Amazon reviews make it easier for customers to purchase products online, by relying on shared opinions from peers rather than examining products themselves. But, with rampant abuse of the system and many customers aware of fake reviews, modern consumers are placing less and less stock in good reviews. Amazon recognized this problem and began working to combat it, banning paid and incentivized reviews and offering a “Verified Purchase” badge to add veracity to reviews.
The “Amazon Verified Purchase” badge means that the customer bought the item through Amazon. As of November 2016, Amazon is also using Verified Purchase reviews as part of their ranking algorithm. To get the badge, customers simply leave a review and Amazon verifies if they purchased it with that account. If they haven’t, the badge simply won’t appear. Amazon also limits the number of non-verified reviews a customer can leave to 5 or less per week.
These efforts are intended to ‘clean up’ the Amazon review space, making it harder to game the system, and harder to pay for reviews. At the same time, you still need reviews to rank in Amazon’s search algorithm, to drive conversion, and to make sales. So, you need to understand how Verified Product reviews work, how to get them, and what qualifies.
Amazon.com buyers can leave a review with an Amazon Verified Purchase badge, providing they have purchased the product on Amazon for at least 80% of the original value. Customers must also have spent at least $50 total on their account to leave a review.
In 2016, Amazon began removing Verified Purchase badges from reviews where the buyer purchased the item at a steep discount. Moving forward, offering discounts will also reduce the likelihood of a Verified Purchase badge showing up on the review – even if you’re offering it broadly through a promotion. Items discounted at more than 50% in the past no longer have badges. But, it appears that badges do not show up for new reviews on products discounted more than 20%.
This does limit the amount of incentivization you can use to drive reviews, but that’s the point.
Why do you need Amazon Verified Purchase product reviews?
Verified Purchase Badges Improve Conversion
Amazon customers are becoming increasingly aware of fake reviews. Some unscrupulous sellers pay to have hundreds or even thousands of fake 5-star reviews on their products, balancing out negative reviews from real customers, or hiding the fact that the product is new and relatively untested. Because online buyers cannot test or check a product in advance, this process greatly undermines consumer trust in buying online.
The Verified Purchase badge helps to balance this problem by showing customers that there is a significantly larger chance the review is genuine. Amazon now allows customers to filter by Verified Reviews, so some consumers will only look at those reviews. If you have a great deal of positive Verified Purchase reviews, customers will likely trust the product more, which will improve conversion.
Amazon’s Review Algorithm
Amazon’s Terms of Service state that you may not intentionally manipulate product rankings by offering a large number of free or discounted products in exchange for a review. This means that you can still offer some products to reviewers for free, but the practice of giving away hundreds of products is effectively banned and with Verified Reviews, filtered out for sellers who manage to do so anyway. To account for this, Amazon limits the number of reviews each person can leave per day and takes various factors such as verified purchases, review age, and helpfulness votes into consideration for their algorithm.
There’s a lot that goes into ranking on Amazon, but reviews are a big part. Reviews contribute to Amazon’s ranking algorithm in several ways – but not all reviews are considered equally. Amazon considers the age of a review, the review history of the customer (such as the number of helpful reviews they’ve left in the past), review age, verified purchases, and helpfulness votes when using reviews for ranking. This is intended to prevent sellers from gaming the system – and it may mean that valid reviews left on your products are not considered.
In short, reviews left by well-established customers with a history of leaving positive reviews will do a lot more for your ranking than reviews left by a new account. Similarly, reviews Amazon can verify will improve ranking over unverified purchase reviews.
Driving Natural Reviews
Verified Purchase Reviews lend credibility, show potential customers that your reviews are from consumers who actually purchased the product, and make the review system harder to game and manipulate. That’s great news for sellers investing in quality products and quality customer service, because you can greatly boost your ranking and your conversion just by making sales. You just have to boost the number of customers who go on to leave a review by integrating a good review strategy.
- Ask. Most customers are more than willing to share their experience
- Offer a perk, such as a discount code in exchange for a review
- Add additional discounts for product photos and videos
- Optimize for sales. Create high-quality pages, optimize pictures, bullets, product description, and keywords
- Deliver quality. Stay on top of your inventory management and shipping, use 3PL and FBA where necessary, and get products to customers quickly and safely. Stock outs and slow shipping are the fastest way to earn a bad review on a good product.
- Use Sponsored Products to boost sales. A small percentage of all sales will result in reviews.
- Run promotions for previous customers from your store with no more than a 20% discount
- Contact top Amazon reviewers and request reviews. Most won’t purchase your product, but you may be able to gift it (digital product), and you will benefit from getting a review from a top reviewer, even without the Verified Purchase badge.
At the end of the day, Verified Purchase badges help small consumers and real businesses to compete with sellers pushing mass-produced items from sites like Alibaba. It allows customers to show their opinion more, and it will mean that low-quality products will slowly sink out of the search results. If you have a good product and you invest in quality, Amazon Verified Purchase, reviews will only help your business. Just make sure you integrate tactics to drive sales, deliver quality products, and fulfil orders quickly, to keep real customers as happy as possible.
This is a guest post written by Skubana. Skubana is an all-in-one ERP system that focuses on multi-marketplace inventory management for high-volume ecommerce merchants.