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Top 10 Product Reviews: Should You Always Aim For #1?

<span class="author-name">Joel Witts</span>

Joel Witts

Content Director

One of the best ways to generate engaged sales leads is to reach customers when they are researching and comparing solutions online. This means identifying where your users are looking to find information on your products and competitors, and making sure you are there as well. There are many websites that produce content to help buyers find solutions and services online. In the cloud space, there are a few big players: Gartner Peer Insights, G2, TechTarget, PeerSpot, and us: Expert Insights.

Typically, review websites use end-user reviews as a way to offer helpful content to their readers. They offer an incentive for user reviews of your product or service, and then rank products based on user scores and feedback. Expert Insights works slightly differently – our team of experienced technical analysts review products ourselves, and we share this with our audience free of charge to help them find the right services and solutions.

For marketeers, review platforms represent a fantastic way to reach users at the moment they are researching your services and comparing you against competitors. Expert Insights enables you to sponsor placements in top 10 guides, allowing you to reach engaged users who want to trial or demo your product.

While sponsorship methods and campaigns may differ slightly between platforms, with whichever platform you choose to use, you will often be placed alongside competitors, often in a list of 1-10 solutions. A common question we get asked is: do I need to get my product to the top of the list for the campaign to work successfully?

For many platforms, it can be very difficult to reach the top of a category list. It’s often highly competitive and very expensive to pay for the top sponsored position in a category or article, particularly if you are a smaller vendor up against big name brands.

Expert Insights can share some exclusive insights from our internal data to help you decide where you should aim for your product to be sponsored on review platforms, and how your product ranking on the page can affect campaign performance. Shh – it’s our little secret!

Testing Methodology

In our research, we looked at one of the most popular articles on the Expert Insights website: our guide to the Top 10 Cloud Backup and Recovery Solutions. As is typical for many articles on our website, there is a broad mix of vendors featured. There are some major players and market leaders, and some smaller companies with niche USPs, which gave us a good opportunity to test the impact of vendor placement on user engagement.

For the purposes of this test, we added CTA buttons to each vendor, linking to book a discussion with our own in-house consultancy team. We ran this campaign for two months and regularly rotated the position of vendors on the page in order to measure what impact position had on click-through-rates. We found three key takeaways:

1) Being In The Top Spot Massively Boosts CTRs

Our first takeaway from running this experiment was that, in a list of products from 1 – 10, being in the highest position does influence user click through behaviors. Hotjar recorded that, on average, 15% of total recorded clicks on the page were focused on the vendor in the top spot, regardless of the specific vendor displayed.

2) Being In The Top 5 Does Improve CTRs, But Not Always By Much

Typically, the higher vendors are on the page, the better they will perform in terms of click-throughs, but this is not always by much. For example, one vendor in position #9 received around 3% of the total clicks on the page. When moved to position #3, engagement jumped to around 5%, on average.

This makes sense, as users scroll from top to bottom, but the difference is not massive. Every single vendor listed got at least 3% in terms of engagement, as many readers do engage with vendors even when further down the article; although big click through rates are concentrated in the top 5 vendors.

3) Brand Power Matters Immensely

In our testing, we found the power of brand far more significant than position on page. For example, when a leading vendor was moved to #2 on the article, we found that it received around 22% of the total clicks on the page – more on average than the vendor in #1 above it.

When that same vendor was moved to position #10 on the page, the total share of clicks only dropped by 2% – when the average click engagement for the vendor listed at #10 is just 3%. Brand in this case was far more important than being at the bottom of the page.

Similarly, a more niche vendor that moved from position #8 to #3, only got 1.5% more clicks, despite being in one of the higher positions on the page. Customers engage more with brands they already know and recognize, and niche brands may not see big increases from higher positions. However, in our experience, it is very likely the relatively small percentage of users who click on these vendors are very engaged to buy or find out more.

So, which position should you sponsor?

Which position you should sponsor when considering this kind of investment really comes down to your aims and objectives. Typically, vendors that work with us have two high-level goals:

  • Lead Generation
  • Brand/Product Awareness

For lead generation, the higher the position you can reach, the better. However, if you have a strong brand that is recognized in the industry, you are likely to generate as much engagement in positions #2-5 as you would in position #1. So, getting the top spot may not massively increase your campaign performance.

For more niche providers, however, getting the very top spot can have a big impact on your overall campaign performance. Although moving to higher positions on an article will improve campaign performance by at least a few percentage points, position #1 will be the best overall spot to maximize engagement.

For any product, being on the list itself is a pathway to improving awareness and engagement. We found that every vendor on the list generated at least a 3% engagement rate on a single article reaching over 1,800 monthly buyers. For both niche and leading vendors alike, being on the list in any position generates more clicks and eyeballs on your product, along with other benefits around SEO performance.

In Summary

Sponsoring editorial lists is a great way to get people to find your brands and services. If you want to generate leads, most vendors will see the best return if they sponsor positions #1-5. If you want to increase brand awareness, visibility is strongest in these positions, but even if you have a lesser-known brand, you will still see a boost with a lower position.

In the next edition of the newsletter, we cover which CTAs are the best to boost engagement and click-throughs, based on our vendor data.

To learn more about Expert Insights, contact our vendor marketing team.

About Expert Insights

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Written by:

<span class="author-name">Joel Witts</span>

Joel Witts

Content Director

About Expert Insights

Expert Insights publishes buyers guides, product reviews, and interviews covering leading enterprise tech solutions. Over 80,000 business owners and IT admins use Expert Insights every month to compare and purchase B2B software and services.