is a blanket projection. It could be better, it could be worse.
> Hours to Generate 100 Reviews: 4. Depending on the Facebook group, there's work to do.
> Risk to Account: unlike family and friends, you don't know these people. This is ideal, because most will never be inside your social circle. Most members are great reviewers; but there's a small contingency of product re-sellers, listing hijackers, and Amazon sellers looking for product ideas. Most Facebook groups don't have the time and resources to screen incoming members, so you get what you get.
> Profit: if the climate of the group has you pitted against other sellers who are also trying to get reviews, there's a distinct possibility that you won't be able to sell all of your units even if the price is right.
> Verified Reviews: if there's an Admin who properly instructs the Facebook reviewers, they'll include review disclaimers and the reviews will be unverified. As of February 2016, all reviews of this nature will be unverified.
Reddit is divided into subreddits ("subs"), each with a different interest. Your job is to find the subs where your market hangs out.
If you're selling shoes for dogs, ask the 100,000+ Redditors in /r/dogs if they'd be interested in getting discounted dog shoes in exchange for a review. Good start. Then, scroll down to find related subs. There, I uncovered /r/dogpictures (77k), /r/DogsOnHardwoodFloors (1.3k), /r/beachdogs (1.1k), /r/happydogs (4k). If your shoes skew small, target small breeds like /r/shihtzu (2.5k) or /r/yorkies/ (1k).
Be warned: Reddit hates self-promotion.
So don't promote, per se. Actually participate. Dig the well before you're thirsty. Use posts like these to begin a dialogue:
"What do you think is the best shoe for dogs?"
"My new line of dog shoes launches on Amazon in 3 weeks. Feedback?"
"I have the opportunity to design a new shoe for dogs. What should it look like?"
After engaging in some genuine discussion, transition (via new post or direct messages) to "thanks for your feedback! It's finally ready. Would you like a discount in exchange for leaving an honest Amazon review?"
> Review Rate: 10%. While you may be able to find a lot of interested parties on Reddit, keep in mind that it's anonymous (more so than Facebook), and the reviewers you'll be getting may just take the discount and run. I believe people are fundamentally good, so maybe 10% is lowballing it.
> Hours to Generate 100 Reviews: 10. Hustle a little: find subreddits, start a discussion ahead of time, post according to the rules of the sub, follow up with the individual Redditors, issue claim codes, enforce the purchases, and enforce the reviews.
> Risk to Account: forum members are anonymous, but at least you get to handle their intake one by one. So, there's some degree of risk but it's marginal. Remember: unlike Facebook group members, Redditors may not be seasoned Amazon reviewers. Make sure you ask them to include a disclaimer.
> Profit: you're in full control of your margins in this scenario. But, make sure that the offer is enticing enough to get attention. Running product giveaways isn't about making a few short-term dollars on the promotion; it's about building a product listing with authority so that you can get more organic sales. Done right, there are no net losses for promotional activities; only short-term losses. For more on Amazon ranking, check out our popular article "How to rank on page 1 and stay there."
> Verified Reviews: at this point, you know the drill. At the time of writing (March 2016), any product sold at a discount (50% or less) in exchange for a review will be unverified.
This is the most streamlined approach.
With most services (including HonestFew), you can plug in your Amazon product URL and single use claim codes, and can then go relax on a beach somewhere while your Amazon business grows. Ok, maybe just go for a coffee. Either way.
Just like outsourcing product photography or listing optimization to a pro, using a review service saves time and lets you focus on driving topline revenue.
On that note, here are the only 4 things I think sellers should do day-to-day: new product research, optimizing Amazon paid ads, developing an automated customer service plan that people love, and getting other sales channels (once Amazon's been maximized).
> Review Rate: 80%. That's the average here at HonestFew. Rates vary depending on how powerful the service is. For example, HonestFew takes your product URL and single use claim codes, finds qualified reviewers, distributes the codes, and gives reviewers 14 days to receive, test, and complete their reviews. In general, community-based review services have higher review rates because members are removed for non-compliance. Positive or negative, it doesn't matter. As long as it's written.
> Hours to Generate 100 Reviews: this isn't a matter of hours, but minutes. Buy a package, send us your product listing URL and single use coupon codes, and we take care of the rest. Sometimes, single use claim codes don't work or the seller runs out of stock, in which case there are a few more to do's.
