Let’s face it. Despite the access they have to online information, customers have low levels of trust in messages they see on vendor websites, collateral sent to them and phone calls with your staff. Instead they’re looking to friends, family, and even strangers for feedback and recommendations on services and products. They trust word of mouth marketing.

As trust and influence from peers’ opinions grows, so does the need for online reviews. And with an astounding 90% of consumers reading online reviews and 88% of them trusting the online reviews as much as personal recommendations, online reviews about your brand are more important than ever. To effectively drive traffic, conversions and sales you need to get more reviews from your customers. And more often than not, this task is bestowed upon the customer marketing team to achieve.

How should you start the online review process?

Step One: Evaluate the importance and biggest needs

  • Evaluate the major B2B online review sites. Watch the video above if you need a list to start with. Put your company name in the search bar and see how it stacks up against the competition.
  • Evaluate the gaps in the reviews. Go beyond just the total number of reviews about your brand. Look at the number of reviews by product, or by customer vertical.
  • Evaluate the impact it’s having on new business. Talk to your Sales team about any prospects that have mentioned a lack of online reviews or low scores.
  • Explore the use and say of online reviews in win/loss surveys and find out where to prioritize efforts.

Step 2: Develop a plan of action

  • Look into ways you can enlist those with close relationships with your customers, such as CSMs or Sales Reps. Script emails they can copy/paste to make the process easy for them.
  • Consider the wording of your ask carefully. Sometimes asking a customer, “Would you be willing to write a positive anonymous online review?” gets a better response rate. The anonymity takes the pressure off the customer so they usually end up being more honest in what they write. It also gives the ability for customers who aren’t allowed to endorse things publicly to still participate.
  • Consider a sales contest. Salespeople are naturally competitive, so why not offer a prize (could be cash, or even a silly giant trophy…who doesn’t like bragging rights?) for the region or salesperson who helps generate the most customer reviews.
  • Will you be incentivizing customers in exchange for reviews? Do they get a gift card, discount to your annual conference, 30 minutes with one of your executive staff members? Totally optional, and doesn’t work at every company, but worth thinking through at least.

Step 3: Implement Your Plan

  • Set a timeline, send out invitations and execute against your plan.
  • Do you have any integrations with other customer engagement platforms that might help you expand the reach of this “campaign”?
  • Don’t forget to send thank you notes to customers after they’ve written a review for you. Some companies send a nominal gift card in this step, like $5 to Starbucks, but that’s optional.

Step 4: Evaluate, Adjust & Repeat

  • Report the metrics and success of the campaign.
  • Evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and how you can improve it for next time.
  • Rinse & repeat!

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

It’s true that every online review site seems to have their own workflows and rules. This means you may have to adjust your plan slightly for each different site you plan to ask customers for reviews on. However, because increasing the number of online customer reviews is a task that most likely your Customer Marketing peers are also executing, chances are they may have templates, success tips and metrics you can benchmark against. Don’t be afraid to network or ask for ideas or help along the way!

For example, Trish Bormann of Fortinet, had some great tips to share in regards to how she successfully increased the number of online customer reviews on Gartner Peer Insights recently.

If online customer reviews are a to-do on your list, we’d love to hear from you!

Nichole Auston
Customer Marketing Director at RO Innovation
Nichole Auston is the Customer Marketing Director at RO Innovation. With a background in digital marketing and nearly a decade of experience managing marketing programs for a variety of SaaS companies, she’s passionate about sharing insights, best practices and stories about sales enablement and customer reference management, and the people and technology that power it.