Even with the burst in popularity of account-based marketing, it’s become pretty clear that inbound marketing remains a proven strategy to attract customers. Blog posts, social media content, white papers, and videos are all classic examples of inbound marketing tactics.

But what many marketing departments miss is the opportunity to use customer reviews as part of their inbound marketing strategy. When done right, encouraging authentic reviews in your marketing strategy can benefit both the inbound process and your business in general. Don’t believe me? Just listen to what Julie from Marketo has to say about the importance of authentic customer reviews:

B2B buyers are definitely getting smarter — they want that unvarnished truth, and that’s what reviews do for us. It’s one thing for us to serve up a reference or a case study, but buyers intuitively know that those are all coming from specific satisfied customers, versus the wisdom of their collective peers.

-Julie Perino, Senior Director of Customer Marketing at Marketo

The main idea is that customer reviews should become a central part of your marketing strategy — up there with SEO, social media campaigns, and content creation. In fact, customer reviews can help in all of these areas. Let’s jump into the specifics of how encouraging customer reviews helps your marketing efforts and how to get started using them in your marketing strategy.

How Encouraging Customer Reviews Helps Your Marketing Efforts

As I mentioned, encouraging customer reviews can help with your entire marketing strategy. If inbound marketing is about connecting with leads and potential customers, authentic reviews bring this connection to a new level.

The truth is most online customers will look at trusted reviews before making a purchase or buying into a service. Consider these statistics on customer reviews:

  • More than 8 out of 10 customers read online reviews before making a purchase.
  • More than 6 out of 10 customers say they are more likely to give their business to websites that feature authentic reviews.
  • Almost half of customers frequently share their opinions about a company or service through social media.

These stats alone make it clear that customer reviews cannot be ignored in your marketing efforts. But what specific benefits do authentic reviews bring to your marketing strategy?

Customer Reviews Build Trust

Like Julie Perino from Marketo pointed out, content marketing can only go so far when it comes to building your brand. Online customers are looking for something that sets you apart. Instead of just focusing on case studies you produce, you should also include organic content created by customers — this immediately builds trust with leads.

Customer Reviews Boost Your SEO

SEO may not be an exact science, but leaders tend to agree that customer reviews help you land higher on search result pages. Featuring authentic reviews on your website makes it a higher quality site, which in turn makes it more likely to be featured higher up when visitors search within your niche.

Customer Reviews Encourage Engagement

Reviews give you the chance to interact with customers in a public space. With inbound marketing, there is more overlap between sales, marketing and customer success. Authentic reviews are at the core of this overlap, simultaneously encouraging engagement with current customers and putting your best foot forward with leads and potential customers.

Customer Reviews Give You Content

High-quality reviews can give you the language to use across your content creation, quotes to highlight in blog posts or videos, and full reviews you can feature on landing pages or social media. Instead of focusing on advertising-oriented copy, you can choose to capitalize on your customers’ satisfaction by featuring authentic reviews. You can even use personalization to display different reviews to different audience segments to ensure that each visitor sees a review that is most likely to resonate with him or her (like Evergage does on its homepage). For example, you could show a review from a customer in the technology industry to visitors in that same industry — as those visitors will likely care about what one of their peers has to say about your product or service.

Customer Reviews Improve Customer Experience

Marketing doesn’t stop once you gain a new customer. A customer’s experience will play a big part in gaining new leads through references and social listening. By taking the time to consider your customer’s voice, you will be able to respond to what they like and what they are missing — improving their experience in the process.

How to Get Started Using Customer Reviews in Your Marketing Strategy

If you’re convinced that using your customer’s voice in marketing strategy is a good idea, here are some thoughts on getting started. Getting the most out of customer reviews for both customer success and marketing outreach requires a strategic approach. Consider these guidelines:

  1. Get Organized with Software Tools: Taking customer reviews into account for your marketing strategy will take its own kind of strategy. Software for social media, inbound marketing, collaboration and social listening will help you get organized in using your customer’s voice. If you’re not sure which tools to start out with, online customer reviews are a great way to get acquainted with what’s available and figure out what will work for you.
  2. Focus on Authentic Reviews: Avoid the temptation to use paid reviews. Using customer reviews for powerful content goes beyond a facade — it’s about listening, engaging and connecting with current and potential customers. Authentic reviews will do this much better in the long run. Also, consider ways to source reviews from each of your major personas or audience segments so that you can appropriately target reviews to different segments via personalization.
  3. Stay Engaged with your Customers: The work doesn’t stop once the reviews start coming in from current customers. Incorporating customer reviews into marketing requires staying on top of these reviews. It means taking the time to respond to every review (both positive and negative). It means sharing reviews. It means using them in your content strategy.

If you're an Evergage customer, don't forget to review Evergage on TrustRadius!

Brooklin Nash writes about the latest tools and small business trends for TrustRadius. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.