When I’m looking to make an important purchase, the first thing I do is check out product reviews on the internet. Whether it’s Yelp for restaurants, TripAdvisor for hotels, or Amazon for knick-knacks, reading product reviews help me make better buying decisions.

Business technology purchases are no less important. Research from Google demonstrates that 60% percent of B2B technology buyers read product reviews before making a purchase. This indicates that what buyers want most is to interact with a community of like-minded professionals through product reviews and peer discussions. Without these reviews, buyers can find it confusing to separate out the information they want from just marketing hype.

What is B2B Tech Yelpification?

B2B tech yelpification describes the way in which companies present buyers with peer reviews of B2B tech products to allow them greater insight into the product’s functionality. The funnel is dead, says May Petry, VP of Digital Marketing at HP, and social buying reigns instead. During the research process, potential leads are increasingly turning to their peers to ask for opinions and personal experiences to answer their important questions. The main difference between Yelp and these yelpified technology sites is that review sites validate users through means such as LinkedIn and personal interviews, eliminating the fear of fake advertising or competitors trying to attack rivals’ reputations. By filling the need for trustworthy insight from peers, the yelpification of enterprise technology helps buyers make more informed decisions.

What Prompted the Yelpification Revolution?

Both technology and technology buyers have undergone changes in recent years. While IT products were once massive and required vigorous installation, today, lots of solutions are SaaS models, small, or have easy installation. The population of buyers has also expanded from the typical head of IT to a more widespread group who might not have the same knowledge base. Also, for inexpensive technologies, some companies let departments purchase their own solutions without running them by IT, and some technology is even bought on an individual scale. These changes are causing marketers to modify their tactics in order to reach the full base of buyers.

People are excited about yelpification because it provides the information they want to know in a relatable, vendor-neutral form. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that “user reviews tended to reflect fairly accurately the judgments made by professional reviewers”, a statement I have found to apply to enterprise technology reviews. However, yelpified sites often allow for networking and have systems of transparency that let users make connections around the products they are interested in, as well as gain a greater understanding of how the product works in similar situations. Yelpification simplifies due diligence, assisting traditional IT buyers in quickly understanding how the solution works, as well as helping less typical buyers correctly find the best solutions for their company.

How Can Yelpification Help You?

With merely 10 reviews by verified users, a company can generate tens of thousands of impressions to buyers. This process can be more effective than pay-per-click (PPC) ads or sponsored posts, as it allows active conversations in real-time that aid buyers in their research. By following the five suggestions outlined below, you can easily take advantage of the yelpification revolution and point potential leads towards your company.

1. Don’t just wait for potential customers; join the discussion before it starts!

Reaching leads before they have already formed decisions is steadily becoming more difficult. According to LinkedIn, with two-thirds of the buying process done before even meeting with a sales representative, as a marketer, tapping into discussions about your product is a necessity. The yelpification process offers marketers the ability to connect with current and potential customers, who are increasingly looking to new channels of information outside of companies themselves. In fact, peer experience and product ratings are the most valuable sources of non-vendor content for technology buyers, according to a Forrester survey. When reviews permeate the market, often before a vendor has the chance to make contact, the impact of a review community can be invaluable in turning a prospect into a buyer.

2. Talk to your customers and ask them to write reviews.

Reviews help increase conversion rates. In a report from earlier this year, Yodle Insights found that while 89% of customers with a positive experience are willing to write a review of a local business if asked to do so, only 7% have ever been asked. Generating more reviews can increase orders 10-50%, depending on the amount and the average rating. These trends clearly indicate that professionals rely heavily on social buying to validate decisions, meaning businesses not involved in this process are missing a key opportunity to connect.

3. Engage your most enthusiastic reviewers and turn them into advocates.

Yelpification helps turn customers into advocates. Demand Gen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey shows that 72% of surveyed professionals look to peer networks for information when making B2B purchasing decisions. So, it’s clear that influencers’ opinions have real weight in a buyer’s mind. Yelpified sites can provide a direct method for these professionals to be active in their support of your brand, without the implied bias of when their opinions are presented through your company. Additionally, these sites can be invaluable in identifying which customers would be excited to share their experiences with your brand and can help you to launch a successful customer advocacy program.

4. Respond to reviewers and take advantage of their feedback.

Responding to reviews shows customers that you care about their experience with your company and provides valuable feedback to manage your business’s image. Taking advantage of reviewers’ comments can help you to figure out where your products can be improved, instilling confidence in your brand and earning you loyal customers. Talk to your reviewers, help them with any issues they had, and thank them for taking the time to share. Showing that their opinion matters will make them more excited to be a part of your company…and will inspire them to continue sharing!

5. Accept negative reviews—they help you in the end!

A bad review can actually increase conversion rates by 67% according to research by Revoo. Users worry that when reviews are all positive, they are fake or being censored by the company. Having a few bad reviews mixed in with the good ones will help viewers see that the information is coming from an independent source and will provide credibility for your company.

With so much value placed on peer recommendations and experiences, it only makes sense that enterprise technology is undergoing a yelpification. In today’s market, customer reviews drive awareness and leads. Consolidating these opinions and providing a means for professionals to interact and discuss products allows for a stronger marketing strategy as well as more informed purchasing decisions.