In its latest software update, the media monitoring tool Talkwalker says it’s now pulling data from more than 100 review sites. If your company is mentioned in a review on one of these sites, the tool will alert you to it.
That’s solving a very real problem for marketing leaders today. Review sites add to the long list of ever-growing duties and review platforms seem to be multiplying like Gremlins doused in water.
For many, there’s something unnerving about third-party sites that are collecting data about your company from customers and prospects – and then trying to sell it back to you. Lately, it seems every other week a marketing colleague will forward me a business development email from one of these sites and ask me if they should claim their profile on the site.
Yes, generally, I think it’s a good idea to claim profiles on review sites. Claiming these will allow you to influence some aspects of the profile, rather than leaving it completely up to another company.
Here are some other suggestions:
- Monitor these sites regularly. Task someone on the team with tracking these sites, reviewing them periodically and report on new reviews and trends. If you make this part of your regular marketing cadence, you are less likely to be caught by surprise. Look for someone on the team with existing customer outreach duties (product marketing or sales enablement are likely suspects). If that person doesn’t exist – this is a good excuse to fix that.
- Be responsive. If the site allows you to respond to a review – do it – both for positive and negative reviews. Positive reviews could prove to be a new candidate for a case study or a similar activity and people like to be acknowledged. With negative reviews, you want to show you are listening. While you may not change the mind of someone that is upset, you can influence how others perceive you based on your response. Be sure to tap the experience on your PR team when responding to reviews.
- Keep an open mind about data features. Some of these review sites offer sophisticated integrations with CRM and marketing automation tools. For example, some can notify your sales team when a visitor on their site shows intent to purchase based on their actions on the site. Your marketing operations person should take a close look at these features for their potential utility in your organization.
These activities will give you a sense of which sites have the greatest potential for your business – and allocate finite resources accordingly.
Business Software Review Sites to Watch
Which review sites should you watch?
Below is a look at some I’ve bumped into in the course of my duties. It’s by no means exhaustive and I may add other review sites to the list later as I encounter them at work.
Before diving in, there are some caveats: First, there’s no significance to the order in which these are presented. Second, in this post, I am looking at these review sites from the perspective of the reviewed company. Finally, it’s important to understand the following points:
- The statistics presented were reported by the company at the time of this writing;
- DA means domain authority; DA is an estimate created by MOZ of how well a site will perform in a Google search; it’s not perfect or without controversy, but I do like it as a standard shorthand for the quality of a site;
- Traffic estimates are provided by SimilarWeb; and
- Funding and financial transaction data are provided by CrunchBase.
And now onto the review sites…
1) G2 Crowd | @G2dotcom
G2 Crowd is a peer-to-peer review site founded in 2012. G2 is the military designation for the intelligence staff section in higher-level units (i.e. an infantry division), where G1 is personnel and administration, G3 is operations and G4 is supply and logistics, for example. The company is clearly striving to be a customer intelligence platform.
G2 offers a way to collect reviews and license reports about vendors and the market. The company also sells buyer intent data, which you can use to notify sales when prospective customers are actively researching products in your market.
The company has started offering a product for software buyers to manage software spending, contracts, accounts and compliance. This is a clever way to collect data about software providers from end-users.
- Statistics: 991,300+ validated user reviews
- DA: 64
- Monthly traffic: 3.5 million
- Funding: $100.8 million in six rounds
Commentary: The company has made two acquisitions: Advocately for activating advocates and Siftery a site for discovering new products. In October 2019 the company announced an integration that will feed buyer intent data to SalesLoft. Interestingly, G2 has a profile of Gartner (and other review sites) on its website – with 18 reviews and four stars – which shows how the company is growing into services as well as software.
2) TrustRadius | @TrustRadius
TrustRadius was founded in 2012, and as its namesake suggests, focuses on the veracity of reviews. The company claims all reviews are “100% verified.” The company sells intent data, but not leads or advertisements, which the company says means its data is unbiased and of higher quality.
- Statistics: 210,000 reviews and ratings
- DA: 54
- Monthly traffic: 480,000
- Funding: $25.1 million over four rounds
Commentary: An article on Pulse 2.0 about the company’s most recent round of funding, underscores how the company says it is different from other review sites:
“And 56% of B2B buyers use reviews as a key resource while fewer than 25% of buyers rely on analysts. TrustRadius is considered one of the most trusted customer review platform for business technology. TrustRadius’s in-depth reviews average about 5 times the length of other sites and it clarifies product differences, describes use cases, and comprehensively discuss their pros and cons.”
