When I first started working at TSheets, my team mentioned that they wanted to test advertising on a few “software review” websites. I was skeptical these sites could produce a decent volume of leads, let alone leads that were of high enough quality to produce a good return on investment.
Boy, was I wrong! These sites are now our second largest paid marketing channel and consistently produce a solid ROI.
What Are Software Review Websites?
There are quite a few sites out there that have reviews for different kinds of software and other SaaS products. Some of them specialize in certain industries, but the majority of them seem to generate reviews for all kinds of software. It’s really pretty simple on the surface.
It gets a little more complex when you start diving into how they make money, though. They have a range of approaches, but most often they end up having some kind of paid lead or paid exposure model. In general, all of the business models I have come across fall into three general categories:
- Pay Per Lead (PPL)
- Pay Per Click (PPC)
- Pay Per Exposure (higher listing rankings, premium profile options, impressions, etc.)
Here is a list of the sites we have discovered. We ranked them by their Alexa rank as a simple way to prioritize what opportunities we should pursue first. I’m sure we could have come up with a much more sophisticated approach than that, however, it seemed like that would have been a waste of time. We also have added what kind of paid model they are using. You will notice that some of these companies offer multiple models as well.
|Review Site||Alexa Rank||Paid Models|
|Capterra||4,402||Pay Per Click|
|GetApp||11,154||Pay Per Click|
|SoftwareAdvice||14,598||Pay Per Lead
Pay Per Click
|Discover Cloud||15,072||Pay Per Click|
|G2Crowd||15,765||Exposure: Premium Listing
Pay Per Lead
Pay Per Click
|TrustRadius||27,071||Exposure: Premium Listing|
|ITCentral Station||64,595||Exposure: Premium Services|
|CloudsWave||81,945||Pay Per Click|
|Mobilized||94,549||Exposure: Premium Listing|
|TechnologyAdvice||104,310||Pay Per Lead|
|Crozdesk||146,631||Pay Per Click|
|CrowdReviews.com||228,833||Exposure: Premium Listing
Pay Per Click
How To Get Started
The majority of these review sites offer a free listing. In fact, I’m not sure I have run into a single one that didn’t offer that. Step 1 is to go get your business listed on these sites and fill out your profile as much as possible. This might take you a week or two to setup your free profile on all of the sites that are relevant to your business.
The next step after you have setup your free profile, is to identify which site has:
- Good traffic volume.
- The right target audience.
- A cost structure and business model that will be easy for you to measure the results.
Good traffic volume
The first item in that list, finding sites with enough traffic, is fairly easy and straightforward. Just work your way down the list I created and posted at the top of this article. It’s not perfect and traffic could change for these sites, but it should be a fairly close representation of the most popular sites ranked at the top and least popular at the bottom.
The right target audience
Figuring out which site has the correct target audience for your business gets a bit more complicated. If you talk to a sales person, there is a 99% chance they will always tell you they are a PERFECT fit for who you are looking for. Even though you may not be able to fully trust what they have to say, it’s worth trying to be as specific as possible and tell them who you are trying to target.
Another great way to gauge if a site has traffic coming from the audience that best fits your business is by noticing what keywords they rank for. For example, Capterra ranks very high for “time tracking software” which is a very important keyword for TSheets. Since Capterra ranks high for that keyword, it’s fairly safe to assume the traffic and leads they send our way from that page are going to be very relevant and high quality.
Go do a bunch of Google searches using “*your core keyword* software” or “*your core keyword* reviews”. Look through the first two pages of search results and see if you notice any software review websites ranking. If they do, there is a good chance they might be a great site to test out.
Cost structure and business model
I think this is an important thing to consider especially in the early stages of evaluating whether or not software review websites work for your business. It’s critical that you have a good way to measure the value of these traffic or lead sources.
Some of you reading this might be in a better position than others to measure the performance of these sites. For example, TSheets does a really great job measuring the performance of Pay Per Click marketing campaigns. However, we struggle a bit more when we try to measure the value of a Pay Per Lead or CPM model. Because that is the case, we decided to work with a site that had a Pay Per Click business model for our first test.
I know there is much more to measuring the ROI of these traffic and lead sources. I’m assuming you know how to do that. If you would like me to write a follow up article on measuring ROI, let me know.
Reviews: The obvious secret weapon
Because these websites are “software review” sites, it may be pretty obvious that reviews are pretty important. What might not be obvious is how reviews might impact the overall performance of these kinds of sites. So far, we have identified 3 main ways they make a difference. These reasons may be pretty obvious…
- They can improve the Click Through Rate of your listings.
- They can improve the rankings of your listing in different categories.
- They can improve the overall exposure these review sites give you.
The trick here is to set a review target and figure out how to generate reviews. For example, we wanted to dominate some of the categories we were listed in on Softwareadvice.com. We looked up who the top reviewed listings were and set a goal to beat them. Then, our Customer Service team worked their amazing magic.
I wish I could tell you how to make all that happen, but there are just way too many variables. You will need to figure out what works best for your business or company. The key here is to get enough reviews in whatever category you are listed in to really stand out and/or rank in the top 3 spots. Do whatever it takes to make that happen: have Customer Experience people ask for reviews, ask customers via email, ask in product, etc.
So, I’m really curious how things go for you. Please feel free to get in touch with me to let me know what questions you have and what kind of results you end up seeing from testing these types of sites. Make sure to share this article with anyone you think might benefit from this information too. Thank you!