> Risk to Account: the average review service bares the same risks as a Facebook group: sending products to anonymous reviewers. I can only speak for us: HonestFew screens reviewers on their way in and collects Amazon order numbers and review URLs for every promotion. In accordance with Amazon's TOS, reviewers aren't paid, we welcome positive and negative feedback, we don't generate reviews ourselves, and disclaimers are a must.
> Profit: HonestFew works with you to choose the best pricepoint for your promotion based on your margins and our audience. We don't pretend that any price point will get you the sales and reviews that you need-- you need to price it low. Not free, but low. We're focused on long-term growth, not losing a few bucks in the launch process. Be aggressive. Rank while you can. In 24-36 months, your competitors will have 5000 reviews, not 500 like today.
> Verified Reviews: because all reviews generated through HonestFew and other services contain disclaimers, Amazon will find them and won't count them as verified. But since they increase the overall review count, the effect on CTR and conversions stays the same.
Build an Email List
This is a long-term play.
Drive traffic to a landing page where you offer your product at a discount in exchange for an honest review. Traffic can come via social media (HonestFew has a complete step-by-step on how to get your first 1000 Instagram followers, by the way) or paid advertising (Facebook, Google). While this method doesn't produce instant results, every brand should grow a following.
> Review Rate: 40%. Set expectations from the beginning. On the landing page, for instance: "Get shoes for dogs for $1.99 (normally $30). All we ask is that you leave an honest review!" Make the value exchange obvious. If you're running paid ads, state the price in the ad text to self-select the reviewers (any reviewer not willing to pay $1.99 would be a waste of a click).
> Hours to Generate 100 Reviews: 120. It's worth having your own list, but it takes time. I estimate 120 hours (2 weeks of work) to generate a list of hundreds of people who (out of this larger list), 100 or so will buy and review your product at a discount. Remember, your whole list won't buy. 100 of 1000 people means that 10% will buy; that's doable, if not high. And of those 100, the number who leave a review is smaller still. But the good news is that once you have them, you can launch to them over and over again. Build leverage with your members. People need incentives to review. Honey: if you review, I'll give you another discount. Vinegar: if you don't review, I'll ban you.
> Risk to Account: minimal. Just make sure that reviewers include the mandatory Amazon disclaimer, and you'll be fine.
> Profit: you set the price. Don't shortsightedly try to make margin on every sale while lowering the number of units you're able to sell. The days of 1000+ review competition are coming.
> Verified Reviews: if your buyers include a disclaimer (which they should), the reviews will not be verified.
Customer Service on Amazon
Use software like Feedback Genius or Salesbacker that connects to Amazon's API to send customer service messages on your behalf.
Here's a godly customer service sequence (the timing can be automated, don't worry):
- send email #1 when the product is shipped with the tracking number. "Thanks for your order! I just wanted to let you know that it's been shipped."
- send email #2 when the product is out for delivery. "Great news: it's out for delivery. It should be with you soon. In the meantime, I'm here to address any concerns you may have."
- send email #3 one week post-delivery. "Have you had a chance to open it? And if so, what do you think? Let me know if there's anything I can help with."
It's automated, but customers love it. Better to be needlessly present than MIA.
From there, ask them for Seller Feedback (link to amazon.com/feedback and they can do it there). If the feedback is positive, ask for a review in the response section of the Seller Feedback in Seller Central. Or, you can ask directly for a product review without asking for feedback. Asking for feedback first is safer because you can remove seller feedback if it pertains to the product. But then again, results come slower (and it's possible that a buyer leaves seller feedback but not a review). Your call.
> Review Rate: 10%. Maybe even 5%. Don't count on this as your main source of reviews, or a way to get lots of reviews in a short period. Set it up and expect a trickle.
> Hours to Generate 100 Reviews: 70. You've got to install Feedback Genius, write good templates that use merge tags, and deploy it. Once it's running, all you need to do is monitor your Seller Feedback and reviews, reconciling customer issues where necessary. Feedback Genius is free up to 100 messages a month.
