B2B Marketers Need Quantity and Quality in Product Reviews: Here’s How to Get Both

November 27, 2017

Rise of the Review Economy

Editor’s Note: This is the second blog post in our Rise of the Review Economy series we are creating with G2Crowd. The first post is available here.

With the rise of Yelp, TripAdvisor and a host of other consumer review sites, reviews have transcended the realm of B2C and made a strong case for relevance within today’s B2B marketing landscape.

In fact, “How Online Reviews Influence Sales,” a recent report from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center conducted in conjunction with PowerReviews, found that the presence of reviews on websites and landing pages can significantly boost the likelihood of a purchase. “The purchase likelihood for a product with five reviews is 270% greater than the purchase likelihood of a product with no reviews,” the Spiegel report found.

Spiegel’s research also uncovered that product reviews may have even greater importance to B2B vs.  B2C marketers due to the likelihood of higher consideration purchases being made.  One astonishing figure from the report: “Based on data from the gift retailer, when reviews were displayed for a lower-priced product, the conversion rate increased 190%. However, for a higher-priced product, the conversion rate increased 380%.”

Another finding revealed that, in general, more reviews lead to more purchases. “Our research found that as products begin displaying reviews, conversion rates escalate. Having five reviews causes purchase likelihood to increase by a factor of nearly 4x,” the Spiegel report found.

Adding to these insights, a new Forrester report titled “Driving Customer Engagement with B2B Ratings and Reviews,” reveals that quality reviews play a crucial role in shaping purchase intent. “For ratings and reviews, review quality is the key to attracting readership and interest. Reviews such as ‘It’s great’ or ‘Don’t buy this’ don’t offer enough detail to be useful for the typical B2B customer,” Forrester analyst John Bruno writes in the report.

Compounding these recent findings, we recognize that attracting an optimal volume of quality reviews can be a challenge for B2B marketers. To help, here are five ways to encourage reviews and ratings of your products and services:

Actively solicit reviews and ratings

Don’t be shy about asking customers to review and rate your products so that you can reach a critical mass of customer input. In the Forrester Report, Bruno cited two companies that successfully solicited reviews: Intuit and 3M. For its TurboTax product, Intuit solicited reviews “seconds after users submitted their taxes,” while  a healthcare division of 3M placed review submission screens in forums and communities. These two approaches were found to “increase review volume [in one online community] by 200% in just three days.”

Take the extra step and encourage comments

Once a review is posted, it’s not the end of the story. The best reviews — both negative and positive —  can stand up to scrutiny by peers in the industry. Forrester posits this kind of interplay between product users should be fostered, that “B2B sites must encourage other customers to validate or invalidate existing opinion.”  

Make it easy for customers to submit reviews

Noting that many B2B markets are small and competitive, Forrester encourages companies to ask customers to submit anonymous testimonials. With sites now offering reviewers the ability to write high-quality, verifiable input with confidentiality, Forrester also recommends “making it easy for users of the product to submit reviews by embedding reviews and rating opportunities as part of the installation or customer service process.”

Strive for authenticity

Ideally, marketers want reviews to be submitted by end users rather than purchasing managers. “With 97% of IT buyers indicating that they rely on peer recommendations, ratings, and reviews when it comes to buying business software, B2B sites must give special status to reviews posted by power users of a product,” says the Forrester report. The inclusion of negative reviews also lends an air of credibility to a website — with 82% of shoppers making a point to read negative reviews, per PowerReviews. The aforementioned Spiegel report further supports this point, noting that “readers are skeptical of reviews that are too positive and, in many cases, a negative online review is seen as more credible.”

Extend the reach of reviews

The syndication of reviews can create a multiplier effect. "Several digital business pros who Forrester interviewed indicated that syndicating their ratings and reviews to supplier and manufacturer partners increased the total net number of ratings and reviews across the entire channel," Bruno wrote.  

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