In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, the dynamics of the buyer’s journey have undergone a profound shift.
Harnessing the power of review sites has become a crucial element for businesses navigating the buyer’s journey.
The intricacies of generating consumer demand were the subject of the recent episode of Phonexa’s Amplify webinar series, “How to Leverage Review Sites to Create and Capture Demand with G2,” featuring Michael Pannone, G2’s Director of Global Demand Generation.
Along with Amplify host and Phonexa CMO Talar Malakian, Pannone delved into the nuanced strategies for review site owners and advertisers alike.
You can watch the webinar in its entirety here.
From unraveling the secrets of leveraging buyer intent data to building a brand that resonates with both advertisers and users, the webinar left no stone unturned. The real gem, however, was the art of driving in-market buyers straight to you, achieved by skillfully leveraging authentic reviews and user-generated content.
Understanding the Evolving Buyer’s Journey & Navigating Diversified Search Platforms
The buyer’s journey has undergone significant changes.
Malakian and Pannone kicked off the conversation by sharing insights on how the average person needs to be exposed to a brand anywhere between 11 to 15 on average before engaging in a demo. The discussion highlighted the extended buying cycles, the involvement of more stakeholders, and the growing importance of reviews in decision-making.
“We’re seeing longer buying cycles – I know for us at G2, our buying cycle has almost doubled on average from what it was last year,” said Pannone. “There are more stakeholders now … buying committees are definitely growing, and the other [trend] that we’ve seen explode for sure in the last couple of years is the prominence and importance of reviews.”
While Google remains a dominant force in search, trends indicate a diversification in search platforms. Pannone emphasized that people don’t just rely on Google but also explore forums, communities, and social media platforms. The key takeaway is the need for marketers to expand their horizons to different types of search platforms to align with changing user behavior.
“People are not just searching on Google. People are searching on forums, communities, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or YouTube, and they’re certainly searching for what current customers have to say,” said Pannone. “What marketers [must do] is make sure that they’re expanding their horizons to different types of search platforms because they’re growing much faster than Google has been.”
Harnessing the Power of Reviews & User-Generated Content
Reviews and user-generated content are pivotal in shaping purchasing decisions, mirroring trends seen in B2C spaces. Pannone discussed how B2B tech buying now reflects the consumer space, emphasizing the importance of reviews in the decision-making process.
“I always tell people to think about any big purchase [they’ve] made recently … [they] probably did a lot of research and read reviews on those things. Software is becoming no different,” said Pannone. “With thousands and up to millions of dollars in contracts on the line, nobody wants to be the person who made a bad call or onboarded a bad provider. So, in that way, some of the trends in the B2B tech buying space actually mirror some of the things we’ve seen happen in the B2C shopping space.”
The conversation also explored effective strategies for generating reviews, including running review campaigns, offering incentives, and strategically placing prompts.
“Make sure that you have those prompts in the right places – even if it’s in your newsletter or maybe if you ask for reviews on social media … asking for reviews as part of your communication strategy is something that really helps,” said Pannone. “And then when you get to those points where you need an extra little bump, or it’s been a while since you had reviews, using gift cards or donations to incentivize people really helps, too.”
Regarding bad reviews, Pannone suggested viewing them as a chance to showcase responsiveness and improvement. Addressing negative feedback transparently and using it to enhance products or services can turn a potentially detrimental situation into a positive one.
“There’s no such thing as a bad review … bad reviews can give you credibility and authenticity. Shoppers are more likely to believe reviews when they see a range of responses – some good, some bad, some glowing, some not so good,” said Pannone.
Optimizing Intent Data for Marketing Campaigns & Monetizing Reviews
Buyer intent data, generated through platforms like G2, provides valuable insights into user behavior. Pannone shared how G2 utilizes over 50 million intent data signals annually, emphasizing the importance of understanding and using different intent data sources at various funnel stages. The discussion covered integrating intent data into awareness, consideration, and decision phases for effective marketing campaigns.
“We have integrations set up for people who are looking at the intent data category on G2, so every hour, we get new companies who are looking for intent data on G2,” said Pannone.
The conversation then delved into the multiple layers of leveraging review sites for marketing.
Pannone highlighted the wealth of intent data created, emphasizing its value for marketers. He discussed how G2 uses intent data signals to reach potential customers based on their activity, providing a unique opportunity for advertisers to target in-market buyers more effectively.
“There are more than 80 million people a year who come shop on G2, and I think that’s how most people think of G2 reviews and research. What demand gen marketers like you and I think about is what level of intent data is created by 80 million people shopping a year,” said Pannone. “You should have several different sources of intent data, but you have to figure out how to use them correctly at different stages of the funnel.”
Best Practises for Leveraging Reviews
Pannone concluded the conversation by sharing four golden rules for leveraging reviews as part of a winning marketing strategy.
First, optimize your profile on review sites, treating it as an extension of your website. Second, actively gather reviews to build credibility and attract more reviews over time. Third, use reviews strategically, leveraging them as content for specific marketing goals. Finally, once your profile gains traffic, explore ways to use intent data for more targeted and cost-effective marketing campaigns.
“Once you’re generating reviews, start thinking about how you can make your reviews work for you,” said Pannone. “If you’re struggling to grow or struggling with adoption, or you want to break into a new segment or a new location, use your reviews. Leverage your reviews as content.”
Stay tuned for more in our ongoing Amplify webinar series, and stay connected for the latest updates.
To learn more about upcoming Amplify webinars, connect with Malakian on LinkedIn.
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