How to Write Product Reviews That Get You More Free Products

How to write product reviews that get you more free products

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?

very short Amazon review

Does this short review help you to better understand the product? If you were a seller, would you give this person your products for free to write reviews for you?

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.

  1. A seller looks at popular competitor’s products on Amazon that are similar to what they are trying to get reviewed.
  2. They sort the reviews by most recent, and start skimming down them looking for length and (hopefully) helpful votes.
  3. 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.

Additional Resources

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

10 Comments

Lynn

Another great Article Tristan, thanks. I put a lot of thought & consideration into my reviews. Of course we hope that fellow Amazoners find them helpful & insightful but you never know who is going to read them. I guess you can consider each review to be an audition for the next. I was recently invited to a review group based on a review of a cooking mat of all the reviews I have written. I rank about 380 lately and most days I receive a couple offers. When I decided I wanted to write more than just tech gadget reviews I joined a couple groups to shake things up a little and it helped me to get a better variety of offers but not necessarily better offers. I now get more random household & kitchen items. I’m hoping to. Review a bit of everything but haven’t had many kids toys or items. Canada doesn’t seem to have as many offers or groups for reviewing but there’s a few on Facebook and other webpages.

Again, thank you for your tips as I often wonder if I have too much or too little. It seems like a delicate balance. Too little and your review is vague and unhelpful but too long and readers will zone out skim or skip over your review. Your never going to make EVERYONE happy but I guess you get a feel for it as you go along.

I have written my disclaimer/disclosure statement many different ways. Of course I always somehow state that I received a sample or discount. I am hoping to find a way to word it just right to copy & paste. I would like it & include free samples & discounts & purpose. I don’t want my review discarded because I got it for free. I avoid crappy products and shady companies like the plague now. Most people don’t see that reviewing crappy products is pointless. You don’t get paid, wouldn’t want a crappy product anyway and wouldn’t want to mislead anyone so writing 1,2,3 star reviews sucks. I try to be selective so I don’t have to.

I guess what I am trying to say is do you think because there are so many fake reviewers, (yes unfortunately there are) the phrase honest & unbiased has come to red flag reviews as the opposite? I feel like I need to state it gingerly but of course it needs to be said. How do you word your disclaimer? Is it always the same?

Reply
Tristan

Depending on how I got the item, I write one of two statements at the end of my reviews:

  • I received a free sample of this product to evaluate and provide an unbiased review.
  • I received a sample of this product at a huge discount to evaluate and provide an unbiased review.

When you make a purchase with a coupon code that nets you a free (or deeply discounted) item, Amazon has an algorithm that looks for certain keywords in your review. Such as ‘free sample’, ‘evaluate’ or ‘test’ (or equivalent term), and of course, ‘unbiased review’. Not all the words have to be in there, but I do believe that the word ‘free’ must be. I’ve had some reviews removed (without notice) because I did not put these lines in the review.

Amazon’s Terms of Service state it pretty clearly as “Full disclosure: If you received a free product in exchange for your review, please clearly and conspicuously disclose that that you received the product free of charge. Reviews from the Amazon Vineā„¢ program are already labeled, so additional disclosure is not necessary.” Amazon’s General Review Creation Guidelines.

Reply
Mike

And what if you find the product to be a piece of crap?

Would you write a review stating that? Or would you email the manufacturer and tell them you appreciate the free item, but honestly you feel it is poorly made/ overpriced/ unworkable…

I got my son a LeapPad tablet and was STUNNED to find out that the wifi ONLY CONNECTS to LeapPad. And every APP has to be bought from their (expensive) store. And lots of wanted APPS are just not available. I LITERALLY threw it into the trash and bought another tablet…

Reply
Tristan

I have emailed the Seller and told them that it is junk. If they ignore my email, I 1-star it, and write everything that matters. Usually they want to send me another. In some cases, I know it will be another hunk of junk, and then have to decide if I want to be straight with them and tell them that another piece of cheap junk will not help the situation. In that case, they often take offense. It’s a coin toss on whether I continue with the 1-star review.

As for LeapPad…review it! A huge company like that should have stated the wifi restriction upfront. I would appreciate a review stating that fact so I can make a solid buying decision.

Reply
PJ

I posted a review, and some of the photos were rotated incorrectly! I checked my computer, and they are oriented correctly. Is there a way to fix this and/or prevent it from happening again? These photos are going to be more annoying than helpful to potential buyers. šŸ™

Reply
Tristan

I’ve had this happen to me too. The short answer is that you will have to fix the orientation on your computer before uploading. Amazon is either reading the orientation meta data on the images incorrectly, or your computer is ignoring the orientation meta data and righting the image.

I recommend checking out what this site has to say about that to see if this helps you.

Reply
PJ

Thanks. I’ll try a few things. (Maybe only one if the first thing works!) Hopefully things will…turn around… šŸ˜‰

Reply
PJ

In case anyone else is running into this, too:
The simplest solution I found (using Windows): Open the image with Paint. Save it.
That’s all. Paint must change something with the file–I had some pics from my phone that looked fine on my computer, and I didn’t edit before or after I moved them to my computer. But Amazon rotated them anyway.
The save-with-Paint trick fixed them. So I just deleted the first batch and uploaded the new ones. šŸ™‚

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *