5 Ways to Use Buyer Ratings in B2B Marketing – MarketingProfs.com | Region & Cash

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These days we tend to search and read reviews on almost everything from restaurants to clothes to books. We’ve all used reviews to make our purchasing decisions in some way.

Software buyers are no different. In fact, there’s a lot more at stake when a software purchasing decision is wrong.

Lost employee productivity, failure to meet business goals, stakeholder dissatisfaction, unplanned implementation costs, and high switching costs are just a few of the potential negative impacts that result from a poor software purchasing decision.

The range of business processes that can benefit from Software as a Service (SaaS) is immense and growing every day. According to the Business at Work report by identity and access management company Okta, technology companies today have more than 150 software applications on average.

The report adds that many industries, including retail, professional services, insurance, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, and government, have seen dramatic increases in software usage. Businesses of all sizes use software to digitally transform their business and sell more of their products.

So many apps to manage and integrate mean that selecting and purchasing software is perhaps the most important decision a business can make. Their impact on the business can be significant – positive or negative. It is therefore not surprising that today’s software buyers want to be as informed as possible and often refer to customer reviews when evaluating and selecting a new software partner.

Software vendor marketers need to adapt their marketing methods to the new way of shopping — which includes buyer reviews — to understand how best to reach more customers and ultimately sell more products.

Why and how should software vendors use reviews in their marketing plan?

Understanding buyer reviews gives marketers a personalized account of the joys and challenges buyers face as they tackle the complex considerations of their software purchase. Ratings also show marketers how a target audience rates software vendors and how customers describe their experience with their vendor of choice.

Marketers shouldn’t overlook the opportunities that customer reviews offer. Valuable customer feedback can and should be incorporated into the following five tactics.

Marketers can learn first-hand which features are resonating best with customers and which are their must-haves. You can also understand how competitors are perceived by real end users and discover their unique differentiators.

Such customer and competitor insights can transform market positioning from subjective superlatives into words that create a feeling only associated with your brand and product.

2. Understand the buyer’s mind

Buyers have many thoughts when making a purchasing decision – things like features, capabilities, cost, value, and relationships with software vendors. By collecting and analyzing reviews, marketers can assess the various dimensions of the buyer experience and uncover hard-to-find information about why customers may not renew their software purchase.

Taking the time to understand the buyer’s mind sheds light on the relative importance and influence of various factors in a buyer’s purchasing decision.

3. Discover ways to improve your product

By finding out what buyers think about the quality, breadth, and importance of features from competing software vendors, marketers and product managers can make better decisions about where to invest in product development.

With this information, marketers can learn what buyers think of vendors’ product strategies and how buyers perceive competing vendors’ rate of improvement and innovation. You can find out if customers feel supported by software vendors to achieve their goals across integration, usability, implementation, customization and training phases.

Such insights help marketers and product owners make meaningful improvements to their product and service experiences.

4. Ensure that any unique product and vendor distinctions stand out

Ratings allow marketers to understand which value drivers are most valued by buyers and customers.

Examples of metrics that providers can evaluate overall and use in marketing to differentiate themselves from competitors are likelihood of recommendation, satisfaction that cost is reasonable relative to value, and whether customers plan to renew. These emotional measurements are a crucial factor in determining how marketers can differentiate their product and service.

Marketers can also capture buyers’ emotional attention by promoting the key customer sentiment metrics that correlate with high levels of satisfaction with a vendor. This could include emotional measures related to product impact, customer relationships, conflict resolution, negotiation and contracting experience, and service experience.

5. Building trust and credibility with customers and prospects

A key part of a marketer’s job today is building trust and loyalty so prospects and customers become inspired advocates for the product and brand. To be effective, vendors must demonstrate that they want to hear what their prospects and customers think about their products and their role as vendors. Marketers need to give customers the opportunity to speak up and share their feedback.

Reviews are an effective marketing technique for not only gathering individual feedback, but also understanding and promoting what your buyers and customers are thinking overall. Few things are more telling than a buyer’s exact words to describe their experience.

The opportunities that reviews provide can offer marketers an effective way to build credibility and advocacy with prospects and customers.

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“However, not all buyer rating data methods are created equal. Using more than one review platform to collect reviews is important because the questions asked of buyers and the level of detail required vary significantly. Marketers not only want to understand which features are most important to buyers, but also what their customers and potential buyers think and think about their business.

For example, what was it like working with a particular software vendor throughout the evaluation, negotiation and contracting and service experience? How do buyers rate the vendor’s ability to help them grow and innovate? How do competing providers perform on these emotional dimensions of the buyer’s experience?

Sometimes it’s easier for marketers to think they already know what their customers like and don’t like about their product. Then they can start writing that marketing copy, send the next version, and generate more leads.

However, collecting feedback through reviews is important customer-facing work that pays off many times over. Being there for customers means listening to and responding to the positive and negative experiences they have with products and their suppliers.

Buyer Ratings are a direct and effective way for marketers to collect useful feedback. Additionally, incorporating reviews into their marketing plan will lead to a deeper connection with and understanding of customers, allowing marketers to improve the customer experience and sell more products.

More resources on B2B buyer reviews

Five lessons marketers can learn from online reviews

Customer Reviews As A Marketing Channel: How To Create A “Reviews Funnel”

How ratings and recommendations influence the buying process [Infographic]

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