How to Get your Users to Write Awesome Reviews For You

Why Do You Need B2B User Reviews?

As the leading review platform for B2B enterprise technology reviews, we understand the importance of user reviews in the B2B space. Not only our own research, but research by the industry’s leading technology analysts asserts the importance of user generated content.

According to Forrester research, 74% of B2B buyers are doing more than 50% of their purchasing research online. A recent study by Gartner also revealed that 68% of a customer’s buying time is spent away from the actual vendor.

According to the Salesforce blog, “word-of-mouth recommendations from peers influence over 90% of all B2B buying decisions.”

But do buyers really trust peer content they read online? The numbers speak for themselves: 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.

Peer Reviews and the Buyer’s Journey

Are peer reviews only useful for top-of-the-funnel marketing, or can they play a part in other marketing strategies further down in the buyer’s journey? As you can see below, according to research by RO:Innovation, customer reviews play a huge part in influencing buyers through every stage of their journey.

b2b user reviewssource:roinnovation.com

How can software vendors rise to the challenge of providing potential buyers with B2B reviews that not only answer their questions of “Is this software right for my company needs?”, but also answer questions such as, “Why is this solution the best option among its competitors?”

How can you collect user reviews that help your prospects at every stage of their journey?

How To Collect Real User Reviews
Collecting real reviews for potential buyers can present some challenges. Not all users are willing to write a review, and dealing with internal compliance regulations can make the process difficult.

One of the big advantages of external review sites is that users can review your solutions without having to comply with company policy. This means that it is both easier to find users who are willing to share details of their experience, and also that users can be more honest and open than if they were providing a corporate case study.

What Potential Buyers Want to Know

Another challenge, once you’ve found users willing to give reviews, is knowing which questions potential buyers want answers for.

For example: Are readers most interested in your pricing model? Do they expect full disclosure of your technical support offering? Are scalability and stability the primary ‘must-have’s on their checklist?

Having helped many enterprise technology companies collect user reviews from their users, we’ve written up a quick and easy guide to help you get the best reviews from your users. 

How to Get Awesome Customer Reviews: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Where to Find Users 

At Your Conferences or User Events
By approaching users at your conferences or at events for reviews, you are targeting users who are already knowledgeable about your solutions and will have valuable feedback to share. You can also take down their feedback face-to-face, rather than rely on email or phone feedback, which can be more time consuming for your users.b2b user reviews
Via Customer Advocacy Programs
By tapping into your customer advocacy programs, you can connect with users who are not only experienced with your solution but also willing to share their feedback with others.

Via your Support Team 

Your users who have had positive interactions with your support team are a great source of positive feedback. They can also add room for improvement that your customer advocacy program users may not be able to give you.

Find happy users online

Monitor your brand online with tools like Google Alerts and Mention. Not only can it help you understand where users aren’t happy, but it can also help you identify users who love your solution and who you can potentially reach out to for user reviews.

Step 2: What to Include in your B2B User Reviews

Ask users what they find valuable about your solution. Their answers may surprise you and can provide invaluable information for your product team.

Example: When asked “What do you find valuable in IBM Spectrum Protect?”, CTO Carsten Dan Petersen writes:

“The smallest entry level sized installation can easily grow to large enterprise usages and be migrated across platforms.The product is very client-oriented which supports a lot of different platforms and products, and only have to be upgraded approx. every five years to maintain support.”

Ask users which solutions they have also evaluated. This information can give you great competitive information, and can also influence the potential buyers reading your user reviews.

Example: When asked “Did you consider any other solutions besides VMware vSAN?”, an Infrastructure Manager answers:
We looked briefly at alternatives, but nothing stood out like vSAN. Nutanix was another solution, but surprisingly, it would have cost us more..

Ask users how and where you can improve your solution. Not only is this information very valuable for your product team, it also makes your reviews more believable. Users don’t trust five-star reviews that only say good things about a product.

Example: When asked “Where do you see room for improvement in Tableau?” Data Analysis Team Leader Yali Pollak answers:

Tableau lacks machine learning algorithms that you can implement using R, SPSS Modeler, and Python.It has clustering and time-series forecasting abilities which are helpful, but adding machine learning capabilities like decision trees, CHAID analysis and K-means would make this product perfect!”

What about users who wish to remain anonymous?
Some users may be happy to give feedback, but can’t because of their own corporate compliance policies. One way around this is to allow users to give reviews either with their full details or anonymously. By giving users this choice you will collect a wider range of user reviews, which can be used as a tool throughout your marketing materials.

What are your users saying about your solution?

Sign in to IT Central Station to read what real users have to say about your solution.

IT Central Station Wins Deloitte’s Fast 50 Rising Star Award

We are delighted to have been awarded Deloitte’s prestigious Fast 50 Rising Star Award for 2016. The Rising Star selection is part of the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 competition and is awarded to young startups that have the fastest growing revenues.

deloitte-2016-fast-50

Here at IT Central Station our mission is to be the #1 most influential source in the enterprise technology buying process, a $3 trillion annual market.

