News & Insights
Generating Positive Impacts from Negative Amazon Reviews
Use negative reviews to your advantage with an informed approach to your listings
Negative reviews are an inevitable aspect of any Amazon seller’s experience. Fortunately, the right strategies can transform negative feedback into a platform for improving your performance on the site.
From understanding the effect reviews have on your listing’s visibility to crafting a strategy for coping with dissatisfied customers, we’ve put together this guide to help you make the most of those unwanted yet inescapable negative Amazon reviews.
How reviews affect your sales
Online shopping is more popular than ever, and buyers are extremely savvy about their options. As a result, many view reading product reviews as one of the best ways to inform their purchasing decision. Surveys have shown that nine out of 10 customers read reviews before clicking the buy button, while eight out of 10 give them as much weight as a personal recommendation.
There’s no question that reviews, positive and negative, can impact product sales and conversion metrics. What may not be clear, though, is how the relationship between Amazon reviews and sales can begin before a prospective customer even finds your listing. Product reviews on a site like Amazon can impact your organic rank among the search results even before a shopper discovers your product detail page.
One thing to keep in mind before we begin is that in addition to product reviews, Amazon offers customers an opportunity to leave feedback on sellers. While seller feedback also plays a critical part in your success, we’ll focus on product reviews in this article. Negative Amazon reviews are prominently displayed to shoppers on your product listings, making them more likely to influence their buying decision and the predominant area of concern for many brands.
About the Amazon algorithm
Amazon’s A9 algorithm is the process by which the online marketplace determines which and in what order products display in response to a customer search. Recent tweaks to the algorithm have led some to begin referring to it as A10; however, regardless of the moniker, the priority for sellers is to optimize their listings for the rankings.
Obviously, relevancy and availability are at the top of the list when it comes to influencing the algorithm. The more closely your in-stock product matches a search term, the better the chances it will appear among the top results. Not surprisingly, the other factors are less transparent and harder to target for optimization. Your product’s sales metrics, description quality, off-site traffic and, of course, its reviews will all be a part of the equation.
The role of reviews
One thing we know about reviews and the algorithm is quantity and quality both matter. Having a lot of positive reviews can improve your chances of landing on the coveted first page of search results. Since substantial and credible reviews also benefit your ability to convert potential customers, and your sales volume and velocity are key factors for the algorithm, a steady stream of positive reviews is a great way to double-dip your optimization efforts.
So, how many reviews do you need? While a magic number would simplify things, reality, as usual, is more complicated. As we’ll discuss more thoroughly below, a well-planned and well-executed process to attract, monitor and react to reviews is your best strategy. However, data does suggest that younger customers expect more reviews than older ones. For example, a 2019 survey found that digital shoppers aged 18-24 anticipated more than 200 reviews for a product they were considering, while those over the age of 55 were comfortable with less than 50.
Authenticity, not perfection
Regardless of the number, the good news is that they don’t all need to be five-star reviews. Customers understand that you can’t please everyone all the time, mistakes happen, and some circumstances are beyond your control. In fact, the most astute shoppers can be skeptical of too many perfect reviews, and so can Amazon.
One of the worst ways to protect against authentic negative reviews is to pay for, or otherwise entice, fraudulent positive ones. Not only can suspected fake reviews be a red flag for shoppers, but they can also lead to a seller’s removal from Amazon or even legal action. Thankfully, there are less risky ways to overcome and even benefit from negative Amazon reviews.
Manage reviews effectively
If it’s from a real customer, a negative Amazon review won’t be removed. Try to look at it as an opportunity to improve your listing, product or responsiveness. While you may not always be able to regain the trust of a particular buyer, you can learn from their disappointment.
The ability to transform a critical review from detrimental to valuable hinges primarily on the systems you have in place to identify and respond to it. Doing so can be time-consuming and easy to neglect, but thankfully there are tools and resources that can help. Sellers who own a brand can take advantage of integrated options from Amazon available through Brand Registry. Engaging with third-party services or partnering with the experts at a company like Amify can be great options for those seeking a higher level of support or automation.
In any case, the first step is to increase the number of customers who submit a review. Human nature means an unhappy customer is more likely to complain than a satisfied one is to leave praise. By increasing the volume of reviews overall, you help to ensure your reviews accurately reflect your product and their customer service experience.
Consider adding a request for a review to the various places you interact with your customers. Include a note inside your packaging, implement an email follow-up and try to funnel your social media followers to your Amazon review link. Remember, Amazon’s policies forbid offering an incentive for reviews or requesting a positive review, so it’s important to word your requests carefully. But, encouraging genuine and helpful reviews is definitely acceptable and worth your time.
Reading the reviews you receive is absolutely essential – remember, your next customers are reading them, so you certainly should be too. You or someone from your business needs a thorough process to monitor reviews soon after they are posted. Taking a proactive approach to reviews will allow you to identify problems sooner and resolve them more efficiently.