> Risk to Account: there's no risk because the review "ask" is wrapped in innocuous customer service emails. But don't write "rate the product 5 stars", "don't you think that was great?" or any other language that could be construed as rank manipulation. Ask for unbiased feedback and reviews, and you'll be fine. In fact, the three emails above don't ask the customer for anything; make sure their experience is smooth, first. Don't ask an angry customer for a review, trust me.
> Profit: yes. Unless you're selling on Amazon below cost, getting reviews from customer service is profitable on a per unit basis.
> Verified Reviews: yes. Because these buyers aren't receiving a discount in exchange for a review, there won't be any written disclaimers in the reviews and the reviews will be verified.
So there you have it, 6 different methods showing you how to get Amazon reviews. To recap:
(1) Friends & Family = don't do it.
(2) Facebook Groups = just starting? Go for it. Screen carefully.
(3) Forums = integrate into the community and then DM members.
(4) Review Services = save time by outsourcing to TOS-abiding pros.
(5) Build an Email List = a long-term play to build a following.
(6) Customer Service on Amazon = create a steady stream of reviews over time.
Here's how to sift through the sand and find gold. Here's a guide to finding Amazon private label product ideas for Amazon FBA.
Follow these steps exactly and you will (without having to think very hard) come up with 5+ brilliant product niches that most people miss.
Open a spreadsheet.
(2) Now, stand up.
Take a walk around and find 5 objects around you that fit Amazon private label standards. What's got PL potential?
- no bigger than a shoebox
- profitable to sell (cost leaves you margins)
- brandable, customizable
- category not dominated by a household name
- the design isn't patented
- oh yeah, and it makes money on Amazon with a good RPR. More on that here.
I'll see you in a sec.
(3) Input products.
Enter the 5 items in cells B1, C1, D1, E1, and F1 respectively. Here are 5 PL-worthy things I found around the office:
cell B1: Microphone (which I use for our YouTube videos)
cell C1: Straw (who has time to tilt their head these days?)
cell D1: Whiteboard (if you don't have one, get one. Great for brainstorming)
cell E1: Push Up Bars (if you work for too long, you get groggy. Push-ups cleanse the mind)
cell F1: Mouse (I've got a gaming mouse)
(4) Input modifiers.
No matter what your products are in the 1st row, input these exact modifiers in Column A.
cell A2: mini
cell A3: large
cell A4: personal
cell A5: industrial
cell A6: single
cell A7: bulk
cell A8: for men
cell A9: for women
cell A10: for kids
(5) Fill in the matrix and search the terms on Amazon.
Fill in the cells of the matrix exactly as they appear. Some of the combinations won't make any sense, but don't worry. A laugh is your reward.
Actually, can you do me a favor?
Leave a comment with your funniest keyword combination.
Some gems from my batch include "whiteboard for men" and "single mouse".
Next, copy and paste each cell into Amazon, hit search, and see what you get. The mindset is key: reserve all judgement. At this stage, there are no good or bad ideas.
While you're conducting the search, run JungleScout or some other market analysis software on the results. Look at the amount of sales versus reviews. You want high sales numbers and low review counts (i.e. there's demand but it's not too competitive).
Let the search results, images, and Amazon auto-complete suggestions stimulate your mind. It's hard to be creative without external inputs. Write down any cool opportunities you find. Here are the results from this round, written stream-of-consciousness style...
Mini + Microphone = after searching this, I realized a "mini mic" is more commonly referred to as a "lapel mic"-- a great niche! So, I wrote that down.
Large + Microphone = introduced me to the microphone parts called "shock mount" and "pop filter". I don't know what these are, but suddenly it dawns on me: there's a whole niche of audiophiles shopping online. Microphones and sound quality for creatives, musicians, and podcasters is a great little niche to start with. Small, high perceived value, easily identifiable audience.
Get it? Boom? Boom mic? Fine, be that way.
Personal + Microphone = lapel mics with voice amplifiers. Pretty interesting.
Industrial + Microphone = this search led me to electric earmuffs. Which, while it has a 7k review player in it, may not be too bad.
Single + Microphone = I was introduced to "patch cords" through this search, a product pulling $5k monthly and 42 reviews (Revenue per Review = $119.04). And again, RPR is a niche evaluation statistic that HonestFew invented. Check out "How to Pick Winners in JungleScout" to learn more. It's revenue divided by the number of reviews. A high RPR is good.
