Ratings And Reviews Now For B2B Marketing

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Ratings And Reviews Now For B2B Marketing

By Mike Moran

We've all seen ratings and reviews online, starting way back when Amazon first introduced them. Over the years, they've become a staple of e-Commerce, with online retailers catching on to their impact on conversion rates.

But what about B2B marketers? Why isn't there more usage of reviews in business-to-business marketing? If you've wondered why B2B marketers seem so much less inclined to show reviews on their sites than their consumer-facing brethren, so have I. Let's explore what the reasons might be.

Sure, there are some B2B companies that place ratings and reviews on their Web sites. I wrote about Sun Microsystem's use of reviews over a year ago, and Dell Computer and Staples offer them, also. I'm sure there are others. But B2B marketers seem to be far more reluctant to use ratings and reviews than B2C marketers.

That's somewhat understandable. When retailers display ratings on their Web sites, there's not much danger of losing a sale. If one book gets a low rating, you'll buy a different book from that same online bookstore. But B2B manufacturers are taking more of a risk that customers will abandon their sites entirely due to bad reviews.

But that reasoning only goes so far. After all, every B2B marketer knows how important customer references are in closing sales-why wouldn't product reviews be an extremely persuasive factor in B2B purchases? I know, I know, case studies and customers references are controlled, so there's no danger-all the reviews are good. But look at that another way: It means that they have less credibility than an open ratings and reviews system. So, if controlled references have such high credibility, imagine what open reviews would have.

Some observers believe that ratings and reviews and other social media techniques might have even more value in B2B marketing than in B2C interactions. Nancy Davis Kho, writer for eContact Magazine, had this to say in " B2B Gets Social Media:"

The irony is that social media tools, properly designed and deployed, may actually bring a greater payoff to B2B users than in the B2C environment. The reason? Tools that enable faster and more personalized interactions between customer and vendor can enhance corporate credibility and deepen relationships. Those are all important factors in B2B sales decisions, which tend to have a higher dollar value and longer-term impact than consumer sales.

In addition to the increased credibility of B2B ratings and reviews, they also compare favorably to customer references in another way: cost. B2B marketers know that it's like pulling teeth to get sales people to write up their customer stories, and when they do, the writing is not exactly Hemingway. The cost of extracting and polishing these customer stories, and then securing the approval of the customer takes time and money. Ratings and reviews are nearly free, with the only expense being to set up and maintain the ratings and review software itself. Vendors such as BazaarVoice not only provide the software but also the people power to keep track of submissions to ensure that vulgar and other inappropriate reviews are not posted.

Continue reading this article.

About the Author:
Copyright Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an IBM Distinguished Engineer, expert on Internet marketing, and the author of Search Engine Marketing, Inc., the best-selling book on search marketing. Mike also writes the popular Biznology newsletter and blog.

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