How to Better Manage Online Reviews

March 31, 2020
Contributor: Kari Test

B2B software buyers look for recent reviews to inform purchase decisions. Here’s how to ensure they see them.

Reviews play an important role in today’s research and purchasing experience for software buyers. By now, you know that your business needs to share your users’ reviews to catch new buyers’ eyes, but are you aware of how much the recency of those reviews impacts buyers’ impressions of your company?

Recency is one of the four cornerstones of great reviews, which include quality, quantity, recency and consistency, but many software businesses miss out on connecting with more clients simply by not focusing on continuous collection of new reviews. BrightLocal has found that a whopping 84% of consumers think that online reviews older than three months aren’t relevant.

Collecting reviews — and what to do with them once you have them — often is treated as a marketing afterthought. With all the competing priorities that businesses must focus on, it’s easy for reviews to fall by the wayside, but this can result in negative implications for  your brand and sales. Don’t believe it? We’ve found that software vendors on Gartner Digital Markets see a 127% increase in traffic to their profile pages when they collect 10 or more reviews.
 

Here's why review recency matters to software buyers:

New reviews build trust

One of the first things that consumers do when researching products is to seek out reviews as social proof that your product is trusted by others and high quality. Specifically, the two key questions they ask when reading reviews are: “Is the reviewer like me?” and “Is this information timely?”

Not surprisingly, a top reason why buyers read reviews is to find relevant advice and feedback from people with similar backgrounds and software needs. Easily accessible reviews from like-minded reviewers shows that your product is worthwhile to pursue — building confidence and trust beyond what your traditional sales pitches and marketing collateral can provide on their own.

 

Recent reviews show relevance

After finding your product’s reviews, buyers quickly look for the date of review and frequently focus in on your most recent reviews first. This is particularly helpful in the software industry, where products are constantly evolving. Buyers want to know what others think of your current product. If you haven’t collected new reviews in the past 1-3 months, you could risk getting cut from their software shortlist.

This may seem hard to believe, but with software evolving quickly, buyers know that common complaints from just a few months back may have been addressed in recent product updates, or your new tools and latest features may not be highlighted to impress other buyers. With software changing so rapidly, many buyers may be concerned that reading dated reviews could be a waste of time, and they therefore move on to their next options.

 

Fresh reviews make buyers' jobs easier

We all want to save time and be more efficient at work. Reviews are a great way to tackle the sometimes daunting and time-consuming process of software research. Most consumers do not have a ton of time to dedicate to reading reviews and researching all software options out there, so a healthy selection of quality user reviews helps them to more efficiently form an opinion.

If your business only has a handful of aging reviews and your competition has a large quantity of reviews and more recent feedback, they will immediately seem more interesting to the buyer and more compelling to research further.

Don’t miss out on the sale by creating doubt before they can discover how wonderful your product offering is. Make sure you prioritize collecting at least a few new reviews each month to keep a strong profile showcasing relevant client feedback.

 

Recent reviews help discoverability

Reviews help your chances of being discovered by potential clients who are doing research for their software needs. Plus, client feedback and user-generated content provide great material for search engine optimization and help to build a strong reputation for your business online.

The more reviews you collect, the more links and SEO juice you create for your company — and recent content is always a favorite of search engines. If that’s not enough to motivate you, your competitors are focusing in on recent reviews, so don’t get left behind. In fact, nearly 40% of our over-1-million verified reviews on Gartner Digital Markets were generated in 2019. Frequent review collection typically leads to better search rankings, higher traffic and lower bounce rates for your listing.

 

Reviews are powerful branding opportunities

Finally, reviews are great for your marketing efforts and should be included on your website, blog, email signatures and in your marketing collateral. If you have not already done so, be sure to grab your reviews badge and add it to your website to make it easy for potential customers to read your reviews, and for current customers to share their feedback with fellow buyers.

It’s important not to bury your reviews in your marketing efforts — they make a huge difference in building trust and credibility with your audience. To maintain buyer trust, ensure any quotes and testimonials you include on your website or sales efforts are pulled from your most recent reviews and current customers.

 

Ready to collect more recent reviews?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Gartner Digital Markets can help. Take a look at our Reviews as a Service program, which makes it as easy as possible to quickly collect more reviews from your customers. The best part? It’s free. Log in to the vendor portal to take control of your online reviews and get started collecting more new reviews regularly, without a ton of extra effort.

 

Here are some other easy ways to get started:

  • Create an email automation campaign to ask clients for a review during a stage of your sales cycle that makes sense for your business, such as after a renewal. We can help.

  • Build a few dedicated review collection contests or campaigns into your annual marketing calendar. Remember that review collection efforts can’t be one-and-done.

  • Promote your reviews and reviews badges at events, and bring tablets to make it easy to collect reviews on-site during conferences while you have your customers’ attention.

  • Add reminders to your calendar to read, respond to and request new reviews each month, or establish a cadence that works for your business so they don’t fall off your radar.

  • Empower your sales and client success team members to regularly send your review form link to their happy customers. They are great resources to tap into since they are the front line of client communication!

Uncover more strategies for collecting and managing customer feedback inside our Reviews E-book.

 

Kari Test

Kari Test is a Manager on the Vendor Marketing team at Gartner Digital Markets. Originally from Annapolis, Maryland, Kari graduated from Elon University before moving to the Washington, D.C. area. In her free time, she loves exploring Old Town Alexandria, traveling and trying new recipes. Connect with Kari on LinkedIn.

 

Resources
  1. Methodology: Compared average traffic to product spotlight pages in 4Q18, bucketed by review count, against average spotlight page traffic in 4Q19, bucketed by review count. This analysis included both client and non-client products.

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