Social media management software company Viralheat invited me to participate in a Twitter chat about best-practices in word-of-mouth marketing (WOM) in the form of online reviews. This article is a summation of that chat session.

1. Why Develop an Online Review Program

Do reviews help brands get more interest/business?

Absolutely. There's a large and established body of evidence in B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing that online reviews measurably increase conversion rates. Companies with positive reviews on TrustRadius (the company I founded and head as CEO) have reported generating new leads as well as success using their reviews to aid conversion.

(Buyers use it to build their short list or make a final selection. During the Twitter chat, Viralheat itself tweeted that it has garnered leads as a result of the reviews of its software.)

Online reviews appear in search results when people are evaluating your product or service, and professionals regularly frequent review sites when searching for solutions. Potential prospects discover your product as they evaluate competitors or research a category.

WOM marketing has been around for a long time. Why is it gaining higher traction these days?

Social media and search have accelerated WOM. For business software specifically, more than 80% of buyers begin their evaluations through search. In addition to visiting vendor websites, they're looking for independent insights, especially those from their peers.

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image of Vinay Bhagat

Vinay Bhagat is founder and CEO of TrustRadius, a user-based business software review and comparison service.

LinkedIn: Vinay Bhagat

Twitter: @vinaybhagat