Product reviews — the holy grail of selling on marketplaces. Reviews are an effective way to instantly add credibility to your listings and boost your revenues, and just one of many ways to increase your organic sales.  A steady supply of good reviews can help your campaigns run a lot more smoothly. That's why we always recommend starting PPC campaigns only after you already have some reviews.

Of course, getting a lot of quality reviews is easier said than done. The average rate on marketplaces is around 1-3%, so you may struggle to get reviews on products with low sales volume.

It’s no surprise, then, that some sellers have turned to some less-than-honest means of populating their product pages with 5-star reviews. But should you be willing to bend marketplace rules to get the reviews you need?

The answer is easy, play by the rules

Make sure your strategies are always aligned with the marketplace regulations. Amazon as an example has created a set of rules to ensure that all sellers play fair and the e-commerce giant has no issue enforcing them, for example by suspending the accounts of sellers - we lost an account of ours like that 3 years ago. Fortunately, there were certain steps that we were able to take and this in the form of an Amazon action plan. If writing a plan of action is something you don’t really have the time and energy for, then you all need to do is follow the rules. Because we can assure you, having your account on break for 3 weeks is not a cheap joke

That being said, let's dive in:

1. Utilize product inserts

Easily, one of the most popular way to encourage shoppers to leave product reviews on marketplaces is through the use of product inserts. Many sellers insert a card into their packaging, asking shoppers to leave a review.

Still, you have to be very careful about exactly how you handle this. They’ve noticed that some sellers have been breaking the “guidelines”

The example picture below is against many marketplace terms. You cannot divert negative reviews or tell people to email you instead of leaving a negative review.

Here are some best practices for product inserts:

  • Ask for product reviews, but remain neutral. Telling people to leave you a five-star review — or even showing a picture of five-stars — is against many marketplace guidelines.
  • Give useful information about your company and the product. Make sure people have ways of contacting you if an issue comes up. Good customer service goes a long way to prevent negative product reviews.
  • Incentivize in other ways. While you can’t financially incentivize reviews with a product insert, you can incentivize people to join your email lists or to follow you on social media. This will help you in the future.

2. Everyone loves freebies

Who doesn’t like getting free stuff? I sure do, even if I don’t really need it! Well, did you know that that we have 3% more reviews if we put a free gift in the box like a bag of oreos, a balloon coming out of the box? The concept is simple: put a gift in the shipping box without informing the customer. This is really a psycholigical effect. If someone does something for you without asking, you are willing to do something in return.

3. Setup an email flow

It’s an obvious one but the best way to get marketplace reviews is to actually ask for them. In fact, the majority of shoppers (77%) are happy to leave a review if a business asks them.

By default, some marketplaces like Amazon will email your customers asking for a review after their purchase. But you can send one additional review using 3P software.

In this way you can create your own email template that reflects your brand’s voice, dynamically inserts the customer’s name and product, and includes your brand logo and product imagery. That goes a long way toward reminding the customer what they bought and encouraging them to leave a review.

Enjoying this article?

4. Launch new products with an email list

We are big proponents of marketplaces, yet we always recommend building your audience outside of marketplaces. This is because it can be a launch pad for other products you launch.

For example: If you have an email list, then when you launch new products do not send them links to your website to purchase, instead send them directly to your marketplace product page.

This accomplishes two things:

  • You get vital initial sales velocity for your products
  • Your email list is more likely to produce satisfied customers who will subsequently leave reviews

Scaring the algorithm when you launch a new product is therefore crucial. We also believe that marketplaces rewards brands that produce sales on on their platform from outside their marketplace.

We have tested this several times and the ranking we get then is crazy. There is an incident that we were sent from page 14 all the way to page 2 and this is because we presented our new product through an email list.

5. Amazon Vine program

The name says it all, this strategy is purely for the Amazon marketplace but it is so effective. Vine is a great way to get some early reviews with one caveat: Vine reviews have been known to be more critical than average. 1-3 star reviews are not uncommon. Contrast this with the Early Reviewer program where most reviews typically are 4 or 5 stars.

To use Vine you enroll your product via the Advertising menu within Seller Central. You then give your product away to Vine Voices members (people with a history of providing insightful reviews). As of October 2021, it cost €200 per product to enroll. Prior to October 2021 it was free but it’s still a bargain compared to the €2500 it used to cost for Vendor Central clients. You can only enroll products with less than 30 reviews.

Final thoughts

So far we’ve learned that cheaters never prosper, especially when it comes to getting marketplace reviews. If you want to keep selling on marketplaces long-term, you’re much better off staying on the straight and narrow.

Product reviews can be a powerful ally and sourcing them the right way definitely pays off for your credibility and your conversion rate. It may take time, but once those reviews come rolling in, you’ll be glad you made the effort!

Need help managing and improving your product’s marketplace reviews? We get it. Tell us what issues you’re having with reviews, and let our brand experts fill in the gaps.⬇️