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2019 Sprout Partner Value Awards are here!

Each year, we have the honor of recognizing our top agency partners by awarding Sprout Partner Value Awards in five different categories. 

While this is the third year we’ve presented this award to our agency partners, the history of the Value Award comes from a long held tradition here at Sprout to recognize those that have gone above and beyond, and demonstrated a dedication to innovating and providing superior services to our customers and company. 

As an extension of our company, our values and our community, we decided to bring our agency partners into this tradition so our Agency Partner Program can acknowledge the incredible commitment they show in delivering excellence to their client’s success, their agency growth and the wider agency community.

These Partner Value Awards acknowledge agencies that Cultivate excellence in social media services provided to their clients, personify an Always Be Growing mindset, go above and beyond to engage with and support the #SproutPartner agency community, produce imaginative and effective Social Media Campaigns and demonstrate their commitment to being Partner of the Year by embodying all of these traits. 

Our award winners submitted applications to various categories, provided supporting evidence, and after much deliberation, were chosen by the Sprout Agency Team. 

We want to extend a huge thank you to all of our agency partners that submitted this year. While it wasn’t easy to choose just one winner for each category, we’re very excited to announce this year’s winners. 

Without further ado, here are our 2019 award winners. 

Cultivate Award

At Sprout, providing a world-class customer experience is always top of mind. This means not only helping customers achieve their day to day goals, but providing the resources and teaching the skills needed to help them consistently level up their game.
Our Cultivate Award recognizes the agency partner who does just that. This award goes to the partner who actively encourages their clients to participate and engage, educates them on how to build smarter strategies and proactively provides their clients with consultative services to solve hard problems. 
In 2019, our winner, Dana Bakich, CEO and Founder of Positive Equation, transitioned her business model from a traditional agency model to focus on consulting and coaching for her clients. Positive Equation focuses on working with nonprofits and purpose-driven businesses to design impactful digital strategies to create social change. 

Bakich says it best herself:

“Instead of solely being hired to help strategize and execute a project on my client’s behalf, I focus on teaching and empowering the internal team to feel confident in their skills, making a longer positive impact on society for good… I find joy when I see the “light bulb” moments go off for my clients. When my clients are given the right tools and the opportunity to learn – it creates a new sense of motivation personally and professionally.” 

Always Be Growing Award 

Each of our 1,000+ agency partners are working towards different goals. Some are focused on creating deeper relationships with their current client book, some are working to build their pipeline and others concentrate on adding new all-star teammates and growing their own teams’ skills.
Lucky for us, we have partners that are doing all that and more. 
In 2019, our Always Be Growing award winner, Bozell, has personified the growth mindset in more ways than one. On top of adding six new team members to the agency this year, they’ve shown a dedication to expanding their knowledge and capabilities. Not only do Bozell teammates stay ahead of the curve by attending educational trainings, like Sprout webinars, and attend local marketing conferences, they host in-house trainings with the wider agency organization to share best practices on how to effectively leverage social media. 

The Bozell team has demonstrated a commitment to staying on top of and sharing their knowledge of industry standards and social media trends to consistently go above and beyond in delivering value to their clients. 


#SproutPartner MVP Award

The Agency Partner Program was built on the philosophy that everything is better when you have a community to lean on. Which is why we think 2019 has been a special year for the Sprout Partner community. 
We’ve seen exponential growth in engagement across our The Agency Network Facebook Group, Slack and Bambu communities in no small part to the formidable partners we have engaging and participating in those communities. 

The #SproutPartner MVP Award acknowledges an agency that demonstrates the best of what our partner community has to offer. There is no more deserving partner than Raven Gill of Communicators Group for the 2019 #SproutPartner MVP Award.

Raven Gill has been the epitome of a #SproutPartner MVP by consistently coming to the aid of her fellow agency partners, sharing industry news and best practices (in some instances step by step screenshots), participating in agency trainings on Facebook Lives, and sharing her wisdom as a panelist in our first ever Sprout Agency Workshop conference, to name a few. 

Social Media Campaign of the Year

It shouldn’t be a surprise that one of our favorite awards to present each year is the Social Media Campaign of the Year Award. Not only do we get to learn about all the amazing work our partners are doing, but the depth and breadth of expertise and excellent work our partners are executing daily comes into sharp focus. 
Our team was blown away seeing the diverse, creative, innovative campaigns our agency partners ran in 2019. Working with clients and budgets of all shapes and sizes, they not only made it work, they thrived.
Choosing the winner for this award was tough, but in a social landscape obsessed with cutting through the noise and the amount of paid spend across social properties, this campaign stood out. Digital Natives Group and their work on the #SummerBrainChallenge, is the winner of our 2019 Social Media Campaign of the Year award. 

Digital Natives Group used their extensive social prowess to execute an organic social campaign aiming to spur audience growth, engagements and UGC. This campaign drove a dizzying 328% increase in impressions and 70% increase in engagement…with no ad spend.  