Gartner launched Peer Insights in 2015 as a source of authentic reviews. The company says it validates every review. The reviews can influence placements in Magic Quadrant reports, but analysts are not allowed to quote reviews in published research. However, if your industry does have a Magic Quadrant and you purchase a reprint, Peer Insights can be integrated alongside the report. The company has developed a Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice report, which highlights vendors that are highly rated by customers.
- Statistics: 330+ categories; 5,600+ products; 280,000+ reviews
- DA: 90
- Monthly traffic: 3.2 million
- Funding: Not applicable: Gartner is publicly traded (NYSE: IT)
Commentary: It’s free for customers to submit reviews, but for vendors to use any of the Peer Insights reports in their marketing, you can expect the same premium pricing (and red tape) as with traditional Gartner reports. However, it’s worth pointing out, I’ve seen reporters cite comments from Peer Insights in articles about my clients.
Capterra was founded in 1999 but didn’t start hosting reviews until 2008. It was acquired by Gartner for $206.2 million in 2015, shortly before the analyst firm launched Peer Reviews. Capterra got started by focusing on marketing technology (martech), like customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation, where there is a dizzying array of options. Today it has categories for software in finance, HR, hotel management, medical, construction and many more.
For buyers the company offers a pricing guide for different categories of software which is unique and a wakeup call for vendors; here’s an example for CRM software. The business model is different in that Capterra sells PPC ads to vendors on its site and across the Gartner network. It claims traffic gleaned from these ads are three times more likely to convert.
- Statistics: 700+ categories; 1,075,000+ reviews
- DA: 70
- Monthly traffic: 4.4 million
- Funding: Not applicable: acquired by Gartner
Commentary: Some of the newer software categories Capterra covers are presented in a dystopian context. For example, I’ve seen legal tech reviews where the site compares large enterprise software products to small SaaS products. It’s like comparing QuickBooks to NetSuite.
5) Software Advice | @SoftwareAdvice (A Gartner company)
Founded in 2012, Software Advice provides a service to prospective software buyers. The idea is a buyer searches for products on the web and finds the company’s website. The company offers a free consultation to the buyer, which is used to obtain discovery and qualification data like budget and decision authority, and then send them software recommendations. Vendors can pay Software Advice to be listed among the recommendations when the buyer’s needs match their lead qualifications.
Software Advice was acquired by Gartner in 2014; terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, the release announcing the acquisition says Software Advice had helped 120,000 buyers and today the website says it’s more than 700,000.
- Statistics: 800,000+ reviews across 300+ categories
- DA: 70
- Monthly traffic: 867,000
- Funding: Not applicable: acquired by Gartner
Commentary: It’s interesting to see how Gartner has quite a grip on the business software review market. Each of its review sites has different positioning and business models in the business software review business. Where Peer Insights is paired with the Gartner brand and mirrors the traditional business model of the analyst firm, Capterra sells PPC ads and Software Advice is essentially a paid listing.
I checked the 2019 Q2 and Q3 earnings call transcripts and the most recent 10-Q to see if Gartner hinted at revenue or performance of their review sites and they do not. It appears to the bundle it under the broad category of research.
6) GetApp | @GetApp (A Gartner company)
Founded in 2012, GetApp is pitched as a review and comparison site for SaaS products. Like some of the other review sites, it makes money by selling lead data to vendors. The page to get listed as a vendor now points to the Gartner Digital Markets website, where you’ll see branding across all three of the review sites Gartner has acquired.
- Statistics: The site doesn’t list any statistics and those I found in research looked dated.
- DA: 64
- Monthly traffic: 1.7 million
- Funding: The company raised $1.1 million in funding before being acquired by Gartner in 2015.
Commentary: I not as familiar with GetApp as I am with some of the other review sites. This may be because the company is based in Barcelona Spain. To that end, some of the searches I’ve performed for US companies didn’t turn up any results on this site. The fact that Gartner owns it makes it worth watching for software vendors.
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What review sites have you run into in your work? What advice do you offer for managing the plethora of review sites? Please feel free to comment below.
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Image credits: Pixabay and G2 screenshot.