You’ve worked hard to build relationships with professional contractors in the building materials industry. Your word is your bond. You listen to your customers. Your customers know they can trust you to deliver the building materials they need to meet demand. So, you may wonder why building material manufacturers, specifically retail lumber dealers, need user reviews.

We don’t have to remind you that the retail lumber industry has changed during the past 10 to 15 years. Your success is no longer dependent only on the marketing and distribution methods of yesteryear. Chances are most of your customers are online now—even if you aren’t. As a retail lumber dealer, if you sell to a small contractor or home builder, then you have a responsibility to help that builder grow beyond just selling the product, because when that contractor wins, you win—and it all starts with reviews. Reviews build trust.

Online reviews can drive sales, increase revenues, and generate more outstanding reviews, which creates a positive review cycle where everyone benefits. Read on to see the reasons your contractor network development strategy should include helping your customers get reviews.

 Why Customer Reviews Are Important 

1. Better Understanding of Customers

First, don’t think of reviews as the only communication between a B2B seller and a potential buyer. Buyers may use their reviews as a way to communicate with the dealer about their building materials. Analyzing these reviews can reveal both overall satisfaction, which is a positive boost, and areas where you need to improve your product or service. User reviews also highlight where you and your customers can improve perceptions around your product and service. Perceptions are key, as customers’ perceptions are their reality, and you can often address issues with just a personal conversation.

Tune into what customers are saying to keep abreast of changing expectations, goals, and needs. When you do this, you can make small, impactful changes to stay competitive instead of needing to invest in a major overhaul later.

2. Builds Credibility and Social Proof

Even if your lumber retail company has been around for a while, not everyone knows the person who knows the person. B2B and B2C buyers overwhelmingly trust authentic user reviews. (You know this, as you’ve probably done this yourself.) Genuine reviews can build instant credibility, even when buyers have just become aware of you, your products, and your services. When a dealer carries products that get top reviews, credibility and social proof with customers is built, people usually buy more in volume and frequency.

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3. Word-of-Mouth Is the Most Powerful Form of Advertising

We don’t have to remind you of word-of-mouth power. Who doesn’t love a referral? But one user review can reach more people online than one referral. Eighty-four percent of people trust online reviews. Over 90% of B2B and B2C buyers check user ratings before buying. Again, you’ve probably done this yourself. Having no reviews is worse than having a few negative reviews, which seems to fly in the face of reason. Why would people trust a few poor reviews rather than all glowing reviews? It goes back to authenticity. Your customers naturally know that everyone can’t be 100% happy all the time. Most people expect some negative reviews. A few bad reviews lend genuineness to the overall mix. (Not that you want to encourage bad reviews, but they happen.) Remember, it gives you an opportunity to address things you can fix with your products or services. If you’re unsure how to begin getting reviews, start by asking satisfied customers.

4. Improves Search Engine Rankings

Reviews on Yelp, Trustpilot, Google My Business, and Facebook display prominently in search results, especially if you’ve invested in minimal local search engine optimization. Pages with a local city or keyword a person might be searching for rank higher in local searches. Claiming your review pages on these sites gives your business instant visibility and a direct link to your website.

5. They’re Here to Stay

Lumber retail dealer success hinges on user reviews. Your customers’ success is your success. The importance of user reviews to both you and your customers isn’t changing anytime soon. How or where we write reviews may change over a decade, but helping contractors get reviews is a critical part of your customer network development strategy and will continue to be so, no matter its form.

User Reviews Affect the Dealer, Not Just the Customer

Reviews usually lead to higher profits, particularly for B2B companies. When your contractors get good reviews about your product, that reflects on them and your materials. As far as your own reviews go, contractors judge your credibility and ability to deliver what they need by looking at user reviews. These reviews improve search engine authority for the material’s brand name too, so you attract more and bigger homebuilding and professional contractors to you. When your current or potential customers search for the goods you offer, your brand and business name appear in multiple places—across review sites. All of which spreads awareness.

How You Can Encourage Reviews as a Retail Lumber Dealer

It’s clear that user reviews are important for your customers and your materials company. Everyone’s success along the building chain is your success. Given you’re in this together, dedicate marketing dollars to build a review incentive program for customers. Create content on your website that revolves around marketing ideas for contractors to help them build their business and sell more of your product. Offer training and education on your products for all customers, so they can better understand how best to use your products and why they should choose you over other retail lumber dealers. At the very least, go the old-fashioned route your grandmother taught you and send a heartfelt thank-you to those who buy your products. A package of chocolate-chip cookies might accompany your thank-you and motivate a review. It’s hard to refuse good products paired with plain ol’ nice. 

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About the author: Elton  Mayfield  is  the  co-founder  of  ER  Marketing,  a  B2B  marketing  agency  with  a special  love  for  the  building  industry—quite  possibly,  because   they’ve  been  building clients  themselves.  For  more  than  18  years,  ER  Marketing  has  been  dedicated  to  improving the marketing channel for all things building.