Do Online Reviews Really Matter in B2B?
Customer reviews have stood the test of time, but they’ve predominantly been a part of the B2C world.
It goes a bit like this:
- A customer buys a product or service and they leave a glowing (or not-so-glowing) review.
- Rinse and repeat.
But recently, B2B sellers are starting to get wise to the importance of online reviews for customer retention and business growth.
As a result, B2B sellers are adopting some of the tried and tested techniques B2C companies have been using for years, and customer feedback is one of the most successful strategies for growing sales, boosting brand awareness, and keeping customers coming back for more.
Today, the B2B marketplace is bigger than ever and it won’t stop growing anytime soon. So, in order to stand out, businesses need to differentiate themselves from their competitors now more than ever.
Why Online Reviews Are One of the Most Important Marketing Tactics
People Trust Reviews
People trust their peers more than they trust the polished marketing messages of brands. It’s the age-old case of word-of-mouth marketing (which, incidentally, is still one of the most powerful ways to market a product or service).
Think about it:
Are you more likely to buy a shampoo because you saw a commercial on the TV complete with airbrushed model, or are you more likely to buy it because a friend recommended it?
Online reviews are essentially peer recommendations that give potential buyers a more rounded, objective view of a product or service.
Research shows that 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to make a purchase after reading a trusted review, while 67% rank online reviews from their peers as incredibly important in the buying process.
But it’s not just positive reviews that work their magic – negative reviews are also an important part of the equation.
In fact, 67% of B2B buyers would rather see a nice mix of positive and negative reviews.
Because 72% say that negative reviews give depth and insight to a product, while a further 40% say that they help build credibility.
B2B Investments Are Usually Big
In the B2C world, products range from pennies to thousands of dollars but, in the B2B arena, purchases tend to be much larger.
This means that buyers are warier of buying from a company with no reviews because they are making a bigger investment.
If a business is looking for a product they can roll out to hundreds or thousands of workers, it’s important that they make the right choice to save time considering implementing a new software can be a lengthy process. The solution might also be the only thing they’ve budgeted for that year, which means that if they make the wrong decision, there’s no going back.
So, if it’s conversions you’ve got on the agenda (and, let’s face it, why wouldn’t you?), displaying reviews might just be the answer. In fact, showing online reviews alongside a higher-priced product can boost conversion rates by 380%.
Alongside personalized demos and case studies, online reviews can help potential customers see whether a product or service is a good fit for them.
Speed Up the Sales Funnel
Because B2B buyers tend to make bigger investments, they take longer making purchasing decisions.
This means a B2B sales funnel will look a lot different than a B2C funnel. While the latter might be a simple case of touching on a pain point and presenting the product as the best solution, a B2B funnel needs more steps and more persuasion.
A sample B2B sales funnel. Source.
Which is where online reviews come in.
A company might love the idea of your product, have had their eyes opened to the possibilities of it with a demo, and lap up the tutorials you offer, but if they don’t know how it’s helped other businesses solve a key problem they might shy away from taking the plunge and actually buying.
Free to Collect and Implement
Despite being one of the most powerful marketing tactics, online reviews are also one of the cheapest methods to implement.
It costs nothing to ask a customer for feedback, and it costs nothing to put the reviews up on your site or social media channels.
Online Reviews in the B2B World Are a No-Brainer
Let’s look at the facts here:
Online reviews for B2B companies boost conversions, increase customer trust, and speed up the selling process (which means more sales). On top of that, they are free to integrate across your site and other online homes.
When you look at it like this it’s easy to see that yes, online reviews really do matter in B2B.