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How to Get your Users to Write Awesome Reviews For You

by Julia Frohwein Comments: 0

Why Do You Need B2B User Reviews?

As the leading review platform for B2B enterprise technology reviews, we understand the importance of user reviews in the B2B space. Not only our own research, but research by the industry’s leading technology analysts asserts the importance of user generated content.

According to Forrester research, 74% of B2B buyers are doing more than 50% of their purchasing research online. A recent study by Gartner also revealed that 68% of a customer’s buying time is spent away from the actual vendor.

According to the Salesforce blog, “word-of-mouth recommendations from peers influence over 90% of all B2B buying decisions.”

But do buyers really trust peer content they read online? The numbers speak for themselves: 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.

Peer Reviews and the Buyer’s Journey

Are peer reviews only useful for top-of-the-funnel marketing, or can they play a part in other marketing strategies further down in the buyer’s journey? As you can see below, according to research by RO:Innovation, customer reviews play a huge part in influencing buyers through every stage of their journey.

b2b user reviewssource:roinnovation.com

How can software vendors rise to the challenge of providing potential buyers with B2B reviews that not only answer their questions of “Is this software right for my company needs?”, but also answer questions such as, “Why is this solution the best option among its competitors?”

How can you collect user reviews that help your prospects at every stage of their journey?

How To Collect Real User Reviews
Collecting real reviews for potential buyers can present some challenges. Not all users are willing to write a review, and dealing with internal compliance regulations can make the process difficult.

One of the big advantages of external review sites is that users can review your solutions without having to comply with company policy. This means that it is both easier to find users who are willing to share details of their experience, and also that users can be more honest and open than if they were providing a corporate case study.

What Potential Buyers Want to Know

Another challenge, once you’ve found users willing to give reviews, is knowing which questions potential buyers want answers for.

For example: Are readers most interested in your pricing model? Do they expect full disclosure of your technical support offering? Are scalability and stability the primary ‘must-have’s on their checklist?

Having helped many enterprise technology companies collect user reviews from their users, we’ve written up a quick and easy guide to help you get the best reviews from your users. 

How to Get Awesome Customer Reviews: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Where to Find Users 

At Your Conferences or User Events
By approaching users at your conferences or at events for reviews, you are targeting users who are already knowledgeable about your solutions and will have valuable feedback to share. You can also take down their feedback face-to-face, rather than rely on email or phone feedback, which can be more time consuming for your users.b2b user reviews
Via Customer Advocacy Programs
By tapping into your customer advocacy programs, you can connect with users who are not only experienced with your solution but also willing to share their feedback with others.

Via your Support Team 

Your users who have had positive interactions with your support team are a great source of positive feedback. They can also add room for improvement that your customer advocacy program users may not be able to give you.

Find happy users online

Monitor your brand online with tools like Google Alerts and Mention. Not only can it help you understand where users aren’t happy, but it can also help you identify users who love your solution and who you can potentially reach out to for user reviews.

Step 2: What to Include in your B2B User Reviews

Ask users what they find valuable about your solution. Their answers may surprise you and can provide invaluable information for your product team.

Example: When asked “What do you find valuable in IBM Spectrum Protect?”, CTO Carsten Dan Petersen writes:

“The smallest entry level sized installation can easily grow to large enterprise usages and be migrated across platforms.The product is very client-oriented which supports a lot of different platforms and products, and only have to be upgraded approx. every five years to maintain support.”

Ask users which solutions they have also evaluated. This information can give you great competitive information, and can also influence the potential buyers reading your user reviews.

Example: When asked “Did you consider any other solutions besides VMware vSAN?”, an Infrastructure Manager answers:
We looked briefly at alternatives, but nothing stood out like vSAN. Nutanix was another solution, but surprisingly, it would have cost us more..

Ask users how and where you can improve your solution. Not only is this information very valuable for your product team, it also makes your reviews more believable. Users don’t trust five-star reviews that only say good things about a product.

Example: When asked “Where do you see room for improvement in Tableau?” Data Analysis Team Leader Yali Pollak answers:

Tableau lacks machine learning algorithms that you can implement using R, SPSS Modeler, and Python.It has clustering and time-series forecasting abilities which are helpful, but adding machine learning capabilities like decision trees, CHAID analysis and K-means would make this product perfect!”

