Amazon Early Reviewer Program is Dead – What are the Alternatives?
Returning to March, sellers began to note that the Early Reviewer Program was about to be removed. Despite the devastating news for many sellers, their customer reviews would have to come through other sources. There was some speculation that people were using the service to buy positive reviews.
With fake reviews continuing to be a problem, Amazon sellers must find new ways of acquiring responses that get new products off the ground. In this article, we will be addressing more information on the Amazon Early Reviewer Program. We will also be digging into some alternatives on how to get reviews on Amazon for new products.
What was The Amazon Early Reviewer Program?
People who already bought the product were further encouraged to respond to these products. However, they did reward people a $1 to $3 gift card in exchange for reviews.
Amazon said that any customer could write those reviews produced that did not have a history of dishonesty. Product reviews associated with the program had an orange button indicating a verified review.
Sellers participated in the program after paying $60. From this point, they could track the received reviews from their Seller Central dashboard. Once five reviews came through, more organic reviews would go through to boost the product’s popularity.
The program was an easy way to gain social proof that prospective buyers look for when shopping for products. Ideally, the request for honest reviews removed the chance for incentivized reviews with a requested higher star rating.
What Did it Claim?
The existence of a negative review did not impact one’s ability to gain the gift card. Amazon sought seller feedback to come from an honest review. Regardless, it offered an excellent way for young products to gain traction.
The program further claimed that sellers did not influence the product review. Brands cannot contact the customer during this review process, regardless of 5-star reviews or bad reviews. That means no clicks of the “request a review” button.
Why is Amazon Getting Rid of the Early Reviewer Program?
- One Tap Reviews
- Global Review Sharing
According to their FAQ, these programs are more effective than the early review program. However, some sellers have expressed their frustration with Amazon in removing potential reviewers.
Another speculation comes from the offering of incentivized reviews from Amazon over the brand. Brands and sellers are unable to offer incentives in exchange for reviews. For example, warranties on products in exchange for a five-star response are standard offerings from these companies.
Amazon originally released the program to placate those who incentivize positive product reviews. However, Amazon’s terms of service do not allow you to exchanged goods or items for the positive feedback. To control this further, they limit your ability to communicate with the customer directly.
Buyer-seller messaging is closely tracked by Amazon as a result of initial reviews from customers sometimes being fake. Sellers who pay for dishonest reviews on Amazon run the risk of violating their terms of service. The result being penalties to their account up to (and including) termination.
Why the Early Reviewer Program Will Be Missed
This Amazon review program was an excellent way for early products to gain traction. Many shared the positive experience they had.
Thankfully, Amazon is not charging you for the unused reviews. Amazon also will not charge you for reviews from the program received after April 25, 2021.
To find your refund, check out the “date range reports” to see a record of the money coming back to you. In most cases, Amazon will return it anytime between the beginning of March and the end of April. You may also receive a direct email notification signaling the end of the program.
Receiving an early Amazon product review is typically a sign that the floodgates are opening up. Do you remember your first positive review? It’s a good feeling, even if you pay for the incentive of honest feedback.
Things We Won’t Miss From The Amazon Early Reviewer Program
A handful of reviews from this program didn’t result in a positive response. Also, as a review strategy, it was only a short-term solution. Too much reliance on the platform is just a waste of $60.
This Amazon review program often was seen as a substitute for other good habits. One cannot take away the importance of improving your description, focusing on SEO, or investing in PPC campaigns. PPC by itself can create a much more engaging response from buyers.
It is not the “ultimate solution” for gaining more reviews. While it helps boost your product a bit, any bit of negative feedback from that platform burns $20 off your $60. To address those limitations, we’ve got a few other options worth considering.
Amazon Review Program Top Alternatives
Thankfully, Amazon has alternative options for those who relied upon the program. Even if you aren’t entirely dependent upon the program, having more reviews isn’t bad. So for some tips and tricks to replace this potential review boost, we’ve got a list of alternatives:
Let’s check some options out:
Option #1: Amazon Vine Program
Amazon Vine provides free products submitted by Amazon Sellers. Just like other reviews, they are still subject to Amazon’s community posting guidelines.
This offering is relatively similar to the Amazon Influencer’s program but without the influencer. Influencers have social clout, while Vine Voices have a vast number of reviews.
Much like standard reviews, Amazon Vine reviewers do not have to give your product five stars. However, owners and store managers who back quality products can gain a competitive edge by releasing their products early to these reviewers.
Here’s a step-by-step process you can follow to submit products to Amazon Vine:
- Enroll Your Product: Through Vendor Central (Seller Central), you sign up your product to certain reviewers. The reviewer has to accept your product before reviewing begins.
- Ship Your Product: Once you have received notice of your product’s acceptance, you will want to ship product samples to Amazon. If you have a pre-release review ready, you can choose to send those samples to Amazon, which will ship them to the reviewer before the release date.
- Amazon Takes Care of the Rest: Amazon features your product in a monthly newsletter for Vine Voices; this is how reviewers discover your product. Those early reviews increase product awareness, paving the path for additional reviews.
