Way to Get First Reviews Faster on Amazon: ‘Amazon Early Reviewer Program’

In this article we will discuss about the Amazon Early Reviewer Program as well as how to get the First Review on Amazon with the help of Amazon

WHAT IS AMAZON EARLY REVIEWER PROGRAM?

Online selling very much relies on building trust between the potential customers and the store they are buying from. In this business, seller have to give buyer that type of confidence by which consumers will believe that they are getting a quality product for their money, and they must believe that they will most likely enjoy their purchase. Social proofs and peer reviews has played an innate role in the rise of e-commerce, from the early days of forum reviews and blogs. Data shows that over 60% of all shoppers use online reviews to make decisions, 68% try to read 6 reviews or more before making a purchase and so on as pictured below:

Amazon capitalized on that fact for more than 20 years, and they have consistently improved their review scoring. The big e-commerce company understood the facts from the start, which is one of the reasons they were able to maneuver from a small bookstore into a mega brand that owns nearly 55% of all online sales in the USA.

Not too long ago, initial reviews were fairly easy to gather for a new Amazon product. Sellers could give away products in exchange for ‘honest’ reviews. But, problems are created when some sellers become tempted to act outside of Amazon’s terms of service (TOS) to obtain product reviews. Fake or paid reviews providing a high star-rating can outrank competing products quickly – leading to increased sales. Complaints about manipulated reviews rolled in, and Amazon shut it down.

After banning incentivized reviews due to complaints from third party sites and customers about the integrity of the reviews, Amazon is coping with the imbalance in the ecosystem by introducing Amazon Early Reviewer Program. According to Amazon, “the Early Reviewer Program Encourages customers who have already purchased a product to share their authentic experience about that product, regardless of whether it is a 1-star or 5-star review.”

HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS?

This ‘Amazon Early Reviewer Program’ is to help Amazon shoppers make better buying decisions and help new sellers or new products to get reviews early on. But, does this program mean that getting reviews is now super easy? Unfortunately, the answer is: ‘No’. Besides, it does show us that the big e-commerce company hasn’t left you all alone in their ‘Amazon jungle’ to fend for yourself. If you’re launching a new product and are struggling with the need sales/need reviews cycle, Amazon is offering a helping hand to break you out of the cycle.

Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program helps to build reviews on new listings by offering buyers incentives to leave an honest review after making the purchase. Amazon controls the quality of the reviews because shoppers won’t know if they qualify for the system until after they’ve made the purchase. They will also only be able to qualify for an incentive within a certain time frame, limiting the ability to game the system.

We will discuss elaborately about the whole process of the program in 2 different perspectives:

  1. From sellers view: When sellers participate
  2. From buyers view: When a customer participates

WHEN SELLERS PARTICIPATE: HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS FOR SELLERS

Though the Early Reviewer Program encourages randomly chosen buyers (who have already purchased the sellers product) to share their authentic experience through reviews., the program’s goal is to help brand owners acquire early reviews, which helps shoppers make smarter buying decisions and can lead to an increase in page views and ultimately sales.

Once seller’s product is enrolled, Amazon will begin to contact customers who have purchased any of the enrolled products by email, and other communication channels across our mobile apps. Sellers can track the performance/status of their enrollments in the ‘Program Dashboard’ in Seller Central. They can also see the reviews directly on the product detail page. Anyone can identify the Early Reviewer Program reviews by the orange badge that reads “Early Reviewer Rewards”.

These are some common facts listed below what you need to know if you are participating the Early Reviewer Program as a seller:

1. ENROLLMENT ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA:

Brand Registry

Currently the program is limited to the U.S. brand registered Amazon sellers. So, sellers who want to participate in the Early Reviewer Program must have to complete their brand registry and have to apply for Brand Registry if they own the trademark.

You should bear in mind that, if you have listed a SKU to sell in the U.S. as well as other marketplaces, it will be eligible to enroll in this program, but Amazon will only request reviews from customers who purchased the SKU on www.amazon.com.

*Note: after you register your brand, it may take up to 72 hours before you can access the Early Reviewer Program portal.

