By Nicki Kamau
Your customer service team may own the process of getting reviews of your SaaS solution, but it’s important for your sales and marketing teams to be involved in this initiative as well. Because ultimately, the sales and marketing teams need those reviews as social proof that your company is the solution provider that your prospects need.
Even in this time of uncertainty businesses are asking their brand evangelists to give them a shout-out, offer referrals, and provide reviews. These are all strategic marketing requests that are appropriate to pursue right now, but the lead generation tactic that we’ll be focusing on today revolves around third-party review sites.
Why You Need to Have a Presence on Third-Party Review Sites
The Martech 5000 (which is really 8,000) landscape was recently released. If you haven’t already seen it, take a look.
Overwhelmed? That’s exactly how your prospects feel as they’re trying to navigate the landscape and find a trusted vendor. How do they sift through thousands of providers and identify a handful of solutions to vet? They look to their peers who are using SaaS solutions every day.
Although it’s possible that your prospect might personally know someone who works at a similar-sized company in the same industry as they do, with similar challenges and a comparable martech stack, it’s highly unlikely they know someone with all of those things in common. Because of this, they’ll turn to a place where professionals that are like themselves are giving this information away—for example, review sites.
If you have a presence and live reviews of your SaaS on a third party review site, you can be front and center as that lead considers which vendor to purchase from. The information your prospects can view about your company on a third-party review site will validate (or invalidate) the messaging you present on your own site.
In summary, here are some of the benefits of having a presence on review sites that list companies with similar solutions:
- Brand awareness: Your presence on review sites allows leads who might not know about your brand to discover you.
- Lead nurture: Your prospects will trust a review on a third-party site more than testimonials on your own site, meaning this external validation will nurture them through the flywheel (or funnel).
- Lead generation: The review site serves as a new source of high quality website traffic. If you’ve done your UX research, your new visitors will flow through your site, read your content and engage with your CTAs.
How to Establish Your Review Site Presence
To start generating leads from review sites, you need to work from the bones up. First, identify the review sites that make the most sense for your solution by answering these questions:
- Where do your buyer personas and ICPs look for trusted information?
- Where are your competitors listed?
- Two largely used review sites in the SaaS world are G2 and Capterra. Are these a good fit for you?
- Are there other, more niche places where you should build a presence?
Look into the additional benefits offered by each platform to decide where to dedicate your time. For example, each review you receive on Capterra is shared across the three Gartner Digital Markets networks. That’s three times the visibility for the effort of one review!
Tip: Check for pre-qualification requirements on the review site’s directory you want to join prior to completing your plans. You might need to apply, become a certified partner, or verify your business in order to join.
How to Request Reviews of Your SaaS Solution
You have a presence on one, two, three (woo! Go get ’em!) review sites. Now prospects can see your brand and the leads should start rolling in, right?
Not so fast.
Now it’s time to bring the real value—straight from the mouths of your clients.
By having a presence on your review site(s) of choice, you are fair game. Anyone can give you a review (though the most trusted review sites will confirm that those providing reviews are actual customers). This means your happiest customer and your grumpiest one can both tell everyone how they feel about your technology and service. Avoid the passive route, and instead proactively ask your most satisfied customers to post a review.
At SmartBug, we recommend doing one-on-one outreach to your clients. Let them know that you have seen their success with your solution and you’d love it if they could share about it with others in the form of a review on your review site of choice.
Tip #1: Ask them to provide a review and wait for them to respond with a yes. They will be more likely to follow through after providing a verbal or written commitment.
Tip #2: People like to know what they’re agreeing to, so let them know what the review will entail. Will it take them five minutes to complete, or 20? Do they need to provide screenshots of your SaaS to prove they are a customer? Is it mostly boxes to check, or will they need to write paragraph-length answers about their experience? Preparing them will show that you care about their time, and put them in a positive state of mind before reviewing your solution.
Campaign or Third Party Outreach
There are alternatives to one-on-one outreach, like email campaigns that reach all of your customers with one send or outreach done from the review site itself. G2 has a unique offering where it reaches out to your clients directly and offers rewards like an Amazon gift card for simply completing a review. This is a great option if you don’t have the bandwidth for managing one-on-one outreach or if you think you’ll have more success with a third party making the request. The caveat, of course, is this requires you to have a budget.
Add On-Going Outreach to Your Strategy
Although you want to do heavy outreach requesting reviews when you launch on these sites, lead generation from reviews works best when you go against the set-it-and-forget-it approach. The reality is, customers churn, and although their positive reviews might not disappear, you’re not doing your sales team any favors by having a review site presence with reviews only from past customers. Asking for reviews should be part of your regular marketing (or customer success) strategy.
Build the request into your process. Find that sweet spot when your customer has gotten a groove of using your SaaS and knows the features well enough to speak about them. Then, set up an internal notification for your team to make the request once your customer has hit that sweet spot after days or months of using your solution.
When it comes to your prospects finding you as a match for their needs on the third-party site, the quality, quantity, and recency of your reviews all matter.
Tip: Make sure to track the visitors coming to your site from the third-party site. You will want to measure how successful your review lead generation efforts are in the future!
Amplify Your Reviews
The hard work of getting reviews from your customers is in motion, your first reviews have come in), and now it’s time to put those reviews to work.
Make your review site presence known.
First, identify places on your website to link out to your presence on the third-party sites. One great place would be a testimonials page—or anywhere on your site that you have reviews or quotes from clients. Some third-party review sites like Capterra even offer digital badges, which give a nice visual pop on your page and attract visitors to click.
Optimize your listing and move to the top of the list.
Next, look for ways to optimize your listing. The whole reason you’re reading this article is to learn how to generate leads with your review site presence. In order to generate leads, you need to be seen.
Think about the ways that visitors can sort the directory they’re searching through. For example, you can sort results on Amazon by the following parameters: featured, price, reviews, and newest arrivals. What’s the default for the review site you’re building your presence on?
On HubSpot’s partner directory, the default for sorting has hierarchies. All elite partners are listed first, then within the elite partners, the companies are listed from the highest number of five-star reviews to the least. When a visitor hits the page, you would need to be both an elite partner and a leader in terms of review quantity in order to be seen at the top of the list.
Explore paid opportunities to increase visibility.
If you are a younger company, it might take you a while to catch up to some of your competitors at the top of that list. The good news is, there are other ways to be seen. Some review sites have sponsored posts sprinkled in.
This can be a great way to increase your visibility while organically building up your reviews, with an added cost, of course. Other review sites like Capterra have a PPC option that places you higher on the directory listing. These kinds of ads are incredibly valuable, because you know the prospects viewing them are on the hunt for solutions like yours.
I’d love to hear about your successes and challenges with generating leads from review sites. Reach out to me on LinkedIn and let me know what you’re experiencing.
If you’re looking for more ways for your SaaS company to generate leads, try adding these five strategies to your marketing campaigns.