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How & Why You Should Dominate Software Review Websites

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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
Top10Reviews 1,928 Exposure: CPM
SpiceWorks 1,658 Exposure: CPM
CrunchBase 2,030 Exposure: CPM
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
Serchen 87,746 Exposure: CPM
Mobilized 94,549 Exposure: Premium Listing
TechnologyAdvice 104,310 Pay Per Lead
Crozdesk 146,631 Pay Per Click 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 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.

Wrap up

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!

Virtual Reality Product Placement Advertising Platform

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Virtual Reality

Before we dive into this VR Ad Platform idea, we first need to look at how the digital advertising and website publishing industries currently work. The reason why will be much clearer towards the end of this article, but from a high level, I think VR advertising is going to follow a similar path in many ways to how the digital ad industry evolved… just much faster and with a few big innovations.

Alright, let’s dive in.

There are over 1,000,000,000 websites online now. One billion! People start these websites for a billion different reasons too, but a large percentage take the plunge with the hope of making money. So, how does a website make money?

How websites make money

Since the idea I’m writing about relates to digital advertising, let’s focus in on the Digital Advertising industry as a whole a bit more.

Online advertising is a $75+ billion a year industry in the US and growing fast. It’s projected to be a $100+ billion a year industry by 2019. It’s also, by far, one of the most common ways websites make money. Display & Social advertising account for 50% of that $75 billion. The rest is split up between search (Google AdWords) and email marketing.


Let’s dig into Display and Social ads a bit more and think about it from the perspective of the websites that make money from that ad spend: The “publishers”.

Let’s say you have a website with a decent amount of traffic. Here is how you can get into the advertising business:

Ad platforms

In case you didn’t know it, Google makes a ton of money from AdSense (way more from AdWords, but a lot from AdSense). Any time you browse the web and see pop up ads or ads on the top or right hand side of the page, you can most likely thank Google for that.

Third party ad systems like Google AdSense are actually pretty brilliant, though. For publishers, it alleviates many of the biggest pain points of managing ads being displayed on your website. Think about how big of a pain it would be to find advertisers, negotiate a deal with each them, and then actually run the ad campaigns on your website. Pain. In. The. Butt.

It also solves a lot of pain points for Advertisers as well. By working with a huge third party ad platform, you are able to tap into a network of millions of websites with a few clicks and you don’t need to work out individual ad deals with them.

Companies like Google also make use of machine learning and “big data” to try and automatically improve the performance of your ad campaigns by showing your ads to the right people at the right time.

In the end, publishers and advertisers are happy because this third party system solves a bunch of pain points and offers benefits they couldn’t get otherwise. Win-Win-Win. Pretty Neat!

Virtual Reality Product Placement Advertising Platform

Ok, now that I’ve caught you up to speed on how digital advertising works, let’s start talking about what the future might look like if & when Virtual Reality is ubiquitous.

No Mans Sky

If VR keeps advancing and continuing down the path it is going, it’s pretty safe to say that we will someday have 1,000,000,000+ virtual reality “spaces” and/or “experiences”. Possibly more. To reach those kinds of numbers, we would need to have millions of independent virtual reality creators just like we have for websites. Obviously I could be wrong, but with the way things are trending now, that idea doesn’t seem too outlandish.

If we have millions of independent VR creators, how will they be rewarded for their efforts? My guess is we will see many parallels to our current digital marketing and website ecosystem: Ecommerce, Digital Ads, selling VR experiences, etc. That’s why I covered those details earlier in this article.

Here is where I think VR advertising might be able to “one up” website advertising, though. Imagine being an independent VR creator. You spend countless hours creating this entire world/experience. Now, you need to figure out how to monetize it. How will you do that?

Ecommerce? Maybe. I think it might still be too earlier for that. I’m not sure I want to buy things in a VR experience in the “traditional” way I would online right now. I feel like VR would kind of get in the way vs. being something amazing. That could change quickly as the technology continues to evolve and expand, though.

Ad in Virtual RealityWhat about ads? I think that makes the most sense currently. However, it’s kind of like the early days of managing ads on websites. Right now, you would basically need to code the ad somehow into the VR experience or do some kind of pre-roll or other form of interruption marketing. This is the equivalent of a website “putting ads up and taking them down”.

