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When & How Reviews Are Used Along the Buyer’s Journey

Stefanie Miller
January 21, 2023
Blog, Buyer Insights, Reviews

When & How Reviews Are Used Along the Buyer’s Journey

We know a lot about which buyers use reviews, what they’re looking for, why they use them, and how. It’s time to answer the question of when buyers use reviews.

There are three stages of the buyer’s journey—discovery, evaluation, and selection. However, it turns out that the buyer’s journey is nonlinear, and reviews are used in every stage. According to our 2022 B2B Disconnect Report, 41% of Gen Z and 29% of Millennials named “check review sites” as their first step in the buying journey. 

We also know that as buyers learn more about a product, some of their questions are answered, while more pop up. This is partly why they go back to reviews, hunting for even more information. They’re not only looking at review scores, but for deeper information from real-life users. Let’s dive into how buyers are using reviews, and what vendors can do to help them.

How buyers use reviews for discovery

Buyers who are just starting out with their research use the TrustRadius decisioning platform and other review sites to learn more about a category and get the lay of the land. They’re looking for orientation around the different options, specifically the relative market presence and user satisfaction of each product.

During the 2022 B2B Disconnect research, we found that customer reviews are one of the top 3 most important categories for self-serve discovery during the buyer’s journey. Across all company sizes, buyers want to understand which products are:

  • Widely used
  • Used by segments or industries like their own
  • Highly rated
  • Lesser known alternatives they should consider

Some TrustRadius users have told us:

How you can help buyers in discovery

  1. Make sure your product profiles are accurate and you’re taking advantage of all the offered self-serve features because they’re important to buyers
  2. Make sure your product has enough customer reviews
  3. To ensure buyers in discovery hear from your active customers, use reviews as social proof on your website and in your marketing collateral

Here is how and why a few vendors currently use TrustRadius reviews to help bring prospects more easy-to-access, self-serve product information on multiple channels:

How buyers use reviews during evaluation

The line between discovery and evaluation is fuzzy, particularly when it comes to building a short list of products. From 2021 to 2022, companies looking to purchase software increased the use of user reviews as part of the determining factor in all parameters we measured—price points, company size, and generation. 

Companies looking at a $10K or less software purchase-price went from 31% using reviews to 37%, while those looking to spend $101K+, nearly doubled from 23% to 40%.

Buyers are using end-user feedback to narrow their options down before engaging with vendors more than ever, while others use peer feedback to further evaluate products after they’ve seen a demo or talked to the vendor.

Buyers using reviews during evaluation say they want an efficient way to find specific details about how a product works in different situations, compare the strengths and weaknesses of products on their shortlist, and surface information that might not be shared by the vendor.

How you can help buyers during evaluation

  1. Add review quotes to landing pages, especially those comparing your product to key competitors.
  2. Make it easy for sales reps to find and use review quotes from customers that are in the prospect’s same industry or of a similar size.
  3. Comment on your reviews, and in particular, be responsive to negative feedback—acknowledge product limitations, provide solutions, or give an update on the product roadmap where applicable.

Here’s a real-world example of how a TrustRadius vendor uses reviews to help buyers with evaluation:

How buyers use reviews at the point of selection

Buyers return to user feedback again when it’s time to finalize their decision, especially if there are multiple buyers involved. They may share reviews with members of the buying committee or use evidence from reviews to overcome specific objections. Head-to-head comparisons can also help tip the scales toward one option over another if multiple products seem to fit the functional requirements. 

At this stage, factors like the quality of service, support, integrations, and onboarding experience become more important, as buyers start to envision life post-purchase. They want to know what it will be like to actually use the product, and what they can do to prepare for a smooth implementation.

In surveys and interviews, buyers at the point of selection tell us they use reviews to validate vendor claims and justify their recommendation to the buying committee or decision makers, as well as assess potential issues with adoption and implementation.

How you can help buyers at the point of selection

Vendors can leverage TrustQuotes to quickly and easily share recent and relevant reviews in the later stages of the sales cycle. They can be used to:

  • Find customer reference candidates
  • Help sales reps find and use review quotes that overcome specific objections
  • Arm prospects with review quotes to help them convince internal stakeholders and make a confident decision

Vendors need a multi-touch strategy to enable buyers with reviews

While product discovery and evaluation are the most popular use cases, the data clearly shows that buyers value reviews throughout the funnel. Using reviews to enable buyers all along their journey can also help you build the relationship your buyers want. So don’t just drive more reviews — proactively bring that content to your buyers to build credibility and a strong business case for your products. 

Learn more of the do’s and don’ts for today’s buyers in our What’s in & What’s Out: A GTM Playbook For 2023.

About the Author

Stefanie Miller
Stefanie Miller is a marketing copywriter focused on connecting tech companies with their ideal audience. At the core of her work is unlocking the ‘why’ of each piece of content and delivering quality answers. Stefanie’s been a small business owner for nearly a decade, is a forever-learner, and born storyteller. She lives in California's Bay Area where she hikes the rolling hills, hangs with her family, and creates art with her laser cutter. You can find her on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stefaniemiller1/