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How Tealium Created a Best-in-Class Review Program With TrustRadius

how-to-create-a-best-in-class-review-program-2015-5txtmgpalijqWe recently spoke with Erik Bratt, VP of Content Strategy at Tealium, about how they partnered with TrustRadius to build and capitalize on social proof in the form of user reviews. Tealium is a leader in enterprise tag management and real-time customer data solutions, helping customers simplify the management of technology and data so they drive better customer experiences across any touch point. Erik addressed the role of reviews in Tealium’s overall social proof strategy, their impact on key marketing objectives and why their sales team is so excited about user reviews. He also shared the specific strategies and tactics Tealium used to scale and harness a base of user reviews, including sourcing ratings and reviews at their user conference.

Why did Tealium invest in user reviews?

One of the main differences between traditional marketing and modern marketing is the buyer’s journey.

In the past, that journey was more linear, with fewer options for research and opinion. If you wanted to buy a piece of software, you listened to sales reps, maybe researched some analyst reports, and talked to customers—if you could find them.

Today’s buyers are more in control. They have unlimited number of places to research software and they are talking to their marketing peers. With this dissemination of information, the power of the sales rep and even the technology analyst have gone down. Market studies indicate that most buyers have already made their decision before even contacting a sales rep. So independent online research is a staple of the modern B2B marketer’s buying journey, which has become increasingly fragmented and circuitous.

How do buyers’ research options affect your marketing strategy?

These research options are a good thing for marketing technology buyers, because they face an expanding, tsunami-like wall of technology applications. It’s a MarTech explosion! According to ChiefMartec.com, there are now 1,876 third-party applications on the market, more than double from last year alone. While choice is good, it’s increasingly difficult for marketers to understand where one technology stops and another begins. Buyers want to know some simple things: does it work, will it add value to my business, and is this the best fit for me?

One key for buyers, as part of their research, is to look at a company’s social proof package. Social proof is validation of a product and company. It was deemed the ‘new marketing’ in a 2011 TechCrunch article featuring Aileen Lee.

“Put simply, [social proof] is the positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something.” – Aileen Lee, Cowboy VC

Why is social proof important to Tealium?

Social proof, especially first-person customer reviews, is key for helping buyers understand a couple things: is this product being well received in the market, or is it risky? Are users generally happy? These insights get beyond the noise into whether a product works for different use cases and what kinds of value users are getting.

Here are the different types of social proof, from weak to strong:

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As you might guess, social media followers and press hits are not true arbiters of whether a product is effective or not. (The company may have a compelling message or intriguing thought leadership, but those types of social proof can’t tell you much else.) Analyst reviews and customer logos are stronger forms of social proof.

Although everyone seems to have logos, if a company is legitimately doing business with 1) big brands, or 2) brands like me, it’s something I probably want to check out. If it’s good enough for them, it must be good enough for me.

Analyst reviews are good as well, but I think they’re diminished a bit by a pay-to-play stigma. With more research options out there, the importance of the analyst has diminished. They’re still important, but we’re looking for new ways to drive impact.

The best social proof is really customer proof—hearing from customers directly, whether through referrals or objective, first-person reviews that list both pros and cons of a particular solution. This area is where we have devoted much of our time over the last year, and where TrustRadius has really been a huge help.

Why did you choose to work with TrustRadius?

We met TrustRadius at the MarTech Conference earlier this year, and it quickly become apparent they could help us scale our online review presence very efficiently. TrustRadius helps you solicit honest third-party reviews that are then stored on TrustRadius.com and made available to subscribers for free and can be syndicated to our website as well.

How are you leveraging your Tealium review base on TrustRadius?

We’ve been using TrustRadius as a customer portal, for prospective customers and customer feedback. We’ve seen a lot of benefits with these reviews:

  1. They are trustworthy, and come in the customer’s own words. This is not something we feed them. They list both our pros and our cons—what they really think about the solution. Those comments are beneficial and insightful not only to the buyer doing research, but also to us as the vendor. They list cons we might not have heard before, and we take those to heart.
  2. It’s much easier to get brands on the record through TrustRadius, than case studies, which tend to get bogged down in approvals. Sometimes brands don’t want to be on record. With TrustRadius’s survey-based approach, employees that were shy are more willing to give social proof, and their brands are associated with us and their review through LinkedIn authentication on TrustRadius.
  3. Reviews are far more scalable than case studies – meaning much faster to proliferate. It is form of user-generated content where customer is doing the review, not the marketer. A case study can take weeks or even months to finish and get approved. We launched this program in April, and already we have 41 solid reviews. 41 case studies would have taken us 3 years to get through!
  4. TrustRadius reviews show up in search engine results, with highly favorable star ratings. This looks great for Tealium. Our average position in Google SERP results has increased between 40-60% in initial results over the last two months for the terms “Tealium review” and “Tealium reviews.” In other words, reviews help our online reputation as people search for us.
  5. Reviews don’t have to live just on TrustRadius. They can be embedded into our site via TrustRadius’ review widget. Since putting up this widget two months ago, the time spent on this page has increased by 25% compared to the previous two months. People are reading the reviews. We’ve been tracking the number of people who read reviews on the widget and then submit a lead and our pipeline has increased as well.  The review widget adds a lot of credibility to our product.
  6. Our reviews are easily shareable via social media, which provides easy, natural content for our social media representatives to throw into the mix. We tweet about user feedback, and direct people to read the reviews via social interactions.
  7. Reviews have become a powerful reference management tool and reduced the need for customer reference calls, reducing the burden on our customers. TrustRadius reviews can be filtered down by industry, by rating, or by role. So for the sales representative who uses these reviews a lot, the search filters on TrustRadius are really handy. If they need to send a link to a review, they can easily find relevant reviews based on the vertical, the company size, the role of the prospect or even key words used in the review, like mentions of competitors. The reps can filter, find, and send that through TrustRadius.

