With more buyers looking to colleagues and peers to research buying decisions, B2B organizations such as Dashlane and Booker Software are turning to online review platforms to enhance their marketing efforts. These review sites can provide credible user experiences with the company’s solutions or services to prospects and customers.
According to Demand Gen Report’s 2015 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report, industry experts/analysts (21%), peers/colleagues (20%) and web search (17%) were respondents’ top three resources for information about solutions.
Online B2B review platforms such as Trustpilot and G2 Crowd enable customers to review solutions first-hand and provide a holistic, credible overview of how these solutions perform for potential buyers.
“Review sites are impacting buying decisions because buyers are seeking opinions of … peers, friends and others, rather than relying on information provided from the organization directly,” said Erika Goldwater, VP of Marketing at ANNUITAS, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “The buyers control the sales cycle today more than ever, and this is another example of how and where they are seeking to gain their information about products or services.”
Some experts liken user reviews to short-form versions of B2B case studies — a staple in B2B content marketing. However, user reviews are considered easy to consume in aggregate and can generate increased organic traffic for solution providers because they are favored by search engines.
"B2B companies are the non-traditional fit for written reviews, but have always been known for case studies and testimonials,” said Jordan Garner, Director of Customer Success at Trustpilot. “People are starting to realize that reviews can help increase potential case study opportunities."
Dashlane, for example, turned to Trustpilot to learn how user reviews could increase organic traffic and conversions for their business offering.
“A typical Dashlane review may feature praise for our simple managed enterprise onboarding and a mention of sharing passwords with a spouse in the same sentence,” said David Rostan, Head of Organic Marketing for Dashlane. “Does that resonate with the B2B buyer? It turns out that it does. More, perhaps, than just throwing impersonal technical specifications at them.”
Dashlane gained enough reviews with Trustpilot in the first month to qualify for a Google Seller Rating extension on their ad campaign. This star rating is included in their PPC ads to establish credibility even before someone visits their page, leading to a 93% increase in click-through-rates driving more traffic to their site.
Dashlane also displayed Trustpilot reviews on their paid ad landing pages to help convert traffic into customers. That resulted in a 14.5% increase in conversion rates — bringing more downloads, customers and ROI from paid ads.
User reviews also cater to the B2B buyer’s path to purchase because they are easily accessible at any point in that journey.
"Everyone knows that the buying process isn't linear; buyers have found a problem and they are looking at any and all ways to fix that problem,” said Michael Fauscette, Chief Research Officer at G2 Crowd. “Review sites give buyers convenient access to analyst-like information about solution vendors in their areas of interest."
Before investing in a review platform, experts noted it is important for marketers to understand and evaluate these tools in four key areas by asking the following questions:
- Presence: Does the review site have sufficient market presence and traffic?
- Process: How does the review platform receive and process reviews and guarantee credibility?
- Presentation: How are buyers engaging with these reviews?
- Additional Value-Added: Would the review site bring additional value to other areas of the business, such as product development or churn prevention?
Goldwater said there is an opportunity for B2B review sites to move beyond product-focused reviews and begin offering opportunities for customers to review their experiences with marketing services providers, such as agencies and consultants.
“It seems like a natural progression for review sites to begin including marketing services, and it makes sense from a vendor and a buyer perspective,” Goldwater said. “Honest feedback from a review site can help highlight and showcase what services a company offers that may or may not be clear from their homepage. More transparency on these types of services is what buyers need.”
Leveraging Reviews For Latter-Stage Marketing And Sales
While user reviews can be beneficial at any stage of the buying cycle, sources noted that many B2B organizations are finding the most value to their business in the latter stages of the buying journey. Booker Software, for example, utilizes multiple review sites to increase organic initiatives, while attracting prospects that are further along in the buying process.
“Review sites help attract buyers in the late-stage buying cycle,” said Nick Bhutani, Director of Acquisition Marketing at Booker, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “It's also used to help support the sales process by directing prospects to see how others love our software.”
Booker has had great success leveraging B2B review sites. On average, the company sees a close rate four times better than other paid sources. Bhutani also noted that buyers who visit review sites move through the funnel quicker when compared with other paid sources, and they have the lowest bounce rate. He explained that having a presence on multiple review sites is a logical option since it only enhances organic reach.
“Each [review site] is dependent on industry and presence; one may have more of a particular buyer compared to another,” Bhutani said. “Review sites have a lot of positive effects; it's good for lead gen, as well as organic search. It allows us to fill search pages with user reviews instead of branded web pages.”
“Buyers are looking for credibility and trust; as a marketer, you have to find a way to provide that to prospects and meet buyers' needs,” Fauscette added. “It’s the idea of having better access to people I wouldn't be connected to easily. As a marketer, what do I have to do to make sure I’m finding those people [for the prospect]?"
Marketers can also leverage reviews to impact content strategies by seeing what customers are talking about. They can use the reviews to better understand buyers and improve marketing communications with them.
“[A user review] is another way to gather data and develop deep buyer insights,” Goldwater said. “If people are talking about how a product or service helped solve a specific pain point, integrate those messages into your content via blog posts, videos or other channels. If a review is not a positive one, use the information to address concerns or questions via content and evaluate how to possibly address any issues via product fixes, upgrades or promotional offers.”