Amazon just invited select sellers to an Amazon Vine pilot program – the pilot invite closes on Septemer 5th and is first come, first served. Amazon Vine is the “preview” review program that has long been available only to Amazon Vendors. Vendors are not limited in how many units they can send, but this pilot allows for 5 ASINs, with up to 30 products enrolled, for $1000 per ASIN. The pilot program will be over in January of next year, at which point it is hoped that it will be made available more widely to all sellers.
I am a huge fan of the Vine Voice program, after having worked on the launch of hundreds of products for Amazon’s own brands. These reviews made it possible to kickstart products with built in social proof from highly experienced, quality reviewers.
Here’s four reasons why you should be a fan too!
REASON 1: It's an Amazon approved program for getting reviews, so they won't delete any Vine reviews you get
I recall working on a client product in August, and getting confused because the last time I looked, he had 44 reviews… but now, he had 2. These reviews had been obtained through a launch company that was in line with the new Amazon TOS clarification about reviews – only a standard discount was provided, no one was required to leave a review, etc – and yet, they were all deleted.
Is $1000 per SKU a lot? You bet it is! But the cost through a third party is not cheap either when you add up all of the subscription fees and other costs.
But most importantly – Amazon won’t delete your hard earned product reviews when they were the ones to provide them.
This, to me, is the primary reason to invest in Vine over any other service.
REASON 2: Vine Reviewers are the best of the best and will often leave lengthy reviews with pictures and videos
REASON 3: As an Amazon approved launch tool, Amazon can't say you're manipulating rank by doing giveaways
One of the more unfortunate suspensions we worked on was for review manipulation and rank manipulation.
This seller wasn’t doing anything differently than anyone else that I could see, but he was caught doing it.
Essentially, the way that AmazonBasics products are launched, there is a small quantity (usually 15-30 depending on the cost of the product) of new production shipped out by air when production is complete. Those are sent out to Vine Voice reviewers, who are essentially getting a “preview” product. Then when the the container arrives and heads to the fulfillment center, those reviews are already on the page, and the ads are ready to roll. Without reviews, ads can be so expensive as to be pointless – but how else are you to get launched?
The key element to this method was that the products were launched ONE time, at the very beginning, then after that, the product had to survive and win great feedback on its own.
Contrast this to many sellers who were cut off from an endless source of positive reviews last year, who would continually pay for positive reviews to prop up their poor performing products. This is what Amazon was trying to prevent and fix when they ended the practice October 2016.
REASON 4: Review are social proof, and without social proof, you don't get the kind of sales you should for your ad dollars
In a webinar presented by Amazon last year, a chart was provided that showed an optimum number of reviews for the most effective ads ROI. Unfortunately, that webinar was not available to the public, but the optimum sweet spot for the category in question was 13-17 reviews to maximize traffic to conversion ratio.
With Amazon Vine, you have the opportunity to get up to 30 reviews (not everyone will review). This maximizes your ad spend. Note in the below Amazon produced video on sponsored ads around minute 32, the speaker specifically references only running ads on products with reviews. This is because it’s nearly impossible to get placement without reviews, and nearly impossible to then convert those who do click without social proof.
Amazon's Pilot Program Notification
Hello from Fulfillment by Amazon,
We’re inviting you to apply to a pilot of the Amazon Vine program for sellers. With Vine, participating Amazon customers post reviews for new-to-Amazon ASINs. These reviews provide a powerful resource for customers and a great tool for sellers.
Products submitted to Vine are given free to reviewers and don’t have to be available on Amazon yet. This means that Vine reviews will be among the first on a product’s detail page.
Reviewers are invited to the program based on the trust they’ve earned by writing accurate and insightful customer reviews. Amazon doesn’t edit reviews or influence customer opinion. We also don’t guarantee evaluations for Vine products, because customers choose what to review.
The program costs $1,000 per ASIN, which includes fulfillment fees and shipping costs to Amazon fulfillment centers and customers. You’ll be charged at the end of the program based only on the number of ASINs enrolled. Enroll up to 5 new-to-Amazon ASINs, and send up to 30 units per ASIN.