What about users who wish to remain anonymous?
Some users may be happy to give feedback, but can’t because of their own corporate compliance policies. One way around this is to allow users to give reviews either with their full details or anonymously. By giving users this choice you will collect a wider range of user reviews, which can be used as a tool throughout your marketing materials.

What are your users saying about your solution?

Sign in to IT Central Station to read what real users have to say about your solution.

How to Leverage Negative User Reviews to Increase your ROI

by Julia Frohwein Comments: 0

At least 60% of technology software shoppers turn to product reviews for information during their buying process, which is why peer-based product reviews are so essential to a company’s success. What many marketing managers don’t realize is:

It’s not just the positive reviews that are yielding good results; negative reviews can boost your ROI, too.

In a recent study by the Journal of Consumer Research, negative feedback that is correctly-worded leads to increased higher conversion rates. One site noted that companies who had 10-30% negative reviews received 10% more leads than companies with solid, 5-star reviews.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should start scrambling for angry customers and poor reviews. As you can imagine – it’s not as simple as that!

So, how can you leverage negative user reviews into ROI?

Here are 3 lessons for enterprise level technology marketers to leverage negative reviews not only for boosting their customer feedback, but also for increasing conversions.

Lesson #1: Learn from the Best: Your Users

While nobody enjoys criticism, intelligent companies view criticism at face value: an honest and authentic appraisal of how their product is performing and received by users. Negative reviews give your marketing team invaluable insight into what you are doing right and into what you’re doing wrong — from the most influential and pertinent source of all: your users.

Business in today’s tech industry need to utilize agile marketing techniques for constant improvement of their products. In the technology sector, if you aren’t advancing, you are undergoing a speedy demise of outdatedness.

Because negative reviews are specifically generated by your niche audience, these reviews not only help your company by highlighting the areas that need improvement, they provide the most relevant and useful form of feedback.

Utilizing these insights will help you to:

  • Tailor your product to the changing demands of the public
  • Hone in on the shortcomings
  • Craft an applicable plan for improvement.
Lesson #2: Seize the Opportunity for Communication

Any comment made by a customer, even if it’s negative, opens a line of communication between your audience and your company. This is a golden opportunity for you to obtain brand awareness, positive PR, and product insight.

By responding directly to negative feedback, your company shows customers that they are being listened to. Contrarily, ignoring feedback of any sort can portray your business as one that that doesn’t value its customers.

Market research has shown that customers who were responded to ‘correctly’ after a negative experience were much more likely to recommend that business to friends later on.

‘Correct’ Responses to Negative Feedback include:

  • Validating the complaint
  • Asking questions for clarification
  • Apologizing (but without giving excuses or being defensive)
  • Offering solutions
  • (Always) thanking the customer for their time

An interaction that follows the above guidelines will generate positive feelings on the part of the customer as well as create a great image for potential customers in the future.

Lesson #3: Foster Authenticity

When looking to authenticate a brand, consumers look out for the negative comments that supplement the positive ones. When a potential buyer sees a company that boasts hundreds of positive reviews without a single negative comment, they automatically assume the feedback is fictitious. Why? Because no one product offering is flawless, and negative feedback indicates that companies are sincere in their efforts to honor their users’ perspective and improve their product offering.

Furthermore, seeing negative feedback on a website gives customers the impression that your company is an honest one. After all, you have the ability to reject or delete negative comments. By leaving up these less-than-flattering reviews, you show your potential buyers that you are prepared to deal honestly, even if there is a little discomfort on your part in doing so.

With a community of more than 190,000 reviewers, triple-validation for all user reviews, and multiple avenues for gathering feedback, ITCS provides the highest standard for enterprise technology reviews

IT Central Station Wins Deloitte’s Fast 50 Rising Star Award

by Julia Frohwein Comments: 0

We are delighted to have been awarded Deloitte’s prestigious Fast 50 Rising Star Award for 2016. The Rising Star selection is part of the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 competition and is awarded to young startups that have the fastest growing revenues.

deloitte-2016-fast-50

Here at IT Central Station our mission is to be the #1 most influential source in the enterprise technology buying process, a $3 trillion annual market.

Reviews and user generated content have a major impact on the B2B tech market. IT Central Station’s dramatic growth since its launch has proven that many buyers want to complement, or replace, the advice from traditional players such as analyst firms, traditional tech media, and independent consultants, with user generated content from their peers. 93% of B2B buyers say that reviews and analysis drive their major purchasing decisions – many of whom have turned to IT Central Station.