Here is where I think things could get pretty cool very fast for independent VR creators. Imagine if you could take a snippet of code and drop it into your VR experience and that code used machine learning to start identifying “objects” and “things”. What if that car you coded into your VR experience driving down the road is indeed identified by this 3rd party ad platform as a “car” and then transformed into a yellow and black 2016 Corvette Z06. What if it picked that car because the person interacting in your VR experience just visited Corvette’s website last week?

What if a different person interacting in your VR experience visited the Mercedes website and instead of seeing the Z06, they saw a black Mercedes instead. What if that same thing could happen to the clothes people are wearing in your VR experience? The phones people are holding? The gun they are using in that VR game? The billboard on the side of the road they are driving down? On top of all of that, what if future VR headsets start tracking your eyes and emotional responses to a VR experience… or even the ad that was just displayed?

We would then have dynamically generated virtual reality product placement advertising that could measure the emotional impact an ad had on someone. Woah. Crazy.

I imagine this monetization pain point for publishers will change rather quickly and we will start to see 3rd party VR ad platforms cropping up pretty soon (if they aren’t out there already). It’s still really early on in the history of VR.

So… do have some of the needed skills to make this idea a reality? I’d love to connect with you!

Want to see some of my other ideas? Go here.

The Value Proposition Canvas Is Your Marketing Strategy

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So you think you have an awesome business idea or startup and you’re ready to start blasting people with ads all over Facebook? Maybe you believe you are just one or two viral YouTube videos away from hockey stick like growth?

Think again. You better take a few steps back and make sure you truly understand WHO your customers are and WHY they might value your products or services.

You need a Marketing Strategy.

Strategy image

-A quick personal story from a few months ago-

Kevin: “Have you ever heard of the Value Proposition Canvas?”

Me: “Uh… I thought I just showed you the Business Model Canvas I’ve been perfecting & validating over the past month?”

K: “No, no, no the Value Proposition Canvas. It’s a second canvas that Alexander Osterwalder made to work in conjunction with the Business Model Canvas.”

Me: “Oh, yeah. I think I saw something about that a while ago. Why? My Canvas is starting to look pretty damn good if I say so myself!”

K: “Well… I think it would be a good idea for you to spend some more time on the Value Prop Canvas before you say you clearly understand who your target market is and what value you are offering them. Do you have a couple more minutes so I can show you how it works?”

Me: “Uh… sure…”

-15 minutes later-

Me: “Damn! This is awesome!”

K: “Yeah, I had I feeling you were going to like this new tool.”

Me: “I didn’t realize how vague I was being about who my customers where and what value I was offering them with my business. Thank you for showing me how to use this!”


The above conversation was from a meeting I had with Kevin Learned at Venture College a few months ago. We were discussing some key decisions I needed to make about a startup I was working on.

I had already spent quite a bit of time working on my Business Model Canvas and had even started discovering some validated learnings about what my business model should look like.

Even though I was starting to see a clearer path forward with my business, I’m so grateful Kevin had me take a step back and learn about the Value Proposition Canvas. Why? Because I use it all the damn time now!

Value Proposition Canvas

Let’s build a Marketing Strategy/Plan!

Before we talk about why I use the Value Proposition Canvas when I develop a Marketing Strategy, I think it’s important to talk about the difference between a Marketing Strategy and a Marketing Plan.

People tend to use “plan” and “strategy” interchangeably. Like they have the same meaning. I used to do the same thing too. Now, however, I see how different they really are.

A Marketing Strategy is what you need to create before you build a Marketing Plan. Your Marketing Strategy is the foundation you build your Marketing Plan on. Both matter a great deal, but you can’t have a great Marketing Plan without first developing a great Marketing Strategy.

Marketing Strategy foundation for a Marketing Plan - House Example

Sure, you could get lucky and find a few marketing tactics that might work for your business without a solid marketing strategy in place, however, the odds are pretty good that you will fail if you build your marketing plan on top of a crappy strategy or no strategy at all.

Let’s define this a bit further, a Marketing Plan is all about actions and tactics. It’s basically a list of “what” you are going to do or test. This includes anything like the following:

  • Social Media Marketing
  • Conferences or Events
  • Pay-Per-Click (AdWords)
  • Email Marketing
  • SEO
  • Content Marketing
  • Lead nurturing campaigns
  • 1 gazillion other tactics & approaches…

A Marketing Strategy is all about “who” and “why”: WHO your target audience is and WHY they will they give a crap about your products or services.

Key takeaway: A Marketing Strategy is the foundation of a Marketing Plan


Who and Why

I can’t stress it enough, but who and why are some of the most important elements to know in Marketing. You literally can’t come up with a good marketing campaign if you don’t know who your target audience is and why you think they will want what you have to offer.

