This is a guest post by Kristen McCabe of G2 Crowd.

Whether you’re choosing a restaurant, buying a new printer, or booking a hotel, we all face that simple fear when handing over credit card details: buyer’s remorse.

Today, people have found a simple, strategic way to overcome this dreaded feeling by turning peer opinions in the form of customer reviews. According to the Spiegel Research Center, 95%of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.

Customer reviews have become a standard part of any purchase decision — including events. No longer do star ratings apply to just consumers using Amazon, Yelp, and TripAdvisor; now businesses also find themselves both reading and writing reviews. As a marketer at G2 Crowd, a review platform for B2B software and services, I specialise in helping businesses use these customer reviews to drive their marketing.

If you haven’t started using event feedback as a part of your promotional strategy, it’s time to start.

Here’s how to use reviews to drive ticket sales.

How to collect event reviews

The most common and effective way to get reviews is through your post-event survey.

Whether you are emailing attendees a survey or using an event app, the insights you collect will help you understand what attendees value. Once those desires are clear, you can create promotional materials showing how you fulfill those needs. And (best of all!) you can use those reviews as testimonials across your event promotion.

Let’s look at ways how to get event customer reviews through apps and email, followed by ideas of how to use these reviews.

Get attendee feedback with event apps

Event apps can be used for both B2B and B2C event marketing, and are especially popular for conferences. These apps provide a great opportunity for guests to give feedback and reviews while on-site.

For example, within a conference app, attendees can review each speaker individually. As an event planner, this gives you an understanding of who to invite back and what type of speakers and content resonates with your attendees.

Below is a screenshot from the Content Marketing World (CMWorld) app, a conference I recently attended run by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Throughout this article, we’ll look at CMWorld as an example of how to get and use event reviews.

Social Proof: Use Customer Reviews to Drive Event Sales

Notice how the CMWorld app asks for a star rating. As you can see, the culture of reviews has become intertwined with feedback on any experience, including your event.

This format enables attendees to give their feedback very quickly. Literally, in just a few seconds, your guests can answer yes or no, followed by a star rating. Additional comments are available but not required, ensuring time is not a barrier to sharing feedback.

Once you have compiled the attendee data, both you and your speakers can utilise the data. CMI’s Vice President of Marketing Cathy McPhillips says, “One of the biggest ways we use evaluations is to determine our top-rated speaker at each event. That top-rated speaker is then invited to give a keynote on the main stage in front of over 3,500 attendees. This year, Andrew Davis received this honour, and touted this on his website, his emails, and on social media.”

When using an event app for reviews, make sure attendees know how to access this feature. If there is a keynote presentation, make an announcement in the introduction. If you have printed materials, you’ll want to include app information there too. Don’t forget to give instructions on how to access the feedback form.

Send a post-event survey through email

Don’t underestimate the power of emailing a post-event survey to attendees. Today, many consumers are not only familiar with sharing their feedback, they actively seek out ways to do so. For the ones who don’t (or are too busy to do so!), email outreach is the answer.

In fact, 80%of reviews originate from follow-up emails asking shoppers to review their purchases. And email outreach does more than bring in those reviews. A 2017 study with Northwestern University found that brands can expect their average star rating to increase after sending buyers a direct link to share reviews.

Here’s how CMI sent out their post-conference survey:

Social Proof: Use Customer Reviews to Drive Event Sales

Consider these four key points:

  • Timeliness matters. This conference finished on a Friday. You can’t tell from the screenshot, but this email was sent the Monday after the event. Send your post-event survey as soon as possible, while the event is fresh in attendees’ minds. Not only does it increase the likelihood your survey will be taken, it gives you more accurate insights.
  • Give a deadline. Whether at work or home, your life is full of deadlines. This means the tasks without deadlines often get pushed off and never happen. Give the date you need feedback by to increase the urgency of doing so.
  • Incentivise your survey. Along with the deadline, CMI incentivises the survey with the opportunity to win a free pass to CMWorld next year. As an attendee myself, I can assure you this is all the reason I need to give my conference reviews and ratings!
  • Be appreciative. CMI knows their attendees are busy. The email doesn’t start with an ask, it starts with a thank you, showing they don’t take delegates for granted.

When writing your event survey, ask questions that will get you testimonials.  Be sure to:

  • Include open-ended questions you can use as testimonials  
  • Ask permission to share testimonials in event promotional materials
  • Check if the attendee wishes their review to remain anonymous

How to use event reviews as social proof

Testimonials are a form of social proof that create brand trust you can’t make on your own. Social proof is credibility created from what those around you are saying and doing. For example, if all of Greg’s co-workers say they’ve booked their tickets to an impactful presentation, he will be influenced to attend himself.

People trust their peers over brands. Whatever you claim about your event, it will never carry as much weight as when your attendees say it. So use your attendees’ own words from your survey and app in your own marketing.

“Many of our evaluations and survey responses are included in our media kit for our sales team, as we receive some amazing testimonials from both speakers and sponsors,” McPhillips says. “Additionally, we’ll use them in blog posts and on our website when appropriate. We use our attendee feedback, but rather blasting out to our audience, we use minimally for the most impact.”

This blog post from the CMWorld website shows how you can use reviews in event materials:

Notice that the Lauren has allowed both her name and title to be shared. When you have permission, this is a great way to increase the testimonial’s credibility and relevance. If you don’t have permission, you should anonymise the quote.

Blog posts are far from the only spot you should use reviews in your marketing. Take a review and turn it into a post for Twitter utilising the event hashtag. Include attendee reviews in emails to your database and sales materials for potential sponsors. Call out your best reviews on your event website. Whichever channel you use to promote your event, find ways to include reviews.

Reviews matter in event marketing

With all the time and money you put into planning your event, you need to have an understanding of what attendees love and what needs improvement. Customer reviews through your event app and survey do this and so much more.

For an email template you can use to send out your post-event survey, download 7 Email Copy Templates to Sell Out Your Next Event.