[Editor’s note: When it comes to the marketing department, maintaining good street cred on various review sites is of the utmost importance. In this article, originally published here, Influitive’s Content Marketing Manager, Cassandra Jowett, explains why those stars really count.] Before you go to dinner, buy an app or bid for an item on eBay, what’s one of the first things you do? Check the ratings and reviews online. And forget what the so-called “expert” reviewers think, right? You want to know what real people have to say about it before you waste any of your time and money. Thanks to resources like Yelp, the Apple Store, Google Play and eBay’s Detailed Seller Ratings (DSR), among others, consumers can make better purchasing decisions, and businesses with higher ratings and more positive reviews from the masses experience better sales. Often, high ratings bump the restaurant, app or seller to the front page or top of the search listings, and consumers trust that they’re going to get what they paid for.
The Yelp-ification of the Enterprise
It’s not just consumer businesses that are affected by these ratings and reviews either. Over the last few years, a number of enterprise rating and review sites have launched, providing B2B customers with the opportunity to rate their favorite (or not-so-favorite) product and services experiences. “We’re 100% focused on the enterprise to meet the unique needs of enterprise buyers,” says Russell Rothstein, CEO of IT Central Station. ”Our visitors can be assured that the products they find in IT Central Station are ‘enterprise-class’ and high quality.” These enterprise-only review sites can be an amazing resource for professionals, especially those looking for technology solutions, as they make buying decisions for their organizations. “The stakes are much higher for business software decisions than most consumer purchases,” says TrustRadius CEO Vinay Bhagat. “TrustRadius is focused on collecting rich, actionable insights you can trust. All reviewers answer a series of questions, commonly rating a product on multiple dimensions and explaining their use case. Then each review is vetted by a researcher before it’s published.” In a recent ZenDesk survey, 90% of both B2C and B2B customers of mid-sized companies who had seen online reviews said that the positive ones influenced their buying decisions. How often do they influence yours? Those stars really count toward acquiring new customers, but consider this: like a restaurant goer who found a fly in her soup, your customers are 52% more likely to post a review when they’ve had a bad experience than a good one (35% vs. 23%). You can’t just sit around and hope that none of your customers have a bad experience or that nobody posts a negative review (or any reviews at all). After all, these B2B rating sites are putting some serious resources into soliciting reviews from enterprise users to make their own businesses viable. “G2 Crowd is disrupting Gartner and the broken, outdated process of buying business software by crowd-sourcing user reviews; so far 5,000 professionals have contributed more than 15,000 ratings and reviews of the business software they use,” says G2 Crowd co-founder and COO Matt Gorniak. “Based on these authentic, unbiased reviews as well as social data, the Grid – G2 Crowd’s alternative to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant – charts vendors on customer satisfaction and scale to help companies pick the right software for their needs.”
Ask Your Advocates for Authentic Reviews
As a marketer, you can and must take control of the situation as quickly as possible. Where traditional marketing fails – you can’t review yourself and “fake” reviews can be spotted a mile away by discerning potential customers – advocate marketing picks up the slack. Reach out to your most satisfied customers and other advocates first, and ask them to hit the digital pavement to submit authentic reviews of their own positive experiences. You could email your customers one by one and beg them to post a review for you (1. Way too much work, and 2. What’s in it for them?), or you could activate your advocates by creating a fun, easy challenge in Influitive’s AdvocateHub. There you can provide all the details they need to build an effective review, share links to the reviews as they are posted, and also reward your company’s biggest fans for sharing their feedback of your product or service. Check out this example from our own AdvocateHub, VIP:
Which B2B review sites are best for your business?
Numerous business technology rating websites have sprung up in recent years, some catering to everyone and others to specific niches. The important thing to remember is you don’t need to ask each of your advocates to post a review on every single website – start with the few that are best for your business, mobilize your advocates to post one review each and go from there. Here’s a list, by no means exhaustive, of 12 great sites to help get you started:
- AppCloud: Apps for marketers that are integrated with Eloqua
- AppExchange: salesforce.com’s marketplace of business applications and consulting partners where you can find, evaluate and install solutions for every department and industry
- BestVendor: According to its website, BestVendor’s goal is to bring more sharing and openness to business solutions, which can be particularly helpful among smaller businesses that don’t have CIOs or procurement offices
- Capterra: Helps you learn how software can improve your business, compare solutions to find what you need and connect with the right software vendors
- Comparz: Provides in-depth user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses
- G2 Crowd: Enterprise technology buyers, investors and analysts use the site to compare and select the best software based on peer reviews and synthesized social data
- GetApp: Helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) search, find, compare and review the best business software solutions and services
- IT Central Station: Enterprise technology decision makers around the world use the site to read reviews, build vendor shortlists, and consult with peers and experts
- Ombud: A community-based research platform: you can connect with technology users, vendors and analysts to ensure the purchasing decisions you make fit your business needs
- TrustRadius: A site for professionals to share candid opinions on business technology products to guide selection, implementation and usage decisions
- VendorStack: Helps you find the best vendors, as rated and reviewed by users like you
- Software Advice: Software Advice helps buyers choose the right software by offering detailed reviews, comparisons and research to assist organizations in finding products that best fit their current and future needs.