Customers become advocates when brands win their trust. The best way to see that trust in action is by checking customer reviews – which, by the way, is one of the most common things for a customer to check before they buy.

Yoni Solomon, Director of Product Marketing and GTM at G2, and Vera Flores, Manager of Marketing & Community for ActiveCampaign, co-hosted a webinar about how reviews can transform your sales and marketing – and create incredible customer experiences.

Customers can spot salesy-sounding ads or emails right away and ignore them just as quickly. When you use reviews to your advantage, you speak to customers in a language they can relate to – because it’s their own language.

Watch the webinar above, or read the recap below. You’ll learn:

  • The power of reviews
  • Leveraging customer voice in sales and marketing
  • Turning negative reviews into positives for your business
  • The key takeaways to remember about the importance of using customer voice in your sales and marketing

Every business needs a superpower to combat mistrust, and guess what – you already have it

The transparency of reviews creates trust in your brand – which is not an easy thing to gain. If you’re a marketer or seller and it’s feeling harder than ever to build trust with your buyers, you’re not alone.

A G2 Buyer Trust survey uncovered a long-suspected truth; sales and marketing are consistently considered the 2 least trusted teams in a business.

It’s a tough crowd. (Source: G2)

A vast majority of sellers say that gaining a prospect’s trust is more difficult than it used to be – which also makes the jobs of marketers and salespeople harder than ever.

  • 75% of people say it’s getting more difficult to gain a prospect’s trust
  • 65% of people say that their sales or marketing jobs are getting harder

How do you break through the barriers of doubt and build that trust? Overwhelmingly, the data says that reviews are your barrier-breaking battering ram.

Forrester Research found that peer experiences and product reviews are what matter most to buyers looking to buy. 90% of buyers do their own research before ever reaching out to you; which is why you need reviews to fuel discoverability and trust for your business.

Numbers don’t lie. Peer experiences make a big difference to buyers.

People look through reviews for everything. As a new mom, Vera reaches out to support groups and looks through reviews to find the best products for her child.

And once you start collecting those reviews – you can start to put them to work for you. Sales and marketing playbooks need to evolve to incorporate review content as a natural counterbalance to the more refined, polished branded marketing that every business has.

You’ll always need branded marketing content, like:

  • Your website
  • Company-authored thought leadership pieces
  • Polished marketing videos
  • Testimonials

But buyers are still skeptical.

“Buyers are inherently skeptical of your websites, sponsored white papers, videos, and other campaign tactics that buyers may perceive as biased,” says Yoni. “Savvy buyers today understand the sales process and if they don’t get perceived value from these materials, they’re not going to give you their information.”

You’ll drive business growth through trust and engagement by being public and transparent with reviews and embracing customer insights – and then focusing your marketing efforts on buyers who are already looking for a product like yours.

When you turn customer profiles and reviews into content like reports, you’re letting your customers speak for you. Their insights and honest dialogue are what will create engagement.

That transparency that comes from reviews is ultimately going to bleed into the reviews that you put up, the reference pages that you build, and the account-based marketing (or ABM) that you also accomplish.

All thanks to reviews that creates an honest marketing and sales voice for your brand,

What happens when you evolve your playbook and incorporate your company voice? Your business evolves with it.

Companies who use a customer voice strategy typically see 10 times more year-over-year revenue. They are seeing transformational results just from using customer voice.

Customer retention rates went way up with companies who did implement customer voice versus those who ignored it.

Employee engagement rates internally also went up significantly, meaning that now your employees know more about your company mission, it’s value, the products, and marketplace perception – which is a huge benefit to companies everywhere.

And the benefits kept coming. Inbound customer service requests across the board decreased because businesses started to listen to the things that customers are saying about how to improve your products and their experiences.

“Just that simple act of listening can change so much about the user experience from a customer standpoint, and really, really start to help businesses with success in their marketing and sales journeys,” notes Yoni.

How does ActiveCampaign use customer voice for sales and marketing?

At ActiveCampaign, featuring a customer voice is a core value – we make the customer the hero.

Customer voices (via reviews) are featured in:

The ActiveCampaign vs. HubSpot comparison page, featuring G2 reviews.

Customers want to hear what they’re saying, and not what you think you need to tell them. That’s why reviews are some of the most powerful tools in your business toolbox. Using reviews creates less work for you – the material already exists, you just have to use it.

