Don't be afraid to review! Here's why....
Just the other day I was asked by an Amazon seller: ‘Why is everyone still so afraid to post a review on Amazon?’ It is a very good question, not least because our own experience with Launch List Formula indicates that many of our members are nowhere near as busy posting product reviews on Amazon as they once were. Things have changed of course (or rather, Amazon have changed things with their recent content policy overhaul), but considering Amazon reviewing was almost a national pastime just a few months ago, just why have things changed so much?
From an anecdotal standpoint at least, it does appear to be the case that many once-enthusiastic Amazon reviewers have stopped doing what they love doing the most - reviewing! Many of them openly say that since Amazon rewrote the reviewing rule book in October last year, they still feel nervous about writing reviews. So we asked ourselves whether all this fear and worry was really necessary?
In a moment we will look closely at Amazon’s policies and see what the rules really tell us about when you can and can’t post a product review. But first, let us ask why all this fear exists in the first place?
It seems like a silly question, especially in view of Amazon having once employed something akin to a small developing nation to get busy removing customer reviewing privileges? And if that wasn’t alarming enough, let’s not forget those well publicized litigation cases where Amazon pursued a handful of genuinely fraudulent review brokers. But the funny thing is, all of these events peaked quite a few months ago, yet many self-declared review junkies are still laying low. Just how is it then that Amazon can wield such an influence so as to stop people enjoying a legitimate pastime?
The fact is that Amazon is infamous for cultivating a climate of fear (or rather, releasing relatively vague statements, or doing a few abrupt things, and then letting others do the cultivating for them). When you are an enormous company with many fingers invested in many pies (too many to manage) then this is in fact a very common and effective strategy. And it is sometimes the best way to keep a few mischief-prone people in line.
But do you need to be infected by this fear? That small developing nation I mentioned earlier (the one employed to remove customer reviewing privileges) has suffered a lot of job losses ever since Amazon updated their policies, but the effect of their handiwork still lingers. Fewer and fewer reviewing accounts are now being wiped, yet many reviewers are still worried that they too might have all of their hard earned reviews emptied in the blink of an eye, or that they may suffer some other form of punishment should they carry on writing legitimate reviews.
If you are still afraid to post a review on Amazon for a product you acquired at your own free will and without obligation, I say, please don’t be! In fact, I am now going to break down Amazon’s Community Guideline’s on content posting and show you why you have nothing to fear, especially if the product you want to review was purchased via a Launch List Formula promotion. Here goes….
Amazon says: We don’t allow reviews in exchange for a free or discounted product
We say: If you want to write the review then go for it because no such agreement was made between you and us, or between you and any seller we represent.
Amazon says: We don’t allow reviews if they are conditional upon future opportunities to receive free or discounted products, or continued membership in a program or club
We say: Go ahead and post your review if that’s your wish, there’s nothing in your agreement with us that implies favors or benefits depending on your reviewing statistics.
Amazon says: You are not permitted to write a review if you are a member of a review club where sellers or brands give the customer ratings or refer the customer to other sellers or brands based on their review
We say: There is no way we permit any sellers or brands to rate or refer you when they use our service, so please, don’t let that stop you from writing a review.
Amazon says: You are not permitted to write a review if you are a member of a review club where you are asked to register your Amazon public profile so that sellers or brands may monitor your reviews of products offered through the club
We say: Sellers or brands are never, under no circumstances, given access to your Amazon public profile, or your personal reviewing information (certainly not without your consent!). We only request your Amazon public profile so that we know you are a genuine Amazon shopper, so if this is stopping you from showcasing your amazing reviewing talents, please relax.
Amazon says: Customers can only submit 5 non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews each week
We say: Okay, that’s fine, but it has nothing to do with any items you have purchased from our promotions, because any reviews you post for these products are actually posted as verified purchase reviews - great news for everyone I should think, including Amazon!
Now that we have established that your reviews are in fact legitimate (at least if they are posted for any products we promote), here is an extra little bonus:
Amazon says: A customer is permitted to write a review of a product purchased using a discount generally available to all Amazon customers
We say: Hooray, that’s exactly what our promotions are! They are available to any Amazon customer visiting the product’s Amazon page at the time that the promotion is running. You just happen to be the lucky customer on the promotion’s mailing list, and there’s certainly nothing dodgy or underhanded about that. That’s just Product Promotions 101 - it’s how promotions and product launches are generally done!
Do we at Launch List Formula love it when our members post product reviews on Amazon. Yes, we certainly do! We love it, our sellers love it (well, usually), and hopefully you love it as well! We want to run a service that makes everyone happy. We want to bring more business to sellers of good products, and more good products to our deal-loving members.
We hope this newsletter has helped ease some anxiety among our members (especially those of you who really enjoy reviewing products). Whatever you do, please don’t misinterpret this article as some kind of You’d better write a review or else…. That’s certainly not our game. Our game is to stick to the rules, and to do our best to make sure everyone we work with keeps on smiling.
That, we believe, is how things should be done!
Written by Tom Getz
Amazon commentator and peer-contributor to LLF