Want to know how well a lawnmower performs, what kind of experience your peers had with their bank, or whether the warranty offered by a roofing contractor turned out to be worth the expense? It’s no secret that when consumers research the products and services they seek, they turn to user reviews for the insights they need to make informed decisions – and justify the cost of the decisions they make.
But what’s less common knowledge, says Laureen Fagan in a piece for Manufacturing.Net, is that the power of reviews and other user-generated content has dramatically increased in industry too. Buyers and vendors are connecting after they explore LinkedIn profiles and searched Twitter accounts. Companies are encouraging customers to provide user reviews on everything from accounting software to their R&D capacities. In the manufacturing space, it means big business when companies stop thinking of reviews and rankings as a B2C thing and learn to work it.
True, some of the traditional methods for B2B communications matter. A 2016 report by Demand Gen finds that 82 percent of survey respondents are reading white papers – still the highest choice by far when making their buying decisions – with another 73 percent choosing case studies and two out of three reading blog posts. At 95 percent, almost all of them said they’d consider content generated by the vendors themselves, and they of course do as they move on to corporate websites and social media.
But as the decision-making process becomes more complex, industry professionals are leveraging their technological savvy to connect directly with their peers and assess the experiences shared by colleagues. It’s not just the difference that mobile access makes, or the shift to millennial preferences in the market, although both factors are true. What’s really driving a B2B shift to user reviews and other peer-to-peer exchanges is the value of information in a research process that 80 percent of buyers say is taking more time. In most scenarios, it’s the methodical approach designed to support their case for the investment, underscoring that all the time they’re putting in is tied to ROI and the cost-conscious business climate.
“What we’re seeing is the kind of traffic that tells us virtually no decision gets made now without a hard look at companies and services,” said Jeev Trika, founder of CrowdReviews.com, a review and ranking site for software providers, financial services and other products geared toward the B2B environment.