IT Central Station now has over 180,000+ tech professionals in our community, and is one of the most trusted online resources for tech decision makers. Read more about our Deloitte’s Fast 50 award here.

IT Central Station to Host Enterprise Technology Review Pavilion at Oracle OpenWorld San Francisco

by Julia Frohwein Comments: 1

IT Central Station Peer Review Pavilion at Oracle OpenWorld

We are proud to announce that IT Central Station will host an Enterprise Tech Review Pavilion at Oracle OpenWorld 2016. This is the first time an enterprise review pavilion will be held at Oracle OpenWorld. The review pavilion will be located in the South Exhibit Hall of Moscone Center during OpenWorld, taking place September 19-21 in San Francisco.

What is an Enterprise Technology Review Pavilion?

Visitors will be able to access thousands of authentic reviews of enterprise technology products written by real users, and members of the IT Central Station community. We validate all user reviews as authentic using our trademark triple validation process, so we can guarantee that reviews are by real users.

Reviews are available in text and video formats, and cover trending technology areas including cloud computing, SaaS, Big Data, and cybersecurity.

On display at the pavilion will be video peer reviews of Oracle solutions including Oracle Database Cloud, Oracle HCM Cloud, Oracle Cloud Applications, Oracle Private Cloud Appliance, Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle SOA Suite, and other Oracle solutions.

How can you participate?

Visitors to the Review Pavilion will have the opportunity to provide their own user review of an Oracle product or other enterprise tech solution, either via self-service laptop stations or via a one-on-one interview with an IT Central Station community manager.

Want to meet up at OpenWorld?

The IT Central Station Review Pavilion is located in a 1,200 square foot area (#821) in the center of Moscone South. It is open during regular Expo Hall hours.

To schedule a meeting with the IT Central Station team during OpenWorld email us at: oowteam@itcentralstation.com

Watch: Russell Rothstein on The ROI of Reviews at Advocamp

by Julia Frohwein Comments: 0

New Webinar: Assessing the Impact of Product Reviews for Tech Marketing

by Julia Frohwein Comments: 0

Reviews with Product Suggestions InfographicProduct reviews are the #1 most sought after content by serious tech buyers based on research from firms like Gartner and Forrester.

How do you assess the impact of reviews? Is missing review content critical to your content marketing strategy? And how do you budget for it in 2016?

We’ll share with you our experiences with companies such as HP, Oracle, Salesforce, and VMware that have added customer reviews as a key component in their marketing plans.

Your host will be Thomas K. Cheriyan, VP at IT Central Station and Gartner alumni who will share and present research from Gartner and Forrester regarding the current impact peer reviews have with enterprise tech decision makers and how peer reviews will impact sales and marketing initiatives in 2016 and beyond.

Register for the event here.

The Enterprise Tech Buying Process is Changing: Q&A with IT Central Station’s CEO

by Julia Frohwein Comments: 0

Recently our founder and CEO Russell Rothstein sat down with the folks at Fluke Networks for a Q&A session about the rapidly changing enterprise tech buying process. Here is an excerpt of the interview:

Q: Can you tell us the story behind IT Central Station?

Executive Interview SeriesRussell: I’m a firm believer in starting a business based on helping people solve business problems. In developing IT Central Station, we talked to lots of tech buyers and decision makers who consistently mentioned the difficulty of due diligence. One CIO I talked to, for example, was frustrated that his staff had to spend hours sifting through websites to collect information. Buyers like this want access to their peers to learn from their experiences and get reliable information outside of what is provided by analysts and vendors. In fact, Forrester research shows that tech buyers seek out peer experiences and product reviews more than any other type of non-vendor content. IT Central Station fills this need by providing a platform for crowdsourced vendor-neutral reviews of hardware, software and services and guides users to a network of enterprise technology professionals.

IT Central Station also just made sense. People today increasingly check Yelp rather than a food critic’s column and TripAdvisor rather than travel columns and books. IT Central Station serves a critical gap in the market with our peer content.

In order to ensure that this content is unbiased and based on real experiences, we have a triple validation process including community monitoring, interviews and LinkedIn. This process provides transparency, which helps buyers know which users are in similar industries to allow them to make the most informed decisions about how a product will fit into their work environment.

Be a part of the review revolution! Join IT Central Station to access over 8,000 product reviews from your peers. Register here.

