Use Customer Reviews to Transform Sales and Marketing


No matter what age you are, there’s one thing that helps you make decisions more than anything else – other people’s opinions and experiences.

You can find people’s accounts of their experiences with different products and services through the world of online reviews.

Yoni Solomon, Director of Product Marketing and GTM at G2 joined the speakers at This Just Works to share insights about how reviews can transform your sales and marketing to make memorable and positive experiences for your customers.

“I’ve seen up close and personal the power that reviews and customer voice can make on strategy,” says Yoni.

Customers can see salesy-sounding ads or emails coming almost immediately – they already expect them – and they’ll ignore them faster than you can blink. But this is less likely to happen when you speak to someone in a language they understand, which is why reviews are so powerful.

When you use reviews to your advantage, you speak to customers in a language they can relate to – because it’s their own language.

Yoni takes us through leveraging customer voice in sales and marketing – and the surprising thing about reviews that’s crucial to remember.

This session was presented at This Just Works, the digital anti-conference. You can see the full session (and 14 other talks) by registering here with code TJWAG2020.

Hard truth: buyers don’t trust you, but you have what you need to change that

“If you’re a marketer or your seller out there, it’s feeling and it’s feeling harder than ever to build trust with your buyers, marketer to marketer. And let me tell you, you are not alone,” shares Yoni.

A G2 Buyer Trust survey uncovered a long-suspected truth; sales and marketing are consistently considered the 2 least trusted teams in a business.

q0gzprh0 g2 survey chartIt’s a tough crowd. (Source: G2)

“A vast majority of sellers say that gaining a prospect’s trust is more difficult than it used to be – which also makes the jobs of marketers and salespeople harder than ever,” says Yoni.

  • 75% of people say it’s getting more difficult to gain a prospect’s trust
  • 65% of people say that their sales or marketing jobs are getting harder

It’s a hard truth to face – who doesn’t want their customers to trust their business? But you’re in luck. Yoni says you already have what you need to create marketing and sales strategies that people can’t help but trust – and that’s reviews.

Forrester Research found that peer experiences and product reviews are what matter most to buyers looking to buy.

“When you consider that 90% of buyers do their own research before ever reaching out to you. It quickly becomes clear that, you know, you need reviews to fuel discoverability and of course, trust for your business. And what’s great is, you know, once you start collecting those reviews, you can essentially put them to work for you,” says Yoni.

nj8i4k613 image2020 06 18at10.20.12amNumbers don’t lie. Peer experiences make a big difference to buyers.

Sales and marketing playbooks need to evolve to incorporate review content as a natural counterbalance to the more refined, polished branded marketing that every business knows and loves.

2opd4e2jd image2020 06 18at11.58.03amAll thanks to reviews that create an honest marketing and sales voice for your brand.

You’ll always need branded marketing content, like:

  • Your website
  • Company-authored thought leadership pieces
  • Testimonials
  • Polished marketing videos

“While you’ll always need a website, you can also now benefit from a review site or marketplace profile that’s covered with your content. It’s got downloads, it’s got customer reviews. And instead of paying product marketers like me to offer thought leadership for you, you can take all of that review content intent and essentially package them up into reports that buyers trust and are going to use to buy,” says Yoni.

“Video reviews that are simply shot on someone’s iPhone can be as powerful and in many cases even more believable than polished marketing reviews that cost a ton to produce.”

How could a customer resist? Still, you’ll always have wary buyers.

“Buyers are inherently skeptical of your websites, sponsored white papers, videos, and other campaign tactics that buyers may perceive as biased,” says Yoni. “Savvy buyers today understand the sales process and if they don’t get perceived value from these materials, they’re not going to give you their information.”

You’ll drive business growth through trust and engagement by being public and transparent with reviews and embracing customer insights – and then focusing your marketing efforts on buyers who are already looking for a product like yours.

“Companies who use a customer voice strategy typically see 10 times more year-over-year revenue. They are seeing transformational results just from using customer voice,” says Yoni.

scliiwc0g image2020 06 18at12.05.54pmCustomer retention rates went way up with companies who did implement customer voice versus those who ignored it.

“Employees are more engaged and more aligned to customer needs and the mission and values of the company. And of course, they see a massive decrease in customer service costs, all by just listening to your customers and paying attention to their reviews.”

“Just that simple act of listening can change so much about the user experience from a customer standpoint, and really, really start to help businesses with success in their marketing and sales journeys,” notes Yoni.

You saw it here first: Customer voice for sales and marketing in action

“ActiveCampaign is a great example – a B2B brand that’s got their fundamentals down in terms of how to leverage reviews within their marketing strategies – that can include prominently displaying their star rating in their search results – all the way to leveraging that same review snippet, to help add trust and legitimacy to a landing page once someone finds them online and essentially clicks through to that landing page,” shares Yoni.

bx5cryulf ac hp compare pageThe ActiveCampaign vs. HubSpot comparison page, featuring G2 reviews.

