Review management 101

An actionable guide for B2B businesses

Hi!

We’re Gaurav & Axel, founders of ReviewFlowz.

This post is meant as an actionable how-to guide to set up best-in-class review management processes in the most straightforward way possible. 

This isn’t about having 5 stars all over the place.

There is a real business case for good review management, and we’ll try to show that in the first part of this post.

If you’re already convinced you should look into review management, you can skip to parts 2 and 3.

Summary

Why you should care about review management

The macro pitch: changes in consumer behavior in a post-pandemic world

Interestingly, there is a unanimous consensus about the importance of reviews in the mobile apps space and in the eCommerce industry. Yet when it comes to B2B services & SaaS, it seems to be unimportant at best, when it isn’t willfully ignored.

A McKinsey study concluded a clear shift towards a stronger preference for self-service across every stage of the customer decision journey. The “consumerization” of B2B decision-making that was already underway experienced massive acceleration throughout the pandemic.

When G2 asked a simple question to understand if buyers were more likely to purchase a b2b product or service had they read a trusted review about it, around 92% replied positively.

A quick look at the performance of review aggregators during the pandemic further provides some more interesting insights:

  1. Competition for top spots on review aggregators Capterra, Getapp, and Software advice has virtually doubled since the pandemic began.
  2. Review aggregators like G2, Trustpilot are now among the hottest scale-ups, yet to be listed on public markets.
  3. The review recency on Gartner products has gone up 1.5x during the last 1 year.

Clearly, all signals pointing towards b2b companies paying much closer attention to how their brands are perceived on the review aggregators. 

This isn’t just something that’s coming, it’s something that is currently happening: better be prepared to up your reviews game today!

If you’re still not convinced, stick around, we have a few compelling, short-term “end of Quarter target” kind of arguments.

Social proof: the most visible aspect of review management

Review management is all about owning the narrative. 

Potential buyers in different stages of the funnel will check you out. 

The objective of review management is to make sure they see what you want them to see every single time they see you.

Marketing is all about repetition. The only real CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) strategy that exists is to make sure your potential buyers consistently hear and read the same things about you. Hubspot theorized this, they call it the surround sound effect.

Call it what you want, Hubspot, Pipedrive, or monday.com are examples of companies that are killing it at this game.

Hubspot are the king of inbound marketing

Pipedrive is the easiest CRM to use.

Monday is the latest sexy project management tool.

You’d see these companies:

  1. Use Social Proof in Google Ads Headlines.
  2. Use testimonials and review blocks on their landing pages.
  3. Own the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) on topics relevant to their industry.
  4. Use badges to establish trust and authority.
  5. Put video testimonials of clients.
  6. Quote ratings and the ‘x vs y’ comparisons articles from review aggregators.

These are just a few tactics on display from some of the fastest-growing SaaS businesses in the work. A successful brand tends to be more visible to everyone and reviews play a crucial role in helping you build authority in your relevant niche and this authority buildup further leads to even more exposure.

PPC: the impact of star ratings

Adwords and Bing ads

  1. The measurable impact: +17% CTR. Seller ratings have been found to have a +17% impact on driving higher CTR vs the ads without seller ratings. The catch, of course, is that you need a rating of over 3.5 stars to be eligible for these extensions.

    The opportunity to avoid missing out on 17% of your sales for no increase in your marginal cost of acquisition on the channel is certainly a strong case for you to go out and make sure you connect the most relevant platform to your google ads account (More on this in 2.1.1).
  1. The hard-to-measure impact: Lower ratings will lead to lower CTRs. And, Google is in the business of selling clicks. A lower rating hence could entail lower impressions for ads with seller ratings.

    Eventually, google could stop showing your ads with seller extensions. So, make sure that you are following up on the percentage of impressions with seller ratings over time. It is an easy KPI to miss out on, but it could be leading to a direct negative impact on your sales and bottom line.

Capterra, Getapp, and other PPC directories

Capterra states that reviewers with more reviews see an average of 22% more traffic and 79% more leads than those without reviews. 

Clearly, a cry for the business listing owners to better pay attention to getting more reviews and make sure your conversion rates are not suffering

Paid Channels are among the most scalable channels you can think of for your acquisition. Leveraging reviews as part of your marketing mix can make them even more of an asset to your brand, and to your business.

Bad reviews and their impact

Another study from Capterra found that negative reviews (those with one or two stars) receive nearly 200% to 300% more clicks and views than positive reviews. So, it is not only, important to get more reviews, it is equally important to make sure you’re handling bad reviews well.

