Are customer reviews enough social proof for B2B buyers?

black and white typewriter on table

In the world of customer advocacy, the north star for most companies seems to be the volume of customer reviews you have. I think we all know everyone wants 5 stars or whatever the equivalent is depending on the review site. Are they really enough social proof for people wanting to make a purchase? Especially when it comes to B2B.

Customer reviews do matter

We can’t ignore customer reviews. They do have their place, as Elizabeth Shea notes in a recent Forbes article: “Statistics show that 92% of business-to-business (B2B) buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review, and displaying five product reviews can increase conversion rates by 270% compared to having no product reviews.” There is no denying with stats like that, that we all need to pay attention to reviews.

However, people do their homework when purchasing something. Especially in 2020 and even more so if it’s a B2B purchase. Customer reviews are just one aspect to consider when building towards any kind of advocacy. I hope if you’re reading this article you’re bought into the concepts around customer advocacy by now!

Aim higher than just customer reviews

As we’ve ascertained the reviews do matter, but I think we should aim higher when it comes to customer accolades. I recently saw this tweet:

Twitter post by @JonEJacobs saying "If you want to know what building brand advocacy looks like, I just spent my Friday afternoon writing someone I've never met a 1,000 word email about why they should use a certain social media management platform. *cough @SproutSocial  cough*"

Maybe Jonathan is a Sprout Social advocate, as in maybe he’s formally recognised by them as one, or maybe he is just so delighted by their product he can’t help but tell a stranger how much he loves them. This is the kind of advocacy we should all be reaching for.

This should be your north star. It’s hard to develop this kind of customer advocacy, but it can happen – as you can see.

Focus on organic customer advocacy and nurture

Organic customer advocacy is the kind Jonathan displays here. To our knowledge anyway! Although if Sprout Social are clever they are now frantically writing to him to find out who he talked to.

I’ve compiled some thoughts on how to drive this kind of advocacy, nurture your advocates and get your customer review game strong:

  1. Make reviews your bread and butter – customer reviews need to be your base layer, your bread, and butter. Embed opportunities for customers to give you reviews within your advocacy programme but do not make them the end game. For example, after a great NPS or CSAT ask for a review.
  2. Make leaving a review easy – ask your customers to review you on one site. Whatever that might be: G2, Capterra, and Trustpilot are places to investigate.
  3. Co-create more meaningful customer content – work with your customers to create something that benefits them and you, it ain’t all about your product. This kind of content = good for SEO, good for showing you’ve built trust with your customers, people actually want to read it and makes the customer feel so much more love.
  4. Customer community – you need, need, need to create a customer community. Wherever or however you do it. do it. It might be on social, it might be via another platform but do it (and do it well). If your customers feel a sense of community and ownership of your product, like lovely Jonathan up there does, they are going to want to talk about you.
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