It’s been over a year now since Amazon updated its review policy to ban “any attempt to manipulate reviews,” yet many sellers are still being suspended and banned for review manipulation.
To keep your account in good standing, it’s critical to understand what Amazon considers to be a manipulation of obtaining reviews of your products.
What is Review Manipulation?
According to Amazon, “any attempt to manipulate reviews, including by directly or indirectly contributing false, misleading or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited.”
So what does Amazon mean by “manipulate reviews?”
Looking over Amazon’s review manipulation policy and the situations in which it was enforced, it’s fair to say that any attempt to incentivize customers to write reviews in a particular way qualifies.
The most common form of review manipulation is when sellers give customers discounts or gifts in exchange for writing and posting a review on a product listing. It doesn’t matter if the review is positive or negative—what matters is that there was an attempt by the seller to bribe the customer into writing a review at all.
So why is Amazon so strict about this?
Why the Review Manipulation Policies Exist
The persistent problem of fake reviews has compounded in recent years, and Amazon has decided to take swift action to contain the phenomenon. Amazon works to ensure that customers have the utmost confidence in its platform. Maintaining consumer review integrity is an essential part of Amazon’s trustworthiness as a leading e-commerce brand.
In other words, when you shop on Amazon, the company wants you to know that you can trust the reviews on product listings to be as authentic as possible.
What Does Amazon Consider a Violation?
It might be tempting to try to find loopholes so you can get the reviews you need to move your product. However, with Amazon cracking down more and more, the risk is not worth account suspension, having your listings removed permanently, or being kicked off of Amazon completely.
To avoid violating Amazon’s review manipulation policy, here are some suggestions:
- DON’T offer discounted or free products in exchange for reviews
- DON’T give shoppers review suggestions
- DON’T spam shoppers about giving you a review
- DON’T ask friends, family, employees, or paid influencers to write reviews
- DON’T offer “thank you” gifts after customers complete reviews
- DON’T use multiple accounts to make it appear that many are posting positive reviews
The next question you might ask yourself is, “How am I supposed to get reviews?”
How to Get Reviews Without Getting in Trouble with Amazon
The key to getting reviews without violating Amazon’s review manipulation policies is to provide your customers with excellent customer service. This idea might sound overly simplistic, but there is a method to the madness.
For example, sending a follow-up/confirmation email after their purchase is an excellent form of customer service. These emails are great opportunities to not only please your customers and boost your brand but to also inspire customers to write reviews on their volition.
We know that we can’t ask our customers for any specific kind of review, but we CAN ask for a review in a roundabout way. An effective method for requesting customers to give you a review is to provide them with a nudge towards leaving feedback is a positive message after their purchase.
Keep the following principles in mind so you can provide your current and future customers with the best experience possible:
- Send a confirmation email to keep in contact
- Focus your message on great customer service, not getting the review
- Let customers know that you appreciate their business, and ask for a review towards the end of the message
- Give your customers a good reason to leave a review; for example, let them know it helps you to provide better service to customers like them
- Make sure you don’t ask for a “positive” review as Amazon might view that as an intention to manipulate
Amazon expects its sellers to understand its policies inside and out, and they make it clear that they will enforce their policies. Getting caught manipulating reviews to popularize your products can do significant damage to your business and can get your banned. Any short-term gains you make will not outweigh the long-term consequences, so concentrate your efforts on your product quality and customer experience to inspire those reviews to come your way.
Have you ever been accused of review manipulation on Amazon? Share your story and any tips you have for keeping your account off Amazon’s radar in the comments below!
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