For sellers, buyers and businesses – reviews are everything.
With the innovation of online shopping and the invention of Yelp, customer reviews have skyrocketed to the top of everyone’s priority list when buying something new.
We all do it. I can’t even purchase a new shampoo without busting out my phone to read what people say about it. And I’m not alone. Studies by the site Invespcro estimate that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. Chances are that you even value a customer review on Amazon more so than a personal recommendation from a friend. Once words are published they just seem to be more valid.
A quality review is gold in the eyes of both a prospective customer and a business. That is why ecommerce businesses, specifically Amazon, have built entire programs focused on ranking reviewers, even sending them free products and new releases because their opinions matter so much.
If you want to relish in the benefits of this program, aka receive cool free products from Amazon, you can become a Top Reviewer yourself. It’s not going to be easy, but with time, effort and a full understanding of Amazon’s Vine Program, you could be on your way to achieve a Top Reviewer ranking too.
Amazon’s policy for compensating reviewers has changed dramatically since their start.
Once upon a time, Amazon allowed incentivized reviews, where customers were allowed to receive free or discounted products in exchange for posting their review. However, as of 2016, Amazon discontinued this program, and prohibited this form of indirect payment. Instead, they reinstated their own program, called Amazon Vine, to better control the relationship between businesses and reviewers. They claimed it is their way of providing Amazon customers with “honest and unbiased feedback from their most trusted reviewers.” They call these top reviewers “Vine Voices.”
So how do you become an Amazon Vine Voice?
Amazon Vine is exclusive, in fact it is invite-only. The only way to become eligible is by proving your worth as a reviewer.
A truly valuable review all about quality, not quantity. Do you ever notice that “Helpful” button under reviews? That’s important. Your reviews must be helpful to other customers to be noticed by Amazon. In fact, Amazon has an entire ranking strategy with tiers and badges, but more on that later.
On the reviewer side, Amazon Vine is the prime (pardon the irony) way to receive free and newly released products from vendors on Amazon.
The products you receive are submitted by the participating vendors, although no matter how many free things you receive, this cannot influence your opinion when writing your review.
As we mentioned before, the Vine Voices are an exclusive club, and there are numerous indicators that factor into your ranking as a reviewer.
It’s not all about the numbers. Writing thousands of reviews will do nothing for your ranking unless they are valuable to Amazon customers. For example, if you look at Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers, you’ll see that the person in the #1 spot does not have the most reviews. They do, however, have an average of 100% in terms of helpfulness.
We’ve read through Amazon’s guidelines on How Ranking Works to break it down for you.
These are the most important factors that determine your ranking:
Is your review helpful?
How other Amazon customers react to your review is the #1 priority. The Helpful button at the bottom of a review is like a vote for you. Amazon uses this to figure out the value of your review. However, they ensure that “stuffing the ballot box won’t affect rank or be counted,” so don’t start soliciting your friends.
How recently was your review written?
In addition to helpfulness, the relevancy of your review will affect the overall ranking in the eyes of Amazon. This way, new reviewers can gain a top ranking even if they start tomorrow.
If you’re into labels, you will be happy to hear that you can earn badges as you cross certain thresholds as a top reviewer. There are six badges you can receive:
You can also achieve the status of Hall of Fame Reviewer by writing high quality reviews over a span of multiple years.
These badges don’t necessarily come with any perks, but Amazon will take notice. If you also run a website or blog, you could turn your high ranking status into an opportunity to benefit from affiliate links and sponsorships.
Rankings are updated twice each month so that you have the chance to move up or move down based on your activity and the activity of other Amazon reviewers.
Well, this should be obvious by now, but you need an Amazon account to start reviewing products. Follow the next steps to start working your way to the top.
Yes, believe it or not, you have a profile page on Amazon. If you want to appear to be a qualified reviewer, and a human, include some information in your account beyond the norm.
You do not have to include any personal information, not even your full name. We recommend uploading a profile picture (does not need to be of you, could be a logo) and 1-2 sentences in the “About” section. This can include the reason why you enjoy writing awesome reviews.
You can also get even more specific by listing the types of products that you like to purchase and review.
The easiest way to start building your reviews without spending more money, is to backtrack and write reviews for products that you’ve purchased.