Reviews and user generated content have a major impact on the B2B tech market. IT Central Station’s dramatic growth since its launch has proven that many buyers want to complement, or replace, the advice from traditional players such as analyst firms, traditional tech media, and independent consultants, with user generated content from their peers. 93% of B2B buyers say that reviews and analysis drive their major purchasing decisions – many of whom have turned to IT Central Station.

IT Central Station now has over 180,000+ tech professionals in our community, and is one of the most trusted online resources for tech decision makers. Read more about our Deloitte’s Fast 50 award here.

Webinar: Using the Voice of the Customer to Empower Your Marketing

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According to Forrester, enterprise tech buyers complete 70% of the buying process before even engaging with a vendor. That’s because they search for real user feedback before going to the vendor to make their final buying decisions.

IT Central Station along with the LinkedIn B2B Tech Marketing Community hosted a panel of enterprise tech marketing executives who use customer reviews, peer content, and professional social communities to achieve marketing success. They shared their expert tips and advice on how to reach serious buyers at the crucial stage of their buying journey.

The panelists included:

  • Isaac Rodriguez, Digital Marketing Strategist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • Rafael Kabesa, Senior Product Marketing Manager at VMware
  • Wendy Perilli, Senior Director of Global Integrated Programs at ServiceNow

This webinar was hosted by:

  • Russell Rothstein, CEO and Co-Founder of IT Central Station (moderator)
  • Holger Schulze, Owner of the LinkedIn B2B Technology Marketing Community

Watch the recording of the webinar here:

Thank you to our guest speakers, as well as the LinkedIn B2B Tech Marketing Community for its co-sponsorship of this webinar with IT Central Station.

Don’t Miss the Boat on Product Reviews

5 Reasons Customer Reviews Are Essential to Your Marketing Strategy

Product reviews, peer content, and professional social communities are rapidly taking over the $3 trillion enterprise technology industry.  Here at IT Central Station, we’re leading the way with our crowd-sourced platform that allows real users to share their opinions about tech products.

IT Central Station currently has over 140,000 users, discussing and reviewing all the major enterprise technology solutions.

Research from Forrester, Gartner, IDC, LinkedIn, and Google all validate the greater importance that tech buyers place on peer experiences and product ratings than on any other type of content.

Our latest infographic illustrates this, visualizing the data that make customer reviews at IT Central Station essential to any enterprise technology company’s marketing strategy.


Yelpification

The Yelpification of Enterprise Tech: 5 Reasons Customer Reviews Are Essential to Your Marketing Strategy

Download our infographic in PDF format.


 

Interested in learning more?  Learn how leading marketers at HPE, VMware, Salesforce, Oracle, and IBM use peer reviews by visiting marketing.itcentralstation.com, or contact me at ceo@itcentralstation.com.

Watch: Russell Rothstein on The ROI of Reviews at Advocamp

Last month Russell Rothstein, CEO of IT Central Station, spoke at Influitive Advocamp, the biggest customer experience and advocacy event, held in San Francisco.

He was joined on stage by Anand Akela, Director of Product Marketing at AppDynamics to discuss the ROI of Reviews.

You can watch the full video here:

See the slides: http://www.slideshare.net/Influitive/advocamp-russell-rothstein-anand-akela

The Yelpification of Enterprise Tech

Yelpification Webinar - 300 x 250We recently hosted a panel of marketing leaders who leverage customer reviews to build awareness and generate leads.  The panel of enterprise tech marketing executives shared tips and advice for utilizing product reviews, peer content, and professional social communities to achieve marketing success.

The panelists included:

  • May Petry, Vice President of Digital Marketing at HP
  • Wendy Perilli, Senior Director of Global Integrated Programs at ServiceNow
  • Anand Akela, Director of Product Marketing at AppDynamics
  • Paula Daley, Advisor for DevOps Product & Solution Marketing Operations at CA Technologies
  • Russell Rothstein, CEO and co-founder of IT Central Station (moderator)

View the recorded webinar here: The Yelpification of Enterprise Tech: 5 Reasons Why Customer Reviews Are Essential to Your Marketing Strategy.

Along with the webinar, we’ve also created a new infographic illustrating the marketing advantages of using customer reviews.  This new infographic depicts industry data confirming the importance technology buyers place on product reviews and peer experiences.  For example, research shows that tech buyers complete two-thirds of the buying process before engaging with a vendor sales representative.

HubSpot vs Marketo—Marketing Matchup

Marketing tools provide promise for scalable and efficient ways to get your content to the right audience. The better you do this, of course, the more prospects you get and ultimately more sales and revenue.

But at what cost and what is your return on investHubSpot vs Marketoment (ROI) for using these resources?

