I often get asked: Do I have to write long, detailed reviews for free (and deeply discounted) products?
How short reviews can work against you
And by short, I mean less than 5 sentences. When you start reviewing products, you’ll see a TON of reviews that are one word (“Great!”), or one sentence (“It worked great!”). They can be 1-star, 5-star and everything in-between. I’ve even seen 1-stars that say “Great!”, but that’s another story.
As an Amazon customer, how does this short review help you? If you were buying some speakers for your new 55″ TV, and you saw ten 5-star reviews that were only one sentence long only saying ‘I like them’, would that really boost your confidence that you were buying the right speakers, or helping you steer clear of some bad ones? No? Would you down-vote it as not helpful?
As a seller on Amazon, how do those ten 5-star reviews—that were only one sentence long only saying ‘worked great’—help you? The 5 stars look great, but in reality most customers are not moved by the brevity of the reviews. They simply don’t help customers make a confident buying decision and are less useful than a one 5-star review that is a detailed confidence builder.
As a reviewer, how does this showcase your ability to write a review that can help sell products? Sellers that are looking for people to review their products will likely skip over reviewers that leave single word or single sentence reviews. Again, they want reviews that will help build confidence in their potential customers so that they buy the item.
And potential customers could down-vote your short, meaningless review as not helpful. Again, sellers will see this and skip over you for one of the numerous other reviewers that can produce a well-written review that gets helpful votes.
The ONLY reason Sellers give you products and ask you to write reviews is to help them sell more products. If your past reviews aren’t written to help potential customers make an informed buying decision, then why would they ask you to review their product? Think about it.
What length is appropriate?
The length of the review depends on the product, and your experience with it.
If the product is complex with numerous features, such as a home entertainment system, I would expect your review to cover a good amount of it. You don’t have to go into detail about every feature, but saying ‘sounds good’ just doesn’t help me gain any insight as a potential customer. Tell me about the remote control, the input jacks on the back, some notable feature that you were wowed/bummed about, and more.
If the product is super simple and basic, such as white letter-sized envelopes, I would expect your review to be more on the short side, about 5+ sentences. For me, I try and find something notable in these types of products. Something that isn’t in the description, or something people would find interesting. It is here (in the simple and basic products) that I am looking to help the potential customer out, hoping they get stoked and give me a helpful vote. It’s easier to wow ’em on simple basic products than complex ones (where it is expected.)
If the product your reviewing appeals to moms or the tech crowd, you better write a review that is a bit longer, and more detailed. Let’s say those envelopes above were—for some strange reason—aimed at new mothers or the tech crowd (just pretend here!). In my experience, you don’t mess with new moms or the tech crowd. They want good information, and those reviewers that can give them good information will often be rewarded with helpful votes from these two groups. In this case, I’d expect to write about 8-10 sentences on those envelopes, instead of 5.
Sellers with products for moms/techies that see a well-written review and helpful votes will undoubtedly click through to your Amazon profile to look for your email. For sellers, it’s a tough market (moms/techies), and it’s also a very lucrative one.
Quality and coverage matter most
If you are counting sentences while writing reviews, you lost. Use the above counts as a concept or baseline. What matters most (to customers and sellers) is that you covered the important aspects of the product. No one cares that your sister-in-law loved it, unless you say what it was about the product that she loved. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are reviewing a product (obviously not all apply to all products):
- What was your first impression of the product?
- EXAMPLE: “The smell of plastic and glue was overwhelming when I first opened the box.”
- Is it easy/hard to setup? Any special tools needed?
- EXAMPLE: “The battery compartment requires a very tiny screwdriver, and it takes 3 hours to fully charge.”
- Is it washable? Hand wash only? Dry-clean?
- EXAMPLE: “It can be washed on warm cycle and hung to dry. Ours did not shrink nor discolor.”
- What is its most notable feature? (Be sure to critique it.)
- EXAMPLE: “The patented water-proof zipper closure was difficult to close in cold weather.”
- What’s the quality of the materials like?
- EXAMPLE: “The plastic case was thick, especially in the corners. And the hinges were solid metal, very well made—feel like they will last a long time.”
- Is there anything not mentioned in the description that you think people should know?
- EXAMPLE: “Requires a microSD card! Not included.”
- Is there anything that could be improved on the product?
- EXAMPLE: “There are 4 buttons down the front. I would recommend 5 buttons because the distance between each is currently too far and doesn’t hold the material in very well.”
- How’s the fit/size? (This can apply to so many products, even envelopes and stereos.)
- EXAMPLE: “A standard letter was very difficult to get into the envelopes. There is hardly any room to spare!”
- Where could I use this product? (This is great as a list.)
- EXAMPLE: “Great for: camping, RVs, hiking, picnics, car trips and on the boat.”
If you can write at least one sentence for each of the above questions, you already have a pretty solid review! Of course, feel free to expand on certain areas that you feel are really important. Remember: you are either helping someone make an informed purchase decision or saving from buying the wrong product for them.
This is how sellers find you!
In short, this is the most common way sellers find reviewers. And your review plays an integral part in it.
- A seller looks at popular competitor’s products on Amazon that are similar to what they are trying to get reviewed.
- They sort the reviews by most recent, and start skimming down them looking for length and (hopefully) helpful votes.
- When they see a recent reviewer that has a well-written and helpful review they click on the reviewer’s name to go to the profile page to see if there is an email address. (See previous post for instructions on how to add your email to your Amazon Profile.)
There are other ways they find reviewers, but this method ensures the reviewer is recently familiar with that category and is more likely to say ‘yes’ when asked if they want to review it. No sense in asking 100 random people to review a yoga mat if you don’t even know of they like yoga! Better to ask 100 people that reviewed something in the yoga category.
Now that you can see how a well-written review can help you get even more products in that category, go write some reviews on the kinds of products that you are interested in getting more of!
Are you a Seller on Amazon?
If so, be sure to check out the recent post “How to write emails that get people to review your product“.
If you are a Reviewer, feel free to check out the above mentioned blog post too. I would love your feedback on this as well so we can help Sellers write better emails that we actually want to read and respond to.
Looking for even more info on how to write a great review? Check out Ani Ruhama’s post on how to write a “rockin’ review”.
Be sure to also read Amazon’s Customer Review Creation Guidelines