The ROI of Reviews for B2B Demand Gen Professionals

March 21st, 2019

The ROI of Reviews

You’re reading this article because you work at a B2B tech company and you want to justify your investment in reviews. You might want to know how to measure the success of a review program you already have in place. Or, you might be trying to decide if a review program is worth it for you. Whether you love the idea of reviews (and you’re looking for tips to convince your colleagues), or you’re a born skeptic when it comes to reviews, read on!

This is the first article in a series we’re writing to help B2B technology companies understand the ROI of reviews. Our goal is to help you understand the value of infusing customer voice across your business. Research shows that customer-centric vendors are more influential with buyers, and their reps are more effective! But we get that you want help calculating an ROI in terms that are aligned to your specific teams and initiatives.

In this first part of the series, we will cover the value of reviews for Demand Gen. In the next installments, we’ll cover different roles and functions.

If you’re running Demand Generation, what’s in it for you?

The basic functions of DG are to identify, target, and nurture key prospects to move into, and through, the sales funnel. DG results are measured in the form of leads and engagement. For a Demand Gen professional, it’s all about warming things up for sales and customer success. How many people can they get interested, how ready are they to buy, and are they set up to get the most out of the company’s products and services?

So when it comes to reviews, there are three ways DG professionals can think about ROI:

  1. Conversion lift
  2. Pipeline influence & buyer intent
  3. Retargeting

Demand Gen sees ROI most clearly through conversion lift

Once you’ve put in all the work to get your landing pages built, and your CTAs just right, you want to make sure you drive as many conversions as possible, right? Because those leads are one of your top KPIs, and you want to crush your numbers—without doubling your workload. Making your best pages more effective is always more attractive than designing and testing new channels, programs, and pages. This is where reviews come in.

On average, in B2B you can expect reviews to increase landing page conversion by 30%. This is the big ticket, “hard” ROI of reviews for most demand gen marketers.

You need powerful review content to build trust and fuel your sales and marketing. We can help get your customers on the record at scale—let’s talk!

Why does this work? Using any form of social proof on landing pages increases conversion. Leads are more likely to click, register, or take the desired next action when marketers include evidence from other customers’ experiences alongside their CTA. Partly, this is the bandwagon effect. But it’s also a matter of speaking the same language and making promises believable. People are drawn in by real-life examples and conversational language that matches the way they think about their challenges and goals, from other people like them. It’s more compelling than polished marketing copy.

Reviews are a strong form of social proof, especially when they are originally posted on third-party sites (i.e. not collected by your company). Independent reviews are highly trustworthy. They are more authentic than basic testimonials and easier for you to manage than case studies—two other forms of social proof sometimes used on landing pages.

Here are four examples of B2B brands using reviews to increase conversion on their landing pages—and the specific results they saw for their demand gen programs.

TrendKite saw a 26% conversion lift in demo requests

TrustRadius Quotes on Trendkite Demo Page

TrendKite, a PR software company that was recently acquired by Cision, reported a 26% lift in conversion on this demo requests page by adding reviews. They also saw other positive impacts, like a 25% increase in time spent on page—meaning leads were more engaged with the product when they could read reviews, versus just marketing copy alone. This is a dramatic increase in the number of inbounds their demand gen team can pass on to sales for a demo.

TIBCO saw a 14% lift in conversion for free trials

TIBCO saw a 14% lift in conversion for free trials | TrustRadius

TIBCO saw a 14% lift in conversion for free trials | TrustRadius

TIBCO Spotfire is a business intelligence software product that offers a free trial, as a way to demonstrate value and drive demand. By adding reviews to this landing page, they were able to get 14% more visitors to click to sign up for a trial. Free trials are an important channel for their demand gen programs to qualify highly engaged prospective customers, and reviews helped them be 14% more successful with this page.

On other pages where they’re using reviews, TIBCO has seen an even higher conversion lift. And though this can be a major metric for DG roles, it’s by no means the only ROI of reviews for TIBCO. As Felicia Haggarty, Senior Campaign Manager, Analytics at TIBCO put it, the ROI of reviews for her has been the “Impact on landing page conversion by 30%, number of references increased, greater retention of customers.”

ConnectWise Control drove 25-40% conversion lift across multiple pages

ConnectWise Control drove 25-40% conversion lift across multiple pages

ConnectWise Control is a remote desktop and web conferencing tool that added reviews to various different landing pages, including the free trial offer above. Depending on the page, reviews increased conversion by upwards of 30% (the average TrustRadius sees across the vendors we work with)!

