The goal was 30.
Matt Kostanecki, Business Development at inFlow Inventory didn’t expect many more B2B customer software reviews than that. He knew that reviews are increasingly paramount in business purchasing decisions and wanted to garner a few for his own company.
“To be honest, I only wanted like 10 or 20 reviews,” he told me, “I saw a competitor with 30 reviews so I said ‘we have to get more than that.’”
The pressure started after Matthew started paying Capterra for an upgraded listing in the inventory desk software directory. You learn quickly talking to Matthew that he doesn’t half-do much at all. Matthew said, “As part of that, [we thought,] ‘if we’re going to do a trial we should go all in.’”
When Matthew first logged into the vendor portal, Matthew saw how many reviews his competitors had. He “hated seeing other competing companies with a higher number of reviews” as soon as he logged in.
Matthew’s been selling software long enough to know how powerful B2B software customer reviews are for sales.
For customers to buy, “software needs to look like it has the potential to solve their issues,” Matthew explained. “They don’t care about Capterra, they don’t care about our company. They just want their problem solved. They want to see how others are solving their problems. Amazon is great for that, that’s why they’re so big in my opinion.”
So the number to beat was 30.
With that goal in mind, Matthew set in motion a plan to reach it. And in the process became a Capterra success story, garnering over 300 B2B software customer reviews in one week. This accomplishment would be major for any vendor, but for a B2B software vendor, it’s unreal.
So how’d he do it?
It’s almost stupidly simple. inFlow Inventory just asked their newsletter subscribers to review them in one of their newsletters and offered them a reward for doing so.
- Leverage our relationship with customers
- Ask them for an easy favor
- Reward them for helping
“We sent out our monthly newsletter, asking people to leave their review about inFlow. We made it a bit like a contest where if you left a review, you’d be entered to win a barcode scanner (super useful to someone looking for inventory software). Plus, to add urgency, we sent the first 25 people who left a review a small gift.”
“We never said the review had to be 5 stars or even positive for that matter, we always welcome feedback (the negative feedback is sometimes even more important since it helps us grow!)”
In the end they spent about $830 total between the $80 bar code scanner and 25 $30 each sunglasses with shipping.
“That might seem expensive upfront but in the long term, having that public bank of reviews is super useful.”
But simple and cheap doesn’t mean easy.
The reviews might have only taken a week, but they resulted from years of hard work from the entire inFlow Inventory team.
Matthew worked with his team to leverage customer relationships so that the marketing team could ask them for an easy favor and reward them for helping.
But the real work was in building that relationship with customers.
“In the end it’s users that matter.” When most biz dev people say this… scratch that. Most B2B biz dev people don’t even bother to say this. But Matthew says it, and when he does you believe it.
Here’s how inFlow Inventory puts users first.
1. They built their email list the right way
Getting to 300 reviews would have been much more difficult and expensive for inFlow without their large, engaged email list.
Their list is big, around 100k subscribers, and their open rates are phenomenal for a B2B software brand email newsletter, hovering around 35-40%.
Luckily for inFlow, someone on the team recognized the value of a good list early. They began collecting emails in 2007. The main source of subscribers are people who’ve downloaded the software.
Once a prospect downloads the software they can fill out company details. There’s a checkbox that says “subscribe to our newsletter.” “Most people check that off,” Matthew said.
“We don’t force them to sign up for it,” Matthew said. “I think that’s key.”
“We try to be a different kind of software company in general,” Matthew said. For one, downloading the software doesn’t require an email address or credit card. Their strategy is, “Here’s the software, try it out. If you love it, great.”
Indeed, people are much more likely to open emails they’ve proactively opted in to get.
The newsletter is also really well-written. Here’s the one that asked for reviews:
(Getting a writer to say something is well-written is not easy. Try asking an aspiring Instagram celeb whether another girl is pretty or another comic is funny.)
Matthew describes the language in the newsletter as “happy-go-lucky.” And their approach as “Make the newsletter as much about what’s in it for them as it is about us.”
Providing value in exchange for attention seems to be working.
“Our marketing has always been kind of friendly,” Matthew said. That’s why their newsletters don’t include “newsletter” in the subject line.
“At the end of the day people buy from people. Companies try to make it seem like there’s this big corporation behind them. People don’t respond to that. No one talks like that in real life. Speak to your customers as if you’re speaking to a friend.”
2. They engaged with their customers by offering world-class support
“If you treat your community right, they’ll return the favor.”
Email isn’t the only, or even primary way inFlow Inventory engages with customers. “Keeping people engaged is really support,” Matthew said.
“Any time someone’s had an interaction with us we’re responsive and relate on a personal level, like you’re talking to a friend,” Matthew said. “We consider our support world-class. Our goal is to pleasantly surprise anyone.”
For most vendors, that claim would be highly suspect. But when you have nearly 300 people raving about great customer experience, it’s not so easily dismissed.
“Once you give those small moments of ‘You guys are pretty awesome,’ people remember that. So when they see an email from us they are more likely to open it.”
Those moments are fueled by a genuine curiosity about how to make better products. For example, after someone makes a purchase a popup will ask, “Why did you buy?”
And if someone gives a good, detailed explanation Matthew personally asks them for a review.
3. They profited
Now inFlow has a public database of B2B software customer reviews. Sales people can link prospects to reviews by people in the same industry. “That’s priceless,” Matthew said. “We’ve saved a few and the support team points to them at times for specific customers.”
Matthew also thinks adding “urgency” to the email helped get a fast response. “I don’t think we would have had such a good response if we didn’t mention ‘The first 25 also get a gift.’”
As to what he’d do differently, he said he might have sent out an email dedicated to asking for reviews instead of putting it in a newsletter to get more visibility.
Are you inspired by inFlow? How are you going to get more reviews in 2016? Let us know in the comments!