Today’s B2B buyers are skeptical. They don’t trust marketing and go out of their way to avoid sales calls. Instead, they turn to their peers for product recommendations.
According to a think with Google study, 60 percent of B2B tech buyers seek peer reviews before they make a purchase.
This makes getting great reviews more important than ever. And when it comes to B2B technology, Gartner reviews are the grand prize.
“Gartner reviews are huge for us,” says Kim Ellis, Director, Customer Connect at BMC Software. “Eighty percent of our customers read Gartner information or speak with a Gartner rep or analyst before they buy our product.”
In October, Gartner launched a new Peer Insights software review site. However, BMC’s early reviews on the site were less than stellar—they just had a handful averaging 3.2 out of 5.0.
To improve these numbers and jump past the competition, Kim knew that she needed to be proactive and get BMC’s advocates involved.
Need great reviews? Call on your advocates
Writing a Gartner Peer Insight is a lengthy process.
First, Gartner requires all reviewers to create an account and log in. From there, they must complete an incredibly long and detailed review form. Then, Gartner verifies that the reviewers are actual customers before they publish the reviews.
Since the reviews require such a time commitment, Kim knew she couldn’t just ask just any customer to write one. She only wanted to ask clients who had a strong relationship with BMC. So she reached out to customers from BMC’s advocate marketing program—BMC Customer Connect.
Kim hand-picked advocates who actively used BMC’s solution and had a Net Promoter Score of eight or higher (out of her 2,500 advocates).
“The great thing about our advocate marketing program is that it makes it easy for us to find the right customers,” says Kim. “We can target customers without needing to recreate the wheel.”
Here’s what the request looked like:
As a thank-you for writing an honest review, advocates were awarded points that they could redeem for prizes like branded swag, 1:1 time with a BMC executive, or BMC educational courses.
Advocates help BMC get noticed by analysts and become a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant
Since posting this challenge in November, BMC has seen tremendous results.“We now have 45 reviews published on Gartner Peer Insights,” says Kim, “And our average score has increased from 3.2 to 4.0. The average score from our advocates is 4.4.”
Separately, in August 2015 Gartner named BMC a leader in the Magic Quadrant for IT Service Support Management Tools. While there are a number of factors involved in the Gartner Magic Quadrant process, customer interviews are important.
“Analysts are a huge part of our selling process and it’s important for them to see that we are getting good reviews,” says Kim. “Our advocates have helped us get noticed by analysts.
The BMC team has also taken notice.
“This challenge has shown others at BMC the value of running an advocate marketing program,” says Kim. “You can’t argue with the numbers. When you don’t use the advocate marketing program, you get a rating of 3.2. When you use it, you get 4.4. This proves that what we are doing works.”
Download this study to learn how companies that utilize advocate marketing have successfully harnessed the power of their advocates and influencers to maximize the potential of their product reviews.
Three keys to getting great product reviews
Here are Kim’s top three tips on how to achieve similar results:
1. Nurture your advocates towards a big ask
Asking a customer to write a detailed review for a leading technology site is a huge deal. That’s why Kim didn’t approach just anyone. She made sure that advocates had completed qualifying challenges and already had strong relationships with BMC.
She also presented them with smaller, educational content about BMC’s brand and products before requesting a review. This increased their knowledge of BMC solutions—thereby allowing them to write more robust reviews.
2. Don’t try to control your advocates
Kim doesn’t ask advocates to write a positive review. She asks them to write an honest review and give the company feedback. However, your advocates are more likely to leave you positive reviews than your overall customer base. “You can’t control what your advocates do, but you can guide them down the path,” says Kim.
3. Follow up
Although Gartner keeps its reviewers anonymous, Kim follows up with all of her advocates to ask if they completed the challenge wrote a review. If so, she asks what score they gave and what comments they left. This helps her identify which customer wrote which review.
Their responses give Kim a heads up, so she’s not shocked when Gartner publishes a review. It also allows her to reach out to customers who left great reviews for a case study.
The customer quotes have also helped Kim with her other content. For example, she may turn a customer comment into a blog post topic.
Approaching customers for reviews can also help you identify new advocates. “I was surprised by some of the customers who left great reviews,” says Kim. “The challenge brought a lot of new advocates out of the woodwork.”