3 Tips for Incorporating User Reviews Into Your Marketing Strategy
Last month we published an article about user-generated reviews and how they impact consumer brands and their connection with customers. That article got us to thinking about whether this subject had bleed over to B2B. Do B2B Customer Review matter as much as B2c user reviews?
The importance of B2C user-generated reviews
In the consumer sphere, user generated content is a critical part of product research for buyers. According to Nielsen, the top two most trusted sources are earned media such as recommendations from family or friends (92%) and consumer reviews (70%). Brands know that consumers are becoming more sophisticated in their research and are requiring more social proof before making purchase decisions. So brands are soliciting user-generated content and reviews to round out the story they are telling with the content they produce themselves.
How’s this relate to B2B customer reviews?
This same user-generated phenomenon taking over consumer brands is becoming ever more prevalent in the B2B world, as well. After all, B2B buyers are consumers too. It’s not a surprise that the way they research products in their personal lives spills over into their professional lives. A 2014 survey from the Demand Gen Report illustrates this—97% of B2B buyers say that user generated content such as peer reviews is more credible than other types of content.
In the software industry alone, for example, a study conducted by Software Advice found that 63% of buyers report reading reviews to help them create a shortlist of products to evaluate. Two-thirds of these buyers found online reviews valuable to their research and 59% said they were likely or extremely likely to choose a product based on reviews.
As a B2B marketer, there are three things to keep in mind when thinking about customer reviews.
1. Your website is a good place to host reviews, but isn’t the only place consumers will look
Buyers trust reviews no matter where they reside—on your website or on third-party review websites. In a study about enterprise sales from Avanade, 61% of enterprise buyers stated that reviews on third-party websites, social media, and word-of-mouth are all more important than information from the company itself.
Hosting reviews on your own website provides B2B customers with one-stop shopping for your content, both brand-generated and user generated. In fact, given the credence buyers give to user reviews, hosting them on your own website is an opportunity to demonstrate how much you value feedback from your customers.
2. There is no need eliminate negative reviews
Sure you want reviews to accentuate the positive aspects of your product or service. But the truth is that B2B customers actually prefer to see negative reviews in the mix. There is no such thing as a perfect product and negative reviews provide authentic feedback about the parts of your product or service that don’t quite work for your customers.
Take software buyers as an example, 76% of buyers in the Software Advice survey deemed products with a mix of positive and negative reviews more trustworthy than those with only positive or only negative reviews. Negative reviews are a great opportunity, too. Smart brands use them to identify and correct mistakes and understand how to improve products and services. They are also an opportunity to start a conversation with unsatisfied customers and to truly build engagement.
3. Customers like to write reviews.
More than half (59%) of software buyers said they wrote reviews to help others. There’s a good chance you will get reviews for your website if you ask and make it clear how much you value feedback from your customers.
It’s not just the marketing team who should be in charge here. Involve as many of your customer-facing employees as possible—customer service, sales, etc. Then, of course, make it easy to post reviews on your website. Send users links after purchase and make sure that providing a review is an option on all the channels you use to reach your customers. One more thing, thank users who leave reviews. It’s a courtesy that makes a difference in building trust and engagement.
When it comes to third-party review sites, you may want to encourage users to post reviews there, too. Especially if there is a well-known and trusted review site specific to your industry. Monitor the site and treat reviews there the same as you do on your own site: Respond to complaints and concerns and say thank you.
User reviews and other user-generated content add real value and authenticity to B2B brands. They demonstrate a willingness to listen to the voice of the customer and to provide relevant, helpful information as buyers make their purchase decisions. B2B buyers are increasingly looking for social proof for the products and services they purchase in their work environment, just as they do at home. If you are a B2B brand and haven’t considered user reviews…what are you waiting for?