Online information and business software reviews can often give conflicting pictures about the merits and drawbacks of commercial software applications.
A business’s productivity and profit-making potential are greatly influenced by the quality and usability of the applications it uses. Business software buyers are therefore tasked with conducting thorough and proper research into the software that’s available on the market, and there are many sites for business software reviews and are often the place where such research begins.
But, with such mixed, subjective, and often confusing messages coming from all manner of different business software review sites and other sources, do any really give a true glimpse into the buyer’s experience? Indeed, do business software review sites – and the opinions voiced by others – help or hinder companies in making the right software choice for the organization?
Why Organizations Use Business Software Review Sites
The business software market is huge and continues to expand. With it comes a variety of business software review sites, each dedicated to clarifying and simplifying the process of evaluating and purchasing enterprise applications.
Busy professionals with little time on their hands appreciate that these sites can offer a single point of reference for all their business software needs. What’s more, the fact that they’re structured around reviews and analyses means that enterprise buyers get a helping hand in making their purchasing decisions.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular business software review sites in use today.
A Choice of Review Platforms
Business software review sites are usually geared to appeal to a number of business approaches and buying strategies. Here are just a few examples of what is available.
Capterra offers access to its site, software search tools, and other resources for free, with a target audience of small to medium-sized enterprises. Its archive of over 500,000 user reviews is supplemented by research and in-depth guides covering a number of software verticals. There are over 600 categories of software for buyers to choose from.
Vendors on the platform can gain access to the more than 5 million business software buyers that make up its user base. A PPC advertising program linked to Capterra’s software categories drives sales prospects to the websites of over 3,500 software companies around the world. Revenues paid to Capterra when vendors receive web traffic and sales opportunities keep the platform running, and subsidize its free access to users.
As its name suggests, Software Advice operates as a consultation platform for business software buyers. The site’s specialist advisors provide free, personalized software recommendations, helping companies of all sizes find products that meet their business needs. After answering a few questions, business software buyers are connected with one of the company’s experienced advisors, who provide a shortlist of vendors that best fit the company’s unique requirements. The entire process typically takes 15 minutes or less.
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The Software Advice website also features an archive of objective research by industry experts and reviews from validated users.
Vendors on the platform get email access to high-quality leads, with all buyers verified by phone. Payment is only demanded for leads that meet all of the requirements that a vendor specifies when they sign up for the program.
GetApp describes itself as “an ecosystem of business app and software discovery platforms.” It’s currently the number one online resource for businesses looking for Software as a Service (SaaS) products. The platform hosts 390,000 software reviews, covering over 8,000 applications.
User-generated software reviews provide the site content for GetApp, which retains a position as a neutral hosting platform. Nominal incentives such as gift cards are occasionally provided to encourage the submission of reviews. In such cases, the posted review will contain a rider to that effect.
TrustPilot operates as a free and open software review platform, hosting content from professional reviewers and meta-reviews from software buyers. Its stated mission is to facilitate interaction between business organizations and consumers.
Trustpilot has more than 228,000 businesses reviewed on the site, and 1.1 trillion ratings and reviews displayed on Google each year. Trustpilot CEO Peter Holten Mühlmann and his team encourage commercial organizations to use the platform to establish credibility and improve their reputations.
Companies may gain access to the site on a subscription basis. As an official Google review partner, Trustpilot also enables vendors to earn stars on Google to drive visitors to their websites from organic and paid searches.
The goal of G2 Crowd is to ease the decision-making process for business software buyers and to bring transparency to B2B buying. The site features more than 491,300 validated user reviews, which are described as “real-time and unbiased.”
The voice of the end user is paramount – hence the “Crowd” in the platform’s name. Its archive of independent and authenticated user reviews is read by over 1.5 million software buyers each month. Product rankings are aggregated from peer reviews and social data to make it easier for buyers to start the vendor selection process.
Vendors can use the platform to educate their markets, identify and engage with qualified buyers, and respond directly to their consumers. Buyer intent data from G2 Crowd may be integrated with a vendor’s CRM software.
So – Do Business Software Review Sites Help or Hurt?
All of the leading business software review sites have verification procedures and safeguards to ensure the authenticity of the content that’s posted on them. This means, generally, that buyers can be confident they’re getting an accurate view of the enterprise tools and services on offer.
Such “one-stop shops” for software can save buyers time and energy in their search for new business software, and all of the business software reviews can be extremely useful in helping buyers make the right decision.
However, there’s something of a danger here, and it’s this: People – including business software buyers – have a natural tendency to skim-read when consuming information, particularly online. When conducting a Google search, for instance, how often do you look beyond the second or even just the first page of results? And how often do you refine your search and your keywords to make sure you find exactly what you’re looking for? Despite their convenience, such is the ease and usability of business software review sites that they too can encourage this type of lazy behavior, preventing adequate due diligence from being performed when investing company money.
According to a report from Think With Google, 71% of B2B researchers start with a generic search. Unfortunately, the urge to get in and out as quickly as possible may lead many buyers to end their research efforts at this point.
With enterprise finances, business productivity, continuity and professional reputations all at stake, responsible buyers need to look deeper – much deeper – than just the first five or ten results on business software review sites. What’s more, they must resist the urge to get caught up in any buzz or hype being floated around online about any given piece of business software.
Instead, they need to do proper research, proper investigations, and proper due diligence before committing to a purchase. Informed decisions need to be made – which means being actively aware that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet.
Business software review sites should be looked upon as a resource like any other. However, instead of completely trusting what’s written, go and visit or make contact with the companies that are actually using the enterprise applications you are considering. Talk to them, and ask what’s working and what’s not. Use the review sites to help shorten your list, not create your shortlist. Talk to the vendors, see demos, ask for trials, Proof of Concept’s (POC’s) and for heaven’s sake, make sure you know what you want out of the software you buy and don’t get distracted by shiny objects. At the end of the day, bad purchases can lead to big failures – so buyers should be doing everything in their power to ensure wise choices are made. Business software review sites may be a good place to start your research, but they are not where it should end.
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