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Online Reviews: 4 Steps To Leverage The Power Of The Crowd A U S T I N M E R R I T T On our website, products with reviews receive on average 5.7 times more traffic than products without reviews. This makes sense when you think about the consumer world: Users are far more likely to read about a restaurant on Yelp! with 100 reviews versus a restau- rant with none. Marketers need to ensure their prod- ucts have reviews if they want buyers to consider them online (Figure 1 shows the value of reviews). istorically, software marketers owned the whole "story" of a software product: From white papers to references to web- site copy, these marketers controlled the messaging. But through online reviews, software users have become part of the narrative. To explore the power of software reviews, Software Ad- vice conducted an online survey of 386 B2B software buy- ers. We set out to determine who consults reviews, when they consult them, and why they are important for soft- ware buyers and vendors alike. Here are our key findings: 1. 75 percent of buyers consulted online reviews before making purchasing decisions about business software. 2. Buyers who consulted online reviews during the software selection process were ultimately more satisfied with their purchases. 3. Software products that received a mix of positive and negative online reviews were perceived by buyers as being more trustworthy. Combining this research and our experience working with over 1,000 B2B software vendors across many in- dustries, we distilled four best practices that software vendors should ascribe to when considering their on- line reviews. 1. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE REVIEWS Even if you operate in a niche market, or serve only very large enterprises, most buyers will want to read reviews of your product. In our survey, 68 percent of respon- dents said reviews were "extremely" or "very valuable." H It's common knowledge that consumers are increasingly turning to online review sites such as Yelp! and Amazon before making purchasing decisions. As IT becomes increasingly consumerized, B2B software buyers are mimicking consumers' behavior. VALUE OF REVIEWS WHEN PURCHASING SOFTWARE Extremely Valuable Not Valuable Very Valuable Moderately Valuable Minimally Valuable 23% 45% 29% 2% Figure 1 SELLING & MARKETING Framework By A. Merritt ONLINE REVIEWS: 4 STEPS TO LEVERAGE THE POWER OF THE CROWD SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 38

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