Partner of the Year

Last, but certainly not least, is our Partner of the Year Award. This award goes out to the partner making the most of Sprout’s Agency Partner Program, supporting themselves and their clients, plus learning and collaborating with peers to deliver top notch social media results. 
This year’s winner has demonstrated a dedication to using social as a means to drive human connection in a digital world. The relationships they’ve built with their audiences, clients, co-workers and Agency Partners have helped them achieve incredible business growth, industry recognition and deep community connections. And we’re not the only ones that think this agency is award-worthy. This agency has won awards including Best Company for Women, Best Culture, Best Leadership, Best Outlook, Best eNPS and Best Marketing.
We are beyond excited to present the 2019 Partner of the Year Award to Chatterkick.

We want to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” for all the partners that submitted applications to our 2019 Sprout Partner Value Awards and a big CONGRATULATIONS to our 2019 winners. 

Here’s to continuing to collaborate and grow together. 

Looking for an agency? Look no further than the agency partner directory!

This post 2019 Sprout Partner Value Awards are here! originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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5 Stars: 20+ Tips to Invigorate Your B2B Marketing Using Testimonials & Reviews

Hand holding one of five white stars image.

Hand holding one of five white stars image.

What’s in a review?

With the right client testimonials and customer reviews, B2B brands can increase trust and loyalty in uncertain times while strengthening existing connections and fostering new ones. Your brand may even be sitting on a goldmine of evergreen trust-building user-generated content.

Let’s take a look at 20+ tips to invigorate and expand your B2B marketing toolkit with a smart customer review and testimonial strategy.

Making The Statistical Case For Testimonials & Reviews

With some surveys showing that  90 percent of adult Internet users rely on reviews before making purchases, and others placing the figure even higher at nearly 99 percent, it’s important for B2B brands to make sure they feature the reviews and testimonials their customers have taken the time to write and share online.

Despite their unique power to build brand trust, just 43 percent of B2B businesses use reviews in their marketing toolkit.

Conversion rates can skyrocket by as much as 270 percent when online reviews are smartly incorporated, however, as shown in the Website Builder Expert data below.

Website Builder Expert Image

Some 30 percent of businesses said that customer reviews had a major impact on their overall success, and just over 26 percent said reviews also had a major impact on profitability, as shown in the following chart from a recent ZenBusiness survey.

ZenBusiness Chart

The same survey revealed that 52.2 percent of older businesses monitor online reviews weekly and 18.5 percent do so daily, while 47 percent of newer firms monitor weekly, and 39.3 percent monitor daily, suggesting that more established brands have settled into a weekly cadence, while younger firms tend to keep a more frequent watch over reviews.

Businesses tend to monitor a multitude of online review platforms for reviews, with 67.6 percent using Google, 55.1 percent Facebook, and 46.3 percent Yelp, followed by others as shown below.

ZenBusiness Chart

Only 11.9 percent of businesses said that they respond to every review left for them, while 60 percent said that they interact with either some or most reviews they receive, the same survey noted.

Younger B2B buyers are increasingly looking for reviews and testimonials to be delivered to them in methods that differ from those of older buyers, creating an opportunity for some brands looking to connect with younger audiences.

“Sixty-one percent of Millennial buyer decisions are influenced by user reviews that they trust,” Brian Fanzo recently noted in “Meet The Millennials: How Marketers Can Effectively Connect With The New B2B Buyer,” urging smart B2B marketers to not rely solely on traditional websites, and to instead “bring the testimonials — the trusted user reviews — to the buyer.”

Brian was one of the 13 B2B social media marketing leaders offering trends and predictions in our "13 Top B2B Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020."

His sentiments are largely echoed in report data recently examined by Social Media Today.

[bctt tweet="“In 2020 social media marketing will shift from vanity metrics to transparent and authentic channels to focus on real-time customer engagement.” @iSocialFanz" username="toprank"]

You May Already Have a Goldmine of Testimonials

Many established B2B brands may already have a fantastic cache of glowing testimonials from clients, however because some firms don't have any established practice for gathering, collecting, and most importantly utilizing them in marketing efforts, they remain mostly hidden.

Gathering existing reviews and testimonials can be a great way to get new insight into your most loyal customers, unearth any points of customer dissatisfaction, and to build new mechanisms for improving communication with your customers.

“Your offerings should be so attractive to your loyalists that they have no reason to look elsewhere for additional products or services,” Rob Markey wrote in an insightful Harvard Business Review look at how to “Make It Easier for Happy Customers to Buy More.”

Client and customer kudos today comes from more channels than ever, which can make it challenging to gather and compile into a dedicated testimonials file. A list of only a few of the digital channels to search for possible existing testimonials includes:

  • Email Correspondence
  • Online Collaboration Tool Chat History
  • Private Social Media Posts
  • Public Social Media Posts
  • Mobile Device Text Message History
  • Voicemail Transcripts

Whether it's each quarter, weekly, or every day, taking the time to mine testimonials from each of the channels your firm user is a great way to unearth potentially powerful customer and client testimonials.

Tactfully encouraging clients to consider leaving a review or testimonial is a nuanced process best customized on a per-client basis, however there are also some universal methods to help guide a good strategy, such as those outlined in “14 Proven Ways to Encourage Customers to Write Reviews.”

