When Dylan Caraker, a customer marketing manager at OnBoard, was tasked with generating 1,000 reviews, he knew it would be an uphill battle.
Kicking off in March 2019 and running through the end of December, Caraker had less than a year to complete his journey to 1,000 reviews, across all review sites. He was starting from scratch and had never run a review campaign, let alone one with that high of a goal.
OnBoard is a board management software that frees boards and leadership teams to make better decisions by creating unified and secure communications. They make board meetings more collaborative, productive, and effective.
We spoke with Caraker to discuss his perspective and strategy on review collection and the metrics he used to measure the success of his initiative.
From the top-down
Caraker was lucky that his CEO, Paroon Chadha, was completely bought in on reviews. So much so, that review generation was a company-wide initiative.
Working cross-functionally was essential, and Caraker’s plan involved demand generation, marketing, and customer experience (CX) all coming together. Caraker stresses the significance of having executive and company buy-in and has advice if your company isn’t completely sold on reviews. Ask, “What can reviews do for our company?”
Reviews are for more than advertising badges on social media – they can positively affect all departments. Beyond building your brand recognition and credibility, reviews can help the talent department attract top candidates, enable sales to show the value of the company, and provide SEO more coverage on search results.
4 out of 5
Americans read reviews, with 85% discovering new products every month through reviews.
As a strategy, he also suggests looking at other companies that have successfully executed review campaigns. By presenting the other company’s campaign and wins to leadership, you can demonstrate the impact that reviews can have on a business. Even better, their tactics can be replicated.
Research, research, research
Before Caraker could begin, he had to learn all the basics (OnBoard only had two reviews on G2!) and go on a review crash course – even if it was with a bit of hesitancy.
“It came down to: this is your life now, so just accept it and understand every single thing about these review sites – every single thing. Because if you don’t and you don’t have the answer, then how the hell are you going to get to 1,000 reviews?”
Customer Marketing Manager at OnBoard
With that mindset, the hesitation didn’t last long, and he jumped into action, with Google becoming his best friend.
- “What are the top ten online review sites for SaaS companies?”
- “How to get reviews for SaaS companies”
- “How to increase reviews”
Leveraging his social media, Caraker would reach out to the authors of the blogs and articles he came across to ask for 10 minutes of their time to pick their brains. People from many major SaaS brands were eager to speak with him, and it allowed him to learn more about their review generation strategies.
He drew upon these informal interviews to come up with his own tactics, eventually putting together a comprehensive marketing plan.
A simple plan
With two months of preparation in place, Caraker was ready to put his plan in motion.
OnBoard’s review generation strategy
Caraker’s strategy was three-pronged:
- Send out targeted emails
- Select the right channels to solicit reviews
- Reimburse customers who left a review
Finding right-fit customers was his first step for the email portion of his strategy. He put together a list of all of OnBoard’s customers, and with the help of CX, narrowed it down for outreach.
One factor in determining if someone was a good fit was if they had done a review on another website. If so, he would have CX reach out and ask if they would be willing to leave a review on G2.
Additionally, the channels he used were instrumental to the success of the campaign. These channels included: in-product pop-ups, notecards at events, email banners, and at the bottom of support tickets. You name it, and there was a review ask!
The amount of coverage from these channels allowed a wide range of their customers to leave a review, which was vital for the volume he had to collect.
Because of this variety, he was able to find a happy medium between having too many positive reviews, which can seem fake, and too many negative reviews, which can be a red flag. Quality and quantity were of equal importance.
Reimbursements were also a great motivator for people to leave reviews. With that in mind, he gave a $25 Amazon gift card to anyone that left a review and tied in current events to coincide with review requests. Amazon Prime Day, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas in July were all times that he made a big push to ask for reviews.
After all, what better way to celebrate than with a gift card?
The importance of tracking
Finally, and perhaps most vitally, Caraker tracked all of his review efforts.
Any clickable item on G2 or asset created from G2 had a UTM associated with it. This allowed him to know exactly what channel a person was coming from and how they got there. These UTMs tracked banner clicks, marketing emails, G2 category visits, profile visits, and more.
The UTMs then synced with Marketo, which pushed the information gathered to Salesforce. Naming conventions were crucial to keep this information organized and easily accessible.
Because of his structure, he was able to track the full customer journey in Marketo and the ROI from his review campaigns.
Caraker kept track of everything with in-depth spreadsheets that showed a breakdown of monthly spend on review sites, cost per acquisition, conversions, and month-over-month growth. He also pulled all reviews left on G2 into a spreadsheet for quick reference.
Metrics to track
Key metrics Caraker uses include:
- Review score changes
- Annual recurring revenue (ARR) increases
- Lead flow changes
- Close rate changes
- Market presence score increase
Because of his diligent and thorough tracking, he was able to prove the true value of reviews.
The secret to his success
He suggests starting small (G2 allows you to create a free profile!).
Beginning with just two reviews, OnBoard now has more than 300 reviews on G2 with a 4.7 rating, and he was able to reach 80% of his overall goal before the end of the year.
Caraker says there are four factors to his success:
- Complete investment in the project from himself and the company
- Learning every single in and out of G2
- Cross-functional partnership between departments and leadership
- Financial backing for the ability to reimburse reviewers
Still, with all his preparation and research, he was surprised by the results. Caraker reflected, “It took from March of 2019 to the end of December 2019 to really see what I’ve done and how much money we made from online review sites.”
He continued, “I was blown away. That’s a return on marketing investment, right there.”
Want to start your own review collection journey? Your customers can share genuine, trusted feedback about your products and services with G2 Review Generation.
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