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Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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review after a positive experience. But only one quar- ter of buyers felt likely after a negative experience. The 9 percent of buyers who said they would be "extreme- ly bothered" are probably grumpy anyways, and we believe it's worth it to risk bothering them to increase your exposure on the web. Negative reviews are naturally difficult for any soft- ware vendor to face. But they are essential, which leads to our final best practice. 4. HAVE A HEALTHY MIX OF POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE REVIEWS Many software vendors believe that having negative reviews will lead to lost opportunities. In fact, our re- search shows that negative reviews will help buyers believe in the authenticity of your reviews and in the trustworthiness of your company. To discover this insight, we asked buyers what type of review profile would make them trust the authenticity of a product's reviews and trust the software company itself. See Figures 4 and 5 on the next page for details. It's interesting to note that having all positive re- views is only marginally more helpful than having no reviews at all. This finding has been corroborated by Northwestern University's Spiegel Research Center. Their recent study found that an average rating of 4.2 to 4.5 stars maximizes the purchase probability of a product. Buyers know that no product is truly perfect, and ratings close to 5.0 are likely to be perceived as too good to be true. 2. MAKE SURE YOUR REVIEWS ARE RECENT Buyers don't want to just read reviews – they want to read recent reviews, especially those written in the last 12 months. Our research indicates that software buyers won't even consider reviews that are older than that. You can see in Figure 2 how buyers responded when asked how recently reviews need to be written to be relevant. Software changes rapidly and buyers know it. Issues that customers experienced years ago could have been addressed by the vendor. Prospective buyers may have even more confidence in the vendor if those issues have been addressed. As a result, software vendors need to ensure their marketing departments make online re- views an ongoing effort. Marketers can't think about them once and then stop. 3. GO ON THE OFFENSIVE AND RECRUIT YOUR OWN REVIEWS The most efficient way for software vendors to receive reviews is to solicit them from their own clients. Many vendors are understandably apprehensive about asking their clients to do work on their behalf, but our research shows that buyers really don't mind. When we asked if they would be bothered, nearly half of the buyers in our study said they wouldn't be bothered at all if asked to write a review (see Figure 3 for more data on this). We've experienced success with this technique here at Software Advice. In one recent instance, we ran a campaign with a construction software vendor in which everyone who submitted a review for a specific product was entered in a drawing to win an iPad. The result? We got 161 new reviews for that product—90 percent of which were 3.5 stars or higher (out of 5 stars). In reviewing our research findings, it's not surprising that most of the reviews in this case were positive. Ven- dors are actually more likely to hear from buyers after they've had a positive experience. In our survey, nearly half of all buyers said they would be likely to submit a BUYERS RESPONSE TO VENDORS REQUESTING REVIEWS Not bothered at all Minimally bothered Moderately Bothered Extremely Bothered 47% 31% 13% 9% Figure 3 RECENCY OF REVIEWS NECESSARY TO AFFECT PURCHASE DECISION Figure 2 Last 3 Months Last 6 Months Last 12 Months > 12 Months Don't care about recency 50% 0% 40% 30% 20% 10% 39 SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

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