Monday, March 16th, 2015 | 5 min read
The balance of power between consumers and companies is shifting. The individual voices of customers are more important – and have more impact on business – with every passing day. In fact, 70% of the buying process is done before a customer visits a brand’s site.
This makes the experiences and perspectives of customers a critical part of the purchase process for almost every type of product imaginable.
We’ve seen this play out across multiple industries as new technologies shift the balance of power. Yelp did it for restaurants; Rotten Tomatoes for movies; TripAdvisor for hotels. The list goes on, with review sites and apps for everything from doctors and dentists to handymen.
The latest industry to experience this change is the the enterprise software market. Much like the food critics of the New York Times no longer wield the power they once had, we’re seeing more enterprise brands tell us they rely heavily on the opinions of their peers who write at business software review sites.
Many sites now aspire to be the credible advisor to companies about to invest millions or tens of millions in a solution. But with so many review sites to choose from, how do you know which one to trust? How do you know which provides truly unbiased, well-researched, useful reviews that will help you make the best decision for your business?
We get asked this question often, so we decided to put together a list of criteria we believe are critical to helping you make the most informed decision.
Can you trust that the reviewer is who they say they are and that they have the experience and knowledge required to produce an insightful, cohesive analysis of the enterprise software space?
Unfortunately, some sites do not adhere to rigorous screening practices when it comes to vetting reviewers. In addition to implementing LinkedIn Verification, where the reviewer’s name and professional details are verified by connecting to their LinkedIn account, we believe that trustworthy review sites should enlist staff to screen reviewer profiles before publishing their reviews. This helps ensure that attempts by vendors to write reviews about themselves or their competitors don’t wind up on the website.
Sites that do this will often include a note next to the review indicating that their team has validated the reviewer.
Another thing to look out for is whether or not the site compares the software it’s reviewing with actual competitors. Second-rate review sites will contrast platforms that operate in the same general industry but actually target a distinct type of customer.
When you’re browsing reviews on a site, check to make sure that products are compared with others that target the same size companies or use cases.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a new piece of software for your enterprise, particulary something as strategic as enterprise software. When deciding whether to trust a review site, pay attention to the breadth of their analysis:
Some review sites allow any authenticated reviewer to post a review about a product. We’ve seen instances where review sites will offer incentives to populate the directory. When browsing a review site, make sure you understand how the site obtains their reviewer contributions. Are they looking to serve the community or just create enough mass to have a reason to charge vendors?
Some sites state that they use an algorithm to calculate their ratings without clearly explaining how that algorithm works. We recommend selecting sites that are upfront about the methodology they use for their calculations; this way you know that the rating is determined using a reliable process.
There’s a saying in sports that a good referee is one you don’t notice, while a bad one can change the course of the game. Picking a quality referee to officiate a game is key if you want to be sure that the game is called correctly. As more and more of the buying process in every industry takes place on 3rd party review sites, it’s important for all of us to help our customers make informed decisions.