Why You Need Amazon Customer Reviews
Online reviews are the modern media world-of-mouth; they’re immensely powerful and can have a huge affect on how your business is perceived. A study last year  found that:
- 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 85% of consumers say that they read online reviews for local businesses
- 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more
When you wish upon five stars, it makes no difference who you are – your business dreams come true! OK, in truth you’ll need a lot more than wishing to obtain a great Amazon star count. In this post we’ll talk about why Amazon customer reviews are important and the various ways you can earn them (both legitimately and not-so-legitimately).
What Amazon Customer Reviews Can Do For You
Amazon reviews serve a few different purposes. Reviews can:
- Push on-the-fence buyers into a purchase
- Convince consumers to buy your product over alternatives
- Assure customers of quality
- Serve as word of mouth  recommendations
Why Product Reviews Matter & the Human Hardwire
Studies have shown that word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool – even in an online age, when a fellow human being tells us about something great, we listen with open ears. Although our lives are vastly different than our neanderthal ancestors, we aren’t as far removed as we think. We are still programmed to make choices based on the actions of others. There is safety in numbers with the herd mentality, so when we see a lot of people recommending an item and saying they HAVE to have it, we tend to feel likewise.
As someone who frequents Slickdeals, a website that aggregates the daily online deals, I’ve witnessed myself and many others fall victim to the herd mentality. Many silly purchasing decisions have been made all because of a forum swarming with users saying, “in for 3, what a great deal!” or “unbelievable price on these, they’ll sell out quickly.” This results in unnecessary, even down-right useless purchases – an outcome that many on the site dub the SD affect. The truth is that we’re programmed to act quite sheepish.
Bah ram you, sheep aren't so true (photo courtesy net_efekt )
When it Comes to Getting Amazon Reviews, the More the Merrier
Social proof is some powerful stuff, and the more proof you have, the more potent it becomes. An item rated as 4.5 stars reviewed by 10 people won’t sell as well as an item rated as 4 stars reviewed by 300 people. More reviews look better, are more convincing, and boost your visibility when someone searches for your product on Amazon.
How to Get Reviews on Amazon: 5 Terrific Tips
How do you get legitimate, 100% authentic home-grown Amazon consumer reviews? Here’s how.
1. Provide a great consumer experience. The majority of negative reviews involve consumers feeling misled about a product. Be honest about what you’re selling and provide as much accurate, precise information about your product as possible to avoid any confusion or false expectations.
2. Send follow-up emails after an Amazon purchase asking for feedback. Amazon asks for feedback following a purchase, but it’s a generic email with nothing special. Instead, send personalized review requests; ideally you want to send them shortly after they’ve received your product so its awesomeness is still fresh in their minds. You can even use a site like FeedbackFive  to automatically send customized feedback request emails. Make it really easy for users to leave a review by including a link.
3. Request Amazon reviews via newsletter and social media. Chances are, the folks subscribed to your newsletter and your fans on Facebook already like you, so why not ask them for reviews? There’s a decent chance they’ve already bought a product from you, so they can provide legitimate, positive Amazon customer reviews. In our article about getting reviews on Yelp , we noted that Yelp discouraged directly soliciting reviews. Amazon, on the other hand, is much more lax.
4. Reach out to users who reviewed similar products. You can find users who have reviewed products similar to yours (even your competitor’s products) by visiting your product page, going to “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and “Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed.” These are your competitors, and you could do well simply taking note of them and reading their reviews (paying attention to what they do well and what they fail at), and even checking out their website.
For the sake of our Amazon review-centered discussion, simply click for the “customer reviews” link and sort by newest reviews. Click the reviewer’s name for their details. If they provide contact info connected with their profile, you’re in luck! Send an e-mail. If only a name shows up, try contacting them on another social network like Twitter or Facebook.
5. Solicit the top Amazon reviewers. Amazon holds a list of their top reviewers – a compilation of esteemed reviewers who are valued for their insightful and objective critiques. Many of these top Amazon reviewers also hold titles such as “Top Ten Reviewer,” or “Hall of Fame Reviewer,” which are displayed alongside their reviews, making their reviews ultra-valuable.
We’ll discuss how to find these coveted super-star Amazon reviewers in our next section below.
How to Get Reviews from Top Amazon Reviewers
Snagging an assessment from one of these prize reviewers can mean big things for your Amazon seller account. These guys are the big mouth Billy basses of the Amazon world, and we’re going to show you how to reel them in.
Some of these Amazon reviewers make a living doing this – it’s serious business, and some may do as many as 100 reviews a month. Be prepared to offer your product for free in exchange for a review – depending on your product, this could be a pricey expenditure, so you’ll have to decide if this is a strategy you can afford.