Other analyses in the industry have shown that a bad review can decrease your conversion rates by up to 30%.

We don’t need to connect the dots here but very simply, bad reviews will: 

  1. Hurt sales and cause a direct loss of revenues
  2. Drive prospects away
  3. Undermine your online reputation
  4. Lower-ranking on search engines

Worse, a bad review tends to bring more bad reviews along with it.

While it may not sound too intuitive at the first glance, a streak of bad reviews could mean the review platform on your brand is suddenly populated with very recent bad reviews.

And these very recent bad reviews tend to act as added incentives for any new frustrated customers you have, who just feel even more obliged to post bad reviews after seeing recent bad reviews. No answer from the brand, or even worse, imprecise answers will not help.

If you fail to take charge, things start going out of control and you end up with a damaged business reputation. 

In this example from Mailchimp’s Trustpilot profile, you can see how it starts shifting around the end of 2018 from a fairly balanced profile with good and bad reviews to a bloodbath.

Today, they get at least one one-star review per week. That Trustpilot profile became a haters’ club. Everything you should avoid. The only “good” thing about this, is it helps avoid getting bad reviews on other profiles.

While bad reviews are always painful as a business owner, they can actually become an asset. We’re not even talking about how feedback helps etc. here, since we’re only talking about public reviews. 

It hurts, but nobody reads your 5-star “awesome product” review in great detail. Sorry. 

Bad reviews are the reviews that people thoroughly read. Evaluating why are customers unhappy customers with your product seems reasonable to them. 

Make your company truly customer-centric

You can’t have DevOps teams that have no clue what your product is about.

You can’t have salespeople that have no idea what the limitations of the product are.

You can’t have marketers with a poor understanding of your positioning.

And you can’t have a product team completely neglecting the obvious flaws in the product. 

Absolutely everyone in the company should be concerned, and feel concerned by reviews.


Putting reviews in the middle of everyone’s Slack makes it everyone’s business. The #reviews channel needs to be the listening tool of your entire company. Of course, you’ll still have people responsible for actually dealing with those, but it’s an extremely efficient way of bringing the voice of the customer into everyone’s workday.

There is not enough time left to be thinking about whether you should add reviews to your marketing mix. Yes, you need to have them in your mix and you need to have them now. Because your competitors, most certainly, will.

What matters more today, is how you can differentiate yourself from your competitors when it comes to not just dealing with getting more positive reviews, monitoring them, responding to the bad ones at supersonic speeds, and leveraging them to become a more customer centric company.

Note: You can extend this to your competitors’ reviews. You might want to filter that down or you’d risk having too much information, but having only the bad reviews about a few competitors in a dedicated channel might spark a few good ideas for the marketing & sales teams.

Get to the pain points, understand the customer needs, and even identify some growth opportunities by getting some tasty leads along the way!

How can you get more positive reviews?

Carefully pick 2 to 3 platforms you want to optimize

The first thing you want to do is make sure you’re not sending reviews to every single review profile you have. Reviews are hard enough to come by that you want to make sure you’re using them judiciously.

A second thing to know is that review platforms over-value review recency. In one month, having sent 20 reviews today on Capterra will be about as helpful as sending 2 reviews per week for the next 30 days.

So you really need to be in a position to set up a constant flow of positive reviews if you want to move the needle. If you’re just blasting your customer base every 6 months, stop doing that. 

Worse, if you’re sending lists of your customers’ emails to Capterra or G2 every 6 months for them to blast the lists, also stop now.

But first things first: to select the right platforms, there are a few things to consider

Pick one that is Google AdWords certified

Might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how often this isn’t properly executed. You don’t need 7 review platforms that are AdWords certified. Just one. 

But you do need one if google is a channel for you.

The exact volume of reviews to send that way comes down to the minimum number of reviews required to get the snippet to work. According to google’s documentation

Ideally, you need 100 good reviews/year in every country you operate. The country split makes it tricky though since most other review platforms split reviews by language (or don’t split at all).

For example, the Shopify app directory values all review the same way, irrespective of the language. The same goes for the WordPress plugin directory. And both are very powerful lead generation tools.

The equation really comes down to ensuring that you send reviews to your google Adwords review partner only from countries where you’re positive you’ll reach at least 100 reviews/year.