To find these purchases, sign into Amazon, go to Your Account, then click Your Orders. On this page you can view all of your orders for any duration of time: the past six months, year, two years and since you started buying from Amazon.
Here’s your starting point. As long as you have an honest opinion about these items, you can write a review that will be helpful to other Amazon customers.
If you write excellent reviews but no one reads them, then are they really that helpful? The answer is yes and no.
While there is no denying that a properly written, honest review is helpful, it may not matter if no one can ever read it. Focus on writing reviews for products that don’t already have 1,000+ written for them.
Although you may have a strong opinion on the product, it will be lost among a sea of others that came before you, which won’t help your ranking at all.
While scrolling through your previous orders and figuring out what items to review, consider the products that you would want to receive more of. By sticking to a category, like office supplies or clothing, you can establish yourself as an expert in that field. And, bonus, if you become a Vine Voice, you could score some products that you will actually use. Practicality is key.
When you begin focusing on new products that you order, pay attention to their release dates. New products will have less reviews overall so yours has a good chance of making it to the top. Plus, these are the items that need reviews most.
If you’re serious about becoming a Top Reviewer and possibly profiting from it in the future, consider starting a blog where you can publish longer versions of your writing.
More extensive reviews will draw attention from sponsors and affiliates that may send you free products as your popularity grows. You can also use your published blogs as writing samples to prove your expertise.
What qualifies as a top review you ask?
We say start simple. Ask yourself what type of reviews you like. What do you like about them? What are you responding to?
If you consider all of these questions and you still come up empty, don’t freak out. You do not need to be Shakespeare to rank as a Top Reviewer.
Amazon customers are looking for the truth. They want to know that this product is worth dipping into their savings account for, or that it’s the best possible gift for their mother on her birthday. So step into their shoes, you’ve been there before.
1. Look at the product questions
Amazon has a section titled “Customer questions & answers” right before the reviews begin. If you’re wondering what to include in your review, start here. This is review gold – questions directly from the source. Including answers from some of the top questions in your review will resonate with customers.
2. Take advice from the top reviews for that product
Read through the reviews voted most helpful to see what makes it appealing. Under no circumstance should you plagiarize or copy a review from someone else. However, you can use these reviews, and those from Amazon reviewers who have already achieved Hall of Fame status as references to structure your own writing.
3. Upload photos or a video of the product in use
You can’t always trust the manufacturer to upload accurate photos of their product. Most photos are edited for marketing appeal, making them appear almost fake.
I always look for photos or a video from customers that already have purchased the item I want. This is especially important when it comes to clothing, makeup, household items and anything where you are trying to match a color exactly. Customer photos, though not always pristine, show how the item exists in real life, without the help of Photoshop.
4. Check your grammar and spelling
Make sure you proofread your review before posting it. Nothing sours your credibility faster than misspelled words and incorrect grammar. Never overlook this, it could make the difference between you becoming an ordinary reviewer or a member of the Hall of Fame. More Benefits to Enjoy After Reviewing Products
As you publish more and more reviews, you may uncover other benefits outside of Amazon.
You may choose to branch out onto other platforms, using your skills to acquire more products and eventually get paid for your writing. There is a whole list of companies that offer access to free products and insider offers in exchange for your honest opinion.
Marie Claire, Vogue, Betty Crocker and McCormick are just a few of the name brands that you can contact. Keep in mind that each company has different requirements, so be sure to research before simply emailing companies and asking for free things.
Not all of these companies want reviews published on their site or on Amazon. In fact, it’s actually against Amazon’s policy to send free products in exchange for a review unless the vendor is enrolled in their Amazon Vine program. Many companies are looking for consumers to test new products, participate in research studies and provide useful feedback for marketing or promotional campaigns.
Companies like RebateKey, that already provide discounts and rebates of up to 100%, also offer additional benefits for customers that share their feedback. After ordering from RebateKey, you’ll be rewarded for posting photos and feedback on the products you receive. This not only helps you save money on future purchases, but also allows us to make changes to the products we choose to promote.
There are so many reasons to start reviewing products on Amazon and everywhere else. You’ll be providing a service to consumers to make informed decisions, and hey, if you get some free products at the same time, then it’s doubly beneficial!
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