When we asked him about the ROI of reviews, Rick Salmon, PPC Manager at ConnectWise, said, “TrustQuotes have helped to provide a 39% lift in conversion rate on our paid search lead generation landing pages for one of our products that we advertise for. For another campaign we ran we saw a 25% conversion lift in paid search.” Salmon added that “Reviews hold a lot of weight being that they are from a 3rd party.”

PiiQ by Cornerstone drummed up more conversion with reviews—220% more!

PiiQ by Cornerstone drummed up more conversation with reviews--220% more!

PiiQ by Cornerstone is a corporate learning management system for SMBs. On their “Let’s Talk” PPC landing page pictured above (which they drove prospective customers to from paid search ads), Cornerstone reported a 220% lift in conversion when they added reviews! After seeing reviews, leads were MUCH more ready to get started. This

Other conversion lift success: SmartRecruiters lowers cost-per-click

Alex Wexler, Director, Web Development (Marketing) at SmartRecruiters, said the impact of reviews on his personal KPIs has been how they “helped to boost conversion for Paid Search campaigns.”

“Our Marketing department has implemented TrustQuotes for Web on the main website as well as on individual SEM landing pages. We use this to efficiently manage and display customer quotes to establish trust with prospects and increase conversion rates on lead forms,” explains Wexler. “While A/B testing form conversion for Paid Search landing pages, we saw up to an 18% increase in conversions at a lower cost-per-click.”

Implementation details to keep in mind

Content rights and the technical approach to displaying reviews on your landing pages are two factors to consider. At TrustRadius, we handle these issues for you in a way that helps you get the most ROI from the review content we drive for you.

In order to put review quotes and/or star ratings on your landing pages, you do need to make sure you have the right to use that content. TrustRadius offers licensing as part of a paid review program. (If you’re working with a different B2B review site, make sure you ask them about this!) You also don’t want to have to deal with Legal, nor do you want happy customers who posted great things about you online to turn into detractors simply because you’re using their words without permission.

You’ll also need a way to put the reviews onto your landing pages. You want them to look good in context, but you also want them to stand out and feel trustworthy. TrustRadius offers pre-rolled, configurable widgets you can add to your pages that will handle the technical parts of review syndication for you. Other B2B review sites may allow you to use the content, but you’ll have to build it into your site on your own. Keep in mind factors like content recency, citation/attribution, visual style, etc, when you determining your strategy for managing review content on your landing pages.

Fuel ABM campaigns by re-targeting high-value companies researching you—and your competitors

This is where pipeline influence, buyer intent data, and retargeting opportunities come in.

If you know your buyers are searching for reviews on their own, you have an opportunity to influence them. Make sure review content about your product is available and tells your full story. (You need enough recent reviews, with feedback that speaks to all of your key personas and covers all the hot topics in plenty of detail). You may also be able to collect intent data: signals that show you which accounts are interested and what they care about.

For example, TrustRadius offers Visitor Insights dashboards that provide buyer intent data. Vendors can see which accounts are reading reviews of their products and with what intensity. They can also get a competitive view into the other products those accounts are considering. Here’s is an example from SAP’s product listings on TrustRadius:

TrustRadius offers Visitor Insights dashboards that provide buyer intent data

TrustRadius offers Visitor Insights dashboards that provide buyer intent data

This data helps marketers identify interested buyers, and pinpoint the influence of reviews on leads and opportunities already in their pipeline. It also gives valuable detail about the specific topics and perspectives that resonate with individual accounts. It can be used to effectively nurture and qualify them.

Since you now know where to find them, you may also be able to work with the review site to place a retargeting pixel. Then you can follow up with the buyers that you know are interested, even while they are anonymous, by making sure they see your ads later.

“We see customers/prospects going to online content like TrustRadius reviews more before the formal sales cycle begins with them. Generally, the web is their first point of contact when someone in an organization is asked to put together a list of options for technology investment in a particular area of the company, etc.,” said an Analyst in Marketing at an HR software company that’s invested in a review program with TrustRadius. This marketer explained that part of the value was in the influence reviews gave them, even when prospective buyers are conducting independent research outside of their purview: “TrustRadius provides a reliable, third-party forum for validation of our sales and marketing messaging.”

