Hi! I’m Liz Fickenscher, and I’m new here. But, I’m not new to the industry. I’ve been spending the last 6 years digging in to understand pain points that Amazon sellers and brands experience, and figuring out ways to solve them.

For my very first webinar with Teikametrics, I invited my dear friend Becky Trowbridge from eComEngine to talk to us about Amazon’s latest updates to Buyer-Seller Messaging guidelines. Especially as they regard requesting product reviews. We also cover the Request a Review button and it’s effectiveness, the importance of product reviews, and how to get more product reviews on Amazon.

Here’s a recap, but feel free to scroll to the bottom to watch the video too! Unfortunately, it’s not of the live webinar, which is lost in the ether of screenless recordings, but this video tells you what you need to know.

Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging – Updates

Amazon sent a news item to sellers that outlined clarification into permitted and proactive permitted messages within Buyer-Seller Messaging. The updates will go into effect on November 3, 2020, and should be available to view in Seller Central.

Permitted Messages

Permitted Messages are those necessary to complete an order or respond to a customer’s question. Examples:

  • Customization or personalization questions
  • Delivery scheduling (for FBM orders)
  • Issues with a shipping address

Proactive Permitted Messages

This second type of message is what’s changing within Amazon policy. Previously, “Proactive Permitted Messages” weren’t clearly defined, making it confusing for sellers who wish to use Buyer-Seller Messaging to request product reviews or seller feedback. Now, Amazon has listed the following proactive actions as permitted:

  • Request for a product review or seller feedback
  • Resolving a fulfillment issue with an order
  • Request for information required to complete the order
  • Sending an invoice
  • Confirming a custom design
  • Setting up delivery for an oversize (heavy and/or bulky) product
  • Asking a return-related question
  • Scheduling Amazon Home Services

It’s great that Amazon has acknowledged that it’s OK to ask for product reviews and seller feedback, and that it’s OK to ask questions about returns. However, sellers must be careful with Buyer-Seller Messaging, and follow all the rules for Proactive Permitted Messages:

  • Have to be sent within 30 days of order completion
  • Must include the 17-digit order ID
  • Must be in the buyer’s preferred language
  • Must be styled properly according to Amazon’s guidelines

For a full list of all the styling guidelines and a deeper dive into the updated policy, read Becky’s blog post. I’m sad. No more emojis and GIFs. Also, be aware of Non-permitted Message Types, that include, but are not limited to:

  • Thank you emails
  • Emails offering your assistance
  • Promotional emails with coupons and special offers
  • Requests to change an existing product review
  • And more

Sellers are still expected to follow Amazon’s policies around requesting product reviews. Asking for a positive review, asking for a review only if the buyer had a positive experience, and asking more than once are all prohibited activities. It’s a seller’s responsibility to understand all of Amazon’s policies, so keep an eye on the Customer product reviews policies page, as well as the Communication guidelines page, to make sure you’re totally compliant.

The consequences of violating Amazon policy around Buyer-Seller Messaging can result in the suspension of proactive Buyer-Seller Messaging privileges, permanent bans from Buyer-Seller Messaging, and even account suspension.

The Request a Review Button

If policy changes and potential risks are making your head spin, there is another option. Deep within your orders page, on each individual order, lives a button that says “Request a Review.” This button triggers a message to your buyers that includes their name, an image of the item (a nice perk, since Amazon’s updates to Buyer-Seller Messaging no longer allow images of the product), requests for a product review as well as seller feedback. It was created by Amazon so, it’s totally compliant.

eComEngine’s FeedbackFive reputation management tool was the first software to integrate with Amazon’s API for Request a Review automation. They’ve been monitoring the success of the feature, and in a study of 1,274 Amazon sellers using it between March and June of 2020 they saw a 41% increase in average daily reviews. Perhaps that’s because the message was tested and optimized by Amazon.

Why Reviews Matter

It’s no secret that product reviews increase your brand’s chance of success on the Amazon marketplace. Since the vast majority of Amazon shoppers read reviews pre-purchase (and even sort by star rating), it’s important to have a robust amount of positive, verified purchase reviews on each ASIN. Not only do product reviews impact organic search rankings, they also help build trust in your brand. Product reviews also provide a brand with insight into customer satisfaction and insight into any product improvements that might be needed.

How to Get More Product Reviews

Ask and you (maybe) shall receive, yes? Asking for product reviews via Buyer-Seller Messaging or the Request a Review button is a good strategy, and you can use a tool like FeedbackFive to automate and optimize your messaging. 

Amazon provides two programs that are designed to help brands get more reviews. One is the Early Reviewer Program. It’s easy to enroll in this program, and relatively inexpensive at $60 per ASIN. However, the product must have less than five reviews, be priced more than $9.00, and the program is only available for the US marketplace.

Another program is Amazon Vine. Amazon invites trusted reviewers to review products enrolled in Amazon Vine (Vine Voices). Eligible products will be in “New’ condition, be brand registered, have less than 30 reviews and cannot be an adult product. There are more restrictions that can be found on the About Amazon Vine Seller Central page.

We learned so much in this session with Becky! The team at eComEngine is ready to answer any questions you may have, and if you intend to use Buyer-Seller Messaging to request reviews, eComEngine is offering a free optimization session to make sure you’re compliant with Amazon policies.

Webinar Recording

Scroll down to watch the full replay, or use these timestamps to jump to your section of interest:

(1:27) Intro to eComEngine

(2:56) Agenda

(3:49) Overview of Permitted and Proactive Permitted Buyer-Seller Messaging

(7:01) Amazon Non-permitted message types

(13:41) Amazon Permitted Message guidelines

(21:41) Style guidelines and web content accessibility

(24:06) Overview of the Request a Review Button

(28:26) Request a Review Button recent metrics

(31:23) Why product reviews are SO important

(34:54) Free Buyer-Seller Message optimization offer

(36:05) Overview of Teikametrics’ Brand Performance Matrix

(36:59) Questions and Wrap-Up