- Cory Checketts
- On November 12, 2018
Forty-three percent of the selling population still believes that sending more than one email per order is best practice.
Sending multiple emails per order on Amazon used to be a common practice. We at Seller Labs encouraged our customers and other sellers to follow-up with their buyers using automated email workflows. These email workflows would send buyers multiple messages, like an order confirmation, out for delivery, delivery confirmation, and feedback and product review request emails.
That’s a lot of emails on top of what Amazon already sends. Needless to say, times have changed. And even though some sellers think that sending more emails is better, the opposite is true. Less is more.
So what changed?
Amazon’s email opt-out update
March 28, 2017, Amazon started allowing buyers to opt-out of messages from sellers. As you know, this gave all of the chicken littles even more reason to panic. Many sellers thought this was the end of Buyer-Seller Messaging. However, the opposite was true: it made Buyer-Seller Messaging more important than ever.
You’re probably wondering how.
First, if a recipient can’t opt-out of email communications from a company, it’s technically illegal under the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. Point five of the law states:
Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt-out of getting an email from you in the future…You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt-out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you.
Second, Amazon buyers loved the update because they were no longer forced to receive emails they didn’t want. Those who didn’t want them opted out and those who liked them kept engaging. Sure, Amazon sellers can no longer send their emails to as many people. But the buyers who are receiving emails today are more than likely to engage with them. This means higher open and click-through rates.
This massive update has forced Amazon sellers to rethink what buyers want and how they want to be engaged. Seller Labs built opt-out management into Feedback Genius with the addition of the Blacklist feature. You can learn more about Amazon’s opt-out policy here.
What does Amazon’s Terms of Service say?
Defining this is trickier than wrestling a greased eel. Amazon’s Terms of Service—as of late October 2018—used to say:
Customer Review Request email: After an order is completed, Amazon automatically sends an email to buyers asking them to leave a review and provide feedback. Additionally, you are allowed to send one email per order to request a Customer Review. If you decide to ask a buyer to provide a Customer Review, you cannot ask only for a positive review, nor can you request reviews solely from buyers who have had a positive experience. You also cannot ask customers to change or remove their review, attempt to influence the review or ask customers to send negative reviews to you directly and only write positive reviews on Amazon.
Essentially, Amazon was saying, yes, we already send an email to buyers soliciting feedback and a review, but if you the seller wish to ask for a review then you can send one email per order, too.
But for some reason, Amazon removed this section from the Customer Product Reviews section of the ToS. What’s even more puzzling is that Amazon hasn’t replaced this section with anything new.
So what should you do?
With Amazon, always look at the intent. We recommend that sellers still send one message per order. Even though Amazon’s ToS doesn’t say you can’t. Sending one email per order is still adhering to best practices.
There’s a lot of ambiguity. Until there are more specifics, it’s best to follow best practices.
Nearly Half of Amazon Sellers Believe Sending Multiple Emails Per Order Is Best Practice
We conducted a survey in October 2018 to 326 random Amazon sellers. The survey was designed to represent an assumed number of Amazon sellers totaling 500,000.
With a mandatory confidence interval of 95% and a 5% margin of error in order to be statistically significant, we needed a sample size of at least 269 Amazon sellers to give as an accurate representation of the selling population. With 328 survey respondents, we’re confident that our data represents the selling population.
One of the seven questions we asked was:
Sellers may only send ONE message per order requesting a product review. True or false?
Of the 326 sellers who answered this question, 185 (56.75%) sellers answered true; 141 (43.25%) sellers answered false. This shows us that nearly half of all sellers are either confused about the ToS and best practices, or disregard best practices altogether.
Read more statistical analyses from our ToS survey
- One-Third of Amazon Sellers Believe Influencing a Buyer’s Actions Is OK…And They’re Wrong
- Half of Amazon Sellers Believe It Is OK to Ask Buyers to Change a Product Review
- 83% of Amazon Sellers Don’t Know They Can’t Link From an Email to a Detail Page
- 50% of Amazon Sellers Believe It’s OK to Email Coupons for Future Purchases—But They’re Mistaken
- 50% of Amazon Sellers Don’t Realize They Can Ask Buyers to Leave a Product Review
- Amazon Terms of Service made simple
What are we doing about it?
We understand that Amazon’s Terms of Service is ambiguous. It’s important to remember that the ToS is not static. The ToS has to change in order to reflect current trends and best practices on Amazon.
We at Seller Labs feel it is our responsibility to keep our customers—and the community at large—aware of what’s going on with Amazon’s Terms of Service. However, we are not the ToS police, nor can we enforce sanctions against violators. We will change features and options in our products based on ToS updates, and we will notify our customer of changes.
We can only comply with Amazon through continued education (like this blog post) and updating our software tools whenever a change affects us. Amazon holds our company to the same standards as it does with its sellers. Amazon says that: References to “seller” here includes all the seller’s employees and 3rd party partners at the bottom of the ToS.
Actions you can take to remain compliant with Amazon’s Terms of Service
As stated earlier, when the ToS becomes ambiguous—like it is right now in November 2018—we recommend that sellers follow best practices. And best practices right now follow what the ToS used to say. Sellers can and should send one email per order either asking for a product review or seller feedback.
Stay tuned to our blog for updates on Amazon’s Terms of Service. Additionally, you can visit our ToS page where we have a replay of a recent webinar we did on this topic. You can also download a ToS checklist that you can use to determine whether or not your Buyer-Seller Messaging is up to snuff.