The secret to convince potential buyers to actually purchase product is elicit in them a sense of trust in you and your brand. This is really crucial in the B2B market, because here potential clients have the ability to research you online and they will use it by reading reviews, finding testimonials, social media posts, customer complaints, etc. As a matter of fact, Google/CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council survey revealed that B2B buyers will only contact suppliers after 57% of the purchase process has been completed.
Think about how a prospect today discovers you: a senior executive or middle manager searches for a product and is led to a review site. He sees your product, most likely because it is highlighted among other products in some way. He likes the features, but he won’t stop there. He’ll read user reviews about your product; he will check your social media channels to get clues about your customers’ experience, complaints and, more critically, how you respond to these posts. Believe it or not, he’ll likely be visiting your sales page or receiving a call from your sales rep only after having formed an opinion based on what he’s read about you. Across the entire process, your prospect is looking for two things: expert social proof and user social proof. How credible experts and actual customers see your product has a profound influence on your prospects’ buying decision. In fact, a Harvard Business School study corroborated this social behavior, when it analyzed that a one star increase in a business’ Yelp review resulted in a 5% to 9% sales increase. So even as you spend money building that perfect website or sales team of yours, you should spend more on building your reputation online.
Review platforms give you immediate expert and user social trust
In the past, building social proof took a long time and you ended up paying exorbitant PR agency fees for media placements; in the meantime, you’re wasting opportunities to make more sales. Today, there’s an affordable and simple way to immediately gain both expert and user social proofs: tapping review sites. These are third-party websites that collate products in your category, where the products are assessed by both a panel of in-house experts and your customers who write user reviews and share their experience. Your product is objectively assessed (quite often for free) and will be visible to thousands of users that visit such sites every day.
To explain how these sites work, let’s take a look at a fast growing specialist review directory FinancesOnline.com, which focuses on mainly B2B software products.
Why your prospects rely on review platforms?
Executives and managers are busy people like you, but they are pressured to look for the best product to justify the purchase. Visiting each of the product websites is not only inefficient, but ineffectual because some of the best products are new, unheard of, or do not appear in top search results. Instead, a BrightLocal survey showed that 85% of users read up to ten reviews before they trust a business, and one of the sources of these product insights are review platforms.
A review platform like FinancesOnline.com helps your prospects to find most of the products they’re interested in (including yours) in a single place. They get to read your product’s features, pricing, terms, USP, and more even if they don’t know about your website yet.
Moreover, since review platforms are rich in useful content (as opposed to product pitches) and many users click on them, they are usually ranked high by search engines. It is not uncommon for a review site to rank higher than a product’s official website with the product’s name used as the search keyword. In the State of Demand Generation study by Pardot, B2B buyers usually start their product discovery via search, allowing review sites to easily capture these online leads.
But what prospects really look for in a review site is the detailed description of your product as well as user ratings and comments posted by your customers, the social proofs, in short. They are thinking, “if others find the product useful, it must be useful for me, too.”
A reliable review platform may even use a proprietary algorithm to gauge a product’s value based on measurable metrics to help prospects get a quick assessment. For instance, FinancesOnline.com uses a SmartScore SystemTM, which aggregates a score based on benchmarking your product’s main functionalities and features with close attention to other critical factors, such as: customization, collaboration features, integration with other apps, customer support, and mobility. Expert reviewers know that these factors are important to user satisfaction across various business processes. A product that excels in all of these factors gets the maximum score of 10, providing prospects with a quick way of assessing the product’s expert social proof.
Another example of a specialized feature used by FinancesOnline.com is their proprietary Customer Satisfaction Algorithm, which analyzes user reviews, social media mentions, and other comments about the product across the Internet and calculates a score that best represents the overall customer satisfaction with the product. Many prospects find this score a practical way to measure the user social proof for a software.
Sites like FinancesOnline.com constantly look for new products to review and they will gladly prepare a credible review for you as well. With minimum effort you can gain a solid presence on an external website that will support your product’s credibility with an independent, unbiased review from experts. Such presence is bound to send more customers your way and can significantly improve your sales.
How review platforms help you stand out from your competition
Being present on a review platform like FinancesOnline.com is clearly not an option but a must if you want to vie for prospects’ attention or be present where your competitors are already vying for their market share.
The good news it’s quite possible you’re already on such a platform. You can easily check that yourself. For example, find out if your product is featured on FinancesOnline by simply using the search field on their website. If you’re not there yet you can easily request a review.
But being in a crowd is not enough, you want to stand out from your competition. Fortunately, most review platforms offer a line of marketing tools that help vendors like you to highlight your product’s best features and unique benefits in a way that builds social proof fast and increases the chances of driving quality leads to your landing page. For example, FinancesOnline.com offers the following marketing services that build more trust in your brand and increase your sales:
Trust Marks – as a B2B online vendor you must know the importance of getting trust marks like BBB and Norton, which users easily recognize. A study by Econsultancy/Toluna showed that trust marks surpass even referrals by friends/family as the main trust factor for online buyers. However, you must also understand the law of diminishing returns, that is, the broader use of these popular trut marks creates a marginal benefit to you as a specialist online seller. A credible solution is to get a specialist trust mark or supplement broad-based trust marks with niche seals being offered by independent review platforms. For example, FinancesOnline.com offers their unique Verified Quality Seal that you can feature both on their review page as well as on your own website. The seal is a guarantee that your product provides high-quality of services and has been positively evaluated by independent experts. Marketing research shows that using such a trust mark on your site can have a significant effect on clients’ trust and will increase your sales by as much as 12%.
Quality Certificates & Awards – If you have a solid product it’s very easy to get one (or even several) quality certificates from FinancesOnline experts. These quality badges will highlight the unique features of your product, such as great user experience or excellent free trial. Having such certificates is crucial, because they will often be a factor that encourages a client to choose your product instead of your competitor’s. Have a look at the wide range of certificates and awards offered by FinancesOnline.
Lead Generation Services – your review page will feature prominent Free Trial button and Visit Website buttons. Prospects who are ready to contact you after reading the review and user comments will have an easy way to reach your landing page.
Alternative Product Box – one bonus of being present on a review site is that you get the chance to steal prospects from your competitors. Imagine a competitor’s prospect discovering that your product has better pay terms or some other unique benefit his company needs. The best way to leverage this opportunity is to be featured as a suggested alternative on your competitors’ review pages.
Comparison Page Highlight – review sites understand that their readers will compare products before making a decision. By highlighting your product in the comparison matrix, you draw users’ attention to your product distract them from the competition at this critical stage when prospects are processing their decisions. You’ll be surprised how a subtle technique like this that can give your product that small push that tips prospects over to your landing page.
Supplement your content strategy with detailed reviews and press releases
Leveraging the credibility-boosting quality seals marks doesn’t stop at drawing attention of your prospects on a review site. You should squeeze out more user trust juice by writing about the awards and seals you got. FinanesOnline.com can help you with that by writing a detailed analysis of your product that will highlight all its unique features and mention all the awards and quality certificates won by your product. Having such a detailed review will also give a big advantage over your competitors. For example, here’s a detailed review that was prepared for Nimble. FinancesOnline.com can even prepare a press release about your awards and distribute the article across major online media sites such as Google News, Yahoo Finance or Business Insider.
Building user trust is critical in B2B marketing today when prospects discover you online much sooner than you discover them. In the past it was costly and time-consuming, because you needed to hire an expensive PR agency and invite media guests. Today building user trust is simple and even more effective by leveraging review platforms such as FinancesOnline.com, which have direct access to prospects and offer solutions that will help you increase your sales and stand out from your competitors.