I had a call this week with Feedback Genius, the email automation software service, to try to better understand why review conversion is so low (currently less than 5% for sellers).

Below is a summary of my thoughts based on speaking with them, a couple of other service providers, my own personal experience and our clients.

Many shoppers are now unsubscribing from receiving emails. For example, a third of customers for my own Amazon brand have unsubscribed.

However, that still leaves two thirds who I can reach, so all is not lost and the customer potential reach is still there. It’s all about the strategy I use to engage them.

3 Sequence Emails Don’t Convert Anymore

This is why we advise to send only 2 emails: the 1st should provide value to the customer and the 2nd asking for a review, but perhaps worded so as to ask for “product feedback” rather than a product review (the former sounding less time-consuming).

“We’d love to hear how you’re enjoying your selfie stick. If you’d like to share your experience feel free to leave a comment in the link below”.

This is much better than: “as a small family run business reviews are important to us. Please can you leave us a review below.”

The latter doesn’t convert, because the customer doesn’t care! They owe you nothing. They’ve already purchased from you.

Leaving a review isn’t important to them at the best of times and if it sounds like you’re begging it’s even worse.

The “small family run business” comment was all the rage two years ago but do you think the customer feels reassured buying their “colon cleanser pills” from a small family run business? 

Subject Line is Important for Open Rates

Using Click Bait titles like “Did You Get It?” add zero value and just serve to annoy the customer. Try to mention the product or brand in the title so they know what it is and are more likely to open.

Remember, often shoppers order lots of products at once and may have forgotten what they ordered. The title will help remind them.

The 1st email should contain “Added Value”. This can be a PDF, Helpful Tips, Assembly Pointers etc. Ask yourself the question, if I was the customer what would I find useful/helpful to read? This is a good opportunity to highlight any features that may lead to a negative product review.

Let’s say your product requires some assembly and if not put together correctly, could lead the customer to think the item is defective. Hands up those of us who NEVER PROPERLY READ ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS!

Yep, most of us are guilty of not reading those step-by-step guides that come with the product. So including pointers/tips and giving the customer the heads up in advance is a good opportunity to reduce complaints due to misunderstanding.

Make it Easy for Customers to Contact You

Always give the customer a hyperlink to contact you each time you email them. The easier you make it for the customer to reach you the less likely they are to head over to your product listing and VENT if something goes wrong.

The aim is to reduce the chance of a negative review by using the emails as a catch net for any issues that may have arisen.

Rather than them calling Amazon to ask for a refund, this is your opportunity to engage with the customer, process the refund yourself and win them over.

And, if they already left a negative review before you could remedy the issue, then it’s a good opportunity to win them around and wow them with great service.

Customers will (and often do) go on to update their review and star rating after positive engagement with a Brand. You’d be surprised how many sellers don’t offer that level of customer service.

We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Jeff Bezos

Also remember, Amazon takes great pride in their customer obsession. And because the customer is used to that five star treatment, any less from you and it will highlight and inflame the situation even more. Kill your customer with kindness ..always.

Protect Your Product Star Rating at All Costs

It can take 15 five star reviews to repair the damage caused by a 1 star review and so you want to avoid that at all costs.

If you’re selling a supplement and providing helpful tips then don’t insult their intelligence with:

“Tip #1: take with a glass of water”.

You’ve got to tell them why it’s important to take with water, you have to educate them, so when they’ve finished reading they’ve actually learnt something.

There’s a fine line between boring them and keeping them engaged, so keep it simple, clear and educational/informative.

Segment Your Email Campaigns

Amazon sellers should look to customise campaigns based on specific ASINs or groups of ASINs when they have niche products or additional product information they want to share with the customer, such as how to use, washing instructions, etc.

Feedback Genius stated that those 2nd emails ARE still being delivered (to shoppers who haven’t opted out of receiving emails). I’m not 100% convinced. Because for all we know Amazon may not actually allow them to reach the customer.

Sure FBG say they’re delivered but this is Amazon we’re talking about and they can do (and do) whatever they want.

However, as FBG confirmed that those 2nd emails are getting through, we continue to advise sellers to craft email #2 asking for feedback. Not seller feedback, I wouldn’t waste an email asking for this – it’s their product review you need. So you have to craft the email in a way that you’re gently asking for product feedback without it sounding like you’re hassling for a review. 

Seller Feedback versus Product Reviews

Make sure to leave the correct link (as Amazon sellers often confuse seller feedback link with product review link). I’ve seen cases where the two links were confused (seller error) which resulted in all the product reviews going into seller feedback.

Remember, the customer doesn’t always understand the difference between seller feedback and product review.

Let’s say you are currently using a 3 email sequence, and #2 asks for seller feedback and #3 asks for a product review.

The customer leaves feedback from the link you provided in #2. But now they receive a 3rd email asking for another review. Do you think the customer is going to write another review? Most likely not. Because in their mind they’ve already done that in email #2.

So I advise sellers to do away with the 3 email sequence, because not only do they not convert, but all they do is hassle the customer and fill up their inbox.

Timing is Everything

When asking for a review work out the optimal time for the 2nd email. If you’re selling supplements I would advise 30-35 days after delivery (as it take weeks for the supplement to fully load in the body). If you’re selling hard goods, the time will be much less.

Remember, people lead busy lives.

How many times have you received your Amazon package and left it on the side or in it’s box for days or sometimes weeks before using?

If you’re going to ask the customer for a review 2 days after delivery, chances are they’ve not had time to use it.

They’re not going to remember two weeks later that you (a company they’ve never heard of before) asked for a review and sift through their tonne of emails to help you out.

So timing is key. Get the delivery timing right based on when you realistically thing they’ve had time to use the product.

We are living in distraction times. If you don’t engage them from the moment they open the email, there is little chance of review conversion, simply because they will get distracted and forget.

Give them something to enjoy reading and remember you by in email #1 so when you send #2 it triggers a positive association, which results in an action (them leaving a review).

Respond Quickly to Complaints

Within the hour (if you’re not asleep) What, 1 hour I hear you say? Absolutely.

The sooner you reply and nip the issue in the bud, the less likely they are to jump on your precious listing and destroy your review rating with that dreaded one star.

Wow them. Even if you’re gritting teeth and want to tell them what you really think! Please don’t.

If you’re selling an impulse buy product then simply send them another one. If they complain that they don’t like the product, just refund them. Learn the art of the pivot. Deal with it quickly and move on.

End Goal: Minimise 1 star reviews at all costs.