There will be some initial ramp up costs for certain. Make sure you also consider the “cost” to your employees in terms of usability and even job satisfaction.

No one likes to be mandated to use some tool that is hard to figure out while training might be sparse. We’ve all been there and it can be very frustrating. This cost could be higher than you think depending on how broad the scope, success, or failure of the tool manifests.

Here’s a quote about Marketo from a real user on IT Central Station,

“Pros:
Marketo gives me the toolset necessary to create automated drip email campaigns to my customers and prospects. HUGE ROI! Great customer service and still (relatively) nimble dev team always willing to help, even in special, or “one-off” scenarios.”

Quotes like these can help you make decisions and might help you get motivated in spite of any training hurdles. Selling to internal audiences for some solutions is very important if you’re the decision maker for IT tools.

At IT Central Station, you can begin your search for marketing tools such as Marketo and compare them to others. You can find out how others in your peer group are using specific aspects of the solutions you’re interested in adopting. You can also have your colleagues who you need to convince to take a look at reviews.

A matchup between Hubspot and Marketo is on the horizon. If you’re a real user start the reviews to establish yourself as a thought leader in marketing automation or enablement—or in another category depending on your role.

Or you might want to reach out to an established real user who contributed a review for any of the products on IT Central Station.

Here’s two ways you can do that, you can comment on the review and get into a dialogue of Q and A with the reviewer or even someone else who commented.Question

Or, you can “inbox” the reviewer directly from the site. Just push the Ask Me a Question button shown to the right.

For more information about becoming a contributor. see Become a Contributor.

Be a part of the “Yelp for Enterprise Tech” as referred to by the Wall Street Journal on IT Central Station.

 

Forrester Insights on B2B Social Media

Forrester’s Zachary Reiss-Davis has been writing noteworthy social media insights for IT Infrastructure CIOs, CEO’s, and Decision-Making VPs to consider.

Most would agree that we all have unique, organic experiences of social media—personally and professionally.

We don’t want to over indulge though, or do we?

Social Media

Zack’s find . . . “For business purposes, the No. 1 and No. 2 communities aren’t specific public social networks but “niche” communities focused on specific objectives. For example, business technology buyers might visit IT Central Station or Spiceworks to learn more about multiple competing technologies at once; alternatively, they might visit a community managed by a single brand, such as the Cisco Communities or SAP Community Network (SCN. . .
In Business, Everybody Uses Social Media For Work; The Question Is How

For B2B Social Media, we want to know when to engage and how—we desire to tag the emerging “beat” or sustainable cusp of importancethis grabs our attention.

In Zach’s research, we’re finding more and more that peers rely on other peers for vendor solution feedback a lot more than they used to and value it more than some analyst reports.

We’re here precisely for that!  Peers communicating with other peers about enterprise vendor solutions and no sales and marketing spins.

So on the social media side, strike a balance but do indulge in becoming a peer leader in your field by following Vendors, Solutions, and Products @ IT Central Station.

Follow Products IT Central Station

You can follow products, write reviews, and analyze what others in IT Infrastructure planning have done to make great decisions—what will you do next to add value to your IT Enterprise or your organization’s Strategic Plan?

IT Pros Looking for Enterprise Solutions . . . “S-h-o-pp-ing . . .we’re shopping!”

Remember the 80’s song from the Pet Shop Boys?

Ok, even if you don’t, it was a big hit and LinkedIn and other community sites like IT Central Station are now becoming a big hit for finding what works and doesn’t work for enterprise-level solutions.

[A bit of a stretch with the shopping song but might get us in the mood.]

Check out this post from Julie Bort in the Business Insider IT Pros Are Using LinkedIn In A Surprising Way: To Shop For Enterprise Tech.

A quick summary here is that IT pros now use social media to vet and verify what they hear from vendors because of the following reasons: Trust, Relevance, Efficiency, and Access—the key drivers pointed out in a Forrester study that Julie highlights in her article.

Social MediaIT Central Station conveniently provides you with LinkedIn Insider access to do your “shopping.” Well—let’s be clear—you need to get involved in the buying revolution here on IT Central Station as the “Yelp for Enterprise Decision Makers” according to the Wall Street Journal.

For example, review the enterprise products and services that you use regularly. You can influence tech buying and become an expert and show that you’re a thought leader in your area of expertise.

Check out the other reviews and comment on them. Do you agree or do you have more insight to help your peers in making a good decision about buying a solution?

 

                       Cisco                   Ibm                  Vmware_logo               

Quality Center   Enterprise Routers   QualityStage   VMware ESXi    Oracle Data Mining

 

Remember that you can just go to IT Central Stationjoin if you haven’t already—and build your profile.

Every review on IT Central Station has been verified to be an authentic review by a real user. You can count on the Station Master, Russell Rothstein and his team to continue to provide you with the kind of tech-buying community source that will shape the future. Take a look at how it all started here.