At the center of every (successful) tech company is one core principle: disruption.
Whether it’s about introducing a new delivery method, or data model, or a feature that no one has done before — finding new ways to solve problems, create connections, and build trust is instrumental to creating space, and ultimately command sustainable market share in an already incredibly crowded industry. But without validation, feedback, and trust, having that unicorn idea — that disruptive differentiator that sets you apart from all your competitors — is only just that: an idea.
We’ve seen B2C companies turn reviews into brand propelling, revenue-generating, loyalty demanding engines that fuel the growth, trust, and recognition B2B would give anything to attach their disruptive model to. But B2B (software) reviews — relative to the industry as a whole — are still relatively in an infancy stage.
So why hasn’t tech followed that model for distribution? For the most part, B2B’s relationship to customer reviews has been limited to email requests sent to customers. “Happy with our product? Leave us a review on G2!” Putting together a review collection strategy is absolutely the first step in building reviews into your UGC strategy. But what’s next for B2B reviews?
The first installment of this series talked about why reviews are important and how to get them. The second installment covered the positives of negative reviews and how to use them. In this final installment, we’re going to cover what the future of B2B reviews looks like, and how you can begin to apply some of these core principles to your UGC strategy.
Bringing B2C into B2B
Reviews are everywhere - from clothes to food to software. And despite there being over 1.1 million B2B software reviews on just G2 alone, the majority of online reviews are for business-to-consumer (B2C) products and services - clothing, restaurants, hotels, experiences. But B2C companies have been collecting reviews for longer than they’ve been online.
Remember customer service calls after your cable was installed, asking for feedback? Remember filling out a notecard at the doctor’s office after a visit? Remember calling the number at the bottom of your receipt, or on the back of a truck to ‘let them know how they’re doing’? B2C has long known about the value of customer feedback and has had decades in the software industry to refine and perfect how they collect, use, and distribute reviews.
What can B2B learn from B2C?
It’s probably safe to assume the first place trucking companies turned to ask for feedback on their drivers wasn’t — quite literally — the back of the truck. But what better way to get honest, accurate, consistent feedback than to meet reviewers exactly where they are, when they’re there? The truth is, no matter how good (or bad) an experience someone has had with your service or product, the more you ask of them or the longer you wait between experiences to solicit feedback, the less likely you’re going to get an accurate, honest account — or even an account at all.
But just because your software isn’t driving a big rig, doesn’t mean you can’t also apply that same logic by meeting your customers where they are. Build your review collection engine around the needs of your customers to optimize the quality — and quantity — of the content you get. But where are your customers? Your customers are in your application, doing their day-to-day work; they’re in their email, doing their best to get to inbox-zero; they’re on your website, looking at what they can do next; they’re using your platform to automate their next campaign.
With in-app review collection, you can ask your customers to leave a review directly in your application; with in-email review forms, your customers don’t have to leave their inbox to write their review; with web content management tools like Drupal, you can add a review widget on your website. And with customer experience tools, you can build rules and moments that flow right into your app, and pair right alongside your users as they are experiencing your product, live.
You can even automate the process to ask your customers to update their reviews, so you can spend more time building a better product, and provide prospects with recent, relevant information. By meeting customers where they are, you will collect more, high-quality content through a seamless experience (that takes data privacy into account); a win-win all around.
Building a community
People love to feel like they are a part of something — whether that’s something as simple as a group of friends, or a coalition to combat global warming — humans crave a sense of community. Building a community requires establishing common goals, topics, interests, and a purpose for the community — grounded by geo- or digital location for the community to meet.
For B2B software, it makes sense to create that community online, and reviews can be the perfect entry point to building an online community. Reviews allow people to start conversations about what challenges, needs, and ideas they have, and how a tool like yours can help alleviate, solve, or support them. By responding to your reviews, you can join that conversation, show that you care about your users, and engage with your community, building trust among both customers and prospects.
On G2, we’ve added another layer to community building: discussions. With discussions, community members can start conversations, solve problems, build relationships, and work together with people from a similar background, industry, or career path. The more people interact within your community, the stronger the emotional connection they feel towards your brand and associated products.
Communities also allow for those who participate in them to help each other troubleshoot and build best practices, ideas for how to get the most out of your tool - soon enough your community becomes an extension of your organization, supporting each other and driving ROI on your behalf.
The future of UGC is reviews
While the relative optimization of reviews may still be in their infancy in B2B, there’s certainly no shortage of software companies scrambling for as much UGC (user-generated content) as they can get their hands on. Case studies, social mentions and retweets, and video testimonials — all are worth their weight in gold to any B2B marketer.
But in the same breath, those marketers will tell you just how challenging it is to actually collect them. Sure, a happy customer may say anecdotally on a Gong call just how much they love your sales team and product functionality, but getting clearance from their legal team to use that company’s likeness, logo, and a direct quote in a promotional video? Good luck. And even if you do get the green light, the back-and-forth of collection, editing, approval, content creation, and even ownership is extremely time-consuming and resource-heavy.
Reviews are the UGC hack only the savviest companies have caught onto — and for B2B, G2 has created a well-oiled, UGC collection and distribution machine.
Reviews as case studies
Looking to capture customer stories for a case study? Run a review campaign. Not only will your customer spill their guts, but they’ll do it publicly, on a website that drives over 4 million monthly views. Want to share that review out with prospective clients? No problem. G2 Reference Pages allow you to cherry-pick which reviews make the most sense for the audience you’re targeting, so you can curate a perfect, relevant case study (or collection of case studies) on the fly — no approval, creative, or content writers needed.
Reviews as social interaction
Looking to build your brand through organic online interaction? Respond to reviews and discussions. It’s hard work getting your customers to comment on your social media, so why not meet them where they already are: your product profile. Your most engaged customers and prospects are waiting for you to help them solve challenges, answer questions, and get the most value out of your product and your brand right on G2.
Reviews as video testimonials
Looking to leverage the most powerful medium (video) to tell your customer stories? Encourage your customers to leave video reviews on your product profile. There is nothing more resource-demanding than video — unless it’s done for you! By running a video review campaign, you are technically asking less of your customers than a regular 44-point question review, but in exchange, you’re getting a valuable, evergreen customer testimonial asset to use in marketing and sales materials forever.
There is a compelling shift in the way leading B2B companies are beginning to adopt reviews as a part of their central business strategy. Modeling after their B2C predecessors, top tech outfits are seizing invaluable opportunities to earn and maintain trust through the power of customer voice.
Rather than passively waiting for customers to volunteer feedback, they’re meeting customers where they already are and striking only when their buyers are ripe to provide feedback. They’re then pulling that raw, authentic feedback into their core UGC strategy. These shifts have already begun to pay dividends: dramatic increases in reviews collected — in total, and scaling over time, increased brand loyalty and referrals, and the ability to produce a scalable, affordable UGC marketing strategy that converts.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our series on reviews and the future of UGC. If you’d like to discuss anything we discussed in this installment (or parts one or two) reach out to a G2 rep today.