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!