As I’ve discussed before, technology buyers are increasingly relying on user reviews as a key part of their buying process. There are now a wide array of review sites like G2Crowd and IT Central Station, or Gartner owned sites like Gartner Peer Insights, Software Advice, Capterra, and GetApp. There are probably more sites and this does not even include reviews that might appear in traditional commerce engines or in cloud marketplaces. Each of these sites take a slightly different approach to review format and are designed to appeal to different audiences. But that is not the point. The point is that it is getting easier and easier for prospective customers to find reviews from real customers.
These reviews get generated both because of a user’s own desire to share their experience and through promotional efforts by the sites above or technology vendors to encourage customers to submit reviews. Please note that when reviews are generated through these promotional efforts, the majority of the sites acknowledge this with the review, indicating when the reviewer received some form of incentive, or was solicited in some way to submit the review (See figure below for how Gartner Peer Insights does this).
If the incentive offered (by a review site or the vendor) is determined to be based on submitting a positive review, then the review is typically blocked as part of the vetting process (where the sites work to make sure that reviews are from authentic customers).
And while vendors are increasingly recognizing the value of reviews to their prospects, many of them are still taking a narrow view of reviews. They work to get customers to submit them. And they may periodically take a look at their reviews to see where they stand, but that is about it.
This is a missed opportunity. Reviews can be a great resource for vendors. Savvy vendors are aggressively leveraging reviews to:
- Grab quotes and anecdotes for Web sites and marketing collateral
- Provide a supplement to more traditional forms of references
- Provide visibility into strengths and weaknesses to refine product plans
- Understand the motivations, and frustrations, of customers around the entire experience (and thereby used to enhance implementation and service capabilities)
- Deepen competitive understanding
- Explore acquisition targets
and the list goes on and on.
As the volume and importance of user reviews continue to rise, winning vendors will use reviews as an integral part of all aspects of their go-to-market efforts–from planning through execution. Don’t be left behind.
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