This marketer at a different software company, also working with TrustRadius, said the impact of reviews has hit on all of the areas outlined in this article, from conversion lift to pipeline influence and intent data: “Supporting our sales teams with customer testimonials, providing our web team with content syndication they can leverage on our website, providing our demand gen team with content they can include in their campaigns, and providing our account management team with more insights into their accounts than they may have previously had.”

And of course, DG isn’t just about getting MORE leads—it’s also about driving better quality leads, that are more likely to turn into closed-won deals and be good fit customers. Lead quality is another important metric for demand generation. Reviews that provide specific use cases with in-depth feedback help prospects get more informed, more quickly. They’re a vehicle for self-nurturing.

Picture this scenario: two prospects request a demo on your website, and one of them is reaching out after reading reviews, whereas the other just found you from a general Google search for products in your space. The prospect who read reviews is likely to be more leaned in, clear on what to expect, and what questions they want to ask. In a sense, they have pre-qualified themselves. They have already seen use cases that apply to them and are ready to go through the sales cycle. The prospect who found you straight from Google is probably too early stage for a true sales conversation. They’re simply looking for high-level information. They are still learning about all of the options out there, what the important considerations might be, and compiling their requirements. They’re a lot more likely to stop responding when they realize your product isn’t what they’re looking for, or turn out to be the wrong POC to actually make a decision–wasting sales reps’ time. Prospects that have read reviews are more educated buyers and better quality leads, with whom your team will have a more relevant conversation.

Quick review program ROI calculation for Demand Generation

Using reviews to help drive a higher conversion rate and better quality leads to sales means they can expect to close more deals.

Need a quick back-of-the-envelope equation you can use to estimate your ROI from reviews? To keep it easy, here’s what we recommend:

  1. Identify your most-trafficked DG landing page
  2. Determine the current conversion rate on that page (Number of Clicks / Unique Visitors)
  3. Multiply that number by 1.3
  4. This will be your conversion rate on reviews!
  5. Now multiply your new conversion rate by the number of unique visitors to all landing pages.
  6. This is the projected number of leads you’ll be able to deliver to sales if you infuse your landing pages with reviews.
  7. Multiply that number by your current sales close rate on marketing-qualified leads (MQLs).
  8. These are the marketing-originated deals you can expect to close, using reviews in your DG programs.
  9. Multiply this number by average deal size.
  10. This is the revenue you will help generate with reviews!

OR, in one fell swoop:

(((your total number of landing page conversions, i.e. leads, from all landing pages) + (that same number x 0.3) ) x your current sales close rate on MQLs) x your average deal size = marketing-originated revenue powered by reviews

If you’re thinking about adding reviews to a PPC landing page, you can also think about the cost of paying for more clicks to get more leads with your same conversion rate versus not paying for more clicks, but squeezing more leads out of the clicks you already pay for by increasing your conversion rate. Investing in reviews can significantly improve your cost-per-lead if you use reviews on PPC landing pages.

TrustRadius’ collection of qualified unbiased reviews is the best place to start your review program. TrustRadius reviews are more detailed than the typical B2B review—with over 400 words on average—meaning that you’ll have more user-generated content to choose from. Having quality content to fill your landing pages & email campaigns, and to nurture prospects that might have questions and concerns about a particular use case, is key to optimizing your ROI and TrustRadius can help you get the most bang for your buck.

TrustRadius site visitors skew more towards the enterprise than other B2B review sites, and 94 of the Fortune 100 companies have actually written reviews of the products they use on TrustRadius. By investing in a presence on TrustRadius, you know you’ll be influencing the audience that matters.

Beyond the conversion rate examples featured above, here’s what three other vendors have to say about working with TrustRadius to fuel their Demand Gen programs:

“The biggest impact has been to our locals/independent market where we are leveraging these quotes to accelerate conversions with our ecommerce product and sales enablement. We are setting up tests to better qualify that.” – Ryan Bearden | Senior Director of Corporate and Customer Marketing | Hot Schedules

“TrustRadius is a great solution if you want to really understand the voice of the customer and be able to aggregate new reviews and quotes that you can then leverage in your external programs from demand gen, pitch decks, spotlight stories and more.” – Kevin Lau | Senior Manager, Customer Marketing | Marketo

“This is so helpful for our Sales and Demand Generation department to capture quotes about products and use them to generate more leads.” – Olivia Schichtel | Associate Content Marketing Manager | Blackbaud

Ready to start your review journey to crush your Demand Gen goals? Click here for a demo and get started today.