Contributed by Sandra Chung, Head of Content at Mention
This means that most customers have already decided whether they will buy your product or service by the time you have your first conversation with them.
Nowadays, online reviews play a huge part in helping customers form their buying decisions, and smart companies are learning how to use them effectively.
How online reviews have changed the buyer’s journey
Thanks to the internet and social media, information is now much more accessible than before. Buyers form opinions about your products and brand based on what they see and find online.
For this reason, it’s vital to encourage and share customer reviews, and to make sure that these are easy to find.
And when it comes to customers using online reviews to make purchase decisions, “it doesn’t matter if that social proof comes from friends or strangers,” Sujan Patel wrote for the Content Marketing Institute.” What matters is that we’re seeing evidence from our peers – in this context, other consumers – that the decision we’re about to make is the right one.”
If you still don’t believe in the impact of online customer reviews, check out some of these statistics:
- 70% of people relying on customer reviews before making a purchase (Mintel)
- 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know (Nielsen)
- 40% of buyers form an opinion of a business after reading just 1-3 reviews (Bright Local)
Online reviews are extremely powerful, and companies must leverage them in their customers’ journeys in order to build trust every step along the way.
In this blog post, we’ll be sharing 9 ways our team at Mention uses customer testimonials in each different state of the buyer’s journey.
I. Awareness Stage
The awareness stage is essential for potential buyers who are discovering your brand and searching for high-level information about you. At this initial stage, “your buyer is most likely unaware of two things: your company, and the fact that they have a need.” (Pardot)
It’s therefore important here to create a positive first impression of your brand. By using customer reviews, you can elicit interest in your brand and encourage potential customers to learn more.
1. Social media
Sharing insightful testimonials on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram can be a great way to reach new audiences. For people who don’t yet know your brand, discovering a positive user review in a tweet can create a much more powerful first impression than seeing an ad or a piece of marketing content.
Here’s what that looks like:
Tip: Design a standard social media template to use for reviews every time to take the load off of your design team.
2. Blog posts
Publishing blog content regularly brings consistent new traffic to our website as well as raises brand awareness.
What’s more, providing people with valuable information without asking for anything is also a softer way of selling, instead of asking them to download a piece of content.
The topics we write about on our blog are naturally closely related to our product and the industries that our customers are in. So, in a post where we wrote about about how media monitoring can help agencies, it made perfect sense to ask one of our clients to explain how our tool has helped his agency sign more clients. His testimonial added more credibility to our content.
Tip: Including testimonials on the side bar of your blog posts can grab the attention of who found your blog by chance and “reaffirm your credentials to those who are there because they’re browsing your site.” (Content Marketing Institute)
3. Across your website
It’s a no-brainer, but your website needs to include customer reviews. This is where the new buyers begin researching your brand, so every testimonial you include on your site gives a positive first impression.
Place them on your most-viewed pages such as your about us, contact, and especially your pricing page.
Tip: Your product and features pages are keys to driving conversions on your website. So, instead of including generic reviews about why they like your brand, use ones that relate to the specific product or feature.
Webinars are engaging video sessions that let you finally put a human face to your brand. They’re an efficient strategy to introduce your products in a more intimate way. In fact, webinars have been one of the most effective ways for us to gain qualified leads at Mention.
Use quotes and testimonials from customers to show webinar guests that they can trust what you tell them. You can even create whole webinars around customer case studies, just as we did with Soylent:
Tip: Include client quotes in your webinars to highlight how your product helped solved a particular challenge.
II. Consideration Stage
In the consideration stage, buyers have realized their need for a product and have started to conduct more thorough research beyond your website. They’ll be scouring websites and online resources to compare different solutions.
As prospects eventually need to get buy-in from upper management, they’ll be looking for information and content about your product that address their business problems and has proof of good ROI. For this reason, your client testimonials should discuss why your products solve specific business challenges and are great value for money.
5. Review sites and question forums
Forums like Quora and reddit are common sites where serious buyers go to inquire for information. These websites get major traffic and the information provided is trusted by their users and their community.
You’ll want to answer questions related to your product and industry in order to gain visibility for your brand, and to position yourself as an expert in the field.
At Mention, we try to answer questions around key terms and subjects that we want to be found for. We try to incorporate client testimonials that are the most relevant and helpful to the topic and specific question.
Tip: On product review sites such as G2 Crowd, it’s a good idea to maintain your company profile page to ensure all of the contact information is correct and key details are easy to find.
6. Nurturing emails
Nurturing emails are what prospects receive once they fill out a form on your website and you enter them in an automated email marketing workflow. They allow you to check in with your prospects to help you stay top of mind, and also to encourage them to take other calls to actions.
Using the right testimonials in nurturing emails can give your prospects the little push they need to take the next action. For example, we had a prospect who was an agency initially interested in our tool, but eventually forgot about us. We sent them an email a few weeks later with a product testimonial from the renowned agency McCann; this reassured them and prompted them to sign up for a demo request.
Tip: Include calls to action to more content based on customer testimonials like case studies!
III. Decision Stage
Even after a prospect has done thorough research, had a demo of your product, and is getting close to making a decision, they will go back to do more research to ensure that they’re making the right decision.
It’s important here to create content using language that speaks to C-suites, and facts and figures that quantifies the success of your product.
7. Case studies
Case studies are the ultimate pieces of customer-centric content, and they usually come in video, website, or PDF form. They’re highly effective because they dive deeply into how your solution has helped your best clients solve their challenges.
You’ll want to create case studies with your best and most well-known clients across a range of target industries. The more specific these case studies can be, the more convincing they’ll be to your different buyers.
Tip: Ask clients for the precise benefits they get from your products, and how it helps them be more efficient.
Ebooks are valuable pieces of long-form content that give insights into an issue, trend, or industry. As we mentioned, customers often go back to do more research just before purchase in the decision stage. Ebooks provide that last reassurance because they provide extended related information from industry experts and thought leaders.
Incorporate testimonials that address the specific challenges your product helped solved, such as saving your clients time and money.
Tip: Highlight measurable results and successes your clients have achieved using your product, especially in monetary terms.
9. Battle cards
A battle card is what sales teams use to show prospects exactly in which areas and features your product beats out your competitor. They’ve “become increasingly important as sales cycles have grown more complicated and features have become easier to replicate.” (DocSend)
Include testimonials from customers where they specified exactly how your product beat out the other guy. This could be a specific feature capability, user experience, customer support or price point.
Tip: Choose reviews and quotes that specifically address the key differences you’ve covered in the battle card.
Over to you
Customer reviews and testimonials have become must-haves in your arsenal as the B2B marketing space becomes more and more competitive. Smart companies will leverage them in every step of the customer journey to ensure that they come out on top.
How will your company be using them?
Sandra Chung, Head of Content at Mention