Over the last decade, customer reviews have become a vital part of the software purchasing process.
Every month, millions of potential buyers seek out their peers' candid feedback on various tools. It’s no question that these customer reviews are incredibly valuable to the software buyer – customer feedback enables buyers to see how a particular software product will cater to their needs. However, these reviews are also ripe with opportunity for the marketing teams behind the software products.
As a SaaS marketing professional, you’ve likely started to embrace the customer reviews your tool is collecting on various platforms (and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?). But what if the reviews are coming in slowly, or not at all? You can’t use reviews to optimize your marketing strategy if you don’t have any.
This article will highlight why it’s essential to gather reviews and some best practices for collecting as many as possible.
Why you need software reviews
We’re living in the review economy. Review platforms for restaurants, home services, products, and more see tens of millions of visitors per month, if not more. It’s no different for software tools. Your potential buyers are seeking out reviews before making a purchase. If you don’t have any, they’ll likely move on to a different product.
Additionally, a significant amount of reviews helps to legitimize your offering. Potential buyers can see what your current customers are saying. And don’t worry about the negative reviews – they help too. If a buyer sees only glowing, five-star reviews, they’ll believe it’s too good to be true.
Customers are looking for a smattering of negative reviews, or at least some offering critiques of your product. They make you seem trustworthy, and cause the buyer to really think about what they need. Sometimes, your negative reviews will present a problem that isn’t a dealbreaker for the software buyer. Like we’ve said, it’s all about balance.
User reviews also contribute to increased visibility for your brand. Google takes the quantity, velocity, and diversity of your reviews into account when determining search engine results position or SERP. In other words, a review site is essentially just another social media platform – by owning your page and the content on it, you can control your company's narrative.
Software reviews provide your product team with opportunity as well. If you have multiple people complaining about one particular feature, it may mean it’s time for an update. On the other hand, as a marketer, you can look for the features that reviewers love. If multiple reviews discuss your product’s easy setup, you’ll want to be sure to highlight that the next time you produce new marketing collateral (particularly if your competitors have a notoriously slow implementation).
With a basic understanding of why you need software reviews, you’ll likely be more willing to embrace them in your marketing efforts. Unfortunately, you can’t do that without any reviews. Now, we’ll discuss how to go about gathering reviews so that you can start to leverage them.
How to gather software reviews
Unfortunately, people often think that gathering software reviews can potentially be an uncomfortable experience. We get it – your customers are your biggest asset, and frankly, asking them to spend additional time reviewing your offering could be taken as needy.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable! Typically, people are more than willing to share their feedback, as long as you ask them in the right way.
The gold standard when asking for reviews is to have the conversation in person. Frankly, this is the most natural way to make a request of somebody, and your ask will likely sound less forced. Take advantage of a successful meeting by including a verbal ask as you’re wrapping up. A happy customer will most likely be glad to oblige, especially since a face-to-face request has proven to be 34 times more successful than an email.
However, in the age of Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts, you’re most likely not meeting with the majority of your clients in person. In these cases, a phone call is probably your best option – and can be just as effective! Be sure to brief your sales team with the appropriate language, and then, encourage them to ask for reviews.
There are multiple calls where this would be appropriate – perhaps after an exceptionally speedy implementation, or even just on a check-in call with a happy customer. The more you’re able to naturally include this in a conversation, the higher success rates you’ll see.
If you are more concerned with volume, it isn’t out of the question to ask via email. However, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when taking this approach. Both the subject line and the email copy should be personalized and friendly. Ask this person in the same way you would ask a friend. A subject line that reads “Hey John, do you have a minute?” is more intriguing than one that says “Hello - Please review our software on G2 Crowd.”
Additionally, keep the message light, brief, and be sure the email is coming from a real person. People will ignore an email that comes from “firstname.lastname@example.org” with no remorse, but they would be willing to help out a professional contact with whom they’ve already worked.
Your email should have a clear call-to-action. If you’re asking them to do you a favor, it should be easy to navigate. A big button that reads “Leave a review!” is much more likely to give you results. What won’t work? Asking the customer to find the website themselves, navigate to your page, figure out how to leave a review – I think you get the point.
With any email requests (or requests in general), be sure that you’re not asking for only positive reviews. Not only is this against the terms and conditions of G2 Crowd (although that should be reason enough), but also you’d likely be making your customer uncomfortable with this request, negatively impacting the relationship you’ve built.
Potential buyers will see right through your reviews if they’re all glowing, five-star recommendations. Requesting your customer’s candid feedback on your product is not only the best bet at getting those reviews, but also legitimizes your brand and gives buyers realistic expectations.
Receiving your first 10 software reviews is exciting. Receiving your first 100 is even better! But don’t stop there. An out-of-date review is almost like no review at all, so it’s important to keep your review gathering efforts ongoing.
Additionally, be sure to encourage your previous reviewers to keep their feedback relevant by updating their past reviews. Ensuring your reviews remain current will continue to support your ranking on various review platforms and your Google SERP.
Software reviews can open up exciting opportunities within your marketing strategy, but not if you don’t have any! However, asking for reviews is a delicate situation. As we mentioned, face-to-face interactions are best. Be sure to keep it light, keep it friendly, and never ask for positive reviews.
As soon as you begin collecting reviews, you’ll begin to reap the rewards. To learn everything you need to know on customer reviews in general, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to customer reviews.