The quality/quantity trade-off

Luckily, leaving a positive review on Trustpilot or verified reviews literally takes 2mn. This means you can ask customers that aren’t super engaged.

Try doing the same thing with Capterra or G2, and you’ll be left with terrible conversion rates.

We’re not breaking new ground here: segmentation is absolutely fundamental. If you send all your happy customers to Capterra on low engagement triggers, you won’t get many reviews on Capterra, and you’ll be missing out on a ton of good reviews on “lighter” review platforms like wp.org, Shopify, or google certified review platforms (Trustpilot, verified reviews, etc.)

It comes down to a classic cost/impact trade-off. 

It’s a great idea to send a ton of reviews on G2 if you want to raise money and look like you’re a leader in your industry. But if you’re looking for customers there, you won’t find any. And sending reviews to G2 is super expensive because leaving a review there is sooo long. 

For each G2 review you get, you can get 10 on Trustpilot.

The image risk mitigation

The last thing to consider when you’re looking to select the review platforms you want to prioritize is whether or not these platforms pose a risk to your business. 

Basically, when you google your brand + reviews, what platforms show up first? 

An excellent way to “secure” that google query is blogs. If you’re running an attractive affiliate program, you can be absolutely certain that bloggers will go for that query. It’s super close to conversion, it costs less than $200 to write a (decent) 2000 word review about software, and it’s fairly easy to outrank big domains like review platforms.

Be careful, however, as unhappy clients might end up adding comments on those blog posts, and it’ll be up to you to track reviews there and keep a good relationship with the blogger.

If you’re stuck with a big review platform “squatting” that keyword, you’re just going to have to make sure that your grade & latest reviews are positive. No matter the business impact, it’s a 100% pure cost. That Trustpilot profile for Mailchimp for example is pure cost. 

Ranks top 10 on “Mailchimp reviews”. Might be a good idea to fix it once and for all. And it’d be a lot cheaper than writing a bullshit post yourself that you desperately try to rank with tons of backlinks despite terrible CTRs…

Consider only the top 3 results at first. As you start controlling the topic and what’s being said about you, you can start expanding to the whole first page. Never spend more than a second on the second page though.

Find satisfied customers sources

Customers are hard enough to come by. 

Happy customers, slightly harder.

Active Promoters? You’re probably looking at 5% of your user base.

Finding a source of satisfied customers willing to leave a review for your software or service really comes down to finding a trigger that makes sense. 

The NPS survey

The most obvious one is the NPS survey. It depends a lot on how you set up your NPS. Some have very early NPS surveys, that basically tells you the discovery & onboarding are going fine. Others have very late NPS, that basically segment your user base into promoters & others. 

It’s pretty much always a good idea to have a follow-up on a 9-10 NPS score (Promoters)  to ask for a public review. Typically, you can ask for pretty “invasive” reviews. This is where you’d get decent conversion rates for platforms like G2 or Capterra. 

The helpdesk

Using your helpdesk’s feedback survey as a trigger for reviews is adouble-edgedd sword. The tricky thing is that human interaction was involved. When a customer is “happy” with the helpdesk answer they got, you have two options:

  1. The problem is solved, everything is fine and the customer is happy now
  1. The problem is not solved, the customer is still frustrated at the product & brand, but feels like the help he got from the customer service agent was good. 

As a consequence, you’re opening the door to average, if not bad reviews. Also, in both cases, engagement isn’t exactly at its highest because helpdesk interaction means you already took up some time from the user (he took up some of yours too, but that’s irrelevant here).

Depending on the volume you get there -- which can be absolutely massive, for example for freemium products with free support -- it can still be a very interesting source of reviews. Typically for high volume requirements like AdWords certified platforms or marketplaces. 

Prioritizing platforms

Intuitively, you might want to prioritize based on the business impact. For example, if you’re focusing on Capterra and the Shopify marketplace, and if you consider Capterra to be the biggest impact, you’d send 80% potential reviewers to Capterra, and 20% to Shopify to ensure you’re building up there?

In reality, not all customers will be eligible to write a review on Shopify. You need a Shopify shop to do that. This means your eligible reviewers for Shopify are a lot rarer than eligible reviewers for Capterra. 

Most review platforms have their own specificity, and it’s typically a good idea to prioritize the review platform where you have the lowest number of potential reviewers. 

The order of priority is inversely proportional to the number of eligible reviewers.

Offer a reward

Again, it really comes down to the volume / Quality trade-off: Asking for 5 stars & 5 words is very different from asking for a Capterra or G2 review.

