Gartner has accumulated a few brands in the B2B review space, which can easily get quite confusing.
This post aims at clarifying a few things for newbies & experts alike so you can make the most of your review strategy on 5 of the biggest software review sites in the B2B space.
Gartner is the mother brand, but not only
Gartner Digital Markets is the overarching company that runs the following brands
- Software Advice
- Gartner itself, including Gartner Peer Insights
The transactional B2B review sites family
Capterra, GetApp, and SoftwareAdvice are all focused on software vendor reviews, and managed from the Gartner Digital Markets dashboard.
All three work on a PPC model. You can define more or less aggressive bids based on the country and the platform (Capterra, GetApp, or SoftwareAdvice).
Gartner also offers a buyer insights service which can help with feeding your retargeting campaigns and increasing your ad-repeat rates on a more targeted audience.
Capterra, GetApp, and SoftwareAdvice reviews are the same
A little known fact is that all three platforms run the exact same review catalog. They’ll display it differently, and it’s likely that it affects your visibility differently on each platform, but getting a review on any of those 3 platforms actually means getting a review on all three platforms.
Something to consider when you decide what platforms to prioritize in your review generation efforts.
Gartner’s software review sites’ audience typically consists of SMBs looking for solutions to fairly scoped problems. While all three platforms run different category names, they’re all fairly detailed and narrow, allowing software vendors to target highly qualified buyers, with a strong intent.
The enterprise B2B review side of Gartner
If you’ve ever wandered anywhere near B2B Enterprise marketing, It’s likely you’ve heard of the Gartner Magic Quadrant.
Gartner is actually a brand in itself, much more focused on high-ticket software solutions. They have a really deep website with tons of high value content, they run a number of conferences, and also run a community-driven review website called Gartner Peer Insights, with its own review collection process and review catalog.
UpCity: the service provider review site
UpCity is slightly different: it helps businesses find service providers rather than software (think agencies) and is focused only on the US, Canada, UK and Australia while the other 3 platforms have a global presence.
They list over 8000 providers across more than 160 categories, ranging from marketing agencies to commercial property management and React developers.
How to improve your ranking on Capterra, GetApp & SoftwareAdvice
The exact components of their algorithms (or whether they use similar ranking factors on all platforms) are secret, of course. But after running ads and generating ads from all three platforms for a little over 5 years, there are some best practices that are worth mentioning.
The way rankings work on Capterra, GetApp and SoftwareAdvice is fairly similar. In the default ranking, paying products will show up first, and then freemium products.
Every time a category page is opened, your bid will be evaluated against the competing products’ bids, and your position is calculated based on your bid, and your popularity & ratings scores.
For free products, only the popularity & ratings scores are taken into consideration.
#1 Pick your categories wisely
That one is an obvious one, but I’ve seen a lot of software companies prioritize categories based on what they wanted to present their brand as, or what they hoped their product might become in a few years’ time.
That has a negative effect, for two reasons:
- It’s usually a better idea to be positioned high rather than low. These 3 review sites are highly transactional. They get their traffic from highly transactional keywords on google, or very precise requests on their search engines. People come to find a solution to a specific use-case. Being in the wrong category will attract the wrong kind of buyers.
- One of the ranking factors Gartner is very vocal about is reviews. But reviews are applied to a given category, or set of categories. If you’ve ever filled in a Capterra review form, you might remember they ask things like “What do you think of this feature?”, or “Do you use that feature”, which help them decide whether to attribute the review to a specific category. Long story short, you could have 1000 reviews in total, if none of them mention marketing automation, you’ll rank last on the marketing automation category. For good reason too, Gartner needs those results to be relevant to keep buyers coming back.
It’s easy to think you should go for all the categories you can possibly be listed on, but it’s usually a better idea to stick to the solutions you’re best at. Losing out on a couple of leads a month is a lot less costly than creating confusion in your acquisition campaigns.
#2 Buy clicks
Look I get it, if you’re reading this, you’re probably looking for smarter ways than buying your way into higher rankings. But at the end of the day, because Gartner Digital Markets PPC is mostly DIY, you can run extremely low budget campaigns, targeting very specific countries, categories, and / or platforms.
