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Your new product launch plan (part 2)

online-sellerYour new product launch plan (part 2)

Having considered how social media can be used prior to and alongside your product launch to drive awareness and to deliver calls to action, we now move on to an area that will be crucial to your new product’s success and rise through the Amazon rankings: product reviews. We look at how to encourage people to try the product (possibly via an incentive) and leave a review (hopefully positive) without contravening Amazon’s new terms of service.
 
First, you will need a launch email list.

If you have an existing business and are launching a new product in the same category, you will doubtless have built up a contact list of existing customers and visitors to your site. This is a good starting point for your launch list.

If you are starting from scratch, then you can build an email launch list based on people you know as a first step: friends, family– anyone in fact who might be prepared to buy your product and give it a review.

Once you have ‘the list’, you can run a teaser campaign in the pre-launch period, send updates once the product is available and use it to send out offers and promotions – and to send reminders to buyers about leaving reviews.

You may also consider using incentives to build up your email list by running ads on social media offering a discount for your product in exchange for their email address. Once they are in your system they can be automatically included in future promotions, generating further potential sales and additional reviews.
 

The power of the review: the new ‘word of mouth’ and so much more powerful


Reviews build credibility and help to get your product in front of customers. They also influence SEO and ability to win Buy Box. See our previous article for more on the subject. 
 
The downside is that inviting reviews is not without risk: when you invite people to share their opinions of your product, their comments may not be positive – even if you have given a free or heavily discounted sample in recognition of their effort.

So how do you get reviews for a new product?

Here are some ideas. It’s worth noting that if you have a limited number of samples of the new product prior to general availability, you could give these to friends and family upfront to get the ball rolling.

Once your product becomes available, try some of the following approaches:
  • Start with family and friends – basically anyone you know who would be prepared to buy your product and leave a review.
  • Approach existing customers – particularly if the new product is an addition to your existing range.
  • Seek out ‘influencers’ or ‘experts’ in the market in which you are selling. This is easier for some product areas than others (for technology-related or fashion products, than for a new can-opener, for example). Some ‘influencers’ may have their own blogs, making them particularly valuable as opinion leaders.
  • Seek out websites designed for your target audience. These may offer their members the opportunity to review products: sites for mothers, for example, if your product is for children.
  • Become involved in social media groups relating to your product niche; approach other members to try your product and invite them to leave a review.
  • Approach Amazon ‘top reviewers’, who as Amazon claim: “have helped millions of their fellow customers to make informed purchase decisions on Amazon.co.uk with their consistently helpful, high-quality reviews.

They can be contacted via email from the Amazon website, where their interests are profiled and past reviews included:
 
NB: You can invite top reviewers to review your product, but they may not take you up on it.
 
  • Use third party review sites such as those listed in the following Hubspot blog
 

The use of incentives to get reviews


And this brings us nicely to how you might persuade people to try the product and leave a review. Offering an incentive is one way of increasing your chances. Incentives range from offering a limited number of freebies, through discount codes, money off coupons and ‘special offer’ launch prices.
 
This kind of incentive can also be used to generate interest (and hopefully conversions) post-launch. Just remember two things: promotions cost you money, so it may be worth sending out promotional codes or coupons in tranches to avoid getting hundreds of people redeeming them at the same time; and bear in mind that Amazon has clamped down massively on the use of incentives – especially when related to obtaining reviews – so make sure that what you do is not going to get your account suspended.
 
 

Keeping it legal as far as Amazon is concerned


Since early 2015, Amazon has sued over 1,000 people who posted fake reviews for cash, with the goal of eliminating incentives for sellers to buy fake reviews for their products. [1] Indeed Amazon has additionally recently filed suits against sellers who allegedly used fake accounts to leave positive reviews on their own products, amounting to between 30 to 45 percent of the sellers’ total reviews. 

Amazon’s latest guidelines for reviews include the following statement: “Additionally, you may not provide compensation for a review other than a free copy of the product. If you offer a free product, it must be clear that you are soliciting an unbiased review. The free product must be provided in advance. No refunds are permitted after the review is written.”

In short, if you are providing a free product – or heavily discounted one, in exchange for a review, make sure to ask the reviewer to disclose this fact within their review; and be sure to inform them that you are seeking their honest opinion (i.e. access to the freebie/special price/discount should not be dependent on them giving a five-star review).

 

Cutting through the Amazon ‘noise’


Amazon offers online retailers of all sizes and product bents an amazing platform from which to sell – locally, cross-border or on the other side of the world. The problem is – millions of other retailers think that too.

So to get your new product noticed on Amazon, you need to cut through all of the other product ‘noise’. This means making use of all the tools and techniques now available to you – and planning your launch strategy long before the inventory actually hits your warehouse shelf. 
 
 
[1] https://techcrunch.com/2016/06/01/amazon-sues-sellers-for-buying-fake-reviews/

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