Customer reviews and testimonial are taking an increasingly important part of the buyer journey. While most online reviews are biased (at best), especially in the B2B space, the voice of the customer is undeniably key to unlocking growth.
Changes in consumer behavior in a post-pandemic world made customer reviews a must-have in B2B
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 from 2020 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.
More recently, Trustradius published an enlightening report showing that B2B buyers clearly consult reviews more than vendors seem to consider.
But reviews are also one of the most influential resources in the buying process, right after free trials, product demos, and the buyers’ own previous experience.
Customer reviews are essentially the most influential marketing asset which isn’t directly dependent on the product.
Clearly, all signals are pointing towards b2b customer reviews increasingly becoming a key aspect of b2b marketing
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:
- Use Social Proof in Google Ads Headlines.
- Use testimonials and review blocks on their landing pages.
- Own the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) on topics relevant to their industry.
- Use badges to establish trust and authority.
- Put video testimonials of clients.
- 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 niche. You can see dozens of examples of reviews as social proof on Joe Kevens’ B2B SaaS Reviews.
PPC: the impact of star ratings
Adwords and Bing ads
- 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).
- 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:
- Hurt sales and cause a direct loss of revenues
- Drive prospects away
- Undermine your online reputation
- 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 who feel even more obliged to post bad reviews after seeing recent bad reviews.
No answer from the brand, or even worse, imprecise or automated answers don’t help obviously.
Things can 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.
Bad reviews are the reviews that people thoroughly read.
Make your company truly customer-centric
“There’s no replacement for being able to hear what customers are actually saying” – Dharmesh Shah, Founder & CTO @ Hubspot.
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.
We’re not making this up. Check out what Dharmesh Shah, CTO & co-founder at Hubspot has to say about the topic.
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!