And, there’s no way to rank top 10 organically without a few months’ worth of hard work and strong focus.
You’re buying clicks, sure, but really you’re buying much more than that. You’re buying visibility on a top-ranking category roundup. Pick a few locations, select the right category, spend anywhere between $200 and $20 000, and you’ll immediately enter the shortlist of hundreds of buyers every month.
#3 Get more reviews
Reviews obviously are a major ranking factor on these sites, but there’s a few things to know
#1 Reviews only apply to a category’s ranking if they’re relevant to that category.
See “Pick your categories wisely” for more details.
#2 Recent reviews are much more valuable than old reviews.
While the classic “quarterly review campaign” will drive reviews, you’ll be leaving tons of value on the table.
By the time you send the next campaign, all your reviews are at least three months old. Now I know software development is a lot slower than we’d like it to be, but three months is a long time. Setting up a constant flow of reviews to these sites is a good way to create an unfair advantage. Check out a few of the major categories (CRM, Help Desk, Email marketing, …) , and you’ll see what I mean.
A powerful but underutilized strategy also consists of asking reviewers to refresh their reviews periodically. Say 1 or 2 years after they last reviewed you for example. Marketing pressure stays acceptable, and the value of refreshing a 2 years old review essentially amounts to that of a new review. What’s the number again? Retention is 50X cheaper than acquisition? Not sure where that number came from (I got it from The Office) but you get the idea.
#3 Review completion is a key factor in the value of a review
Getting half-baked reviews won’t drive nearly as much value as a detailed review. Go through a review form on Capterra and you’ll see, it’s a lot to ask. But I found that mentioning this to customers in your review email templates actually helps a lot on the review quality. Simply stating how it works usually goes a long way in getting customers to go the extra mile when filling the form.
#4 Use Gartner’s review incentives
Gartner offers review incentives quite generously to new users and paying customers. The mere creation of a listing opens the right to 20 $10 incentives they’ll send to the customers who review you.
The way it works is they’ll give you a unique link to your review form, and reviewers (your customers) will automatically get a voucher for $10 (usually amazon) once their review is published. You can create those links on your digital markets back-office under Reviews > Collect reviews.
There’s a gotcha here. Their vouchers are location dependent (for your customers), so you’ll need a different link depending on your customer’s current location, or they won’t be able to redeem it. And if you mention the incentive, it can be a very bad look if they can’t redeem it. Luckily, you can create a few custom links for your main regions, and share the right one with each customer. Takes a little extra work, but incentives tend to significantly increase review collection rates. Especially when they don’t come from you.
A quick note on that front, Gartner, like other review platforms, offers to run your review campaigns for you. Don’t go down that route. Their email copy is terrible – at best – and their collection rates average 10 – 15% (tops). Happy customers aren’t easy enough to come by to be happy with anything under 40%.
#4 The popularity score
What goes into the popularity score is somewhat of a mystery. Contrary to G2, I find Gartner’s popularity estimates fairly representative of companies’ actual position on the market, although calling Hubspot “lesser known” in the CRM category is a little… doubtful. But surely there are ways to “game” that score a little.
They mention on their shortlists that the popularity score is estimated based on web search trends and a product’s web presence.
This could mean a million things, but it still points to a few indicators that come to mind (and may or may not be used by Gartner):
- Brand name search volumes – estimated by tools like Ahrefs, SemRush, or custom searches. Hard to game this one. But if you’ve been thinking about a B2C or high-volume free tool and never found the energy to prioritize it, know that it’s fairly certain that most review sites use this as an indicator of popularity. Running this kind of free tool can boost your perceived popularity significantly, and not just on Gartner review sites. The number of search results (on google for example) on a brand name could also be a proxy.
- Backlinks – Same idea, it’s a fairly accessible metric through a number of APIs, and it’s one of the key indicators of popularity for Google. Quite likely that others thought they might take inspiration from the leading Search Engine in the world on that one.
- Other platforms are known to look at social indicators like the number of twitter followers, linkedin employees, but there’s no indication that Gartner does.
- There is no indication that the number of reviews affects the popularity score