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The Anatomy of Reviews

May 6, 2021

anatomy of reviews

I’ll cut to the chase here. 

Reviews are important. People read them, they seek them out. I don’t think I need to tell you that. Review providers, UX thought leaders, and consumer behavior statisticians have been writing and analyzing their significance for years.  

They’ve become a staple of purchase journeys across the world. Whether you’re looking for a new set of pans online, you’re downloading a new app to your phone, or you’re researching a doctor for your next physical visit. Customer reviews have become integral in how we make purchase decisions as consumers. 

And it’s not just our day-to-day purchases that have been influenced; Even the five- and six-figure decisions we make on our next software purchase for our company gets researched. In fact, 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review. 

Some might say it’s a hot take, but it appears that nearly every facet of our purchasing lives has some degree of seeking out feedback before making a decision. 

In this article, we’re going to unpack exactly how and why reviews took top billing for purchase influence, and what you need to do now to get on board. Specifically, this article will answer:

  • Why reviews and customer feedback are so integral in today’s purchase journey
  • What makes reviews specifically valuable for the readers and their requesters
  • How you can collect more reviews
  • How you can maximize review submissions 
  • How you can leverage those reviews for sales and marketing efforts

As G2 is a B2B reviews site, this article will focus on B2B strategies, but a lot of these same approaches are grounded in user behavior in the world of B2C. 

Let’s get started.

Why do reviews really matter? 

Have you ever asked yourself:

  • Why are consumers so obsessed with peer feedback? 
  • What is the real power behind capturing and promoting ‘the voice of the customer’? 
  • What does it mean for companies to be ‘customer-centric'?

This might sting, but it’s time you hear it: your customers and prospects don’t trust you. And we’ve got the data to prove it.

But nobody’s going to spend money unless they feel relatively confident they won’t be taken advantage of or cheated. So it’s not that your prospects aren’t buying, more that if they don’t trust you, they’ll just find other sources of information they can trust— and ideally, a source that can give them an idea of what their experience would be like as a customer. What better place to get these authentic insights than from customer reviews? In fact, 91% of 18 to 34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 

There’s been a shift in how buyers determine which sellers deserve their business — and at this point, transparency is table stakes. If receiving feedback and getting authentic customer testimonials from your audience is integral to the strategies and plays you and your team are running, reviews are a perfect place to start. 

What makes a review valuable?

But why are reviews so valuable? Why are they ranked higher than nearly all other forms of purchase information?

For users

Reviews provide prospective buyers (of any type) with a huge gift: they hear directly from someone that has used or experienced whatever it is that they’re buying. What’s more, reviews now have identifiers and filters for job title, location, company size, and more to further help buyers find feedback that is relevant to their specific situation. 

And with an ideal mix of reviews ranging from 1 - 5 stars, your prospective buyers are getting the opportunity to receive candid feedback that will help them make a confident buying decision and ideally become a longtime customer of yours. 

For companies

For the folks asking for and receiving reviews, what makes these pieces of content so valuable for them? Reviews are a pulse check on your current (and previous) customers’ sentiment about your product and the experiences associated with it. 

  • For Marketing: Reviews can be integral to your overall strategy. They can be used as automatic, trusted assets for campaigns, and they can inform your value proposition — and position yourself more competitively.
  • For Product: They can surface nuggets of valuable information you can use in your discovery processes and truly ensure you’re listening to your customers when building and enhancing your products — and be proactive about critical UX updates. 
  • For Customer Success: Asking for and receiving feedback adds a touchpoint to your engagement strategy with your customers and enables you to get a pulse check on your customer’s sentiment with their experience — and ideally prevent churn
  • For Sales: You get a treasure chest of customer testimonials to leverage when speaking to prospects to drive deals forward — and reestablish that critical trust with your buyers.

They’re valuable for everyone! 

How to collect reviews

It’s worth noting that all review collection strategies are not perfect for everyone — just like all products, industries, and customers are not made equally, review collection strategy can’t possibly be a one-size-fits-all. We encourage you to work with your CSM if you’re a G2 customer or discuss with your internal teams about the channels and strategies that work best to reach your users. But below are a few tried-and-true approaches to get you started as you build your strategy.

Run a review campaign through your reviews provider

If you’re working with a review vendor like G2.com, your customer success rep can help you set up a landing page and have G2 manage the review collection for you. Just provide us with a list of customers to reach out to and we’ll take care of the rest. 

Ask for reviews within your platform or on your website

Are you using a chatbot or engagement tool with your customers? If so, take a page from the many apps you use and ask for feedback while someone is using your platform. Your product will be top of mind for them and they’ll likely be able to share specific feedback with you that might help your internal teams create an overall better experience for your users. 

Set up automatic triggers for always-on review collection

Are there milestones customers hit that would be a perfect time to ask for their feedback and a review? Work with your Operations teams to identify those moments and set up a simple email campaign that allows you to ask for a review automatically when someone meets the criteria you decide on. 

Some of these customer milestones could include: 

  • After they implement your solution
  • After a renewal or upgrade
  • After record-high use of your solution
  • After they’ve been a customer for 90 days 
  • After they’ve had their Quarterly Business Review 
  • After they’ve submitted an NPS Survey 

Don’t just target the Promoters! Ask all of your customers for feedback if they’re engaging with you and providing feedback. It will show that you care about their opinion and you take their feedback seriously enough to display it externally. 

Pro tip: If you have a product that takes time to set up and start using, don’t ask for a review immediately. Instead, wait until your customer has had an opportunity to use and experience your product. Your reviews will be more valuable to future buyers, and you’ll also get a clearer idea of their experience. 