Having Fewer than 5 Reviews

In order for an ASIN to be eligible for the Early Reviewer Program, you must have fewer than 5 reviews on the website at the time of enrollment.

Product Price > $ 15

Offer price of each product must be greater than $15.00. SKUs submitted must be parent level or stand-alone. If a product has variations, submitting the parent product will ensure all variations are included in the program. Variation child SKUs will be automatically enrolled with the parent.

2. STEPS TO TAKE TO ENROLL PRODUCT IN THE EARLY REVIEWER PROGRAM:

After fulfilling the eligibility criterion the seller can start this process as follows:

Loading CSV Template:

If you are a seller on amazon, once you’ve been Brand Registered, you can access The Early Reviewer Program portal, found under Advertising in Seller Central.

To submit products for enrollment, you will be prompted to load your SKUs into the template that Amazon provides. You may submit up to 100 SKUs at a time.

Keep in mind, you cannot enroll variations or child SKUs of a parent SKU.

Upload your Template:

Once you’ve completed filling out the template, you will submit it into the Early Reviewer Program. As mentioned above, each parent SKU or stand-alone SKU will cost $60 (plus taxes) upon the first review obtained.

Once you’ve been accepted into the program, SKUs cannot be retracted. Amazon will stop soliciting reviews when 5 reviews are collected through the program OR after one year.

Review:

You may view the status of each SKU in the Submission History & Product Enrollment Details section, found in your Seller Central account within the portal.

3. ENROLLMENT FEES: WHAT IS THE COST?

$60 Fees Chargeable once a SKU Gains a Review

A seller pays $60 plus any applicable taxes for each SKU to be enrolled in the program.  The seller will not be charged the $60 fee until the first Early Reviewer product review is successfully obtained.

How Long it will Cost

The Early Reviewer Program will continue to gather reviews for a SKU for up to 1 year from time of enrollment, or until 5 reviews are received through the program, whichever occurs first.

It’s not ‘paying per Review’ Process

A seller will pay $60 for each SKU once after the first program generated review rolls in. That is the only time a fee is charged for that SKU, whether you receive one review or five reviews.

No Review, No Charge

If you receive no reviews, you will not be charged.

WHEN A CUSTOMER PARTICIPATES

The beauty of the Amazon Early Reviewer Program is that just about anyone is eligible to participate as a shopper. There are no options for someone to enroll in reviewing program for any definite item he wants to review. Rather Reviewer are chosen by amazon at random from the list of customers who have purchased a product participating in the Early Reviewer and are invited to enroll. Though a hidden ‘if’ is present in the sentence and that is “if and only if he/she fulfills some of amazon’s must-meet eligibility criteria”. The main 3 Criteria for choosing reviewers are:

Authentic Customers:

Amazon only asks customers to review an item who have already purchased the item.

Must not have any Personal Attachment with the Seller:

Participating sellers or their friends and family are not eligible to participate in this program. Even amazon employees are not eligible to participate.

No History of Being Abusive or Dishonest Reviewer:

Shoppers who have been flagged as dishonest in their previous reviews will not be eligible to partake in the program.

WHY AUTHENTIC CUSTOMERS WILL WRITE TRUE REVIEWS?

Amazon wants authentic reviews, and they want them from all of their customers, not just a selected few. On the other hand, everyone’s got a profusion going on in life, and it takes time to write involved and insightful reviews. So, simply amazon doesn’t expect you to write reviews for free. They give some small gifts in exchange for the reviewer’s salient time and effort. In a short, amazon is trying to increase the number of organic reviews by rewarding random customers as follows:

Orange Badge:

Early Reviewer Program reviews are identified with an orange badge that reads ‘Early Reviewer Rewards’. This badge encourages customers to write reviews regardless of whether it is a 1-star or 5-star review.

Gift Card:

Those customers who submit a review within the offer period will receive a reward (Well, by a small reward, most likely a $1-$3 Amazon Gift Card) for helping future shoppers if their reviews meet amazon’s community guidelines.

Incentives for Both Types of Reviews – Positives or Negatives:

Reviewers get the same incentives whether their reviews are positive or negative. This spurs on the customers.

