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Marketing Leadership Updated on: Mar 30, 2024

The importance of B2B SaaS reviews and referrals

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How reviews and referrals can impact revenue and boost conversion rates

Consumers are smart. Modern shoppers do research before buying. Reviews, ratings, and referrals have been crucial to the success of brands and businesses alike. 

In fact, sites like Amazon, Google, and Yelp have revolutionized the shopping experience for eCommerce operations as well as brick-and-mortar stores through user-generated ratings and reviews.           

But what about B2B SaaS organizations?

Does a CMO for a global SaaS company rely on reviews when looking for software as they do when looking for the best blender?

Chances are –yes.

Let’s take a closer look at how reviews are an integral part of doing business on the internet - from both a B2C and B2B perspective.       

B2B SaaS and B2C are more similar than most think  

Because today’s buyers are researching everything they need to know online before making a purchase, online reviews and referrals are more important than ever. In fact, they can also be an easy way to build brand trust and loyalty between you and your customers. The one difference (and tricky part) about B2B, is that you’re convincing your target audience to spend someone else’s money, making reviews extra important to make your case.    

According to a study by Harvard Business School, consumer reviews have a direct impact on revenues in the restaurant industry. In fact, “a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue.”    

Simply put - the better (and more) reviews you have, the better your business will be, and good business leads to brand trust and brand loyalty - which inevitably leads to referrals.   

And for B2B buyers or teams looking to invest in a new software product for their organization, reviews are just as influential. In fact, according to a study by G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing, 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review (G2 and Heinz Marketing). 

The impact of customer testimonials in B2B SaaS 

When a professional is looking to purchase business software, the first thing they’ll likely do is ask their colleagues or friends within the industry for their recommendations based on their experiences.

Then, they’ll use software review sites (like Capterra or SoftwareAdvice) to research those solutions and find new potential solutions that might be a good fit for their needs.

Research shows that solutions with plenty of positive reviews tend to stand out above the rest. In fact, 66% of software buyers say reading customer reviews significantly impacts their buying decision.  

In addition to having plenty of positive reviews, there are some other things you can do to impact your bottom line and drive annual recurring revenue (ARR). This includes: 

  • Adding an explainer video to your third-party site listing
  • A/B testing various copy in your “About section”
  • Ensuring your listing is filled out completely and accurately 

By doing these things and ensuring you have as much information as possible, you can reach more customers and positively impact reviews.          

Good reviews start before the SaaS purchase is even made   

Every SaaS company likes to believe they are the best in their industry, and while it’s a great goal to try to live up to, the truth is, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution for every possible type and size of business.    

For example, your small local flower shop doesn’t need a large enterprise-level system like Netsuite to do its business. 

However, that doesn’t mean that Netsuite is a bad piece of software. In fact, Netsuite is a pretty phenomenal business solution if you’re in a situation where you can utilize it to its fullest potential, it just doesn’t make sense for a small flower shop.    

Similarly, a large company like 1-800-Flowers probably does need an enterprise-level system like Netsuite to handle their needs. 

Pro Tip: In order to get good reviews, it’s important to think long-term. There are two important tips to consider when thinking about the long-term success of your business and fostering good reviews.   

  • Invest in the right client partnerships so they can see success with your product or service.
  • Invest in a platform that integrates with the other best-of-breed software that can scale with you as your business grows. 

If you do these things, positive reviews and referrals will inevitably follow suit.                            

How to get reviews for your SaaS products

According to BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey, 97% of consumers claimed to read online reviews for local businesses and 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and referrals (which we’ll get into). 

When a consumer reads a positive review about your product or service, they’ll be more inclined to purchase it themselves.      

Importance of reviews and referrals

Since reviews have the ability to make or break your business, it’s important to know the best (and easiest) ways to get them. There are a few great ways you can ask for reviews from loyal customers who actually use and see success with your product or service.     

