Remember word of mouth marketing? It used to be the number one way for B2Bs to generate qualified leads. Well, online B2B reviews are kind of the new, improved version. B2B buyers love to read reviews about companies they’re considering purchasing from, because it gives them a clearer idea of what to expect, and how to judge the quality of service they’ll be receiving.

The average buyer does about 60% of their research before they even consider contacting a B2B company. And since we live in the 21st century, they do most of that research online. Having a decent amount of online reviews can seriously boost your conversion rates. It’s a way of providing potential clients with the information they need to decide to pick up the phone and call. What’s more, it’s information they largely trust, because it’s given by objective third parties who have had direct contact with your B2B. So what all do you need to know about online review for B2Bs, and more importantly, how can you generate quality online reviews for your B2B manufacturer? Let’s get into it:

Reviews are a search engine ranking signal

First and foremost, if you’ve been looking for a way to boost your B2B’s SERP ranking on Google, reviews can really help. A study conducted by Moz, a respected SEO guru, shows that online reviews account for about 8.4% of Google’s ranking factors. Though that’s not a huge percentage of Google’s ranking algorithm, reviews are certainly one factor that can work to boost your SERP ranking and generate more qualified leads at the same time.

B2B Reviews show up in search listings

When you get reviews on Google, your overall star ranking will show up next to your company name in search listings. Research shows that consumers are more likely to click on starred search result options over those that don’t have any stars. That’s because stars show clients that the business has been vetted, even if only cursorily, by other clients. Google estimates that you can increase click through rates by as much as 17%, just by having star reviews next to your company name in search results.

But what about negative reviews?

We get it, when you open yourself up to reviews from customers, it’s possible that you’ll get the odd negative B2B review. And sure, that’s scary. Your company does everything it can to keep clients satisfied, but there are just some customers who can’t be helped, and they’re often the ones to leave a negative review. Many companies we talk to are concerned about inviting customer reviews for just this reason, but in fact, negative reviews can have more of a positive impact than you’d think.

Believe it or not, most consumers are more likely to trust a company that has a few bad reviews over a company that has all five star reviews. Today’s consumer is very aware of scams where companies buy reviews to boost their overall rating. A few negative reviews show a consumer that people are giving their actual opinions, and the reviews listed are unsolicited.

It definitely hurts to get those negative reviews, but you can also use them to your benefit by replying to the negative commenter, and doing what you can to resolve or explain the situation. Now, don’t try to refute their negative claims, even if they’re wrong or unnecessarily critical. The best thing you can do with a negative review is to comment, say you’re sorry for the commenter’s poor experience, and offer to fix it. From there, it’s up to them. A tactful, apologetic response will go a long way when future customers are looking into your B2B. Whatever you do, don’t respond while you’re angry. That will only make matters worse.

Improve trust in your brand, lower ad costs, boost conversion rates

It’s important to remember that 60 percent of research for a B2B purchasing decision is done before the buyer ever contacts your company. That’s why reviews for B2B manufacturers can be such a great help. They work to make your company stand out from the competition by providing a solid star rating. Additionally, it’s a form of advertisement that costs you almost nothing, except the time it takes to send an email to a client requesting a review. Online B2B reviews on platforms that your ideal clients regularly surf, like Google+ and LinkedIn, will ultimately have a positive effect on your conversion rate. They provide potential clients a barometer with which to judge your products and customer service, and they help to boost your online presence, getting more eyes on your website and your company. So on to the biggest question of all:

How do I get B2B reviews, and where?

It’s easy to say that B2B reviews are great and that you should have them, but how do you get people to write them?

First, it’s important to decide where you’d like to have your reviews show up. The best, most influential platform is probably Google+, because that’s most every researcher’s first stop, but Linkedin, the Better Business Bureau, and Angie’s List are also great options.

From there, devise an email that thanks previous customers for their business, and requests their honest feedback. Your email should make it as easy as possible for people to review you, and should link to those outlets you’re looking for reviews on.

Let them know what’s in it for them, too. There are a variety of incentives you can provide that make writing a review seem more enticing, and work to further your relationships with those existing customers. For example, you might consider entering all reviewers into a raffle where they could win a prize, or you could offer a small discount on their next parts purchase from you. This is a great way to turn first time clients into repeat customers, and it gets you the reviews you were looking for!

The biggest part of successfully requesting B2B reviews is timing. You’ll want to figure out the best time to ask for reviews by determining when people are most apt to fill them out. In most cases, the sooner the better. You want to ask for a review when your excellent customer service is in the forefront of their minds. However, depending on your B2B’s product, it might make sense to wait until they’ve had your product for a few weeks, and are starting to realize the real benefits of your great product. Test out review requests a few ways, and see when you get the highest number of responses. After a bit of trial and error, you should be able to send out review requests that get a pretty good response rate, especially when you’re offering incentives.

Quality online reviews are invaluable. They show Google that you’re a real, legitimate company that does great business, and they offer new potential clients an insight into how your company works, and the level of service you provide.

If you have more questions about boosting your online presence or requesting more reviews for your B2B, feel free to get in touch with us at HA Digital Marketing. We’ve been working with B2B manufacturers for some time now, and would be more than happy to answer any questions you’ve got on inbound marketing, online reviews, or web presence. Get in touch with us today!

And for more information on generating warm, qualified leads, make sure to check out our B2B Manufacturer’s Guide to inbound Marketing. In it, you’ll find all the tips and tricks you need to effectively optimize your B2B’s inbound marketing strategy:
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