What is the Amazon Vine Program?
Product reviews have a significant impact on a product’s ranking, traffic, and sales performance on Amazon. The more product reviews, the more likely a product will improve it’s discoverability and buyability – two vital components to success on the Marketplace.
Vendors should aim for an approach that will gain as many product reviews as possible. While reviews are not the only component sellers should base their strategy off of, they do help sellers gauge how many reviews they should aim for to compete within their market. Sellers should research what kind of review volume they need to rank on the first page.
The Amazon Vine program invites reviewers to post their opinions on (free) new or pre-released items to help shoppers make purchase decisions. According to Amazon, all Vine reviews are independent opinions of the Vine Voices (official reviewers) selected by Amazon.
Vendors cannot influence, modify or edit the reviews. Amazon also states they do not modify or edit Vine reviews, as long as they comply with their posting guidelines.
At the end of the day, vendors want to know which courses of action are going to increase the bottom line, and the Amazon Vine program is just one option vendors can implement to increase the number of product reviews.
How Does the Amazon Vine Program Work?
Because the Amazon Vine program is an invitation-only for high-quality reviewers, vendors can typically be assured that their products will receive detailed and well-articulated reviews. But like any reviews solicitation programs, there is no guarantee that the product will receive a positive review. Amazon invites reviewers to participate in the Vine program based on feedback from other customers.
A reviewer’s rank is determined by the overall helpfulness of all their reviews, factoring in the number of reviews they have written.
Below is an example of how the Amazon Vine program works:
Amazon Vine Program: What Vendors Should Know
Newer brands looking to increase market share are the most likely to leverage and benefit from a program like Amazon Vine (or other review platforms).
Amazon Vine offers 3 level of services including:
Basic – Allows enrollment of 5 products
Plus – Allows enrollment of 10 products
Premium – Allows enrollment of 20 products
The fees to access the program will vary depending on the vendor. It is also important to note, unlike some of Amazon’s Premium Services for vendors, A+ Content & Amazon Vine are offered individually (if vendors do not want to commit to the entire package offering).
Amazon Vine Program: What About Negative Reviews?
Writing a negative review will not impact a Voice’s reviewer ranking. Vendors have no contact with the Vine Voices, and have no influence over which Vine Voices will review their products.
On the vendor side, in the event you do receive a negative review, it is considered best practice to publicly reply. Any way that sellers can engage their customers online is only going to help promote your brand. It’s a great way to show customers you care and that you are trying to work through the problem. It can be a little risky, so sellers should make sure that when they do respond to a negative review they shouldn’t be too defensive or let their emotional attachment to the brand get in the way.
Best practice is to sympathize with the customer and show that you genuinely want to address their concern. Ask lots of questions to show that you are interested in resolving the issue at hand – whether that be because of a delivery issue or a problem with the product itself.
Amazon Vine Program: The TOS Update
Earlier this year, Amazon released an update to their terms of service on “prohibited Seller Activities” addressing the manipulation of sales rank. The goal of this update is to crack down on specific black hat techniques such as fake accounts and fake order processing. Since Amazon Vine Program is not the ONLY review service provider – this caused quite a stir in the online product review community.
Many Amazon sellers provide product(s) for free or at a discount in exchange for unbiased reviews to help increase their product reviews and seller ranking. Nothing in the new update changes that. Regardless of what you have heard, providing products for free or at a discount in exchange for a review is within TOS and encouraged by Amazon.
In the updated terms, seller support is referring to when sellers provide multiple units to the same person. Sellers typically do this for two reasons: to manipulate the review and to manipulate the rank.
Amazon Vine Program & Other Vendor Services
The Amazon Vine program is just one aspect of Amazon Premium Services for Vendors. Vendor services can be a challenging platform to dissect given the vast variety of options. If vendors are seeking to elevate their marketing strategy, we recommend taking an educated evaluation of what areas will be worth the investment for your business.
As experts marketers for big name retailers, we’ve seen the most value from A+ content, in depth reporting, AMS, and special promos and offers. You can read more about these offerings in our latest white paper, Evaluating Amazon’s Vendor Premium Services.
We understand your business wants to leverage only the most valuable aspects of Vendor Premium Services, which is why we emphasis focusing on these specific aspects, which are most likely to impact your brand. The value of each of the tools available to sellers is highly dependent on that sellers’ goals and opportunities.
Click here for more on Amazon’s Vine Program and other vendor services.
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Additional Amazon Vendor Resources: