Update, August 23, 2019: Amazon Brand Registry is no longer required for the Early Reviewer Program. Amazon still recommends it as do we at Seller Labs (If you are eligible for Brand Registry, enroll for the protections and the benefits). However, it is no longer a requirement for the Early Reviewer Program. For more info on Amazon Brand Registry, read our white paper.
Launching a new product? If you’re a member of Amazon’s Brand Registry, you can’t ignore Amazon Early Reviewer Program.
It’s a given today that buyers are much less likely to purchase a product that has no reviews. No one wants to be the first to take a chance (especially with money), so we depend upon social proof. The opinions of previous purchasers is the currency of the marketplace, with sellers sometimes so desperate for reviews for a new product that they turn to black-hat tactics to get them.
Amazon banned incentivized reviews (a quid-pro-quo system where sellers asked for reviews in return for heavily discounted or even free products) in 2016. As a result, sellers found it exceedingly difficult to get those first few crucial reviews upon product launch.
However, if you’re already part of Amazon’s Brand Registry—and you should be if you are eligible—you can take advantage of Amazon’s program to help you get those early reviews.
What Is the Amazon Early Reviewer Program?
Amazon’s Early Reviewer program, offers a small reward ($1-$3 Amazon gift cards) to customers who have already purchased an eligible product. Amazon selects those customers randomly, emails them, and Amazon grants the reward if the reviewer participates accordingly.
How can I enroll my new product for early reviews?
You don’t need to be brand registered to join the Early Reviewer Program, but both Amazon and Seller Labs recommend it. Joining Brand Registry requires a number of steps, which you can learn about in our webinar. There’s no doubt in our minds that being brand registered on Amazon is worth it. If you own your brand and you sell on Amazon, you should be a member of the Amazon Brand Registry.
Once enrolled, you can enter up to 100 ASINs at a time into the Early Reviewer Program via Seller Central. Note that products must sell for above $15 and have fewer than five verified reviews (you get the max for your money with your brand new products).
Does the Amazon Early Reviewer program cost money?
Sure does. Each ASIN you enroll will cost you $60. But that goes pretty far because Amazon will work on your behalf for up to a year, or until you get five reviews from the program.
How do I make sure that the early reviews I get are positive?
The best way to make sure that you get positive reviews (early and years down the road) is by selling a great product at a great price and delivering excellent customer service in terms of fulfillment and follow-up. Basically, do the best you that you can do, get it right with buyers, and the positive reviews will follow. Anyone who tells you that there is a shortcut or a way to game the system is someone to avoid as he or she can only do your business harm.
So What Can Sellers Do to — Cue Tim Gunn — Make It Work?
Something you need to realize is that although the Amazon Early Reviewer program seems like an awesome solution (and it is), it’s also meant to capture the honest voice of all of your buyers. That means that Amazon selects the participants (randomly) and those participants still collect their bounties regardless of whether they leave you a positive or negative review. You have to accept that in a free marketplace, even an imperfect one, some things are out of your control.
What is in your control is doing things ethically, avoiding black-hat tacticians who would do you harm, and ensuring that:
- Your listing is accurate and thorough.
- Your product images are truly representative.
- Your product is the real deal and delivers on all points.
- And every customer touchpoint is delightful.
Do these things, and every review (early and otherwise) should be positive. There is no other way to influence your reviews, and you shouldn’t even try as it’s an unethical way to do business and in violation of Amazon’s Terms of Service. A couple of fake glowing reviews is not worth losing your Amazon seller privileges.