The Problem With Emailing Customers For Reviews, 5 Legal Alternatives, And What Not To Do
Written by Michael Stephens
 Reviews are an essential piece to increasing conversion and sales for your products. The problem is that Amazon's customers are not really your customers. And, it is getting harder and harder to communicate with those customers, even if you have the best intentions. 

Amazon anonymizes customer's real email addresses and makes it against the Terms of Service (TOS) to contact customers outside of the Amazon email system. Amazon has even recently started anonymizing phone numbers, not that you are allowed to actually call customers. That is also against TOS.  Amazon also allows customers to opt out of emails from third parties. It doesn't really matter, though, because customers are becoming increasingly blind to emails asking for seller feedback and product reviews anyway.
Don't get us wrong, we absolutely think you should be emailing customers. We think you should use it as a customer service opportunity. By showing empathy and addressing customer concerns, we have successfully been able to prevent 99% of negative reviews. We use automated software for this like Helium10 and Manage By Stats.

Below are a few basic examples and creative ways to get positive reviews from your customers:
  •  Make Quality Products and Provide Excellent Customer Service: It might seem obvious, but if a customer doesn't like your product, you aren't going to get good reviews no matter how hard you try. Defects and and other issues may happen, and it is how you handle those situations that can be the difference between a 1-star and 5-star review.  
  •  Encourage User Generated Content: Today social proof is even more important. Customers respond really well to seeing average, everyday people using products. If you have your own customer list, send them an email asking them to leave a review and picture of them using your product on Amazon.
  •  Use Amazon's Early Reviewer Program if you have few or no reviews: No, Amazon doesn't play by their own rules. This program is exactly what they tell you not to do: incentivize reviews. "Customers who have purchased a product participating in the Early Reviewer Program may be asked to write a review and those customers who submit a review within the offer period will receive a small reward (e.g. a $1-$3 Gift Card)" It is a great way to get started if your product is newer. A product with only 1 review will see increased conversion versus when it has none.
  •  Use Package Inserts: Asking customers to leave reviews by way of a package insert has been around for a long time. The trick is creating something unique that will stand out. Rather than just use flat cardstock, try something lumpy with a note attached to get the customer's attention.
  •  Offer A Free Bonus: Create something value added that relates to your product that the customer can get for free. People love getting free things, especially when it is unexpected. It doesn't have to be expensive, but the customer needs to perceive it as valuable, otherwise the sentiment will be lost.
What Not To Do (How to Get Your Account Banned):
  •   Incentivize Reviews: In the good old days (pre-2016), you could give a customer a free product or a large discount in exchange for a review. Seems like a win-win, right? Unfortunately, some sellers took advantage of this and gave away thousands of free and discounted products to game the Amazon ranking algorithm. To combat this manipulation Amazon banned what they called "incentivized" reviews in order to keep customers invested in the integrity of the platform. If you try to do the same thing now, it is very likely that your account will get banned. 
  •  Have friends of family members leave reviews: Amazon is like Big Brother, they have software and data points that can connect you and your account to your friends and family, mainly through social media accounts/profiles.
  •  Segmenting customers before asking for a review: Amazon really wants customers to feel that they have the true view of a product, which includes negative reviews. We have heard of some companies using software like ClickFunnels to create segmentation funnels to weed out potentially negative reviews. How this works is the customer would be taken through a series of steps and if the customer had a bad experience, then they would be directed to contact customer service. If the customer had a good experience, then they would be asked to leave a review on Amazon.
If you are having trouble getting customer reviews or want some really inventive ideas please reach out to us to request a free strategy session.

Michael Stephens

Michael Stephens helps people start and grow successful physical products businesses. He is an expert at helping brands get customers using online methods and making things super simple to understand.
If you're interested in starting your own brand or scaling up and getting customers then definitely reach out and request a free strategy session today.