1. Find the top reviewers. First we’ll scour the Amazon list of Top Reviewers.  You’ll see the page is divided into Top Reviewer Rankings and Hall of Fame Reviewers. Hall of Fame holds the long-time legacy reviewers, while the Top Review Rankings shows the best Amazon contributors at the current moment. Hall of Fame shows the reviewers’ title badges and accolades, although you can get this same info mousing over names in the Top Reviewers section.
2. Search for relevant tags. Mousing over names in either section will bring up the reviewer’s most used tags. Your goal will be to find top reviewers who have used tags related to product or industry in the past, making them a perfect target.
3. Keep track of contacts. Next you’ll want to compile a contact list. Prepare to be excel-ent as you’ll want to keep all this info in a neat and tidy spreadsheet.
4. Fish around for emails. Many popular reviewers will have their email addresses on their profile page. If you don’t see an email address, you’ll have to try reaching out via social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
And “bingo” was his name-o.
5. Reach out with a thoughtful e-mail. Time to plead your case, so put on those puppy-dog eyes! Explain to the target that you found their review on Amazon and that you’d like to send them a product you believe they might be interested in. Don’t send out one soulless generic mass email – personalize the message showing that you’ve read up on the reviewer and seen their past reviews. Maybe comment on one review you found especially illuminating or clever. Personalizing your messages greatly improves your chances of getting a reply, so be sure to implement some considerate correspondence.
Tell them that you’re hoping for an honest review of the product, although no obligation is required. Many won’t respond to your email, and probably only around half will review the product you send, but that’s the name of the game. Yes, it’s risky. But if your product is awesome and you know it can earn great reviews, a few 5 star ratings from these top Amazon reviewers will be HUGE.
6. Say thank you! One of my all time favorite books, How to Win Friends and Influence People (I swear, I’m not a self-help junkie, this is an eccentricity in my library), notes that all people crave sincere appreciation. Be sure to follow-up and thank the top Amazon reviewers for their thoughtful review – with sincerity of course!
Getting Amazon reviews from Amazon’s cream-of-the-crop critics isn’t easy, but it’ll pay off in the end when you’re rolling in gold stars.
Rainbow Brite knows all about star power
A Different Approach: Fake Reviews
Amazon is doing their best to combat fake reviews, but honestly, they aren’t doing a ton. In a way we’re dealing with the same black vs. white hat problem of whether or not you should buy Twitter followers , which is a tremendously controversial topic.
I believe it’s best to give readers the full low down and let you decide for yourself which kind of hat you’d like to wear.
Deicions, decisions - which hat to wear? (photo by Beverly Goodwin )
As always, fake reviews can be obtained if you’ve got the gut of a gambler. For falsified Amazon consumer reviews, you can check out…
- Fiverr.  Fiverr is such a weird melting pot of shady bizarre offerings. The black market of internet advertising, you can find just about anything for cheap on Fiverr, including artificial Amazon reviews. 
- BuyAmazonReviews.com.  Yes, it is real – you can buy Amazon reviews. It is trustworthy? Ehh… user discretion is most certainly advised.
Yes, you will get in trouble if you’re found out – heck, you might get your entire Amazon account suspended. But great risk, great reward, you know the drill, so it’s your call Saul.
How to Handle Bad Amazon Reviews
It’s tough making your living online – the web has a way of bringing out the worst in people as many users hide under the internet’s veil of anonymity to spread slander they’d never dream of voicing IRL. It’s not a matter of if you’ll ever get a bad review – it’s just a matter of when.
Prepare for the worst. You’ll get bad reviews. Maybe even really terrible ones. Criticisms may be indelicate, undeserved, or even downright cruel, and there’s no internet police who will come around and slap those naughty complainers on the wrists. That means it’s up to you to handle the situation. We suggest that you…
Take a cool down. Negative reviews can sting, which is why your first step upon receiving a negative Amazon customer review should be to simply step back. Take a day or even several to cool down and then assess the situation with a clear mind. Is there any merit to the review? Maybe this is a clue to how you can improve your product. Is it a pure emotional tirade? Other uses can sense a baseless rant, so while your star ratings may be affected, users who take the time to read your 1-star reviews may see the senselessness of a bad review. If the review is blatantly emotional, these cool down days may be as beneficial for you as for the reviewer – they may be able to realize their earlier review was unreasonable and be open to editing it.
Approach with extreme caution. The next step is deciding whether or not to respond to a piece of negative feedback. Here’s where things get tricky, because the situation can change depending on whether you are an Amazon reseller dealing with negative seller feedback, or whether the problem is a negative product review.
- For Amazon Resellers: First examine the issues the buyer had – can the problem be remedied? Consider offering refund or replacement. Buyers can remove feedback for up to 60 days after a review is posted, so there’s usually a chance of redemption.
- For Bad Amazon Product Reviews: Responding publically may add further damage, especially if others take the side of the reviewer. Look forward to burying this negative review with new positive ones. Amazon will remove a review in specific cases like those involving privacy violations or obscene language , but these situations aren’t common.