It’s clear that after only a few weeks, COVID-19 has changed the way businesses are operating.
A climate of economic uncertainty, personal anxieties, and an undetermined timeline are causing people to re-evaluate almost everything. Crisis leadership is seriously being tested.
And while many industries are suffering, hospitality, personal service, and retail are taking a particularly hard hit. Technology and software companies, and the marketers who work for them, are just now on the precipice of understanding how COVID-19 is impacting business and the industries we serve.
In times of turmoil, it’s natural for us to want to shift or change our marketing messaging. And we should. Chances are, what worked two weeks or a month ago won’t work now. We’re all developing new strategies and pivoting, and trying to spend as little budget as possible in the process.
But what we’re seeking, more than anything, is to regain some control over our marketing efforts. That comes with investing in something easy to source, stable, scalable, and cost-efficient. Something that has a big impact and showcases your authentic voice with little legwork required to leverage its full potential.
If you haven’t guessed it already, I’m talking about customer reviews. Generating new reviews for your business is a low-cost, easy, and sustainable way to shift your marketing messaging.
How can I use customer reviews?
Let’s take a look at three places to use reviews strategically.
Fine-tune your product marketing messaging
If you’re in product marketing, you know the importance of having a deep, emotional connection to the product you’re selling. In a difficult buying/selling climate, it’s even more important to really get to the root of why your product is critical to your customers. To put it simply, you need to know who your customers are and exactly what they love about your product.
It’s admittedly not easy (or inexpensive) to find these answers without the power of customer reviews. At a minimum, you’d have to enlist the help of a market research firm, and given the current atmosphere, time is of the essence. You don’t want to waste any precious resources (time or cash) on extraneous services.
But by leveraging your new and existing customer reviews, you can quickly glean your audience profile as well as what they like (and dislike) about your product. Then, you can double-down on the best features and develop material to support sales as well.
Pay-per-click is getting harder, and your cost per lead is likely going up. Don’t waste time wondering how to narrow your search to target the right customer; use the tools you already have to get customer reviews – these insights are invaluable.
Identify advocates in a difficult time
If there’s one positive thing that’s come out of re-learning marketing in pandemic times, it’s the return to valuing authenticity in messaging. Customers are sensitive to your business appearing opportunistic, and nowhere is that more visible than on social media.
You’re likely already re-crafting your social media messaging to better reflect the consumer sentiment, and that’s a place where you can use customer reviews. What’s more authentic than the real thoughts of your real customers? Share messaging (in a non-braggy way) about how your product is making life easier for people who are facing new challenges.
“21% of B2B buyers trust their peers and colleagues’ recommendations the most when making buying decisions.”
While you’re at it, now is a good time to comb through your recent reviews and identify real, verified users to see if they’d be interested in partnering with you on a mutually beneficial piece of co-marketing. Whether it’s a blog post, e-book, podcast appearance, or even a virtual event, making good use of your advocates in tough times will only endear your brand to its loyal following.
And though the influential reviewers have the highest ROI likelihood when it comes to social reach, don’t ignore everyday users who have taken the time to write reviews. Send them a quick ‘thank you’ to let them know you’re spending your precious time listening to them – and making real changes based on their feedback.
Offer top-notch, evolving product support
These days, customer support is absolutely essential. And with more people working remotely, customers are looking for quick, online solutions to commonly asked questions about your product. Want to avoid the dreaded long wait times that might turn off customers from using your product altogether? Get ahead of the curve by reading customer reviews to anticipate those commonly asked questions.
Yes, that means digging into those not-so-positive reviews to find salvageable information to better your business.
If you’ve released new features recently, chances are you’re pushing out some changes that may have not gone through the same thorough testing and review they normally do, simply for the sake of getting the product to the customer faster.
By actively listening to your customers’ concerns (whether it be on a review platform, social media, or elsewhere), you can preemptively develop answers and fixes to make things smoother for your valued customers.
Don’t underestimate customer reviews
Trying to gracefully juggle concerns about the stability of your business and career alongside the regular, everyday terror of existing while a pandemic threatens our ways of life is a fool’s errand. We can’t control everything to give ourselves total peace of mind at work, but we can try to allocate time and resources toward tactics such as customer reviews that can advance our businesses using minimal funds with a substantial ROI.
Your customers are out there, and they’re facing the same problems as you. Use customer reviews to give greater visibility to their authentic voices while actively seeking to improve your product to make their lives a bit easier.
Amy Lecza (she/her) is the director of content marketing at G2 where she is passionate about leadership and building happy, productive teams. Her background is in journalism, PR, and content creation, and she has a degree in both journalism and culinary arts.
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