Doing this will also offer you insights that can grow your company. The comments in a review, whether positive or negative, can be a guide to improving your listing descriptions, product photos, packaging, shipping methods or even the product itself. They’re worth too much to ignore.
Respond when necessary
While the convenience of online shopping is hard to overstate, it can also make the relationship between buyers and sellers more difficult to maintain. Alternatives are often easy to find after a bad experience, and the lack of face-to-face interaction limits your problem-solving capabilities. And for brands, it can be nearly impossible to remove negative feedback on Amazon. Instead, you’ll need to focus on responding to it.
However, Amazon’s restrictions regarding communication between the two parties can result in an additional inconvenience. Since the end of 2020, sellers can no longer respond directly to negative reviews in a public way. Instead, the Buyer-Seller Messaging Service allows you to provide a full refund or request additional information using only pre-written templates.
While your attempt to rectify the situation this way may be dismissed and definitely won’t be publicized to other shoppers, your engagement may still lead to an updated review – though you can’t ask for that – or, even better, a repeat customer.
Influence reviews before they happen
In addition to strengthening your problem-solving skills, you can cash in on the value of a negative review by making broader adjustments that will help you avoid additional ones and even lead to more positive reviews in the future.
While it’s impossible to avoid ever receiving a negative review, there are ways to counter them. Shoppers will give them less weight if they are substantially outnumbered by four and five-star ones. Improved descriptions can also blunt their impact on decision-making if the product’s updated details specifically address the substance of past complaints.
A less-than-stellar evaluation can provide new customers with a consideration they may not have thought of before committing to the purchase. But, it can be incredibly reassuring if you can alleviate the concern that they’ll have an experience similar to that of an unhappy customer. Take the time to use each negative review to improve your listing or process for the next shopper.
One of the most common reasons a buyer will leave a negative review is because you did not meet their expectations. Occasionally, it’s because those expectations were unreasonable, but frequently there is a problem with how your product delivered vs. what was presented.
It’s imperative that your listing provides an accurate overview of your product features and benefits. Otherwise, you will be destined to disappoint your customers. Whenever possible, you want buyers to feel like they received everything you promised and more. The key to creating this type of successful buying experience is in being honest about what your product has to offer, and selling those benefits without overselling their value.
Dive into the details
Developing a listing that stands out once a consumer lands on your product detail page means taking advantage of Amazon’s A+ Content. The enhanced product details featured in A+ Content makes it easy to address many issues that might lead to a negative review. It can help clear up any confusion about your product’s size, color or use in a compelling and seamless way.
Scour your reviews, particularly the negative and neutral ones, to find the most pressing FAQs and use your A+ content to address them through compelling copy and imagery. You’ll want to invest in experienced designers and copywriters who can set the right tone and learn how tactics like A/B testing can refine your sales strategies. It’s not an easy task, but it is necessary to grow your Amazon-reliant business. Doing anything less leads to leaving sales, and money, on the table.
As we alluded to, it’s not enough to just tell shoppers about your product. You also need to show them what they’ll miss out on if they don’t add it to their cart. Even the most well-written text won’t have the impact of high-quality and strategically-integrated images and video. Telling your product’s or brand’s story with visuals is a proven way to increase your conversion rates and maximize your ROI.
Showcase your product from multiple angles and use precise measurements and comparisons to establish its size and function. When relevant, demonstrate your product in use via video to reduce friction once it arrives. Capitalize on the use of well-designed banners that draw in shoppers and strengthen your brand. Each of these methods will make your product more appealing and more memorable to prospective buyers. And using your past negative reviews to identify any shortcomings in your listings is the perfect place to start the process.
Use your negative reviews to sell more
Negative reviews are never the goal, but they don’t have to be a reason to panic either. Instead, accept their value as something that can help you improve and grow your business. Choosing instead to disregard them is a recipe for disaster, while having a plan to incorporate them into your evolving Amazon strategy can make them one of your best assets.
- Be sure you understand how reviews, and other factors, can impact your status in the algorithm
- Don’t be afraid of reviews. Keep them coming and take advantage of them, even the bad ones.
- Ignore reviews at your peril. React and respond efficiently and appropriately.
- You can’t remove negative feedback from Amazon, so use your critical reviews as an opportunity to improve your credibility and reputation for customer service.
- Set the proper expectations to increase positive reviews and minimize disappointment.
- Fill your listing with concise and relevant information that your customers want.
- Conceptualize and create high-impact visuals that sell thanks to the insights you find in negative reviews.
If optimizing your listing in the ways we’ve discussed or managing your reviews regularly seems overwhelming, Amify is here to help. Contact us today to begin a conversation that explores how a results-oriented partner may be the key to unlocking your company’s full potential.