If you are in the Amazon world and haven’t been under a rock with no wifi, you surely have heard the news: as of October 3rd, Amazon prohibits incentivized reviews unless they are facilitated through Amazon’s Vine program.
Here is the link in Amazon’s Terms of Service, with the most important part highlighted:
What Does This Mean For Sellers?
Before October 3rd, Amazon Sellers could leverage various platforms and review groups to give away discounted products in exchange for reviews. This meant that products could quickly accumulate social proof (in the way of having many product reviews) within weeks of launch. This is no longer a viable strategy for sellers.
The road to a listing with many product reviews is now a longer path that requires more time, and effort to generate product reviews.
What will sellers do now? My suspicion is that pay per click advertising will increase in importance, as sellers can not rely on product giveaways to build a stronger listing.
The other change is that I think sellers will value every visitor even more. Whereas before the Amazon change, sellers could rely on reviews and promotional giveaways to launch a product and boost Best Seller Rank and organic rankings quickly. Now, that is not as possible. There may still be a benefit to the discounted giveaways and how it can help improve a Best Seller Rank, but sellers may be less willing to invest in promotional giveaways if they can not also get product reviews.
This ultimately leaves a more level playing field, and some marketing tactics like promotional giveaways are less viable now. As such, the importance of having a fully optimized listing is far more important.
Why? There is going to be less that differentiates one private label product from another private label product in the same niche. Therefore, the incremental differences that are hardly perceptible will make a huge impact.
You can identify what these changes are in only one way: data-driven split tests.
Here’s an example: suppose that I am selling basketball nets. This is a fairly commoditized product, and I have a similar rating and number of reviews as my competitors.
Two ways that I can immediately impact the visits, sales, and profits of my product is by testing my main product image and my price. Just to be clear, I would want to isolate these and test them individually, not at once, which would be a multivariate test.
Let’s start with my image. My hypothesis is that the angle of the product in the image, and whether I include the actual rim, will impact how many people click on my listing.
I would also want to find the optimal price, which maximizes my daily profits. I can only identify what works best by running split tests.
After Amazon’s change in Terms of Service, it will be imperative that sellers go through this process of identifying exactly what works for their specific niche and product. No longer can a seller rely on unoptimized listings to get organic traffic and sales by virtue of having a surge of reviews from promotional giveaways.
In this new meritocracy of Amazon, where incentivized reviews are prohibited, you will want to ensure that you are leading the pack by continuing to test and optimize your listing. If you are not currently using Splitly, get started with your first test today!