You’ve got a great product that your customers love, and you know prospects trust third party information more than your own copy. Why not use review websites like G2 Crowd, Gartner, Capterra, TrustRadius, or CrowdReviews in your marketing strategy?
Many people hesitate to drive traffic to third-party websites as part of their marketing strategy because of potential tracking issues. There’s also a risk that a fraudulent negative review could surface at the top of the page when someone researches your product.
Despite the risk, customer reviews are like gold, particularly in lower-funnel marketing. By properly setting up your analytics framework, you can leverage the reviews on sites people trust and still prove your return on marketing investment.
Leveraging Reviews in a Marketing Strategy
We’ve all seen Forrester, G2 Crowd, and Gartner quadrant announcements. Companies still proudly boast anytime they’re in a favorable position, and for good reason. Hosting a landing page with a gated form to get the report is still an effective way to collect leads. But there’s more that third-party reviews can do for you.
We’re not advocating that you drive traffic to third party websites using paid advertising. While you can find workarounds to push people to review websites using Google paid advertising, you will lose visibility. Even if you have UTM parameters enabled for the ad, they’ll be lost if they subsequently click on your website. You also run the risk of encouraging prospects to research your competitor.
However, you can do several other things to get the most out of your reviews.
Chances are you’re already leveraging reviews on your website. Each time you display average rating scores, snippets from specific reviews, or the vendor’s badges, you’re getting a little bit of third-party credibility. It’s a solid place to start.
Some review vendors allow you to access a profile page for your company. Occasionally, this means upgrading your account and paying for their service. Using additional calls to action and adding UTM parameters to your links will improve your visibility on how these websites influence traffic to your website.
G2 Crowd does integrate with Salesforce.com. The additional objects they ad can be mined for information and inform your campaign reporting.
Intent + Engagement + ICP = Winning
Third-party intent data can inform your sales prospecting activities. However, intent data is only useful if you can tie it back to your ideal customer profile and subsequent engagement.
We define intent as an action taken on a third-party platform that indicates a company’s intent to purchase a product or service. Engagement is defined as actions taken directly with your company and its owned assets. Researching chat engines, for example, on G2 Crowd would be considered intent. Visiting your chat engine company’s website would be considered engagement.
If you associate UTM campaign data to links on a third-party review website, you can measure where your website engagement is coming from. If a platform gives you the raw data that tracks whether specific companies are researching relevant terms, competitors, and your own capabilities, you can flag intent before a prospect engages with your website.
G2 Crowd integrates with several marketing automation platforms and Salesforce, giving you the ability to track buyer intent data. When you combine this integration with automated processes that score the company’s profile and mine contact data, you may be able to go so far as to set up cold nurture campaigns. This also means you can score interactions to calculate intent.
From highest to lowest, we score:
- People who research CaliberMind
- People who research CaliberMind competitors
- People who research a high-value term (marketing analytics, attribution software, engagement scoring)
- People who research a low-value term (customer data platform)
Our reasoning is people researching specific brands either are doing their homework on a word-of-mouth referral or have enough experience with the type of product to know the major players in the market.
People who are researching a specific term know they have a problem to solve, whereas people who search for a low-value term may not even be in the market for what we offer. “Customer data platform” is a buzz phrase, but B2C companies often trend a few years ahead of B2B businesses in terms of adoption (for more on customer data platforms, click here).
We believe that both engagement scoring and intent scoring should use a time decay. The further people get away from an action without doing something else to indicate intent, the less meaningful that initial action becomes.
What Should Be a Campaign Activity?
Campaign activity is more of a gray area than people think. Don’t confuse a campaign activity with an MQL. Some companies only track activities they control and fund as a campaign. This should include everything from key website interactions to meetings held at an in-person event.
Other companies may include external event information when they can track it, although we feel it makes the most sense to track activity on the contact level once they are de-anonymized.
At a minimum, you’ll want to track form fills driven by call-to-action buttons on the third-party profile. This will mean capturing UTM parameters when you have a form fill. CaliberMind uses campaign views to capture key events, which means we can apply attribution to G2 Crowd users who subsequently visit our website. This is great when you’re trying to prove the value of investing more energy into your G2 Crowd ratings, related assets, and buyer persona targeted landing pages.
Beyond Tracking: Unique Uses
In addition to sprinkling your reviews throughout your web copy, social media profiles, and other online presences, you can create campaigns that direct people to landing pages featuring a lot of third-party review content. Some platforms even will supply you with embed code and widgets to promote your reviews and score on the website.
Again, this is smart marketing for the third party review sites. The more people who know about their platform, the more valuable their data is to businesses.
There are less direct ways to use reviews to influence prospects, such as using reviews on customer story pages and blog posts. Not that we’re doing that right now. Okay, maybe we’re doing that a little bit, but we primarily want you to benefit from the content.
To recap, we recommend that you make sure your third-party profile is accurate, use UTM tracking as much as possible, and leverage third-party intent data if feasible. We hope you glean a few takeaways from this article. Please let us know if we can help you maximize your marketing impact.