IS IT WORTH IT: ADVANTAGES VS. DISADVANTAGES

ADVANTAGES:

The program is a win-win-win for sellers, buyers, and Amazon. Sellers build up their reviews, buyers receive rewards for sharing their opinions, and Amazon generates even more revenue by charging $60 per SKU. If you have a terrible product, your reviews are going to be terrible. If you have a great product, your reviews will likely follow suit, there’s nothing to worry about!

Provides Opportunity of Authentic Reviews:

No extra perks for a positive review. No risk of backlash for a negative review. Buyers will leave their honest opinions for other Amazon shoppers to consider in their purchasing decision. With no disclosure in advance, it’s harder for fake reviewers to qualify, and by simply prompting actual buyers to leave a review.

Cost Effective:

You will be charged for each ASIN/product that has been accepted into the program once Amazon receives the first Early Reviewer Program review for the said product. So, certainly the program is very much cost-friendly !

Need a Little Push for your New Product?, Grasp it:

Perhaps now instead of driving 150-200 sales for 4/5 reviews, you’ll only need to drive 20 or 30. Amazon is incentivizing those reviews for you, which is an awesome opportunity for new products that need a little push. If you’ve been struggling to get reviews up, it may be worth your while signing up just to get the ball rolling.

Better than Amazon Vine:

  • Amazon Vine is not really a feasible option for smaller businesses who don’t have major cash to invest in marketing, where AMAZON EARLY REVIEWER PROGRAM is cost friendly. No pay-to-play nature of the program and the no high per-ASIN fees!
  • Another major downside to the Amazon Vine program is that it is only accessible via Vendor Central. Businesses who participate in Seller Central do not have access to the Vine program, and in many cases the switch to Vendor Central may not make sense for these businesses, for a variety of reasons.

Getting Authorized ‘Paid Reviews’

Okay, ‘Paid reviews or not paid reviews, that is the question’ here. The fact is that you need reviews somehow – they’re a factor in how well you rank and feature in buy boxes, as well as a trust indicator for future customers. A product with no or very few reviews can be a red flag to many people who would rather wait to see what others have to say about it. In that ugly time, you are getting some authorized reviews spending a low budget, isn’t it enough?

DISADVANTAGES:

If you are selling a new product that has few reviews, this program could very well be worth it. But keep in mind that the reviews you receive won’t necessarily be positive unless you are actually selling a quality product. Keep in mind that, the EARLY REVIEWER PROGRAM has also some demerits and you have to face them very carefully. So, here are some common disadvantages people usually face using this program:

No Way to Guarantee Positive Reviews

Whilst this program helps sellers speed up reviews gathering process there is no there’s no way to guarantee positive reviews.

No Refund

No refund if the product receives fewer than five reviews / negative reviews. So, if you are an enrolled seller having a bad product, you really dig a hole for yourself and paying for negative reviews on your own products!

No Cancellation

Once a seller enrolls a SKU into the program, he/she will be unable to cancel the enrollment. So, in this case, though you are getting negative reviews, you cannot opt out whatsoever.

Orange Badge Problem

For the Early Review Program, the reviews are appeared on amazon with an orange badge that reads “Early Reviewer Rewards.”  Sometimes few people considering this as a paid review don’t give any value to it and avoid.

CONCLUSION:

In 2016, Amazon killed incentivized reviews, effectively putting a stop to a secondary industry of review trading that had sprung up. It’s understandable – Amazon needs to protect their integrity as a company and must ensure that customers can generally rely on the reviews that they see. But, after this situation, sellers have been left wondering how to grow their review base to compete with established products. The industry average review rate is estimated to be around 1%. But with an optimized email follow-up sequence, a seller may see around a 5% review rate. So even with a stellar email strategy, a seller may only see 5 reviews come from 100 sales. For an established product, that sounds pretty tough. But for a brand new product, it sounds almost impossible.

Amazon understands this uphill battle and is giving sellers a little boost. (It’s also working in their favor, as this program will likely draw more people into their Brand Registry Program). The Early Reviewer Program will speed up the process of gaining those initial, essential reviews, and the most important words: ‘those reviews will be genuine’. As always, just be sure your product, listing, and customer service are outstanding. This will set you up for a great customer experience, which will help translate to positive reviews.



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