- The Yelp effect has expanded to B2B marketing, with the growth of user review sites for B2B products and services
- These crowdsourced review sites provide a new source of data that can influence buyer purchase consideration
- New benchmark data suggests that these sites are becoming more mainstream and potentially more influential
The social review site Yelp was launched in 2004. According to its founders, the site got its name because it was “short, memorable, easy to spell, and was familiar with ‘the help’ and ‘yellow pages’.” It’s since grown to a billion-dollar business, and spawned numerous similar review sites catering to every conceivable market.
With this growth, it was inevitable that review sites would emerge for B2B products and services. Sure enough, organizations like G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, IT Central Station and TrustPilot have established themselves, providing user reviews of a variety of products and services.
The latest data from our recent brand and communications benchmark survey suggests these sites are starting to become mainstream. We were surprised to find that 38% of respondents had a branded presence on one or more of these review sites. This level of adoption is still small compared to well-established social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter, but the rate of growth is very high.
How should B2B brand and communications leaders view these sites? When and how should they engage? We have a few suggestions:
- Join relevant social review sites to raise brand awareness and preference. If you haven’t already, it’s time to sign up on these social review sites and get engaged. Chances are, your products and services may already be listed, so first claim these listings and begin to manage them. If your relevant products and services aren’t listed, create a listing as appropriate. We recommend building social review sites into your existing social media and influencer programs and carefully monitoring them for activity.
- Encourage loyal customers to leave reviews. Most social reviews sites have no prohibition against asking for customer reviews, provided there’s no financial incentive provided. Leverage your customer advocacy programs to identify your loyal customers and encourage them to leave reviews for your products. Our clients report success through having programs in place at customer events, or by gamifying the process to encourage more reviews.
- Understand the salience of these review sites for your business. Most social review sites have focused on certain markets, notably software and technology products and related services. Our research suggests that these sites may be more influential in low-involvement, transactional markets. Understand how relevant and salient these sites are for your brand, and ask customers and prospects how credibly they view these sites.
- Carefully weigh the merits of paid engagements. When we asked respondents to list the most important social networks from a business perspective, only 10% included social review sites–even though 18% have some kind of paid relationship. We expect this data to change rapidly. Paid engagements can help raise the brand’s profile and provide more and better reviews, but the market is still relatively new and the influence of these sites still emerging.
SiriusDecisions clients can find out more about social review sites in the brief “Foundations for Leveraging Review Sites in B2B.”