Bulk + Microphone = the search "bulk microphone" gives us HUGE spools of microphone cables. This would be a pain to import, but the RPR's are splendid. So if you've already got a sea shipping operation and you're in tech, it's worth considering.
The rest of the modifiers in the microphone category weren't as eventful. It occurs to me is that you could sell accessories for karaoke. That's a big, but targetable customer base.
Industrial + Microphone
Mens + Microphone
Womens + Microphone
Kids + Microphone
Let's move on to straws.
Mini + Straw
Large + Straw = I love this one. What an opportunity: selling large straws made for bubble tea. It's a bulk play. It's beautiful. Top listing makes $29k/mo with 241 reviews at the time of writing, which makes the RPR $120. This search also introduced me to reusable stainless steel straws which, while I've seen them done as PL before, aren't totally played out.
Personal + Straw
Industrial + Straw
Single + Straw
Bulk + Straw
Mens + Straw = produced mens straw hats, which (I now know) isn't a profitable niche.
Womens + Straw = see above.
Kids + Straw = a little noise being made by silicone drinking straws doing $9.3k with 142 reviews. Not bad. Normally, fighting for space in silicone products is like Rose and Jack at the end of Titanic: someone falls off and dies. But silicone straws for kids are alright.
Mini + Whiteboard = boring.
Large + Whiteboard = unveiled a new product category: whiteboard sheets. The top seller pulls in $17k monthly with 8 reviews (?!). We're done here.
Single + Whiteboard
Bulk + Whiteboard
Industrial + Whiteboard
Mens + Whiteboard = there's a huge double-sided whiteboard there. It's huge. $20k/month with 50 reviews. RPR is great, but is it a good PL play? No. Shipping is prohibitive.
Womens + Whiteboard
Kids + Whiteboard = there's a kids easel play here. But only if it's a physically small easel. Be careful.
Push Up Bars
Mini + Push Up Bars
Large + Push Up Bars
Personal + Push Up Bars
Industrial + Push Up Bars
Single + Push Up Bars
Bulk + Push Up Bars
Mens + Push Up Bars
Womens + Push Up Bars
Kids + Push Up Bars
This one sucked because push up bars lack diversity. Sometimes you'll strike out. Just keep going.
Mini + Mouse = aside from pics of Mickey’s significant other, it seems mini computer mice are popular (and cut shipping costs). Win-win!
Large + Mouse = this exposed me to keywords like “gaming mouse” and something called a “penguin mouse”, which an ergonomic mouse. Pretty cool! Tip: don't stop with the top results. Scroll down the page. It's rewarding.
Personal + Mouse
Industrial + Mouse
Single + Mouse
Bulk + Mouse
Mens + Mouse
Womens + Mouse
Kids + Mouse
...the rest were dull.
So there you have it. After using the HonestFew matrix, we have 8 actually good ideas. No brain racking, no frustration.
Here are the cells that produced results.
Straw for Kids
And here are the extrapolated product ideas.
1. Lapel mic
2. Audiophile accessories e.g. shock mount, pop filter
3. Bubble tea straws
4. Silicone kids straws
5. Whiteboard sheet
6. Kids easels
7. Mini computer mouse
8. Penguin mouse
Once again, the steps are:
(1) Excel. Crack open a new spreadsheet.
(2) Now, stand up. Take a walk and find 5 PL-worthy products.
(3) Input products. List them in Row 1.
(4) Input modifiers. List the modifiers we give you in Column A.
(5) Fill in the matrix and search the terms on Amazon. Use product research software to expedite. Be open to all ideas.
Once you choose an idea, it's time to source. Check out HonestFew's full super-awesome sourcing guide complete with negotiation templates and examples.
Want even more ideas?
Expand Row 1: tour a Wal-Mart for more PL-worthy items.
Expand Column A: here's a modifier expansion pack for you:
old, vintage, retro
for dogs, cats, fish, reptiles
accessory (works especially well with big-ticket items like tech and appliances)
kit, set, bundle, box
country or culture (e.g. Japanese, Swedish, American)
plastic, metal, wood, bamboo, silicone
handmade, made in America
green, sustainable, ethical
We hope you enjoyed this article: Finding Amazon Private Label Product Ideas for Amazon FBA (the Matrix Technique).