Simon Sinek’s great book, “Start with Why”, helped me better understand the reason why “why” is so important. Check out this great video of his TED talk on this topic if you want to know more.

I tend to take Simon’s teaching one step deeper by thinking about the “why” from my customer’s perspective vs. mine or my company’s. Yes, it’s important to know why your company does what it does like Simon discuses in the video above, but in marketing it’s critically important to understand why your target audience would even care about how or what you do.

So really, you should start with “Who” and THEN “Why”. 😉

Let me give you an example. When someone talks about their marketing strategy, you should hear them say something along the lines of, “We are targeting shift managers of coffee shops with an employee scheduling tool. One of the main reasons why coffee shop managers love our software is because it makes scheduling next week’s shift take 15 minutes instead of 2 hours. They also love how easy it is to communicate next week’s schedule to all of their employees at the same time. They used to have to do that over a bunch of text messages or emails, now they do it with the push of one button and a notification shows up on their employee’s phone.”

It’s not about how powerful your technology is or using stupid fancy lingo that no one understands or gives a crap about. It’s about who your target customer is and talking about the pain points solved (or gains given) using language they would understand or use.

Key takeaway: A Marketing Strategy is all about “who” and “why”. You must know these two things before you build an effective Marketing Plan.


The Value Proposition Canvas helps you discover your Marketing Strategy

Ok, first off, what is the Value Proposition Canvas? It’s a tool you can use that helps you dive deeper into the Customer Segment and Value Proposition cells located on the Business Model Canvas.

Customer Segment and Value Proposition Circled - Business Model Canvas

If you are unfamiliar with what this Canvas is or need a refresher, here is a quick video that explains it.

Alright, so why should the Value Proposition Canvas be used to discover the foundation of your Marketing Strategy?


Who and Why - Value Proposition Canvas

The Value Proposition Canvas forces us to clearly identify who our target audience is, what their pain points are, and how our product or service solves those pain points. If you seriously do a good job filling out this canvas and VALIDATING it, you have some of the most important pieces of a Marketing Strategy staring you right in the face.

On the right side, you are digging deep into the jobs or tasks your customer is doing, the pain points they are dealing with, and the gains they are seeking. You’re basically walking a mile or two in your customer’s shoes so you can see the world from their perspective.

On the left side of the canvas (to the right of your product or services), you literally end up with a list of value propositions you can test in your marketing. It’s a list of how your product or service will give your target customer the gains they are seeking or solve some of the biggest pains they are dealing with.

In the near future, I will write a follow up article on some of the tips and tricks I have developed for filling out and validating your value proposition canvas. One small tip I can give you now, however, is that each of your customer segments should have their own individual Value Proposition Canvas. You will have to wait a bit for my next tips, though. Patience young Padawan… patience.

Key takeaway: The Value Proposition Canvas helps you discover the “Who” and “Why” of your Marketing Strategy.


Now that you have your Value Proposition Canvas, what’s next?

This is where you need to start getting creative. Now that you have a list of value propositions written down on your Value Proposition Canvas, it’s time to start coming up with creative ways to tell those stories and test what messages get the greatest response. It’s time to build your Marketing Plan.

I wish I could tell you what kind of Marketing Plans will work well for you, but every business typically requires a unique approach. Heck, every one of your customer segments might even require a unique approach.

Some companies will do well to launch a Facebook Ad campaign; others might be better off going to an industry conference. It truly just depends on who your customers are, where they spend their time, and what your offering/message is. It will take creativity and probably a lot of trial and error.


Key Takeaways

Alright, let’s wrap this up and summarize the main points we discussed. First, we discussed the critical differences between a Marketing Plan and a Marketing Strategy. Your Marketing Strategy is the foundation of your Marketing Plan.

Second, we dug deeper into what a Marketing Strategy actually is and how it is focused on “who” and “why”. If you don’t know these two things, your Marketing Plan is probably going to be ineffective.

Third, I demonstrated how you can use the Value Proposition Canvas to discover what your Marketing Strategy could be.


Final Thoughts

Now, it’s up to you to take action. I know that the majority of people out there will never even read this. On top of that, a fraction of the people that actually do read this will take the time to use these tools. If you are one of those people, I want to know who you are. Seriously. Reach out to me and get connected. I’d love to know how these tools are helping you. I’m sure there are things I could learn from you!

Ready to work together? Contact