“And if you notice here, that star rating is exactly what customers are seeing, as they’re considering active campaigns price point.”

Active Campaign also uses comparative review data from sites like G2 that essentially offers this clear breakdown of Active Campaign versus their top competitors.

“And what’s really beautiful here is that all of this comparative data is actually sourced from customer reviews. So it’s a third party, right? It’s validated. And it’s inherently more trustworthy,” says Yoni.

And you should use review data in as many places as possible. Syndicate your reviews everywhere you sell.

“I can tell you from experience that no one wants to double or triple (or sometimes quadruple)-collect reviews over and over and over again. Which is why for both B2C and B2B businesses with multiple listings across the web, review syndication is actually one of the coolest examples of putting those reviews to work for you,” says Yoni.

Syndication lets you auto-share your review content to retailer sites to ensure that your products are covered with reviews – regardless of where your customers are shopping or finding you online

Your sales teams can also use review insights to:

  • Leverage in sales decks and presentations
  • Book meetings and prospect
  • Send to influencers to get deals across the finish line

A buyer is the decision-maker, and in that role you want to hear those valid proof points from someone else who’s in your shoes. Reviews go a long way to build up confidence in a decision.

Turning negative reviews into positives for you

“What about the negative reviews? How do I handle those? Delete, right?

Yoni’s reaction may surprise you.

“What if I told you that when used correctly, negative reviews can actually be a major positive for your business, for your brand and for your product?”

No one likes to be told that their business did something wrong. Everyone is human. And some scary data shows that it can take up to 40 reviews to undo the damage of just one bad review.

Don’t panic. There is still good news to be heard about negative reviews.

Yoni’s previous company PowerReviews ran a study with Northwestern to better understand how reviews impact purchase decisions.

“The closer you get to a 5.0, the less trustworthy you appear. Why? It turns out that perfect 5 auto ratings are too good to be true. The sweet spot that we found with consumers is actually a 4.2-4.5. That’s what buyers at the end of the day are going to trust the most. So be careful about only collecting perfect ratings,” warns Yoni.

f6g01h5u4 image2020 06 18at4.17.51pm

People might start to think “are these reviews legit?” when they see only 5-star reviews. They know nothing is perfect, so they need that negative proof to make the smartest decision. And nearly all of your buyers will suspect something’s up if they don’t see a single negative review.

32lxr7112 image2020 06 18at4.40.07pm95% of buyers think censorship in the absence of negative reviews. (Source: Bizibl Marketing)

“No matter how many positive reviews you collect, it’s your negative reviews that are going to be sought out twice as much by potential buyers. So don’t try to hide them. Don’t try to suppress them. There’s no point; this is what buyers are looking for. So the question is, what should you do? Instead, you should respond to them,” says Yoni.

“This is a massive opportunity that’s often missed, as 87% of sellers don’t respond to their negative reviews – despite 40% of buyers saying your response will have a positive impact on both their evaluation of that review and your product as a whole,” says Yoni.

Here’s what you can do about negative reviews.

  1. Respond to negative reviews to engage current users, and win future buyers
  2. Share negative reviews with your product, engineering, and support teams. Make that feedback actionable to help your teams prioritize real changes that are guaranteed to improve your product and experiences.
  3. Acknowledge negative reviews to demonstrate that you’re not perfect at everything – because it’s okay!

“Bake this content into your sales training, into your talk tracks, your presentations, any sort of sales enablement that you’re doing – especially in the B2B side of the house. You’re going to win buyers not by being the perfect solution, but certainly by being the most trustworthy one,” notes Yoni.

Conclusion: The key takeaways that just work

Whether you’re in B2C or B2B, reviews can give you a level of customer insight you never imagined. Reviews can amplify your sales and marketing efforts to create the best possible customer experiences. Now is the time to invest in reviews.

Remember these key takeaways:

  • Positive reviews on your products and services will essentially do the selling and marketing for you! Just incorporate them into your marketing resources, sales presentations, and other content.
  • Negative reviews on the other hand are NOT to be ignored. In fact, they’re every bit as valuable (and important) to your buyers as the positive reviews are. Respond to them, use them, and pass them onto your teams to enhance your business, brand, and offerings.
  • Being perfect does NOT equal being BETTER in the eyes of your customers. The most human brands are going to win in the end. And by building your customer voice strategy to incorporate BOTH positive and negative feedback into it – you’ll position your brand to be the most trusted option for your buyers.

To download the full recorded This Just Works digital event, go here to register with code TJWAG2020!



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