review-websites

How almost all review sites are destroying your B2B business

The average review site is not a philanthropic entity.

They have been created for one purpose and one purpose only – not to inform the consumer but to generate leads.

“Well, users wouldn’t enquire unless they felt the on-page content made them truly informed,” you might argue.

In fact as marketers – we often realise that it is not TRUE information that is key in this decision process; with both misinformation and lack of information often overcontributing to the situation required to seduce a customer to input their details.

With a vested interest in creating traffic and providing leads – the paradoxical nature of this business can leave a marketer confused and distraught.

After helping to create one of Australia’s largest review websites and in my current role another successfully buck this trend – I’d like to discuss a few of these issues in the article below.

 

Review Sites Do Not Host Quality Content

For a B2B buyer – software purchases are complex, considered purchases and are not transactional in nature. Therefore, every impression on the internet counts in building and maintaining trust. Spend a minute to examine the reviews for you company on most of the common review sites (as you can see I have intentionally refrained from naming many of them for fear of abuse) – most of the content is lackadaisical, superfluous and mostly irrelevant. I would argue that it may be better for your business to have no representation rather than a poor one.

The question is why do these sites host such low level content on their sites? The answer is two fold.

Firstly – most review sites do not have the commitment to quality control both in terms of usership and also in reference to the content itself. It is simply easier to let more people contribute to hit volume-style goals rather than to maintain a high quality curated site.

Secondly – this feeds into the whole notion of these organisations being traffic orientated – they are in adherence with old school theories on SEO where more= more traffic. Although it may be still be possible to fool Google on some key terms – the algorithm has evolved significantly – detecting fraudulent and often brief content and penalizing sites as such. Thus in the long run, only a site with commitment to quality has a high likelihood of maintaining its search positions.

 

Review Sites are a Self-Servicing Black Holes

In order to build traction on review websites – one strategy still prevails – send traffic to these sites with the hope that users convert their opinions to written reviews.

As you send more and more users over the time – you help these sites charge you more and more in return – as they build more traffic and steer more users to you in the form of lead enquiries.

Although some leads may be helpful – you will never here a sales rep thank you for the leads from that site.

Effectively – you are doing the hard work to help them charge you more – without any ownership of the actual content – opening yourself up to several vulnerabilities.

1. You are susceptible to pricing/content ownership changes

By giving review websites control over your customer history – they are empowered with the ability to threaten you with price increases for leads or make changes to the way this data is displayed unless they receive compensation.

Also- I know of several instances where content has been edited without the consent of the user and the vendor to manipulate search results, with a fee being involved to change it to whatever the vendor decides.

 

2. Your prospects are also being sold to your competitors

Even if 3rd party sites help you rank for your own search terms – prospects receive multiple calls to action to proceed with competitors and even if they enquire are often contacted by up to four vendors. Furthermore, organisations who have a potential arbitrage opportunity – rotate placements and affect the way in which you are displayed in order to maximize potential revenue.

To rephrase this in more layman’s terms – imagine you do all the hard work to generate 100 reviews on a site that claims that you are displayed in rank order based on your net number of reviews. As highlighted above, the way in which you might be ranked be changed based on every unique visitor who hits that page, furthermore you are also helping to generate leads for all 4 of the competitors in your space also given the strength of your profile.

 

3. You are helping them outperform you in search

Recently a large review site was caught purchasing SEM on competitive key terms related to one of their clients and selling this traffic back to competitors through their categorical landing page. Why this is especially sinister is that Google discounts advertisements which have more topical relevance – thus a reviews website can actually hijack your own content to outrank even your own domain in some instances – forcing up your bid price and reducing your click through rate. The more you assist these sites, the less you can compete – as the combined revenue from selling it to four vendors also means they can always outbid most vendors 4-1. In helping the review sites, you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot.

 

4. You cannot use these sites for 3rd party validation

Because they are pay to play and because they sell traffic to your competitors – how could you ever feel safe sending prospective clients to read full reviews on these sites without fear of loss. Furthermore, even if a prospect does utilize the site – you will be paying for the round trip, as you are again charged if the user comes back through as an enquiry or as an impression

 

5. You are reducing the UX of your customers

Taking customers to 3rd party venues with aggressive 3rd party marketing reduces the positive experience within the buyers journey.

 

Review Sites Misuse an Important Customer Success Opportunity

The act of submitting a review is an extremely important event; from which you should be able to gather rare and unique insight into the current conditions of the customer’s account. Review websites who lack diligence and ask non-relevant questions of the user can make this exercise totally redundant.

Additionally, the frequency with which you can go back to a user and ask for feedback is extremely limited – thus by sending your clients to submit generalized feedback you miss a vital window in which quality insights can be gathered.

Reviews are just a mechanism for acquiring user generated content thus most websites in the market do not assist product and customer success teams to derive the input they require to positively impact key business decision making

 

Is there any hope for me?

I do not join losing sides. Given my experience and background I feel TrustRadius not only addresses the issues above – but does so with a vision for the future that places our solution outside the realms of convention review websites – I call this domain UGC 2.0.

As I want this article to remain more informatory than promotional – please get in touch with me to find out how we differ from conventional review websites.

Before you pay for any more leads or engage in a review/customer advocacy program – please get in touch in the comments below or by sending me a tweet @wolfofyorkst

 

 

 

About The Author

Dailius Wilson

Dailius Wilson is the 24 year old founder of WolfofYorkStreet.com – helping the world's top SaaS companies to optimise their sales and marketing efforts. Dailius is currently a Director at TrustRadius and a digital blogger at increasemyonlinebusiness.com. Dailius was named as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in Australia for 2015 by Anthill Online and was ranked in the Top 100 SEO Experts in the World. Dailius has also been a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show and has over 10,000,000 views on Youtube