Leverage current marketing initiatives 

Review requests don’t need to be their own separate project from the initiatives you’re already working on. Find ways to ask for reviews as a supplement to existing campaigns. 

Pro tip: Don’t forget to highlight the reviews you’ve already collected. That way your customers know you care about honest feedback and want to hear from them. And it’ll probably make them want to be a part of that community! 

Here are some ideas:

  • Do you have an upcoming virtual event? Set up a virtual review booth to encourage your visitors to write a review while your company and product are top of mind. 
  • Are you running a customer-focused webinar? Have your call to action be: ‘Submit a Review.’
  • Do you have a customer advisory board? Ask the attendees to share their feedback and thoughts via reviews so others can benefit from their insights and experience. What’s more, if you meet regularly, ask your customers to update their review to ensure you always have the freshest perspectives available to future buyers.

Don’t stop there! This is just the start of ideas you can do to collect more reviews from your customers (and keep them flowing in). Set up a brainstorm session with your team and see what other ideas you can come up with to gather more customer voice content. 

Maximizing review submission

 There are many ways to collect reviews, but how and when you make your ask can either maximize — or tank — the volume of reviews you actually get.  Below are a few quick tactics that can have a major impact on your collection efforts:

Messaging

There are always options to provide incentives to your customers like gift cards to encourage them to write reviews. But don’t overlook the impact a well-executed organic tactic can have when done right! Before you throw in the towel on non-incentivized review collection, try adjusting the messaging around why you’re asking for a review so that it resonates with the reviewer. Here are some examples:

  • The Maximize Your Value Approach: If your review request is related to a recent software update or migration, let them know that you want to make sure you get it right for both their continued use and value from your product — and the experience of future customers, just like them.  
  • The Good Samaritan Approach: If your review request is following a Quarterly Business Review, share with them that you value candid thoughts from customers across all use cases who have used your software to ensure future customers are making the right choice when purchasing software. 

Be truthful with your customers about why feedback matters to your company and how their input can help their company as well as future customers. Paired with a memorable experience and strategic timing, you’ll collect a breadth of reviews that will help your future customers make better, faster decisions and help your internal teams create meaningful change that is truly customer-driven.

Timing

Previously, we covered instances in a customer lifecycle when your buyers are most likely to give feedback. Why do those milestones usually make sense? Because your product — and hopefully a positive experience — are both top of mind for them after each. However, timing can also work against you when done wrong.

If the implementation is generally a cumbersome process, or you've been asking a lot of your customers lately in other ways (comarketing, extra meetings, contract back-and-forth, etc.), asking for even more from them may come off inconsiderate — or even audacious. Consider the mindset of your customers before asking for reviews, in order to make sure you're asking them for a favor right when they're ripe to do you one. 

Action

Make it clear that you take reviews seriously and their feedback will be widely used. Highlight review snippets on social media or your website, respond to a review publicly, or send a thank you to a customer who provided feedback. Especially if this feedback was used to improve the product experience, to show your reviewers that you appreciate the time they spent to leave you a review, and that it’s driving value for your business and companies like theirs. 

Leveraging reviews 

Now that your review engine is turned on, how do you make the most of what you’ve collected from your customers, and leverage it in your awareness, pipeline, and revenue-driving activities? Similarly to collecting reviews, the sky's the limit when you have a plethora of authentic feedback coming in from your customers, but below are a few ideas to get you started:

In sales tools

To use in sales tools:

  • Pull out quotes from your reviews (maybe even shoot to have a quote per segment and persona)  and highlight them in your sales pitch deck on a couple of slides. Your team can choose the use case most relevant to their situation and have a relatable customer story always on hand. 
  • If you’re a G2 customer, create Reference Pages for your sales teams by segment that they can share with customers whenever they come off a call or are asked about case studies and references. 

Pro tip: Leverage your G2 reviewers as a pool for case studies! They’ve shared their perspective on your product — use the review as a jumping-off point for a qualitative case study. If you’re an upgraded G2 customer, you’ll be able to see if one of your reviewers is open to be a reference for you as well. 

On your website

When you're on your website, consider the following:

  • Highlight reviews on your home page banner, next to your products, or on a testimonial page on your website using G2 widgets 
  • Leverage reviews anywhere you have a  demo request form to further boost confidence for your prospects, and drive conversion.

On social

When on social media, consider the following:

  • Use G2 Content to showcase your star rating, share customer reviews, and show that you appreciate customer feedback by sharing their perspectives with the rest of your network. 
    • If you’re feeling really creative, work with your team to create a mini social promo plan with images and on a regular cadence, highlight reviews. (You might even get more customers to write reviews)
  • Are you leveraging the insights you’re learning from reviews to enhance your product? Let your network know! You can highlight your innovation and also establish the value you hold on customer feedback.

There are a ton of ways you can leverage reviews across your marketing and sales efforts. Once you’ve started your reviews engine, continuing to collect fresh content and enhance the ways you highlight your customers’ voices to the market will become second nature.

Conclusion

Once you start collecting reviews efficiently, effectively, and using them internally to drive value externally to your customers (and highlighting them in the process!) you’ll create an always-on feedback loop: capturing reviews, leveraging reviews to create better products, using reviews to tell your story externally, closing new customers, and capturing reviews from them to start the process all over again. 

Be on the lookout for Part II of our UGC series about the power of negative reviews, coming soon.

Review Generation
Ready to amplify the voice of your customer?

Enhance your review collection strategy today with G2!

Review Generation
Ready to amplify the voice of your customer?

Enhance your review collection strategy today with G2!

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