How I Exposed Our Flaws to Win Raving Fans

Michele Aymold is the Director of Marketing at G2 Crowd, the Chicago-based business software and services review platform.

Read on for a transcript of her presentation from our September 19, 2017, Here’s How Startup Marketing Conference, where she describes how she exposed company flaws to win raving fans.

G2 Crowd is a business software and, as of recently, a services review site. So if you are B2B focused, you should definitely claim your profile on G2 Crowd or add it if you can't find it. We work with local clients like Sprout Social and SpringCM and with some big names like Salesforce. We're really helping these companies start a review strategy. I think we've all used reviews in our consumer lives and this is starting to spill over to B2B. I bought my jeans because the reviews were awesome and I'm not turning back, I'm feeling good about it.

We've been around since 2012 and we're local. Since our founding, we’ve generated nearly 250,000 reviews. This is a huge point because it's not just the, "Five stars, I like it. One star, it's gross," this is actually a 36-point survey. It takes a good 10 minutes to write a quality review on our site. It goes through three steps of verification. There are no fake reviews on the site. Nope. Never going to happen. If you even think you see something that's fake, you flag it and our team will immediately get their eyeballs on it and figure out what the deal is. So you can trust us for this great advice.

What I'm going to talk to you about is how I use that actual review data myself to better market some of our offerings.

1.  I captured in-depth customer feedback

So as a startup, things are always changing. Do I have any sales friends in the room? I'm going to talk trash. Sometimes salespeople over-promise or exaggerate a little, and we've all been a part of that deal that just goes sideways. They were told they were going to get X and were on board and then we deliver Y and it's like, "What are you talking about?"

For one of our very first customers, Act-On, we thought more people were going to be searching, filling out the form and giving us contact information right away. Basically, we thought we were going to be a huge lead gen engine. Five years later, that's not what happened. Act-On was one of our first vocal customers who said, "Hey, I'm getting some leads, but this is not the lead gen engine that you promised me. What the heck, guys?" So they worked closely with us and gave us their feedback, which we took and worked with our sales and marketing teams to review.

2.  We focused on understanding value

Marketers have a lead goal but if you want them to invest in something else or start a new strategy, you need them to ask and understand, "What is the value that it's going to give to them?" And so, with any solution, you really want to focus on that value.

3.  We changed our messaging

So we got the in-depth feedback from our customers, including Act-On, and we changed our core messaging. What we didn't do, which I think is really important, is change the product. You can still submit a Contact Us form on G2 Crowd, we do still get leads, but we don't emphasize that in our sales pitch. We mention that it's there, but we use people like Act-On to really explain that while this will generate some leads, it's not a high volume source. It's just not what we're about. Our core value is really this data that you're going to be able to take to change your messaging, feed your product roadmap and get testimonials.

B2B is complicated, right? We all have different opinions and styles, but by using these reviews you can understand more about how your customers are talking about you, you can read your competitors' reviews or someone you want to be in market with and understand how you're being talked about so that you can speak their language. So we switched and, instead of talking about quantity, we proved that this is quality, high-quality.

The Results

We blew the other lead sources out of the park. You can get 100 a day or you can get one that's super qualified and ready to buy now. Since signing on with us, Act-On has received 648 leads, which probably sounds low for three years, but they've won 26 deals from that, it's their highest conversion rate. They gave me this testimonial that I can now use to talk to other marketers:

“I look at G2 Crowd as being another channel for us to get in front of the right type of buyer that is in need of our solution. While it’s not high volume, it’s high quality. We’ve closed hundreds of thousands of dollars off of G2 Crowd.” – Paige Musto, Senior Director, Corporate Marketing, Act-On Software

Another story I wanted to share was how a different company used the review data. Again, it wasn't necessarily negative, but this company, Infer, was getting a lot of feedback from their users saying, "I really wish you had this." Holistically, they didn't feel like that was part of their product roadmap or a new feature to add, but they were able to listen to that feedback and create a sub-product. It wasn't another feature, but another offer, and that was able to please their customer.

So again, it's a matter of just listening to that feedback and making small pivots versus throwing the whole thing out the window and saying, "We failed. We've got to start over." We were able to adjust, move on and move quickly.