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Why Amazon.com Sellers need 3rd Party Reviews & Recommendations

We look into our Amazon Associates data and determine if Amazon.com sellers benefit from product reviews & blogger recommendations.

  – Chris Cagle

After a very wild (and profitable) 2016 ends, I wanted to look at some of the data points I've collected throughout the year to see if any useful or interesting analysis could be gleaned from it. I decided to try and prove (or disprove?) that getting a product recommendation on a site like NoCable is beneficial to an Amazon.com seller.

Disclaimer: I am first and foremost a developer with a thirst for knowledge and writing code, and an affiliate marketer second. NoCable is profitable today due to the links I place to quality products on Amazon.com and other places that I use to help fund the business. These links are endorsements from my personal testing - and I would never link to a product that I didn't feel could help my visitors.

Also, this article is NOT talking about the recently prohibited action of giving away a free product for a positive review on Amazon.com. This article refers to reviews and recommendations that are placed on a third party site like NoCable.org.

NoCable is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Amazon did not support or endorse this article.

The effect of a simple recommendation

The first question I wanted to find an answer to was "Does a simple recommendation like this help sell a product?"

I think we could all unequivocally answer that question with a resounding "Yes", but I wanted to see to what extent it helped. Here I decided to chart all the different antennas I sold through my affiliate links and graph them based on a normalized product name. I had to normalize the name because throughout the year brands either changed their product title, had multiple sellers selling it under different ASINs, or had Certified Refurbished versions of it that - to me, for this exercise - was as good as the product itself.

Here I have color coded things a little. Anything in orange is recommended on NoCable, and anything blue was not. As you would have expected, the top 6 and 8 of the top 10 selling antennas purchased through me were recommended by me. Sliced a slightly different way, the antennas we recommended outsold all others combined. 69.8% of all antennas sold by us were promoted by us.

However, some might say that the 1byone 50 and Mohu Leaf 50 & 30 antennas would have already been at the top of this list, regardless if I promoted them or not. It is a completely valid argument, considering that Mohu is widely considered one of the best, and 1byone is Amazon's Best Selling antenna.

I needed to find a way to see if I could limit the effect these types of external factors had on my calculations and assumptions.

To do this in a very un-scientific way, I decided to look at the sales of some of the long-range antennas since we only started promoting that range in mid-July. I decided to look at the sales numbers of the ViewTV 150 antenna since it is top long range antenna one in our list. To make this test even better, it is not considered an Amazon Best Seller, and in fact their bestselling long range antenna is not even mentioned on NoCable anywhere (Tree New Bee).

Here you can see that we sold one or two units of this product until we built a page for it (see how it gets promoted in this example). After we launched the long-range lookup, the number of sales of ViewTV 150 skyrocketed. Again, not surprising, but consider this tidbit... Before we recommended the ViewTV antenna, we sold a whopping 10 in 7 months, but 301 in the next 5 months after the recommendation!

Just for comparison's sake, we ended up selling 46 of the Tree New Bee antennas the whole year!

I would say that these charts make it very clear that people will strongly lean towards a product that is recommended by a reputable source (I think I am, right??) rather than simply rely on Amazon's denotation of a Best Seller. (Although I am certain that being an Amazon Best Seller has plenty of other advantages when it comes to getting unknowledgeable buyers to make a purchase... assuming they didn't go through a recommendation site like NoCable).

How much do product reviews help?

I have been reaching out since around July of this year (2016) to antenna producers ask if I could review and post about their products on NoCable. This has been huge for me for a couple reasons:

  1. I get to test out and blog about (more site content!) more antennas that I probably would not have bought otherwise.
  2. I have more stats to share with you!

Since July, I have reviewed 5 different antennas:

  1. Happycamping 50
  2. Zwireless 50
  3. Sobetter 50
  4. ANTOP UFO 65
  5. HDFrequency CC-17

All 5 were not mentioned on my site before their reviews, and all have seen at least some level of increased sales after being featured on NoCable. Only the CC-17 from HDFrequency was purchased (3 times) from my site before I reviewed them, which I denoted in the graph above with the "slashed" blue color. As you can see in the chart, we sold 34 antennas for these brands AFTER being reviewed (not recommended).

Turning a product review into a recommendation

This is an interesting case. ANTOP reached out to me back in August to see if I was willing to give their UFO 65-mile antenna a spin. I quickly obliged since 1) I love doing this stuff, and 2) it was one damn cool looking antenna.

The testing went great, and in the end, I decided to add the ANTOP UFO 65 to my list of recommended long-range antennas. This is the only case of a free product review morphing into a recommendation, but it reveals some of the HUGE upsides to simply offering your product for free to a blogger for review.

After adding the ANTOP UFO to my recommendation list, their brand's sales soared. Here you can see that it was not just the UFO sales that increased, it was across all ANTOP's products. This is fascinating! It is clear from this graph that a simple review and recommendation increased ALL of this brand's sales, not just the sales of the product that was reviewed.

Now, maybe we aren't talking about hundreds of sales here, but ANTOP quickly made back the cost of the free item they sent to me and much more.

What about Bad Reviews?

The potential of a bad review will probably be in the back of everyone's mind when asking for one from a blogger. The interesting part is that I have seen positive and negative outcomes from a bad review.

Positive Outcome:
The Happycamping and Zwireless reviews weren't exactly glowing. Sure, they got 4/5 stars from me, but my review mentioned how their product quality was lacking and it didn't get all the channels my Mohu 50 did. Yet, after those reviews, visitors to my site (presumably) read the article review and still bought 5 of one and 3 of the other antenna!

Negative Outcome:
I do think there is a limit to how far the "any press is good press" aspect will take a product if the review does not come back good. Case in point is the NextD Streaming Player. When I reviewed the NextD media player system, I gave it a 3/5 and really was honest about how bad their user interface was. Last I checked, I still have not referred any sales of this product on Amazon.

There are some good to come out of bad reviews though. I honestly believe that these are complaints that NextD needed to hear from real customers, and because they provided one to me at no cost to me, I could be honest with them and not simply complain to get my money back. I am certain that if NextD is willing to hear and take to heart some constructive criticism, they will end up with a better product out of it.

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