How Negative Reviews Can Help Your Product Listings

As an Amazon seller, it might be a pipe dream of yours to have nothing but positive reviews across all your products. Even under that “See all reviews” link, the customer might scroll for hours and never find a word against your product. It would mean that your product is phenomenal, your service is excellent, you’re an incredibly consistent merchant, and all your customers love you and would buy from you again. Right?

Not quite.

The Unfortunate Truth

It would be nice if Amazon’s review system worked exactly the way Amazon intended. That is, all reviews were completely unbiased reports on product experience and quality from verified customers made in order to help other customers decide if this product is right for them.

Unfortunately, word about reviews has gotten around the Amazon Seller network. In terms of making sales, they are hugely important, absolutely critical, completely indispensable, incredibly valuable… pick your adverb-adjective combo, it’s out there. Some of the more dishonest folks of the world have caught on to this obsession with reviews and set out to develop tools which give new sellers a little under-the-table “boost” in their review count.

The result: the seedy underbelly of the Amazon market known as black-hat review services. Financial compensation for reviews, automated software blasting hundreds of procedurally generated reviews onto product pages, attacking competitors' products with nonstop negative reviews… You name it, someone does it. Obviously, every one of these is a direct violation of Amazon’s Terms of Service, and we at Efficient Era do not endorse any of these methods.

Fake or dishonest reviews have been a problem on Amazon for a long time. However, Amazon is working harder to crack down on them, and customers are catching on as well.

Crushed Dreams?

Let’s return to your pipe dream from the beginning.

Since this is a fantasy, we can give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that every positive review you’ve received was legitimate. For each review, a unique customer bought your product, received it, and decided of their own volition to write a beaming recommendation.

Even if this were the case, consider the customer’s perspective. Let’s say you're browsing Amazon looking to buy, and you’ve just clicked on the product page of something you’re interested in. You look through it and you can’t find a single negative review. All across the board, as far back as the product has been released, there are only positive reviews. Is your first thought: “This product looks perfect! I’ll buy it right away!”

It’s more likely that you’d have about five different alarm bells going off in your head.

“No one is this flawless.”
“Did no one, of these dozens of reviewers, have a bad experience with this product?”
“Is this a real product?”
“Did they pay for these reviews?”
“If so, are any of these reviews trustworthy?”

At this point, you’ve backed out of the product page quicker than a student who walked into the wrong lecture on the first day of class.

The Good News

Customers care about negative reviews. Sure, they often look for them in order to find a reason not to buy your product. But consider this—doesn't that mean that up to this point, they've only found reasons to buy?

If they weren’t already about to click ‘Add to Cart,’ why would they be going to the effort of scrolling through your reviews in search of a negative one? They’ve basically decided that your product is exactly what they need, and are just looking for any complete deal-breakers before they purchase. Even if they do find a negative review, they might think “I can live with that” and still complete the purchase.

However, if that same almost-decided customer scrolls through your reviews and can’t find a single negative one, suspicions rise instantly and you’ve lost a customer.

A 2011 study by Reevoo found that that sheer positive star ratings did not affect conversion rates. What did affect conversions were 1) number of reviews, 2) the content of reviews, and most interestingly, 3) variability in star ratings.

As much as marketing teams would love for a product page to be covered exclusively with positive reviews, a brand with a few negative reviews is much more trustworthy as a whole. Customers understand that things can go wrong, that products can occasionally malfunction, and that disgruntled people exist. A couple bad reviews will not hurt your capacity to attract new customers.

Of course, too many bad reviews is just as bad as too few. If you continuously receive bad reviews which reveal persistent issues with your products, you need to take a step back and take a good, hard look at your products, your service, and/or your business. This article is only trying to bust the myth that an all-positive review set is the ideal.

In general, stick to your standard gameplan of accumulating positive reviews through excellent quality, consistent responsiveness, and reliable customer service. Just remember that the occasional negative review can be a comfort to an almost-convinced buyer.

One Last Thing: Resolving Reviews

Know what’s way better than a negative review? A resolved negative review.

There are plenty of examples of customers who were displeased, received excellent customer service, and edited their review to indicate their satisfaction with the customer service along with the product. This type of review is hugely valuable to your product listing for a couple of reasons.

First: It’s much more realistic than the standard gushy 5-star review. Everyone loves a story with a happy ending. This is a review that is much less likely to be fake—unless the black hat reviewers got very creative, I suppose.

Second: It shows the excellence of your customer service. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Customer service is a huge factor in influencing a buyer’s decision, but such a direct testimonial of quality service is very rare on Amazon. Often, providing consistent customer service only helps to retain existing customers, but when it’s advertised in a direct and trustworthy fashion such as an edited review, it can help bring in huge numbers of new customers as well.

Of course, getting a resolved review on your product page involves a bit of luck. Not every negative reviewer will edit their review after you assist them, and you won’t be able to fix every customer’s issues to their complete satisfaction. Plus, at the end of the day, some people are just angry. To overuse Wayne Gretzky’s most repeated quote, however—you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.


Overall, just remember not to freak out too much about a few negative reviews. Every Amazon seller has them. They’re a sign of an honest business, and something that customers value when they’re looking for a balanced opinion on your product. If you can resolve the issue and the customer edits their review, that’s ideal; if not, that’s okay too.

Despite the slight sarcasm, our team at Efficient Era really does believe in the importance of reviews. We believe so much that we developed feedback automation systems to help you stay on top of your Amazon reviews. Sign up for a free trial now!

If you need more specific actionable advice about responding with negative reviews, check out our article on the subject. If you have any other questions or comments, post them below!

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