We’re excited to announce that we’ve passed 500,000 registered users! We’re feeling pretty festive, so we’re giving out some free intent data for a limited time – grab your intent data here.
From humble beginnings in 2012, IT Central Station has grown to an active community of users who visit our site to read enterprise tech product reviews, and ask and answer questions as part of their buying process.
We have always prided ourselves on the high quality of our reviews – with an average of 600 words per review, and a rigorous QA process, our users enjoy in-depth, authentic reviews from their peers. More and more people in the B2B space rely on reviews rather than speaking directly to sellers, consultants and analysts. We’ve seen this first-hand: decision makers from 95% of the Fortune 500 visiting IT Central Station to consult reviews during their buying process.
The success of IT Central Station is because of each and every one of our users. The willingness of our users to share their own experiences in their reviews is what brings value to B2B tech buyers.
Here’s a message from our CEO and Co-Founder, Russell Rothstein, to our user community:
Prior to making a purchase, potential buyers look to sources other than the company website or sales rep to get their product information. This is why user reviews are a major source of information for most software buyers today. User reviews enable buyers to get an objective, firsthand view of how a product works, its level of quality, and the various features or components being offered — before committing to buying the product.
Why B2B User Reviews Resonate with Enterprise Tech Professionals
Buyers are increasingly relying on digital resources and review websites for research about technology, with enterprise buyers now regularly using peer reviews as a major purchasing influencer. According to a recent report, almost 70% of the B2B buyer’s journey is done before a prospect ever contacts sales. In another survey, conducted in 2019 by DemandBase, close to two thirds (61%) of B2B buyers said they rely more on peer recommendations and review sites than they did just a year earlier.
When it comes to mission-critical software, enterprise buyers are acutely aware of the huge risks to their company, its customers and even to their own jobs, of choosing a solution that does not live up to the vendor’s promises. Since peers have no vested interest, their experiences and opinions are considered more valuable and trustworthy than information from analysts and salespeople.
Consumers see user reviews as their filter between what the companies want you to believe and what’s accurate about the products or services being sold. This is particularly true for the technology sector, where services or products can easily be hyped up by a skilled marketer, neglecting the buyer’s need for an accountable assessment of features such as speed, integration, and functionality, each of which can only be accurately evaluated through actual experience.
Vendor-generated materials often neglect the buyer’s need for an accountable assessment of features such as speed, integration, and functionality, which can only be accurately evaluated through long-term use, and not only based on a trial or POC.
Peer reviews help bridge this gap, providing the detailed information that potential users are looking for in the buying process.
User Reviews Matter Now More Than Ever
As the worldwide upheavals of 2020 stretch into 2021 and likely beyond, there are fewer opportunities than ever for enterprise buyers to talk with their peers about their technology experiences. COVID-19 has significantly impacted tech conferences. Out of 63 tech-related conferences that were scheduled for 2020, 44 either took place online or were postponed. Likewise, many big name events will not take place in 2021. The lack of in-person events and networking opportunities and the increase in remote work means that buyers must go online to find users of solutions that they are researching.
Another factor in the rise of peer reviews is the changing demographics of B2B buyers. By 2025, over 44% of the US workforce will be Millennials. Already, Millennials are making more and more of the tech purchasing decisions. Their proficiency in technology and reliance on social media, together with their increasing position as influencers, underscores the importance of digital channels for research purposes. 85% of millennials use social media to research products and services for their companies, with 17% saying peers or colleagues are the most important source in their research.
Peer reviews are not flawless, though. With the rise of fake reviews, customers scrutinize online reviews before accepting the material provided as fact. For this reason, there is a growing demand for peer reviews that come from trusted sources, and represent factual and helpful input.
What IT Central Station Provides to Software Buyers
In our current data-driven and content-consuming generation, the tech industry is steadily adapting to expectations for information that’s not only available on-demand, but is also filtered and validated before readers start devouring it. Peer reviews written by like-minded, authentic users are well-aligned with the standards of today’s software buyers.
IT Central Station is the leading enterprise technology review site, with a community of 500,000+ technology professionals. Our user reviews are collected from enterprise tech events, conferences, and one-on-one interviews with tech professionals. With an average of 600 words per review, all reviews and user-generated content are validated by our triple-authentication process, and manually assessed for relevance and usability to the enterprise tech professional.
Enabling Well-Rounded Decision Making
With relevant information, accurate reviews, and concise reports, buyers are more equipped with the tools they need to make a well-rounded purchasing decision.
Additionally, IT Central Station distributes your content across relevant social media channels, forums, and industry blogs where your potential buyers are actively browsing. This way, your products are seen in several places, expanding your reach, increasing brand awareness, and giving each of your reviews/products more credibility in the enterprise tech industry.
In another post, we explored why user review content is essential for enterprise tech marketers. Once you have invested in user reviews from customers, the opportunities are endless for how you can use this quality, authentic content as part of your marketing strategy. But there are so many other ways that you can take advantage of your user reviews throughout your company to increase ROI. Whether you need user feedback to help improve your product, or are building a playbook for your SDRs and Sales Team, getting authentic user review content can make all the difference.
Here are six departments in your company that stand to benefit from user reviews:
1. Your Product Team
A great product meets real needs. But how do you know what users need? Who can you ask? User feedback helps to pinpoint what you’re doing well, and what you need to improve in your product. This sort of feedback can guide ongoing product improvements. User reviews can do a lot of that legwork for you. They provide current, actionable feedback and insight into usage, ideas for new features, and more.
2. Your Marketing Team
User reviews provide a wealth of content that you can repurpose for marketing materials. Adding quotes from reviews to print or digital materials can provide valuable information without being “salesy”. Using the voice of your customers is the number one way to add credibility to your key messages. After all, it’s not your copywriter saying it, but a real, authenticated user.
3. Your SDR team
In-depth user reviews can be a great tool for your SDR team. Traditionally SDR teams use top-of-the-funnel marketing materials to demonstrate why it’s worth getting on the phone. User reviews are more compelling than nearly all other forms of top-of-the-funnel content, including white papers and analyst reports. Customer Success Managers at IT Central Station frequently help SDR teams to identify peer review content to include in their emails, matching genuine users’ quotes to the specific sales messages. This type of content is optimal for making the most impact with that first initial pitch.
4. Your Sales team
Your sales team loves marketing materials that demonstrate the value of your solution for users, especially when it differentiates you from your competition. Yet when marketing materials don’t reflect the values potential users care about, your lead generation efforts are in danger of producing a low number of B.A.N.T qualified leads.
User reviews provide evidence of where your solutions stand out vis-à-vis your competitors, helping your sales team to make a compelling case and bring in more revenue.
5. Your Lead Generation team
Your lead generation team wants to create gated content that resonates with your potential users. User reviews discussing both the pros and cons of your solution can be the key to bringing in more leads. While a white paper may generate interest, and a case study will be even more powerful, user-generated content brings the highest returns. Anyone reading a review of your product, or your competitor’s, is a potential hot lead. Retargeting to user content consistently has a higher click-through rate than vendor-generated content, leading to more leads, and more engaged prospects.
6. Your Customer Advocacy team
Customer Advocacy teams gather user feedback for marketing and sales, but each case study can generate hundreds of work hours. Finding users willing to display their identities and be an evangelist for your company is certainly no easy task, and compliance, both internally and from your user’s company, adds its own set of issues.
Positive user reviews, gathered by an external source allows users to be more honest than in a case study, and questions aren’t limited by internal protocols and regulations.