What advice would you give other companies who want to build a best in class review program?

There are a lot of questions you should be asking yourself as you think about building a review presence. What is your overall strategy for social proof? What do you have to work with? Do you have a lot of customers using the product? Is credible proof of customer success important? I would say, absolutely.

It’s also important to consider how and where a review program fits into your overall content strategy. For us, that is deep down in the funnel. In the Tealium strategy, reviews are less about awareness, and more about consideration or decision support. I know that I know need tag management, and I like what I see in Tealium, but are customers happy? The answer is a resounding yes if you look at the reviews on TrustRadius. Buyers want to verify that they can get value for specifically what they want to do with their data. Finding those similar use cases in action are where reviews come in.

Another question to ask yourself is: how do you plan to use the reviews, and how will you distribute them to your sales team? Will you syndicate them to your site? Will you use them in social communications? We’re constantly updating our sales team about our reviews, especially when new ones pop up.

You also need to think about how you will measure success. For us, it was about the number of reviews, the reduced number of requests on our account managers for customer reference calls, the stickiness of the site, the impact on the funnel, and also our performance on TrustRadius, which is growing in number of users.

Finally, can you handle the truth? Are you ready for an honest review? Are you willing for customers to list cons about your product, in addition to pros? Some people aren’t. You don’t have any control over what these reviews ultimately say. We trust our users. We let them go to town and give us a rating. That can be a great benefit and it can also give us insight on areas we need to improve. In order to make this work, you can’t be scared. Believe in your product!

So how did Tealium do it?

We had a few existing reviews, thanks to some customer advocates and independent review sourcing by TrustRadius, but we wanted to supersize it. We launched a program with TrustRadius in April, in conjunction with our Digital Velocity Conference. We had around 300 customers in attendance. It was the perfect opportunity to enlist customers who were obviously dedicated users of our products. We wanted to engage them from multiple angles.

Tealium had buy-in to this program at a very senior level. That included myself and other VP-level executives, as well as our CEO Jeff Lunsford. Some of the touch points for this campaign came directly from Jeff: emails, sent to attendees in real time during the event, and calls to action from the stage. That really made a difference.

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We coupled the commitment from the Tealium team with a streamlined process. TrustRadius made it as simple as possible for attendees to give their feedback. Recognizing, that this is a conference and folks are sitting in their seats listening to a speaker and it’s not a moment when they’re going to write a detailed review. So we made it simple for them to click and give a rating on an overall scale 1-10. We also sent a post-conference reminder to attendees encouraging them to give us an objective, in-depth review in exchange for a gift card from TrustRadius.

We had some great results from this program, including 52 strong ratings and reviews from employees at Cisco, Dow Jones, Trend Micro, Pacific Sunwear, Ancestry.com, Luxottica—really great brands giving us reviews.

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Our average rating is now 4.6 out of 5 stars, and we had a very high participation rate. About 20% of people at the conference gave us a rating or an in-depth review.

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Overall, we now have 37 reviews for Tealium iQ, plus several reviews for another key product, Tealium AudienceStream. We also have a total of 83 one-click ratings on TrustRadius. All of this has helped us pull away from the pack, compared to our competitors, which is huge. These are people looking for the best solutions, and they are finding Tealium.

What is the value of these reviews to the Tealium sales team?

According to my sales reps, they’re sales enablement gold. This is an email from one of our news sales executives who emailed his team about a batch of new reviews:

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His response is classic. You can’t beat an overwhelming package of reviews like this. It’s a huge advantage, because it is something our competitors simply don’t have.

What’s next for Tealium and TrustRadius?

Our immediate plans are to beef up existing reviews, continue to embed reviews deeper into the sales cycle, and work with TrustRadius to augment and update our reviews.

Reviews can get old. We have core use cases, and we’d like to keep those fresh. We also want to take advantage of the additional 100 follow-up questions TrustRadius offers, and hit on certain pain points by vertical or by role. We also want to get insight on some new product capabilities. Those are the areas we will focus on as we augment our review base.

Bertrand Hazard

Bertrand Hazard TrustRadius, where he leads all marketing functions as the VP Marketing. He has over 15 years of experience in product marketing, demand generation, brand and community efforts. Previously, Bertrand held leadership roles at Solarwinds, Troux Technologies, Universal Weather & Aviation and NetIQ. He has a Diplome d'Etudes Superieures Europeennes de Management from CESEM Mediterranee in Marseilles, France, and a bachelor of arts degree from Middlesex University in London.