Amazon bans incentivized reviews on free or discounted products (update)


On October 3rd, Amazon banned the practice of trading free or discounted products for review. Vendor Central sellers can still do the practice through Amazon Vine, and it’s still allowed in the book category. But
not in physical product sales.

That said, if you’re selling physical products on Amazon or are considering it, what do you do?

Is Amazon dead?
Is FBA no longer a viable opportunity?

It’s still a great opportunity.

Access to 80 million customers, and 24% of all American households and rising have Amazon Prime.

Going forward, sellers will need to focus on (wait for it): marketing.

You still need sales for visibility and reviews for trust, same as ever. So here’s a 5-step plan of action:

(1) STOP PROMOTIONS.
Obviously, if you have any promotional “sale for review” activity going on, you may want to stop it. Permanently. Forever. Remember, effective immediately, don’t tie the discount to the review. Buying at a discount and reviewing a product are two distinct, discrete events where no trade is implied, implicitly or explicitly.

(2) DRIVE TRAFFIC.
To get sales, you need a group of people who would be interested in buying your product. To do this, you can either build an audience of your own or get in front of someone else’s audience. Watch this piece with 26 different ways to get traffic to your listing.

(3) DROP YOUR PRICE.
Some people have started to buy and your Amazon visibility is improving. Make your price lower than usual (but still per-unit profitable) so that you can get some organic Amazon sales.

(4) ASK FOR REVIEWS.
Use the Amazon Buyer-Seller messaging service to send a message to your buyers, providing customer service and asking for a review. Make it clear that the review isn’t expected nor is it mandatory. Don’t ask for a positive review. Make it clear that you welcome both positive and negative feedback. And don’t overdo the messaging, either. I’d recommend that you only send the buyer one message asking for a review, and your messages should all be in the context of providing customer service. With so many sellers messaging buyers for reviews, this is another area that’s due for a crackdown.

(5) RUN ADS.
Once you have 10-15 reviews on your listing thanks to traffic and customer service messaging, turn on PPC advertising. Run an auto campaign, and also a manual one with suggested keywords. See what you get, and refine from there.

So that’s how to keep selling through to 2017.

When Amazon bans incentivized reviews, it's time to get down to: (a) getting your product in front of an audience and (b) providing excellent customer service.

Personally, I’ve been taking some time to update HonestFew’s offering. Content will resume again in the next few weeks-- including an interview with Sam Priestley, a successful Amazon seller with 5 million YouTube views and Kiri Masters, CEO of Bobsled Marketing who engineered product launches for Playboy, among other things.

HonestFew will continue to provide its Amazon listing optimization service, and will service Amazon book sellers. So, if you see content talking about how to launch and market books on Amazon, that’s why. But, we’ll likely develop service offerings for product sellers in the coming months, so don’t go anywhere!


HonestFew on the Amazon TOS Update on Customer Reviews (October 3, 2016)

A big policy shift…

Amazon no longer permits providing free or discounted products in exchange for reviews.

What’s HonestFew doing now?

Effective October 3rd, HonestFew shoppers are not requested or required to leave a review of Amazon products in order to get discounts (past or present). And going forward, discounts will not be offered, requested, or provided in exchange for a review.

What is HonestFew’s plan going forward?

HonestFew will focus on being a sales platform, not a review platform. HonestFew is still the best way to get more sales for listings, which Amazon sellers need to get momentum.

In accordance with this TOS update, discounts will not be offered, requested, or provided in exchange for a review. With that said, HonestFew shoppers can still buy discounted products just like any flash sale offer, deal site, or Black Friday promotion (and like any organic shopper, leave a review if they’d like to). Discounts aren’t being traded for reviews. It’s solely discounts for their own sake.

So I can still sell products using promo codes?

Yes. In their Seller Central FAQ from October 3rd, Amazon clarifies:
“Q: Can I continue to offer discounts and promotions to customers?
A: Yes. You may continue to offer discounts and promotions as long as they are not offered in exchange for reviews.”

How do I get reviews now?

As regular Amazon shoppers, our members will review products if they want to. But, in line with this TOS update, HonestFew shoppers are not requested or required to leave a review of Amazon products in order to get discounts.

Ultimately, getting reviews and seller feedback is a matter of providing good post-sale customer service to buyers. Period. When you run an HonestFew promotion, we give you the opportunity to run built-in customer service email campaigns for the shoppers who receive your product.

Why are HonestFew promotions more effective than ever?

Because Amazon sellers need sales to build momentum and attract organic customers. Promoting your product with HonestFew means

(1) Creating an offer
(2) Selling it to our 50k+ member community, and
(3) Following up with customers via built-in customer service campaigns. Our members aren’t requested or required to review.

Going forward, HonestFew is a sales platform that gives sellers the momentum they need to make more money.

What’s next? 

If you’re currently running a promotion with HonestFew, we’ll be updating our systems over the next 24 hours to be in total compliance with the TOS update, and we’ll get in touch with you once we’re ready to proceed with your promotions. Email us at hello@honestfew.com with any questions.

Where can I read more?

> Amazon’s press release: https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/abpto3jt7fhb5oc
> Amazon’s updated Community Guidelines: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201929730

Please get in touch by email with any questions.