2020 is Coming: Here’s What You Need to Know About Reviews

December 16th, 2019

Winter is here – and believe it or not, so is a new decade! As the year (and the temperature) winds down, it’s a great time to both reflect and look ahead. For marketers, as strategies for 2020 come together, are we really in sync with how buyers buy? And what about how they use reviews to make decisions?

For a peek into the real buyer’s journey, we’ve published the 2020 B2B Buying Disconnect. And based on the name alone, you can probably guess that vendors have some room for improvement when it comes to giving B2B technology buyers what they want.

One of the subjects that is near and dear to our hearts is reviews. What do today’s buyers want you to know about reviews? Bundle up with these stats you need to know to skate into 2020 with reviews. 

52% of b2b buyers use reviews in their purchase process | trustradius.com

Over half of buyers cuddle up with a good review

Just like a good book next to a cozy fireplace, reviews are sought after by 52% of B2B technology buyers

For the third year in a row, reviews sit among the top three most-used resources in the buyer’s journey. They are joined by product demos and the company’s or product’s website.

This means that reviews are the #1 resource for B2B buying not controlled by a vendor. 

CEOs and Senior Managers use B2B reviews too

Some grinches think that reviews are only for rank-and-file employees. Their hearts have about three sizes to grow, though, because 55% of CEOs and 56% of Senior Managers use reviews.

That’s more than the baseline average, which means that company executives are actually more likely to access reviews when buying B2B software or hardware. 

What are CEOs learning about your business from reviews?

The most joyful review users: HR, finance, and marketing

Buyers of HR, Finance and Accounting, and Marketing technology use reviews the most. How much more likely, you ask?

  • Professionals purchasing HR software are 29% more likely to use reviews than average
  • Finance and accounting pros are 19% more likely to use reviews
  • Marketing professionals are 15% more likely than average to use reviews

On the flipside, buyers of Vertical Industry software use reviews the least. Reviews of these niche products are often harder to find, and there are fewer competitors to compare.

Google is like Santa, bringing reviews to all the good businesspeople

How do B2B buyers find reviews? For 4 out of 5 professionals, Google is part of the answer. Mimic your buyer’s journey with this quick exercise: what happens when you Google for reviews of your product?

In addition, nearly half of buyers also check reviews across multiple sites they already know and trust.

Put these together, and the strategy is clear: your reviews tree should be decorated with both a strong review presence on Google and across multiple review sites.

81% of B2B software buyers find reviews on google | trustradius.com

Reviews are used throughout the B2B buyer’s journey

B2B buyers seek reviews throughout the journey – during Discovery, Evaluation, and Selection. Nearly 3 out of 4 buyers (74%) who used reviews did so during the Discovery phase, when they were learning about the space and possible options. 

The reviews sleigh ride doesn’t stop there, though. These reindeer are still rarin’ to go!

Reviews are helpful when examining specific products and comparing a shortlist of options, too. 68% of buyers who used reviews did so during the Evaluation phase.

Over a quarter of buyers (27%) use reviews at the end of their journey, too. Reviews can provide great final validation of a product, help drive internal buy-in for a buyer’s product of choice, and even for negotiation with a vendor.

Graph that shows how buyers use reviews throughout the buyer's journey - in discovery, evaluation, and selection | trustradius.com

Buyers care most about review content; vendors are Scrooging it up

We wanted to know what the most important part of a review is for professionals who actually make buying decisions. 39% of buyers said review content (qualitative feedback) was the key for their evaluations.

You wouldn’t judge a gift by its wrapping paper, would you? Buyers don’t. But tech vendors do! 

B2B technology buyers care most about the content of a review, but vendors aren't aligned. | trustradius.com

Vendors aren’t sure what the most important factor is for buyers evaluating their product on review sites. Most are out of touch with what buyers actually find to be most important.

According to your buyers, your product is more than its score. What’s really important about a review are the details that can be learned about your product from real people who use it every day. Rather than a surface- level skim, reviews are being examined in-depth, meaning that buyers trust them as a real indicator of value for a buying decision.

Over half of B2B technology vendors use reviews too

Vendors have hopped onto the reviews Polar Express train too. 58% of vendors will use reviews as a marketing or sales tactic in 2020.

Among those, 79% work with third-party review sites like TrustRadius in a paid capacity. For so many vendors, there’s real value in unbiased, trustworthy customer voice for their buyers. 

58% of vendors use reviews as a tactic to educate and engage B2B buyers. 79% of those pay third-party review sites to help | trustradius.com

Interestingly, the 81% of vendors who partner with third-party review sites are spending money with multiple review sites. Within that, the most common strategy involves working with multiple partners, but focusing the investment on one partner, more than others.

How to snowball into a successful 2020 with reviews

Reviews are the #1 independent resource B2B technology buyers use. That goes from the CEO to the intern. And no matter what kind of software they buy, how they find your reviews, or when along the way they use reviews, buyers in 2020 will use reviews to help them buy products like yours. 

Don’t forget: the engine that makes all this work is content quality. The content within a review is the most important thing to buyers reading reviews, after all! Feed your marketing with powerful review content from quality-focused 3rd-party sites to drive success.

Want to connect with more buyers by getting involved with reviews? Here are some quick tips to kick off your review program.

  • Launch your review program internally. You’ll need an executive sponsor as well as a day-to-day stakeholder to manage the project. Day-to-day managers often fall under customer marketing, product marketing, or demand generation. But it can be done by anyone invested in the success of the business.
  • Establish your presence on review sites. Aim for a minimum viable presence on relevant B2B review sites like TrustRadius.

A reputable site will have authenticated and moderated reviews that are not pay to play.

  • Invite your customers to review you. Prepare a list of a broad set of customers, not just known advocates, and ask them to review your product. The best time to ask is when your product is top of mind. This could include shortly after implementation (90 days is a sweet spot), at a customer event, or after a quarterly or annual business review.
  • Create an email campaign. Email is often the most efficient way to get reviews. You should provide a link to write a review on a 3rd party site, along with specific instructions to make it easy for your customers. Do convey that you are seeking honest feedback. From there, don’t forget to send reminders—multi-step campaigns can help drive more reviews than a single email!
  • Partner with a 3rd party review source like TrustRadius. Our experts can help you run and optimize review acquisition campaigns, assist with review content curation, and implement review content to take marketing campaigns to the next level. Get in touch with us!

If you’re already ready for the snowball of reviews, that’s great! Do pay attention to the emerging trends in review use cases. Buyer intent data, for example, has huge potential for value. Because those looking at reviews are likely involved in a buying cycle, reviews are a great indicator of buying intent.