Reviews have been around almost since internet access became widespread, and they are essential in online business today. This is increasingly true in the B2B sector as well: according to G2 Crowd, 92% of B2B buyers take reviews into account before making a decision.
The revolutionary idea behind product reviews is that they provide highly focused, user-generated content. Everyone who bought the product has firsthand experience, and other users who are further behind on the buyer journey trust them more than the business they are about to purchase from. In a B2B context, only 34% of buyers consider vendor-generated content trustworthy, so it is important to offer your prospects an independent, third-party opinion.
The number of people involved in each B2B choice keeps increasing. This means that, in the case of software, it is no longer the privilege of the IT department to make the call. Less tech-savvy managers from sales, marketing, and customer success are entering the playing field, and they want to get informed. Reviews are the perfect tool for that.
Thanks to built-in tools in popular platforms, wherever you buy, you also have the chance to browse and leave reviews. An entire industry is built around providing independent, third-party solutions that users trust. And businesses are using reviews as a marketing tool for a reason. Research shows that displaying reviews can increase conversion by as much as 270%.
This is an opportunity nobody can afford to miss, but many do: only 1 in 5 B2B companies are considering using reviews as a marketing tool. From this article, you can learn how to generate more sales by using product reviews.
The most obvious source to turn to for reviews would be your existing customers. Yet, this is not necessarily the most efficient way to go. There are several aspects of reviews that influence consumer trust, and living up to expectations in each of those areas can take up more of your time and energy than you think!
Today, you can’t simply place a rating system on your website and expect consumers to use it by themselves. Businesses have to proactively reach out to verified users and ask for their experience, making the process hassle-free and intuitive. In a B2B context it is paramount to get input from the end user instead of the buyer, which might be complicated, since these users are typically not the ones in contact with the vendor. Getting the process right takes either considerable in-house effort, or a steep investment in a third-party solution.
And even if you have the right systems in place, you can’t be sure that you will get the reviews you need. In a B2B setting, buyers need rich, elaborate opinions which answer their questions and doubts about the product. A customer doesn’t necessarily have all the insight and information to write such a detailed review, or they simply might not care enough to spend the time to craft one.
Customers are more motivated to leave a review when they’ve had a negative experience, which might skew the picture the reviews show. Negative reviews also get 200-300% more clicks than positive ones. However, you absolutely need them: 67% of respondents in a survey said they want to see a healthy mix of positive and negative reviews. It is difficult to get the reviews to show a balanced and accurate picture.
In addition, you also need to make sure you have enough reviews and that they are up to date. 61% of buyers prefer to see at least 11 reviews, and ⅔ of them believe they should ideally be from the last 3 months. With consumer reviews alone, it will take a lot of energy to consistently gather the required number.
This is why expert reviews can be a good complementary solution, and in some cases, they can substitute consumer reviews altogether.
97% of IT buyers say they rely on the opinion of their professional peers when choosing business software. While some consumer reviews might come from peers, they can get lost in the noise. Reaching out to the right people and engaging them to review your product is a great way to make sure buyers will listen.
Expert reviews put control in your hands as a marketer. You pick the expert based on credentials and past performance. You determine what areas of your product the review should focus on and how in-depth it should be, and naturally you can order as many reviews from different experts as you like, making sure there are always enough recent reviews. While any expert with integrity will refuse to write a review that does not reflect their opinion, control over the focus and depth is invaluable, and is not possible with consumer reviews.
In the case of complex software products, it is frequently difficult for prospects to find reviews on lesser-used functionalities. There is a small group of users who would be able to provide such a review, and it may be next to impossible to find them and get input from them. Information might spread on forums and communities, outside your knowledge and control. An expert review can bridge this gap and provide potential niche users with enough input to convince them.
While they may not replace consumer reviews for every company, expert reviews are a great tool that every B2B marketer should consider in their content marketing strategy.
"IT professionals frequently turn to TechGenix to learn more about a product before buying because they know that they can trust our fully certified experts to write honest, in-depth reviews that will help them determine whether that product truly addresses their needs in a way that the content supplied by the vendor is unable to." says Sean Buttigieg, Director at TechGenix. "After all, the top priority of the vendor is to sell, whereas ours’ is to inform our readers. Any products receiving a Gold, Silver or Bronze award from our experts have undoubtedly earned that recognition, and for this reason, a positive TechGenix review can often be the deciding factor when it comes to convincing a buyer to choose one product over a competing one."
Reviews are most often used mid-funnel, during consideration, but they play an important role in all buyer stages. Let’s look at how you can use expert reviews to increase sales in different stages.
47% of buyers will turn to reviews at this stage. They know they have a problem and they are looking at possible solutions. Expert reviews that focus on how your product solves a specific problem for a specific target group are most helpful. SEO should also be taken into account when you are getting your reviews published. Algorithms favor long-form content because users tend to find it more valuable than shorter articles, so your expert review has a better chance of getting to the top than your consumer reviews.
This is the time to bring out the heavy guns: 71% of buyers will intensely browse reviews at this point. Use expert reviews to cover the most important questions and doubts a buyer may have. Tailor the review’s angle to your unique benefits: if you offer the most affordable solution in the market, focus on the price/quality ratio. If you are the high-end provider, focus on functions that make your product stand out.
At this stage, 42% of buyers are still looking at reviews. They are most likely clarifying details. Make sure the expert reviews cover lesser-known benefits and features of your product, as they might tip the scales in your favor. This is a key advantage of expert reviews over consumer reviews; the latter tend to be more generic.
Expert reviews serve different purposes in different stages of the sales cycle, but they also have an overall impact as well. Similar to consumer reviews, use them as professional feedback to improve your offering and as an input for your marketing strategies. Expert reviews can uncover issues that consumers do not notice or mention. This is invaluable for product development.
Expert reviews in B2B marketing can be a differentiator in your content marketing strategy. You can reap considerable benefits with a well thought-out strategy. Expert reviews put you in the driver’s seat and provide your prospects with credible and helpful content, without compromising integrity. When creating your review strategy, consider expert reviews as a complement or even a substitute for consumer reviews.
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