Social media and search engine firms have also done their part to try boosting the visibility of customer reviews, such as Google adding highlighted business reviews in Google Posts.

[bctt tweet="“Whether it's each quarter, weekly, or every day, taking the time to mine testimonials from each of the channels your firm user is a great way to unearth potentially powerful customer and client testimonials.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis" username="toprank"]

Testimonials & Reviews Increase Trust & Loyalty

Trust is paramount as B2B marketers seek to attract, engage, and convert new clients, and testimonials and reviews from satisfied existing customers are among the most powerful forms of messaging when it comes to earning the business of potential new clients.

It's no secret that for many years study after study has shown that testimonials and reviews hold the power to build trust, and ultimately help persuade people to engage your company's services.

Some 90 percent of B2B buyers said that they are more likely to complete a purchase after seeing a positive review.

[bctt tweet="“High rates of loyalty are a huge asset in business. They provide a necessary foundation for profitable growth.” — Rob Markey @rgmarkey" username="toprank"]

The earned power of trust becomes even more apparent when paired with survey data showing that globally 54 percent of consumers would still buy from a brand even after a negative product experience if they felt that a firm hadn’t broken trust.

When trust has been lost, however, some 82 percent said that they would not purchase again from the brand, highlighting the importance of building brand trust — something reviews and testimonials excel at.

Testimonials & Reviews Strengthen Existing Connections & Foster New Ones

Testimonials and reviews showcase the ability of your business to provide best-answer solutions so well that people take the time to personally write appreciative messages sharing their gratitude.

Testimonials and reviews also take good business partnerships and strengthen them, and help bring B2B relationships to new levels of commitment and trust.

62 percent of consumers leave positive reviews in order to help others in making buying decisions, while 52 percent say they leave negative reviews to warn others, as shown below.

Website Builder Expert Image

The connections forged through testimonials and reviews makes the relationship between your business and your clients stronger, and also serve as an important and visible example for potential new clients who are looking for information about your company.

More firms are also making it easy for customers to leave video feedback, such as a method Airbnb has implemented that mimics the ease of use users have come to expect for sharing videos on YouTube or Instagram.

The video review format has led some customers to share lengthier and more precise feedback, which in turn allows businesses greater insight into their customers.

“Videos can be richly emotional — offering the real voice and face of the customer. That emotion, transmitted directly to front-line employees and leaders, often generates the sort of empathy that inspires and motivates thoughtful action,” Rob Markey has noted.

By making video reviews a simple and optional part of customer feedback surveys, brands can have the best of both traditional text-based input and — for those who choose — the advantages of video reviews.

“If they say yes, then we've incorporated a video widget into the survey where they can just turn the camera on on their phone or computer and leave a response,” Airbnb customer insights manager Raj Sivasubramanian has said.

“The customers that chose that option really embraced it. And we actually had a lot of customers tell us in the video, ‘This is really cool. I love the fact that I can do this,’” Sivasubramanian added.

B2B firms can also utilize more formal video testimonials into their feedback efforts, as Business 2 Community explored in a helpful how-to guide, “How to Shoot the Perfect Video Testimonial.

[bctt tweet="“Testimonials and reviews take good business partnerships and strengthen them, and help bring B2B relationships to new levels of commitment and trust.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis" username="toprank"]

The Challenge of Combating Inauthentic Reviews

While no firm wants poor reviews, they are nonetheless important in their own way to consumers. 62 percent of U.S. consumers found that negative reviews were just as important as positive ones when it came time to make purchasing decisions.

Customers have grown to be suspicious of businesses that have conspicuously uniform five-star reviews, however, and more now say that they look to utilize multiple sources of reviews when researching a firm.

Despite this, 65 percent of U.S. adult consumers believe the reviews they read are generally accurate, however.

Recent survey data has also shown that 55 percent of consumers see the biggest red flag with reviews that use the same wording, while 35 percent view an overwhelming number of positive reviews to be indicative of inauthentic reviews, as shown below.

Bazaarvoice Chart

Testimonials & Reviews Are Evergreen

Most testimonials focus on the things that a client or customer loved about working with your team, and these are also largely the type of praise that isn't particularly directed at a specific time, which makes testimonials excellent sources of evergreen content that can often remain relevant and convincing for years.

HubSpot has compiled an extensive list of good examples of testimonial pages that can serve as inspiration, in Lindsay Kolowich’s “14 Testimonial Page Examples You'll Want to Copy,” showing how to implement quotes, video, audio, case study, customer interview and other types of testimonials.

To help you along your path to building more powerful testimonials and reviews into your current strategy, or to begin implementing your first such plan, here are several additional recent resources that have been published:

Reinvigorate Your B2B Marketing Testimonial Strategy

We hope this introductory look at the power of client testimonials and customer reviews to help B2B brands boost trust and loyalty and strengthen connections has been helpful, and that the tips and statistics we’ve shared will help make your marketing testimonial strategy more robust and successful.

The post 5 Stars: 20+ Tips to Invigorate Your B2B Marketing Using Testimonials & Reviews appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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