It can take up to 60 days for these reviews to be on the page. Because they are considered detailed editorial reviews, product testers need to take their time.
Much like you, they have a reputation of detail to hold up. Despite having some similarities, it is very different from our next alternative to the early program.
Option #2: Amazon Influencers
The Amazon Influencers program is a great way to boost your product using a social media personality’s clout. These personalities gain a great deal of traction on Amazon, as you can see their influence on platforms like Amazon Live.
This program isn’t known for being “early release” like the Amazon Vine program, but it still puts your product behind the weight of a significantly respected force. It is said that 71% of marketers rate site traffic from influencers as higher quality.
Thankfully, Amazon’s platform allows for easy application to the program. You just need to find the influencer sign-up area on Seller Central.
After you fill out some quick information and find out what ASINs you as part of the program, Amazon finds the influencers for you. Their goal is to find someone who can appropriately represent your product.
For example, selling makeup is best handled by beauty influencers who can try your product on. That way, a potential customer can see your product in action.
Keep in mind that these influencer responses don’t count as genuine reviews. Instead, hiring an influencer allows you to increase your number of online reviews through exposure.
Our next option is another form of payment for exposure.
Option #3: The Amazon Associate’s Program
The Amazon Associate’s Program is for marketing affiliates willing to share your products with their audience. Unlike Amazon Influencers, these affiliates do not have any audience requirements. Also, they do not need to have any history of helpful customer reviews (Vine Voices).
The barriers to entry on Amazon Affiliates are so low that anybody can get in. The idea is to maximize your exposure to as many audiences as possible.
All you need to do to sign up for this affiliate program is be an FBA Seller. Amazon items that qualify for this service need to be “sold and fulfilled” by the company.
Once you do that, Amazon has control of many of your items’ marketing aspects and logistics. As a result, you’ve permitted them to promote the product through their means.
Keep in mind that you will want to include an affiliate fee in your Cost of Goods Sold (COGs) metric. However, you are not required to be a professional seller to be part of the affiliate program.
Our last option is another example of how exposure translates to more reviews.
Option #4: Amazon PPC
While all of them may not be positive reviews, the idea is to allow customer feedback to improve your business. When you have a responsive customer service team to any issues, those reviews are a potential for your growth.
Businesses learn the most through mistakes, but it’s your job as the owner to address those mistakes immediately.
If you are looking for help with your advertising campaigns, consider DataHawk Advertising for easier and faster reporting for your Amazon Sponsored Ads. Our company’s analysis tools specialize in reducing your Amazon ACoS, ensuring you can spend less money on more effective campaigns.
If you don’t want to rely on PPC forever, there are two more options worth considering.
Option #5: Optimizing Product Descriptions With Amazon SEO
Amazon SEO is the process of optimizing product descriptions and titles with the correct text to gain the top ranking of a search inquiry.
With A10 coming out, sales rank is becoming less of a priority instead of search rank. If your product happens to solve specific problems, this new algorithm will benefit those of a typical buyer’s intent.
Exposure is crucial to gaining either a 1-star or 5-star review. So if you want to stick to the upper side of that, create a quality product that addresses specific problems in your target niche. It is one answer on how to get reviews on Amazon.
Option #6: Off-Platform Activities
The result of a diversified marketing approach gives your business plan more survivability. That way, if Amazon decides to switch out something like the Amazon Early Reviewer Program, you won’t be one of those businesses scrambling for a new way to get your first five-star reviews.
Below are a few examples of different areas you can target:
- Creating an email list so you can directly target prospective buyers with helpful tips and tricks regarding your product.
- Utilizing off-site advertising (Facebook Ads, Google, and Twitter) to draw them to your website linking to your Amazon page.
- Participating in Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) program to create a Shopify Account linked to your Amazon Seller Fulfillment page.
- Managing social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to showcase your product in action.
Regardless of what off-channel activities you participate in, make sure that you follow all communications guidelines from Amazon. Amazon has specific areas to ensure you don’t harass your customer list on their website.
Black Hat Reminders: How Not To Request Reviews on Amazon
With the thousands of things you can do to get genuine reviews, one wonders why you would risk your business with unverified reviews. The idea of using a platform to create a false sense of superior quality hurts your company in the long run and only provides short-term profits.
The “black hat” version of gathering reviews involves the following:
- Spamming Requests: Amazon’s system prevents you from sending more than one review request email. However, that will not prevent some people from using their off-platform email to request reviews repeatedly.
- Incentivized Reviews: Many smaller sellers think they can get away with providing a review in exchange for additional incentives. You commonly see lifetime warranties, gift cards, or different items.
- Discouraging Negative Feedback: Negative product reviews are an essential part of being a better business. However, they can be a stumbling block, causing some brands to use their email address to discourage negative reviews. Examples include reminding the buyer that you are a “family-owned company” or threatening them with libel suits.
If you want to know how to get reviews on Amazon, this is not the right way to do it.
The reality is that while the Amazon Early Reviewer Program created a lot of good experiences, even Amazon realized it was time to put this system to bed. We hope that this article eases some of the pain and gives you some ideas of other Amazon review programs you can use. If you need help with product exposure, DataHawk would be happy to help you out.