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March 13, 2017

Amazon Cracks Down on E-Mail Product Review Requests

As sellers continue the rush to find legal ways to drum up reviews for their products, Amazon is quickly responding with a crackdown on many commonly-used practices. Apparently, when the retailer pulled the plug on incentivized reviews a few months ago, it sent a flood of activity through its messaging platform. That intense surge put Amazon on alert to watch for illegal practices and stop them before they infected its system.

3 Common Practices That Could Get Your Account Suspended

Amazon is not in favor of marketing, plain and simple. It prefers listings to be factual with no “subjective” language, and it feels the same about e-mails. If you owned your own eCommerce website, it would make sense to include the following elements in your after-purchase e-mails. Amazon, however, could slap you back for using them because they view them as manipulative and/or salesy.

1. Asking Only for Positive Reviews

On the Prohibited Seller Activities page of Seller Central, Amazon clearly states that you cannot weed out negative reviews by asking that shoppers leave five-star/good reviews.


If your current e-mails include any of the following, I would advise that you remove / change that content quickly:

1. If you’re happy with your product, click here to leave a review.

    If you’re unhappy, click here for help.

By filtering happy customers to a product review page and unhappy ones to an e-mail (to ask for help), you are manipulating the system. Amazon wants all shoppers to share their views whether positive or negative.

It is perfectly fine to offer a means of help for customers who have questions or want assistance, but you can’t direct pleased buyers to one place and disgruntled ones somewhere else.

2. If you love (are delighted with, are thrilled with, etc.) your new {product}, we’d appreciate a 5-star product review.

This language also weeds out those who might leave neutral or negative reviews by only asking for 5-star reviews. Avoid using words that would indicate that the customer has to be satisfied with his/her purchase to leave a review.

What can you do instead of No. 1 or No. 2? Communicate with all buyers, not only those who can provide a positive review for you. As you write, think of all your customers and say things like:

  • We’d love to hear your opinion.
  • Share your thoughts.
  • Your feedback is valuable.

These types of statements invite every shopper to leave a review. They do not only speak to those who might give your product four or five stars.

3. Including Links for Any Marketing/Purchase-Related Information

In an attempt to build their own e-mail lists, many sellers include links either in the body content of product review request e-mails, on an image inserted into the e-mail, or in an attachment.

Perhaps you send shoppers to an instructional video on YouTube. Maybe you include an attached flier with dosage information for your nutritional supplement and the flier has your Web address or e-mail address on it. I’ve seen some sellers asking customers to register on their site for an extended warranty.


Another common approach is for sellers to include links to their other products sold on Amazon. The thinking is that, because it’s sold on Amazon and because it would mean more sales for Amazon, it would be a win-win. Not so.

All of these approaches are illegal.

No cross-selling, upselling, or redirecting of any kind is allowed. The one exception is providing links to the product review section or to the Amazon messaging system.

How Can You Get the Most Out of Your Amazon Product Review E-mails?

Simply by providing exceptional customer service. That doesn’t mean using the same old boring email template for every product. It doesn’t mean continuing to send messages that an Amazon shopper has received from dozens of other sellers and probably never reads.

In the body of the follow-up e-mail, provide useful, helpful information (not marketing language) that customers will read and appreciate. What might that include?

—> Other Uses: Let’s say you sell an apple slicer. You could send customers several other ways to use the apple slicer on pears, strawberries, potatoes (for potato wedges), etc. They’d love knowing how to get additional use from their purchase.

—> Fixes: Did your product come back not-so-perfect from the manufacturer? Handle these quirks and make sure your customers are satisfied by including quick fixes in your e-mail. If your digital timers are set to a factory default of a ring and most cooks prefer a beep, give simple instructions for changing the tone.

Amazon Is on the Prowl

Because Amazon is on a mission to control black-hat review practices, be extra careful about what you do and don’t include in your messages. As long as you focus on taking excellent care of your customers as well as Amazon’s rather than trying to skirt the terms of service (TOS), you’ll be on the right track.


Karon Thackston is president of Marketing Words Copywriting Agency helping Amazon sellers, eCommerce site owners and content marketers rank higher, convert better and make more sales.