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Ratings and reviews for B2B marketers

Back in May, I wrote about how B2B firms have avoided ratings and reviews and challenged you to take part in a survey about the subject. Christian Carlsson has graciously offered to share the results in this month’s newsletter. But before we get to that, I would like to thank everyone for their best wishes in light of my announcement yesterday. It’s a big change for me, but I intend to be writing this same old blog for a long time.

Let’s dig into ratings and reviews for the B2B marketers—Christian sure did. He’s kindly made available a presentation that summarizes research he performed for his dissertation. If you’ve got the time, check out Christian’s research on “Ratings and reviews for the business user.” I’ll summarize what I thought were the major points below.

You can sometimes go wrong reading too much into some kinds of research, and counting on the opinions of 75 people (in this case) might not seem prudent to you. After all, who knows whether those folks are representative of the larger population of all B2B buyers? But I think that some of the results of this survey are so overwhelming that they are persuasive.

I’d like to highlight a few of those findings that persuaded me of their veracity. First, if you look at chart 12, it reveals exactly what we thought to be the case, that ratings and reviews are used far less for B2B products than for B2C products. For example, 40% of respondents have used them more than 10 times as consumers, but barely 10% of the same people have done so as B2B customers. Similarly less than 5% have never used consumer reviews but almost 40% have never used B2B reviews even once.

So, one possibility is that people would not be persuaded by B2B reviews, but chart 14 shows that buyers find them among the most persuasive information available, and chart 18 shows that 58% have removed a company from consideration because of bad reviews. And chart 24 shows that 60% have used reviews to influence a B2B purchasing decision. To me, the most compelling chart in the deck is number 25, which shows that 93% of business buyers find ratings and reviews to be valuable.

Again, it is possible that these 75 responses are not enough to persuade you beyond a shadow of a doubt (if doubts in fact cast shadows). But 93% of almost any population tells B2B marketers that ratings and reviews are worth considering for your site. After all, if I told you that changing your ad copy would persuade even half of your target market, you’d do it in a blink. So, if even half of your customers (much less 93%) are waiting to be persuaded by ratings and reviews, why aren’t you offering them?

Before I go, I just wanted to remind you that I’ve still got a free ticket to the Internet Strategy Forum Summit in Portland July 17. (And I can offer 15% off the registration if you don’t win the free ticket.) Check out both offers—I hope to see you in Oregon this month.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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