Trusted Reviews are Nothing New for TrustRadius
Fake online reviews are everywhere. That’s why Amazon, Glassdoor, Expedia, and others launched a Coalition for Trusted Reviews. The companies said the members of the group will “look for best practices for hosting online reviews and share methods on how to detect fake ones.” At TrustRadius, the trusted decisioning platform for B2B buyers, we’ve been doing this for years. It’s a core tenet of Our Promise to Buyers.
According to our 2023 B2B Buying Disconnect Report, 54% of technology buyers rely heavily on reviews when making a purchase decision. Of those buyers, 61% say that reviews are the most influential resource they use in their buying process. Despite this, trust remains a major issue in the review space. Some technology vendors engage in cherry-picking practices to get their happiest customers on the record. While these reviews are real user feedback, they don’t offer the nuanced feedback that buyers need to make a confident purchase decision.
At TrustRadius, we’ve built our platform to solve these problems and provide the highest quality and trustworthy decision-level content possible to buyers. In turn, we’ve found that this approach benefits technology vendors by empowering them to tell their unique stories, engage high-intent buyers, and gain customer insights.
Why unbiased reviews matter to buyers
Buyers generally consider feedback collected from a third-party source, like TrustRadius, to be more trustworthy than customer testimonials collected by a technology vendor. We interviewed buyers who used TrustRadius as a part of their decision-making process. Here’s what they had to say about the importance of unbiased reviews.
Todd Betzold uses TrustRadius reviews when searching for new software because, “I feel it’s a little bit more trustworthy than the actual [vendor] site because any website or platform or software is going to put the best of the best reviews out there. So using a third-party resource as a review option is something I find to be useful when purchasing.”
TrustRadius’ efforts to diminish cherry-picking resonated with Nathan Littleton, who said, “If a site featured a TrustRadius review, I felt like I could trust it perhaps a little bit more than if they’d just copied and pasted a testimonial that had come through via contact form or because they’d gone out to customers and asked for testimonials and reviews, but they’d kind of cherry-picked the best ones. Whereas with TrustRadius, it feels like you get a real picture of, ‘these are the good things, these are the bad things,’ and you can make a decision based on them.”
Technology buyers are savvy. They know that every product has its strengths and weaknesses, and they place less trust in products with only positive reviews published. Unbiased review sourcing ensures they get the full picture that buyers like Nathan are looking for.
Lastly, Lexi Pope emphasized that the mixture of feedback available on TrustRadius from similar users bolstered her trust and helped her make a better buying decision. “I look at the reviews from real people first because that’s important to me … I see a mixture of what it should be—negative, mediocre, and positive reviews. So I trust it.”
Negative reviews are inevitable, and as Lexi said above, buyers expect to see them. How a vendor responds to a 1-star review is often more important to a prospective buyer than the content of that review itself. The presence of a few middle-of-the-road and/or negative reviews can defeat the perception of cherry-picking to buyers.
Why unbiased reviews are good for technology vendors
Authentic user feedback is clearly beneficial to technology buyers, but at TrustRadius, we’ve found that unbiased reviews have numerous benefits for vendors, as well.
In our 2023 B2B Buying Disconnect Report, we found that buyers place more value on reviews from people who are relatable to them than the number of reviews and the recency of those reviews. An authentic review from a user in a similar role or industry is more meaningful to buyers than several positive reviews from users who have a different use case for the product. This often means more impact with fewer reviews.
Unbiased reviews and trScore
At TrustRadius, we know that unbiased review sourcing builds buyer confidence, so we work to make it beneficial for vendors too. Our trScore algorithm gives considerably more weight to reviews and ratings from a representative sample of users. For vendors, this means that unbiased review sourcing is the easiest way to influence your trScore and you don’t need to source hundreds of reviews to have an impact.
Since most reviewers are happy with their purchase, using an unbiased review sourcing methodology can (usually, but not always) improve your trScore. That’s because organic reviewers are almost always incredibly happy or incredibly unhappy. Reviews from a representative sample of users counterbalance unhappy reviewers and protect a product’s score from fluctuations due to negative organic reviews.
TrustRadius offers TRUE certification, which recognizes vendors who source reviews in accordance with our best practices. This certification is free and available to any technology vendor. TRUE certification demonstrates to buyers that a vendor is committed to sourcing reviews that tell the real story about their product.
TRUE certified vendors
Starting an unbiased review sourcing strategy can be daunting. Knowingly soliciting less-than-glowing reviews seems like a counterintuitive way to improve the positioning of your product, but it works. Here are a few examples of vendors who do an excellent job of sourcing unbiased reviews and the benefits they’ve seen.
ScienceLogic earned TRUE certification for ScienceLogic SL1 after pivoting their review sourcing strategy and embracing unbiased reviews. Beyond earning this certification, they boosted their trScore to an impressive 8.6/10, and earned multiple TrustRadius awards, including a 2023 Top Rated Award.
When OutboundEngine began sourcing reviews, their product had a 1.1 trScore. Because they prioritized unbiased review sourcing from the start, they boosted their trScore to 6.5 after their first campaign, which brought in 26 ratings and reviews. After their second campaign, their trScore further increased to 7.9, qualifying them for a 2023 Top Rated Award. The OutboundEngine team achieved this over the course of three months with a total of 26 reviews and 29 ratings.
Blackbaud emphasizes unbiased review sourcing across its product portfolio. In addition to earning TRUE certifications across several products, they’ve increased their trScore for Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT from 6.8 to 7.4 over the course of the past six months. In addition to a higher trScore, Blackbaud is on the path to qualifying for our next Top Rated Award.
Paycor took a holistic approach and sourced reviews across their entire user community. Over the course of the past year, their campaigns have brought in 50 ratings and 54 reviews. As a result of their efforts, they’ve raised their trScore from 6.5 last November to 7.3 today.
How TrustRadius works to eliminate fake reviews
TrustRadius ensures that the reviews we publish are both real and informative for software buyers. Every review and rating published is carefully moderated by our review processing team to ensure the author is a real person with real product experience. That’s why we only published 53% of the reviews submitted to us in 2022.
TrustRadius uses a number of technological approaches to fraudulent review detection to analyze a user’s employment history, industry use case, and verification of authorship.
To learn more about existing review moderation, overall review quality, and future review moderation technologies at TrustRadius, check out our report: Measuring Integrity: Review Quality Report 2023.
What is unbiased review sourcing?
TrustRadius built its platform around unbiased review sourcing and ensuring that the data we present, such as reviews and scores, are an accurate reflection of customer sentiment. We’ve incentivized unbiased review sourcing since we know it has substantial benefits for software buyers and vendors alike.
Unbiased reviews come from a representative sample of software users. This means that the sample includes middle-of-the-road feedback and not just positive (or negative) reviews.
A representative sample is usually achieved by reaching out to a random sample of users via a neutral ask, without any sort of parameters that could bias the sample. Parameters that we know lead to bias include, but are not limited to:
- Sourcing reviews from those who have responded positively to an NPS survey
- Having CSMs or support staff reach out to happy customers for a review
- Encouraging positive reviews in the solicitation process
Not only are these strategies against our best practices, they also violate the FTC’s guidelines for online reviews.
Common strategies to achieve a representative sample of users include:
- Inviting all or a random sample of customers to leave a review via a unique email ask
- Prompting users to leave a review upon logging in to a product
- Reaching out to customers at set points during the customer journey
For more insights on our best practices around unbiased review sourcing, download our free Review Growth Kit.
Get started with unbiased review sourcing
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