• How to Close the Deal? User Reviews and Unbiased Case Studies

    All of the slick photos, competitive pricing and poetic product descriptions on Amazon are typically not enough to get shoppers to push the button and add an item to their cart. To close the deal, most go to the user reviews. A collection of mostly positive experiences will usually clinch it. Too many negative reviews and we typically move on for better options. Let’s face it, we’ve all dodged a bullet or two thanks to the user reviews.

    It’s what I believe has helped Amazon become the dominant e-retailer. Unbiased evaluations that provide experience-based information into whether the product might be good for you too. We now consider user reviews when we pick hotels, new restaurants and even Über drivers.

    It’s not just the general consensus rating either. Sure we look at how many stars a product gets, but we also read the comments for insight. “This cooler easily fit four six-packs plus the trout I caught fishing,” or “each room in the lodge has spectacular mountain views, but the chair lift is a bit of a hike.” This helps us make the decision.

    It’s all about credibility. Users providing input to help fellow shoppers make better decisions, rather than a company putting its best foot forward to hawk a product. This is the same principle behind case studies and success stories for business. They go beyond ‘endorsing’ a product to show how a business has leveraged a solution with best practices and lessons learned. This helps readers imagine how they can take advantage of a technology along with constructive ideas on how to best use it.

    Like Amazon’s user reviews, case studies close the deal. Knowing that other companies were successful and even gained competitive advantage by deploying a technology takes the decision across the finish line. It’s why Nucleus Research focuses so heavily on ROI case studies – in fact we’ve written more than any other analyst firm in the industry.

    Which brings us back to credibility. Any company can write success stories to share with prospects and put on their Website. But they won’t carry the same weight as a case study developed by an independent, unbiased resource. For technology, that’s a reputable industry analyst firm.

    We all expect a company to overly accentuate the positive and gloss over, even omit the negative aspects in a self-written case study. But when an objective third-party develops it you get an honest view, with the warts and all. And that’s what we need to make the best decision.

    It’s why companies have independent auditors review their accounting. And why we pay attention to the J.D. Power and Associates ratings for cars. We are more likely to trust an article from a reputable publication than an advertisement created by the company.

    It’s the very backbone of our business at Nucleus, providing independent analysis and honesty, which can sometimes come across as tough love. That’s what third parties do. The cold, hard truth, as I called it in a previous blog.

    In fact, we’ve called out several technology vendors in the past for promoting overly optimistic self-produced case studies and testimonials. We’ve done this when our own internal data identified a disconnect. And while the vendors complain about our reality check and posture publicly, over time many have come to us privately to acknowledge that we were right.

    The vendors do themselves no service with over zealous marketing. It might be somewhat successful in the short-term, but in the long-term overly positive success stories and content in general becomes a huge liability. They cut into the very credibility of the vendor.

    The most credible content is an independently verified case study. They are powerful tools for closing deals and increasing sales.