Customer reviews of your products and services are incredibly important to your sales and marketing success, especially in the world of software: 47% of software buyers say that other users’ reviews on websites factored significantly into their final purchase decisions, according to a Gartner 2019 survey on SMB (small to midsize business) buyer behavior.
If your website or landing page doesn’t share reviews from your customers, how can your future customers make the right decision to purchase your product for their business?
In our experience, software product listings with 10 or more user reviews see on average 3x the Gartner Digital Markets product profile pageviews than those with no reviews. As a PPC client, generating 10 reviews can double average click through rates. As long as you continue to add reviews to your product profile, you’ll see fantastic results.
14 smart ways to help your teams get started:
1. Email blast
Get right to it: Send your customers a simple email asking for a review. Explain why they should leave a review of your product and include a direct link to your reviews form.
Send the email to all of your customers or a specific segment or subset of them. It’s a nice way to remind them of the great experience they had with your product. Remember that negative reviews aren’t a bad thing: They’re an opportunity to get authentic feedback about a user’s experience of the product and to demonstrate good customer service by responding promptly to help resolve the issue. But if you’re just starting outreach for reviews, your best and most satisfied customers are most likely to actually respond to your request.
2. Email newsletter
Consider adding a reviews call to action in your regular customer outreach or newsletter. Whether sent weekly, monthly or quarterly, it consistently reminds your customers that you appreciate their feedback and want them to share it with other potential users.
3. New customer nurture
Use marketing automation software to create an email nurture program to welcome new customers to your product. Use the program to set them up for success with your product, then ask them to leave a review after a specific amount of time has passed. Even without a customer nurture program, it’s a good idea to send an email to new customers after they’ve been with you for a while to check in on how it’s going and inquire whether they’re willing to share their experience by writing a review.
Give your customers at least three to six months with your product before asking them to review it to allow sufficient time to understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of the system. That ensures they will share more insightful and meaningful information with potential buyers.
4. Leverage your software system
Your customers use your product every day, so consider asking for reviews somewhere within the actual system. Include a CTA on the login page so they see it before doing anything else. If your product has a main dashboard, place it on that page, but don’t interfere too much with the actual usability of the system. If you prefer not to constantly disturb your customers with the same CTA, have it pop up temporarily every few months. You just may catch them on a day when they want to share their experiences with others.
5. Social media
Social media is a fantastic way to reach your customers.
Use Twitter to promote current reviews of your product, as well as to tweet direct links to pages where customers can write a new review, making it that much easier for your users to complete the action. Engage existing and potential customers by sharing quotes from other reviews, and tag your reviewers whenever possible. Try a similar strategy on Facebook: Post a link to your reviews page and ask people to leave a review. Again, because they “like” you on Facebook, they’re more likely to want to leave a review.
On LinkedIn, you’ll typically find customers already in a business mindset. Post updates about the reviews you’re receiving and encourage those who haven’t done so to review your software, something they may be doing alongside your LinkedIn page if they’re at work.
6. Other channels
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are definitely the big three when it comes to B2B software social media, but if your users are more engaged on other channels, don’t ignore them. If the majority of your customers use Instagram or Pinterest, post reviews promotions there. Don’t start a new social account just to collect reviews, however: If your audience isn’t there, don’t waste your time and effort on a channel that won’t perform.
7. User events and conferences
If you host a user conference for your software, it’s the ideal place to collect a large number of reviews in a very short amount of time. Where else can you get happy and engaged customers all in one place?
Set up kiosks around the expo floor specifically to capture reviews; ask employees to wander around the conference armed with tablets and a new reviews form always loaded and ready to go. Include a CTA in your post-event follow-up email, encouraging attendees to leave a review.
8. Incentivize reviewers
Offer customers a gift card to their favorite store or fast-casual restaurant; send them some company swag; you can even offer a discount on their current software subscription or a premium add-on for their account. Use whatever kind of incentive works best to get your customers to leave reviews — just make sure to follow proper endorsement guidelines and keep everything aboveboard.
9. Incentivize employees
Turn the incentive idea around and focus on your own teams by encouraging loyal employees, especially those who perform customer-facing duties, to collect reviews from the users they interact with every day. Structure the incentives in a way that makes sense for your business and team goals, but be sure to include prizes and rewards based on those goals, as you would with sales commissions.
10. Run a contest
Consider holding a contest solely focused on collecting reviews of your software. Contests can be built around any idea or event that would pump up your customers and encourage them to leave reviews.
Is summer a slow month for sales? Instead of wasting time on prospects you can’t reach while they’re at the beach, focus on the customers you've already acquired by asking them to leave reviews in a summer-themed contest. Or, instead of pushing for more revenue to reach end-of-year goals, get in the holiday spirit by offering to donate a certain amount to charity for every review collected. Combining the urgency of a deadline with the fun of a contest theme means you’ll likely collect more reviews during a short period of time.
11. Customer phone call
More than likely, you’ve talked to at least some of your customers on the phone. If you’ve had a productive call with a lot of great feedback, ask them to leave a review. Send a follow-up email with a link for leaving a review to remind them of your recent interaction and provide an easy way to follow up with a review.
12. Product support interaction
Just like your client success team, your support team also has a lot of interactions with customers, fixing bugs or assisting with complicated technical questions. Again, if your product support team has a productive call with a customer, they should also request a review.
13. Email signature
Do you email your customers? Even if it’s not every day, at some point during the customer’s lifetime with your software company they’ve received an email from someone within your company. An easy, automatic way to keep reviews top of mind, even if they’re not the topic of the email conversation, is to always include a link in your email signature to your product’s reviews page.
14. Promote reviews on your website
Repurpose some of your best reviews as testimonials on your website. Reviews are key to converting web visitors into leads by building trust and providing key insights into what buyers want. The Gartner 2019 SMB survey reported that 56% of SMB software buyers looked for product reviews as one of their first sources for learning about software options. Use recent reviews to show potential customers that your current customers love your product and recommend it.
Keep collecting reviews
Have you used any of the above tactics to collect B2B software user reviews? What other strategies have worked for your software reviews collection?
Download our Reviews eBook for more help in collecting and leveraging online reviews from your customers.
Tara Spence is the Senior Manager of Vendor Content at Gartner Digital Markets. She has more than 20 years’ experience in content, from her start as a newspaper reporter to most recently directing the editorial program of a Fortune 500 IT services and solutions provider. Tara loves cooking, traveling and being a mom. Connect with Tara on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Results presented are based on a Gartner study to understand software buying behaviors of small and midsize business owners in the past 12 months. The primary research was conducted online during September and October 2019 among 488 respondents in the U.S., Canada, Germany, France and Spain.
Companies were screened for number of employees and revenue in fiscal year 2018 to arrive at small and midsize businesses. They were also required to have purchased at least one software for USD 5,000 or more, in the immediate past 12 months. Respondents were required to be at least office managers, influencing software purchase decisions in their organizations.
The study was developed collaboratively by Gartner analysts and the primary research team that follows digital markets.
Disclaimer: Results do not represent “global” findings or the market as a whole but reflect sentiment of the respondents and companies surveyed.