And you should use it in as many places as possible. Syndicate your reviews everywhere you sell.

Reviews aren’t just gold for marketing programs, landing pages, and emails. They’re also the perfect tools for sales enablement and support!

“At G2 for instance, we take the review content our customers (like ActiveCampaign) collect and package them into references, reports, and comparative data which are IDEAL for your sales org to use,” says Yoni.

Your sales teams can use review insights to:

  • Book meetings and prospect
  • Leverage in sales decks and presentations
  • And send to influencers to get deals across the finish line

“As a marketer, all of this content is very much evergreen. So as a sales enablement tool, it’s very valid in the early stages of prospecting, but it also can help to just nudge that buyer decision across the finish line,” says Vera.

“I think that as a buyer or the decision-maker, you want to hear those valid proof points from somebody who’s in the same exact position as you are,” says Vera. “Reviews are just great ways to just build up that confidence that this is the right decision.”

Turning negative reviews into positives for you

  • “What about the negative reviews?
  • “How do I avoid those?”
  • “And what should I do when they come through?”

What would you think if someone told you that, when used correctly, they can be a major positive for your business, brand, and product?

It’s not hard to see why both B2C and B2B brands can be hesitant about negative reviews. Everyone is human, and no one wants to get negative feedback on something they work hard on.

And some data has shown that it can take up to 40 reviews to undo the damage of just one bad review.

Scary, right? But, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

PowerReviews ran a study with Northwestern to better understand how reviews impact purchase decisions.

Did you know that the closer you get to a 5.0 rating, the less trustworthy you appear?

Why? It turns out a perfect 5.0 rating is too good to be true. The sweet spot? 4.2-4.5 is what buyers trust the most.

People might start to think “are these reviews legit?” when they see only 5-star reviews. They know nothing is perfect, so they need that negative proof to make the smartest decision. And nearly all of your buyers will suspect something’s up if they don’t see a single negative review.

They might think that:

  • You wrote the good reviews yourself and they’re fake
  • You censored your negative reviews like you have things to hide

No matter how many positive reviews you collect, it’s your negative reviews that are going to be sought out twice as much by potential buyers. Skip hiding them, because that’s what folks are looking for.

95% of buyers think censorship in the absence of negative reviews. (Source: Bizibl Marketing )

What should you do instead?

Respond to them! This is a massive opportunity that’s often missed, as 87% of sellers don’t respond to their negative reviews – despite 40% of buyers saying your response will have a positive impact on both their evaluation of that review and your product as a whole.

Luckily, there are 3 ways to make negative reviews work for you.

  1. Respond to negative reviews to engage current users, and win future buyers
  2. Share negative reviews with your product, engineering, and support teams. Make that feedback actionable to help your teams prioritize real changes that are guaranteed to improve your product and experiences.
  3. Acknowledge negative reviews to demonstrate that you’re not perfect at everything – because it’s okay!

Buyers don’t believe perfect reviews. You’ll win buyers by owning your imperfection and claiming to be a trustworthy solution over a perfect one.

Many ActiveCampaign users didn’t like the lack of an undo button in our platform – which was something noted in many G2 reviews,” notes Vera. “But you can’t just tell your internal teams to ‘fix it,’ because there’s no true validation to motivate them. When you bring them actual customer voice reviews as proof, it helps them see what real problems exist that need immediate attention.”

And in the end, an ActiveCampaign ‘Undo’ button was created and customers were thrilled!

Conclusion: Reviews are your business’s best friends

Whether you’re in B2C or B2B, reviews can give you a level of customer insight you never imagined. Reviews can amplify your sales and marketing efforts to create the best possible customer experiences. Now is the time to invest in reviews.

Remember these key takeaways:

  • Positive reviews on your products and services will essentially do the selling and marketing for you! Just incorporate them into your marketing resources, sales presentations, and other content.
  • Negative reviews on the other hand are NOT to be ignored. In fact, they’re every bit as valuable (and important) to your buyers as the positive reviews are. Respond to them, use them, and pass them onto your teams to enhance your business, brand, and offerings.
  • Being perfect does NOT equal being BETTER in the eyes of your customers. The most human brands are going to win in the end. And by building your customer voice strategy to incorporate BOTH positive and negative feedback into it – you’ll position your brand to be the most trusted option for your buyers.