Shanel Vandergriff, SVP of Marketing at AlienVault, shares how the security platform leverages the voice of their customer to boost conversion at every stage of buyer’s journey. AlienVault originally invested in user reviews to scale the authentic peer insights that resonates with IT practitioners. Today, they use the full suite of TrustRadius products to leverage this content in their own channels and optimize their go-to-market activities.
Why did AlienVault initially choose to invest in TrustRadius?
The buyer’s journey has changed dramatically over the last decade. Forrester recently came out with a study that said 74% of B2B buyers do the majority of their research online, and they predict that number will go up to the 90-95% range by 2020. Forrester also found that for every piece of content a prospect consumes that is authored by a vendor, they are actually finding three additional pieces of third-party content that live out on the web.
We’ve certainly seen this trend with our buyers. Through our own internal research, we found that security practitioners value what their peers have to say more than what a vendor says. IT professionals just don’t want to talk to salespeople. So it was important to get people out there speaking on our behalf, telling our story in a way that is not influenced by the brand. Investing in third-party ratings and reviews, giving prospects some level of transparency through our current users, was really critical.
We also focus on the mid-market, which means volume matters. We’re running a velocity model where inside sales is only calling on inbound leads created by the team. The cornerstone for our go-to-market strategy is having strong content that speaks to the pain of IT or security practitioners in that mid-sized organization. So we needed a way to harness the voice of the customer, at scale, to create authentic content that we could repurpose at multiple touch points throughout the sales process.
Previously a lot of time, energy and effort was put into developing case studies. And we’re not just talking about the cycle of getting them approved by the customers and their corporate communications departments, but also the resources it takes to produce case studies on our end.
We felt that TrustRadius was a much better way to scale a review and reference program and capture user feedback without having to impose on our customers.
How have reviews impacted AlienVault’s reference program?
We were regularly asked by sales for customer references. Our reviews on TrustRadius have alleviated a lot of that pressure on marketing. Now prospects can read review content and get user feedback without having wait for that phone call. It also helps us protect our key references from being over-taxed.
Since rolling out the program, we have also modified our process so that along with providing our reps with a reference, we also remind them of the applicable ratings and reviews available on TrustRadius. So for instance, if they are asking for a prospect who is a large university and there are other education clients out there who have given ratings and reviews, we tell them to make sure they share that information as well.
In fact, we recently had an RFP come through that requested three references for retail. We gave them three one-on-one references, as well as a link to the relevant TrustRadius reviews. And when we talked to the sales rep the day after, he said, “I’ve literally grabbed everything you sent me, word for word, and put it into the RFP.” That’s awesome.
How are you using reviews across the rest of your marketing funnel?
We’ve changed our thinking in the sense that providing a customer reference is no longer just a bottom-of-funnel activity. With so many people conducting the majority of their research online without engaging sales, we looked for ways to leverage reviews at the top and middle of the funnel as well. When sales finally does engage with those prospects, they are much closer to the opportunity creation/opportunity close stage.
For example, we are leveraging Demandbase to do some profiling and account-based marketing as traffic comes into our site. So we took reviews in verticals like education, government and financial services, and re-packaged that content into solution pages. When a visitor comes in from a domain that we know belongs in a specific vertical, they are served up a landing page with reviews from that segment.
Another conversion tactic we use is embedding the TrustQuotes for Web review syndication widget on our highest-traffic pages. So when somebody comes in, there is that third-party user endorsement and validation right out of the gate. We’ve done a lot of A/B tests and know that it improves conversion. When we added the widget to our pricing quote landing page, we got a 35% lift in requests. On our IDS page, which is one of our most popular organic pages, we saw a 43% increase in trial downloads.
We’ve used TrustRadius for gated assets as well. We commissioned a TrustReport, which provides an unbiased deep dive into our offering, that has been a great for demand generation. Your Research team also created vertical product reports for us that line up with our vertical-based strategy.
Finally, inserting user reviews into nurture campaigns has also been successful for us. Depending on how a lead floats through our system, there is some nurturing that happens from the marketing side to convert them into opportunities. Through Marketo, we roll leads into a drip campaign that understands which piece they came in on and what the next step is to bring them down the funnel. One of the touches we added is all around the voice of our customers based on the TrustRadius review content.
Do you have plans for further leveraging TrustRadius reviews in the sales process?
Yes. We’ve recently rolled out the new TrustQuotes for Salesforce integration and I’m really excited about it. It empowers our sales team by proactively identifying and pushing key review extracts out to our reps. Once we tag the TrustRadius content, it is all automated, which takes pressure off of marketing while ensuring our reps have powerful, tailored, up-to-date reviews right at their fingertips.
That’s another reason why we chose to work with TrustRadius. Not just for the flexibility we have with the data, but the fact that it is unbiased data that lives on a third-party site and doesn’t say produced by AlienVault. It is out there, living and breathing and evolving. Yet it gives us the flexibility to say, “Let’s create this comprehensive white paper around user feedback. Now let’s take review quotes and integrate them into the website. And let’s highlight industry-specific quotes on landing pages.”
It is all about conversion for us, and TrustRadius gives us lots of different ways to impact our marketing and sales funnel.
Were there any trepidations internally before launching your first acquisition campaign?
Absolutely, we were nervous when we first reached out to our customers to write reviews. But when the first reviews came in, and we saw that they were strong, we felt confident in being really transparent with our user’s feedback and reviews.
We also realized that if we only had perfect 10 reviews, prospective customers would say, “Oh, it’s not true.” So negative reviews actually help build credibility. They also allow you to demonstrate how your company responds to customer issues. It actually sheds some light on what the overall customer experience is going to be like.
How successful has your investment in TrustRadius been so far?
It’s been great. We are now at a point where we are focusing on optimization. We’ve got the building blocks in place — we have over 100 reviews and ratings, we have TrustQuotes tagging and the review syndication widget deployed on our site, plus a product report and four vertical reports. Now we need to continue experimenting, applying these assets at different points in our process to improve conversion.
Do you have any advice for marketing teams that are thinking about investing in and leveraging reviews?
Anytime you can harness the voice of the customer, and leverage it in a creative way, it will help you move that sales cycle along. But you also have to understand your buyer’s habits. With upwards of 70% of the buyer’s research being done before ever engaging with the vendor, it becomes a responsibility of marketing to make sure that they are providing that brand experience. And brand is much more than just the story you tell on your website — it really is the story your users are telling out in the market. If you can connect the dots and pull that process upfront, you’re going to be one step ahead.