Sometimes, these platforms can give out vouchers. In our experience, you’ll save $200 and you’ll be left with absolutely terrible operations and lose a ton of reviews you would’ve gotten with half-decent email copy and good triggers.

Might come as a bit of a surprise (it did for us at first): Capterra & G2 aren’t very good at getting reviews for you. Their email copy is terrible. The follow-ups are inconsistent at best. And the experience they offer is terrible, it takes like 5 clicks to actually get to the review form.

In any case, if you’re asking your users for something, give them something in return. 

The right to pay to use your product simply does not qualify as enough to ask for a public review on Capterra. 

Some marketplaces (Shopify for ex) are hell-bent on not allowing rewards for reviews. 

Truth is, some products ask for a 5-star review to get access to the product. So you’re supposed to review a product to be able to try it (true story). Point is, they have bigger problems than your $10 amazon coupon in exchange for an honest review. Nobody will care 

The coupon conundrum

Offering a reward as a coupon on your product is great - but you might not be speaking with someone who cares about saving $20 to their company.

Rule of thumb: if your contact is a founder, offer a reward for your product. If not, offer amazon vouchers or stuff like that. RewardsGenius is great at automating that part.

Feedback process on reviews

You can entirely automate this with a bit of review tracking magic, or you can validate rewards manually. ReviewFlowz allows you to see all good reviews dropped into a Slack channel; We’ll soon support webhooks & google sheets, making that use-case a no-brainer to set up.

Typically fraud costs less than manually checking all reviews and rewards, but it can be worth looking into your best promoters if you have strong Upsell/Cross-sell processes.

For some reason, review platforms insist on not helping you identify the customers that review your product, both for good and bad reviews. 

Beats me.

How to deal with bad reviews?

Hey, we’ve all been there. 

Sometimes, we shit the bed. 

Our customers act completely irrationally. 

Or both. 

Shit happens.

But bad reviews aren’t all bad. They can even become an opportunity for your brand.

How to identify customers that review you

Not much to say here, unfortunately. 

Most review platforms won’t help you for some reason. We really don’t get it, but it doesn’t matter because we won’t change their minds.

So you’re left with dirty ops work & investigation. You’ll likely get something resembling a company name or first name / last name on the review itself.

If not, you likely don’t have that many tickets that didn’t go well over the past few days. Keep in mind that review platforms typically take a few days to validate reviews. So we’d recommend over the past 7 days, and try to figure out which one it could be. On some platforms, you can get the “written on” date with a bit of digging. Or with reviewflowz, because we did the digging :)

Call the customer and solve the problem

Speed is of the essence here. That’s why we built Reviewflowz.

No strings attached. 

A customer is unhappy enough to go and say bad things about your product: fix it.

After you’ve satisfactorily fixed the issue, discuss removing or updating the review. Discuss the issue with all the people involved. Slack is a great place to do that. 😇

Be human and understanding. 

To reply or not to reply

The thing with replying is you take the risk of putting oil on the fire. If there actually was an issue and your reply fails to acknowledge it, other unhappy customers will slaughter you.

Generally speaking, it’s still a good idea to be present. Some will tell you to reply to every single review. Sure, do that in an ideal world where you have nothing else to do and too much staff. 

In the real world, it’s probably a good idea to reply whenever an open question is asked, or when reviews are seriously negative. Just to show you’re here, and you keep track of what’s being said. If not, you either look like you don’t care or like you stopped supporting the product.

A good rule of thumb is to consistently check the way review profiles are shown (the “most relevant” is the output of 20 year-old algorithms, fairly easy to game…), and update that profile page like you would a landing page. Could even become part of the monthly landing page update process.

You have one of those right?

Replying to bad reviews

The key is to understand what the customer was expecting, and why.

Once you’ve got that part right, it’s fairly easy to understand what went wrong, explain that in detail, and apologize in your reply.

The worst thing to do is to reply without a thorough understanding of the issue. You shouldn’t assume anything here.

People usually post bad reviews because they hit a dead end by communicating directly with you. It is absolutely fundamental to get to the root problem, understand it, and fix it if it’s still possible.

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That’s it for us! Hoping this guide was useful to you! How do you currently deal with reviews? Is there any part of review management that is still obscure to you?


Also, if you haven’t already, check out reviewflowz, we’re literally building it to help SaaS deal with reviews, so if we’re not doing something right, we either will, or we should really know about it 😇