The Yelpification of Enterprise Tech

by Julia Frohwein Comments: 0

Yelpification Webinar - 300 x 250We recently hosted a panel of marketing leaders who leverage customer reviews to build awareness and generate leads.  The panel of enterprise tech marketing executives shared tips and advice for utilizing product reviews, peer content, and professional social communities to achieve marketing success.

The panelists included:

  • May Petry, Vice President of Digital Marketing at HP
  • Wendy Perilli, Senior Director of Global Integrated Programs at ServiceNow
  • Anand Akela, Director of Product Marketing at AppDynamics
  • Paula Daley, Advisor for DevOps Product & Solution Marketing Operations at CA Technologies
  • Russell Rothstein, CEO and co-founder of IT Central Station (moderator)

View the recorded webinar here: The Yelpification of Enterprise Tech: 5 Reasons Why Customer Reviews Are Essential to Your Marketing Strategy.

Along with the webinar, we’ve also created a new infographic illustrating the marketing advantages of using customer reviews.  This new infographic depicts industry data confirming the importance technology buyers place on product reviews and peer experiences.  For example, research shows that tech buyers complete two-thirds of the buying process before engaging with a vendor sales representative.

Learn About Crowdsourced Tech Buying at OracleWorld

by Julia Frohwein Comments: 0

Heading to Oracle OpenWorld this month?Oracle OpenWorld

Our co-founder and CEO, Russell Rothstein, will be presenting on the panel “Engaging Customer Communities for Insights to Drive Marketing Tech Procurement.”

The session will take place in the CX Marketing track at Oracle OpenWorld on Tuesday September 30 at 12pm PT in the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Speakers in the session include:

  • Roland Smart, VP of Social & Community Marketing (panel moderator)
  • Andrea Ward, VP Marketing Oracle/Eloqua
  • Russell Rothstein, CEO of IT Central Station

With the rapid adoption of SaaS and cloud technologies, marketing practitioners are increasingly being asked to inform procurement processes. The market is cluttered, but some of the best sources of insights come from your peers and the ability to connect with your peers through managed customer communities. In many cases, these insights can lead to a “try before you buy” opportunity that would otherwise never have been made available. The session will empower marketing leaders to tap the knowledge of front-line employees and peers to make smart procurement decisions.

We hope you’ll join us for this great event!

Read, Write, and We View Vendors for TechTarget VMworld Awards

by Julia Frohwein Comments: 0

Elmer_FuddDid you get Elmer Fudd, tongue tied on that?

Well, if you did who cares? The point is that you can get to enterprise vendor reviews from real users here on IT Central Station—no disguises, no vendor speak, no vender hype, just real content from the field. Now, let’s see about these awards.

As the official media partner for the VMworld Awards for the seventh year in a row, TechTarget’s staff appointed a team of experts and editors that selected winning products from more than 175 entries. The team judged the products according to their innovation, value, performance, reliability and ease of use.

Let’s quickly take a look at the run down of some of the VMworld TechTarget winners:

Category: Storage and Backup for Virtualized Environments
Winner: SimpliVity, OmniCube
Runner-up: Dell Software, Dell AppAssure 5.3.3

Category: Security and Compliance for Virtualization
Winner: AFORE Solutions, CloudLink Secure VSA
Runner-up: Intigua, Intigua Virtual Containers

Category: Virtualization Management
Winner: Eaton, Eaton Intelligent Power Manager 1.3
Runner-up: CloudPhysics, CloudPhysics

Category: Networking and Virtualization
Winner: PLUMgrid, PLUMgrid Platform
Runner-up: Anuta Networks, nCloudX 1.7

Category: Desktop Virtualization and End-User Computing
Winner: Lakeside Software, SysTrack Resolve 6.1
Runner-up: Atlantis Computing, Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI 4.0

Category: Private Cloud Computing Technologies
Winner: Nutanix, NX-6270
Runner-up: Metacloud, Carbon|OS

For the complete TechTarget article on the awards and show, click here.

For more information about any enterprise vendors, where are you going to start? It’s simple. Search for the vendors of your choice on IT Central Station.

Visit IT Central Station to browse hundreds of real user reviews of virtualization and cloud solutions including VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, Amazon, Red Hat, Oracle, and more.

Become a part of the “Yelp for Enterprise,” as referred to by the Wall Street Journal. Get your profile up and start reviewing, posting, and commenting. From the TechTarget awards, we have product pages for OmniCube and AppAssure that need your reviews . If you are a real user, write a review for these or others today!