Over the last few years I’ve reviewed many, many items on my blog and on Amazon. Aside from the FTC disclosure I’m required to include in all my posts I’m fairly free, within a degree of reasonableness, to write as much as I want about a product. Writing reviews for products on Amazon which you have received free or at a discount is a slightly more delicate procedure from the ordering process through the production of the review. I’m sharing with you some tips on how to successfully write reviews for products on Amazon to reduce rejection and hopefully prevent the wiping of your Amazon account.
- When ordering an item for review always do it from your personal computer or from your mobile phone. Anything that blocks your IP from Amazon looks suspicious OR ordering from random locations like school, work or a friends house OR through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) could lead to you losing your account. Turn off your VPN before ordering and reactivate it after to prevent any red flags on Amazon’s part.
- DON’T only use your Prime account to order review items. There are plenty of things on Amazon which are less expensive than what you can find elsewhere. Doing reviews on your personal purchases also gives more credence and clout to your account in Amazon’s eyes.
Writing The Product Review
- Do not write your review sooner than 5 days after receiving the item. Amazon tracks shipments and anything written sooner than this will indicate you did not have enough time to thoroughly test the item.
- Not too little or too much. Amazon limits you to 5000 words and requires no less than 20. For a review to be thorough an engaging writing between 75 and 500 words is best. This gives you plenty of room to give a complete examination of your experience with the product without giving too little information or overwhelming (aka boring) the readers.
- Include the “why” – why do you like or not like the item in specific detail. How does it work? How does it feel? Compare it to other items for context.
- Pictures. Include clear, high quality pictures of the product and/or of you using the product from various angles. Do not watermark or otherwise identify yourself in the pictures.
- Video. People love watching video. Amazon allows one video up to 10 minutes long per review. They recommend the 2-5 minute range to keep people engaged.
- Do not identify yourself, your hometown, school or family members in your review, pictures or videos.
- Be honest. You won’t love or even like every item you review. Make sure you reflect the truth in your star rating and your written comments. Amazon will take notice if all your reviews are 4 and 5 star.
- ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS include a disclosure in your reviews if you received the item for free or at a discount – be specific.
Amazon moderates all reviews. Most of the time my reviews are up within 24 hours of being written, but sometimes it takes longer either because of glitch or human error.
These are the most common reasons for a review to be rejected –
Branding or watermarking your photos or videos – they consider this self promotion and including personally identifiable information. Leave the watermarked photos for your blog or social media networks.
Including your name, address, phone number, or anything else which could identify you or your family members. Most of the time they will simply edit that out and then post the review, but sometimes they’ll reject it and make you redo the review.
Discussing product packaging, product availability or seller experience in the review will cause it to be rejected. Those are things to be added to the Seller Feedback form only.
Cursing or abusive or hate speech. If you are reviewing items as part of your business as a blogger be professional and use proper English. Leave out any offensive expletives or hateful epithets that have no place in the vocabulary of a serious business person. . . or decent human being for that matter.
Lack of disclosure when receiving an item for free or at a discount. This could actually lead to you losing your Amazon account. Always disclose and be specific if you got a discount or received the item for free.
- Product reviews are not the only thing that make or break an Amazon seller. Providing honest and well thought out feedback for the seller is important as well. The feedback form always asks how responsive the seller was. If you didn’t contact the seller for any reason, then make that clear. This is where your input on product packaging (not how Amazon packed the item in the shipping box, but how the product itself is packaged) is appropriate to add.
What to do if your Amazon account is wiped?
Unfortunately, losing your Amazon account is something that can happen. Like the reviews, account are also moderated. If Amazon’s moderators feel that an account is violating their TOS in some way the account will be deleted without notice to the user. From what I’ve read there are two types of “wiping”. The first kind is losing your entire account – even access to Prime – where all your reviews are deleted from the Amazon system, you lose the ability to order and you receive a prorated rebate of the unused months of Prime. The second kind is less severe in that you can still order and use your Prime privileges, but your existing reviews are removed and you are no longer able to review new items purchased.
If you feel you were wiped unfairly and did not break any of their rules you can appeal by contacting [email protected] and/or calling (206)266-1100. Be very familiar with Amazon’s review rules before calling as some customer service reps are not aware of the provision for reviewing free or discounted items. They may try to tell you that only Amazon Vine (not to be confused with vine.co video site) reviewers are allowed to review free or pre-release items. Reviews that I and others write fall under promotional unpaid reviews and are excepted from the “paid reviews” ruling because we receive items in exchange for our honest opinion and do not receive payment in addition.
Your account may be reinstated and all reviews back where they belong OR you’ll have to create a new account. If you end up having to create a new account then it is suggested you use a new email address an possibly a new debit or credit card to prevent the Amazon system from flagging you again. Keeping copies of your reviews complete with pictures and video will come in handy in this instance because you’ll be able to copy and paste – maintaining all disclosures in tact – the reviews back onto the product pages they were erased from.
It’s not easy keeping Amazon happy, but as long as we know their rules and follow them closely we should be OK. Be prepared for anything though. They are a large company with many employees who may have differing interpretations of their TOS. Keeping educated will help you succeed.
This post was inspired by an Amazon reviewers tips post on a Facebook group I belong to called Happy Dragon Reviews which helps me connect with Amazon sellers for review items. If you are interested in reviewing free or discounted items on Amazon and have a valid Facebook account and Amazon profile you should apply to join.