Product reviews - why you should read them, why you should write them.

The power of product reviews — why you should read them, why you should write them

June 28th, 2018

Katie’s a marketing all-rounder, data champion, nurturer of talent, brand advocate, and wrangler of CEOs.

No purchase is looked forward to with so much relish, nor deliberated over with so much care, as the holiday. The shining beacon of escapism that dominates the mental horizon and keeps you plodding, ever onwards, through the daily grind is arguably one of the most emotional purchases a consumer will make, and certainly one of weighty expectation.

The thing about buying a holiday is that after all the research is done, your final decision is often made by taking the advice of a bunch of complete strangers. You don’t ultimately trust the resort, agency, venue, landlord, airline, or whichever entity is promoting the holiday or destination. They’re just out to sell something and make a buck, right? Right. Better to trust strangers in this key decision — it’s off to TripAdvisor to check out the reviews and ratings (starting with the worst ones, of course).

Founded in 2000 to be ‘the best source of travel information’, TripAdvisor reached the one million reviews/opinions mark in January 2005. Staggeringly, it had reached 6.7 million by October 2006. As of January 2017, it was at 435 million with 280 reviews submitted every minute.

(It’s worth noting that TripAdvisor’s success and the proliferation of online reviews happened independently of social media and mobile internet — Facebook didn’t start up until 2004 and didn’t significantly join our collective conscious until Apple popularised the smartphone concept with the first iPhone in 2007.)

But wait, what does a hotel and travel site have to do with buying software? It’s about consumer habits and social conformity. Most people are more comfortable doing what others do. This is why product adoption follows a typical bell curve of early adopters (less concerned by reviews but happy to tell everyone what they’ve bought), early majority (keen to be seen to join an increasingly popular band wagon), late majority (well if they’re doing it, I suppose we should), and the laggards and sceptics (all the other cheaper products I’ve used just didn’t do enough so I may as well try this one though I’m sure it won’t make any difference and I don’t know what all the fuss is about anyway muttermuttermutter).

So many of our other purchases are influenced in this way that reading reviews has become habit. Going out to a restaurant? Check Facebook or Zomato. Buying a new vacuum cleaner or a trampoline? Productreview.com. It’s the same for books on Amazon, movies on Netflix, random crap on eBay, and apps in the app store — the opinion of other people is what counts here.

In the world of business software, it’s exactly the same. Review sites have sprung up over the last 10 years for the software you use every day in your business and the opinions of others play an increasingly influential role on how you make buying decisions.

BUSINESS BUYERS USE REVIEWS 

Buying software for your business is a key strategic investment. Even in the world of free trials, it’s not a decision you should make lightly. When trialling software, you need to invest time in assessing it as a solution to your problems — it’s not time you have to waste.

For our customers — architecture, engineering and construction design businesses — the pain points are typically things like juggling multiple spreadsheets for resource planning, forecasting, budgeting, timesheets and invoices. A disjointed collection of contacts in siloed email systems.

Sending endless emails and documents and keeping track of drawings, versions, and all the tasks you have to manage to deliver your design projects. Disparate repositories of information on your computer, server and Dropbox.

There are many software options claiming they’re designed for architects and engineers, but are they really? How can you tell without relying solely on the vendor’s website? Just because a product says it offers workflow maximising solutions for architects and engineers doesn’t mean it really does.

Enter reviews.

With the explosion of pure cloud software, reviews for business applications have grown and grown. A quick search on G2 Crowd for CRM provides over 1500 product results. 1500! How are you supposed to make a decision about a CRM when you have over 1500 options to consider?

The good news is, a platform like G2 Crowd instantly shows you the star rating of each product and an average score out of five, so you can very quickly start to look at the options.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ REVIEWS 

People read reviews to help make better decisions. Reviews give you an idea that people like you have experienced a product and, through their experience, help you make a judgement about whether it’s something you should try.

Ask yourself what issues you’re trying to solve with new software? It’s more than likely that someone else suffers the same issues and has written their opinion about whether that particular piece of software did the job. You don’t have time for trial and error for products that misrepresent their offering.

WHY YOU SHOULD WRITE REVIEWS 

Trustpilot research says reviews are motivated by venting frustration, praise and support for a good experience, a need to express a view and the sense of empowerment it brings, wanting to be recognised for certain knowledge, and a desire to feel part of a community.

These motivations, for the most part, come from a place of ‘honesty and trustworthiness’. By extension, people reading them trust that to be the case and make their decisions.

If you have read reviews to help make better decisions, you should give some of that back and earn some review karma. Perhaps you can start with a Synergy review.

Read our guide on how to write a G2 Crowd review

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Katie’s a marketing all-rounder, data champion, nurturer of talent, brand advocate, and wrangler of CEOs.

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