Maximizing Online Reviews: Leverage Software Reviews Part 2
In Part 1 we addressed why online reviews are an important part of your growth strategy, and included key findings from the research conducted by Software Advice, surveying 386 B2B software buyers.
75% of buyers consult online reviews before purchasing business software
buyers who consult online reviews ahead of time are 15% more satisfied with their purchases
59% of buyers are very likely or extremely likely to choose a product over it's competition based on more favorable online reviews
So now that you understand the importance of online reviews, we're going to address what buyers are looking for, how to collect reviews, and how to manage online reviews to work for you.
What makes a good review?
According to surveyed buyers, the most important information they are looking for in software reviews, in order, are: Product Functionality (76%), Product quality (75%), Support (73%), and Ease of Use (71%). This may seem obvious but it's important to note - especially if you decide to collect reviews through a customer survey. What's really interesting is that each of the 4 categories are pretty close in terms of importance, ranging only 5% between 71 at the lowest and 76 at the highest. The moral? All aspects of your B2B software are important when buyers are looking at reviews.
Timeliness: over 99% of buyers said they would only consider reviews written within the past year in their purchase decision - so make sure you're updating your reviews on a regular basis. Not surprisingly, the more recent the review, the more faith buyers put in it. A large percentage (71) of buyers will only consider those written in the past 6 months, so a twice yearly campaign is likely your best bet. Also remember that in the software industry, change is constant, so these buyers realistically expect fast turnaround and up to date information.
How to collect reviews
One of the best ways to collect reviews is through a customer survey. Hopefully, you're already doing this because of course customer satisfaction is one of the most important metrics you can monitor. If not, there's no time like the present! As part of your customer survey, you can either add a simple request for a review that you can use in your marketing initiatives (optional of course), or if you already ask something like "what do you like best about our company", just add a checkbox asking permission to use their response in your marketing.
The other tried and true message is to send out a campaign asking for reviews. This works especially well when you're just starting out and want to collect a large number of reviews as soon as possible. If you have a specific listing site that you use, include a link to your listing on that site so your customers can easily jump in, leave you a glowing review, and carry on with their day.
*Pro tip: thank your customers for giving you a review by offering a bonus - a gift card, discount, valuable report/white paper, etc.
Why do users write reviews?
The hardest part of leveraging online reviews is of course collecting them. Many companies shy away from it because they're afraid to simply ask their customers outright. It helps to understand WHY users would write a review for you. According to the survey, 44% of buyers said they were more likely to write a review after a positive experience, vs 29% after a bad experience. This may be contrary to what you thought, the old adage that an unhappy customer will tell 10 people vs a happy customer only telling 1. Use this to your advantage, and when a customer seems particularly happy with a solution, or mentions how much they like working with you, go ahead and ask them to review you on an online site, or write a review that you can use as you see fit.
If you think asking for a review will irritate your customers, think again! The study also addressed this concern, and found that 47% of respondents said being asked for a review did not bother them at all. Even better, only 9% reported being extremely bothered - and the best part is even though they said they were irritated, they still left reviews!
The hidden benefits:
In addition to having great customer quotes to use on your website and in marketing materials, and reviews for potential buyers to see, customer reviews are a great way to gain valuable customer feedback that may be otherwise hard to obtain - 50% of buyers said they left reviews hoping it would impact the vendor with respect to new features and bug fixes. This is especially true for review sites, where there is often an option for anonymity, so your customers feel they can be more honest without offending you.
Use this information to help improve your software and service - it's like having a free product development cheat sheet!