  1. Ask your brand champions. Every brand has obvious brand champions who read and comment on your blog, send your support team emails, and are frequently involved with your business. Many are quiet, but they use your product every day and they tell people about it if they ask. The only thing they aren’t doing is starting the conversation on their own, so it never hurts to reach out and ask. After all, they’re usually eager to send a good review.        
  2. Have automated workflows. This makes it easier for you to generate reviews without doing much work. Set up an automated workflow that asks customers who regularly use your product or service for reviews and watch them flood in. For example, if they have logged in X amount of times, purchased X amount of times, etc., you would automatically send out a review request.        
  3. Schedule calls. As a B2B business, asking your customers about their experience will really pay off in the end. You can simply schedule a call for feedback, and leave the floor open for them to share their thoughts –good and bad. In turn, you can use this feedback to improve your product and service offerings. You could also use it to write up a testimonial to use in your marketing and sales efforts. 

Pro Tip: Just like after listening to and getting all types of feedback in a call, keep in mind that negative reviews are important and need to be handled, too! And not just in these discussions. We’re talking about public online reviews.   

How to handle negative software reviews

Transparency is key when it comes to negative reviews. 

Yes, you can try to hide all the negative reviews on your site, but if negative feedback is a regular occurrence in your business, you need to dive deep into the cause. Chances are, they’ll still come up in just a few Google searches. 

And if you do delete all of your negative reviews, consumers will likely become very skeptical of your business; having some negative reviews makes you seem more legitimate. In fact, 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores.       

The best course of action to take here would be transparency and honesty. Prospects will appreciate your transparency, as they understand that not every piece of software is a perfect fit for every type of business, and you can even build trust with your customers. 

Remember the flower shop example above? A product or service might be phenomenal for some, but just because it doesn’t work for you or your business, doesn’t mean it’s bad.     

That’s the importance of being transparent when it comes to negative reviews. There will always be people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer, and that might be because it just simply didn’t work for what they intended to use it for, or they couldn’t utilize it to its full potential. 

Pro Tip: Be honest and be transparent. Replying to reviews makes customers 16% more likely to recommend your business in the future, which can also increase ratings by a quarter star. 

You can utilize the bad reviews as a learning experience and a chance to make improvements for your business, which may prevent negative reviews from popping up in the future. As long as you keep collecting positive reviews from your more satisfied customers, your more negative reviews shouldn’t deter any potential customers.                        

Turning reviews into referrals and revenue 

Reviews and referrals from loyal customers can quickly build equity and lead to revenue growth for your SaaS business. 

Why are reviews so important in the SaaS buyer’s journey?

Online reviews play a crucial role in determining the success of your business because they aren’t just an ancillary aspect of a purchasing decision. Nowadays, buyers want more. They want to hear about the experience with a product or software, not just what the business has to say about it. In fact, 97% of consumers read online reviews before making a buying decision, and they aren’t settling for one review, they want to read at least 6 or more.       

How to get more reviews for SaaS products

In addition to doing your business and offering impeccable customer support, there are some other ways you can get more reviews reaching out to your loyal customers. 

The most important thing here is: don’t be afraid to ask for reviews! You can even add review collection requests to your newsletters, email, and blog as well.              

How to turn reviews into referrals   

One way to turn reviews into referrals is to build a referral program with the right tools and technology in place. This means having a way to easily enroll, track, reward, and manage those that are referring your brand to their networks. 

If you already have a referral program, make sure you’re utilizing it to its fullest potential –a successful referral program should be collecting data that is continuously analyzed and optimized to generate more awareness for your brand.                                 

This will not only build awareness for your business, but because people are so much more likely to trust a brand or business recommended and reviewed by someone they know, it will no doubt lead to an increase in revenue as well.

Pro Tip: Remember that offering a reward or some type of incentive increases your likelihood of getting referrals.         

Not only does a referral create a new customer, but it reinforces brand loyalty and helps retain existing customers. If you have a strong online presence and great online reviews, you should have no problem gaining referrals and recommendations, impacting your conversion rates, and increasing your revenue.                               

Make sure you are developing positive relationships with your customers. Learn more about how you can interview your customers to get feedback and build a testimonial to use in your sales and marketing efforts. 

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