As a B2B SaaS marketer, I’m often asked by clients (especially SaaS startups), which software directory they should be “active” in.
By “active”, that means they are staying on top of an updated profile with current screenshots, videos, descriptions, applicable categories, and most of all, a constant pursuit of soliciting and obtaining customer reviews.
My response to that loaded question is always, “well, it depends”.
Not the answer they want to hear, but one that deserves an honest explanation. So here we go…
If you are a SaaS startup, whether you’re a bootstrapper less than one year old with only a few clients, or you’ve already secured your Series C funding, being present on the main B2B software directories is a crucial step to getting noticed quickly.
And there’s no shortage of B2B SaaS directories, and new ones are popping up out of nowhere thanks to sophisticated site scrapers.
For today’s conversation, I’ll focus on the “Core 3” that currently make up over 60% of all SaaS listings on the Web in the United States. I’ll get into the pros and cons of each, sprinkle in some biased opinions, and demonstrate how five minutes of research can help you make a confident decision on which directory to invest in.
Of course, if you’re in the position to invest in all of them, then more power to you – by the time you’re finished reading this, you’ll be able to prioritize which SaaS directories can generate awareness (and leads) quickly, and with the most bang for the buck.
The 3 Core B2B SaaS Directories I will focus on include:
Gartner’s Dominant Role in B2B Software Listings
All three of these B2B directories are owned by Gartner Digital Markets.
In the 1980s, the Gartner Group started out as a research advisory firm specializing in IT, communications, and marketing (to name a few) and quickly became a trusted source for all things B2B. Fast forward to the 2010s, Gartner recognized how when B2B companies sought out solutions to help grow their business, Gartner observed a pattern within their clients’ own research that revealed Company A being compared to Company B, and Company B compared to Company C.
Gartner Group decided to build a separate marketing arm purely focused on B2B software research (majority of which are SaaS companies) and call it Gartner Digital Markets.
Gartner prides themselves on providing “unbiased information” to help software shoppers make an intelligent decision when they’re in the market to invest in tools to grow their business:
Collectively, all three listings boast:
- 9 million+ monthly visitors
- 50,000+ software vendors listed
- 1 million+ verified user reviews
Let’s break each one down…
Of the core three listings, Capterra is the most popular (and anyone who has been in SaaS marketing for any amount of time is acutely aware of their popularity).
Capterra has been at the B2B software game the longest (founded in 1999, acquired by GDM in 2015) and it shows. They rank extremely high for more SaaS categories than any other B2B listings. Simply plug into your favorite search engine “[software category] software”, and you’ll notice Capterra listing in the top three results nearly every time.
Capterra will display free listings at the bottom of the category (notice how the ones at the bottom have a blue button compared to the orange premium buttons that are first to be listed). To get true visibility, one must pay to play. Like Google Ads, Capterra is a bidding system. The higher the demand, the higher the cost-per-click (CPC).
To date, Capterra supports over 800 software categories. This can be good and bad.
It’s good for those who have a very popular offering that aligns with the Capterra category (e.g. Enterprise Resource Planning software). But for the smaller, more niche SaaS startups, it can be a challenge to identify the right category.
For example, let’s say you have a field audit tool targeting restaurants that ensure standard operational procedures are being performed properly (think replacing the clipboard checklist hanging in the bathroom with a mobile digital checklist). They want visibility on Capterra, but there is not “Digital Checklist” category, so do they opt for “Audit Software”, “Field Service Software”, or “Restaurant Management Software”?
They decide to compete in all three, only to see lackluster results because Capterra’s categories are often too broad for some of the new niches to hit the market. While they can generate a handful of leads every month, it often comes at a higher price because Capterra’s generic categories fall short of aligning with their identity.
GetApp is the sister company of Capterra that started in 2010 and acquired by Gartner in 2015. When it first started out, it was leaning more towards listing solutions from mobile app providers, but quickly decided to not limit itself and expand beyond just mobile.
According to GDM,
“GetApp provides a proprietary recommendation engine that leverages a robust combination of user insights and deep technical knowledge to suggest the right software choice.”
So how is GetApp different than Capterra if they’re owned by the same company?
Good question. There are more similarities than differences.
For starters, GetApp will showcase the same customer reviews that you obtain via Capterra (and vice-versa), and you’re welcome to use the same screenshots and videos from their sister company. However, your short and long descriptions must be unique. Keeping the profile descriptions unique is to stay in Google’s good graces.
To compare to Capterra further, GetApp has over 900 categories, many of which overlap with Capterra.
In 2021, I have seen GetApp make major strides and their rankings are becoming stronger and strong on the search engines. For some categories, they even appear in front of their sister Capterra, but it depends on the software keyword you’re searching on.
Bottom Line: If you fleshed out a Capterra profile, then building a presence in GetApp is quick and painless. Once you identify the categories that are most relevant, check a few options (eg if you’re mobile, do you support iOS and Android?), update your descriptions, copy over your screenshots, and the reviews from Capterra also work on GetApp so you won’t have to harass more clients to leave you a review.
Note: All three of these directories are managed in GDM’s admin portal, and each have their own bidding systems.
Software Advice started out of Austin in 2005 and was acquired by Gartner in 2014. Their mission is to help software buyers make educated buying decisions by capturing the needs of software shoppers, and match them with the best fits. With over 1,000 categories, Software Advice has become a major player in the universe of B2B software listings.
Software Advice comes in two flavors: Pay-Per-Lead (PPL) and directory listing (PPC). The price of leads vary based on the category (supply and demand), and they are not exclusive as two or three competitors will receive the same lead you did. To stay on topic, I will delve deeper into the directory side of Software Advice.
Recently Software Advice got into the cost-per-click (CPC) B2B directory space which has caused confusion to many seeing how they have two sister companies already vying for the same eyeballs and clicks. This is Gartner’s attempt at a “land grab” as they try to occupy as much real estate on Google for software related searches.
They still make most of their revenue on the original cost-per-lead (CPL) business model, however, GDM is working on improving Software Advice’s PPC footprint across search engines. Software Advice recently joined the ranks of Capterra and GetApp where B2B software companies can easily control levers across all three of Gartner directory listings under a single admin portal.
Software Advice works very similar to GetApp and Capterra. Choose the most relevant listings, check off your features/offerings, apply a description and include screenshots. And like its sister companies, any reviews you capture on Software Advice will show up on those profiles as well (and vice-versa).
One advantage we’re observing with Software Advice is how quickly it’s advancing on SEO to increase its presence for its PPC listings (sounds weird to have SEO impact a 3rd party’s PPC listings, but that’s how Gartner makes money). They did pretty well on their PPL model, but now they’re doubling down on PPC to be as close to Capterra (once a competitor, now siblings) as possible.
How to Choose the Right B2B Software Directory
While all three B2B software directories are popular, should you have a presence on all of them?
To better answer this, I would spend a few minutes understanding if one stands out over the other.
As the very least, make sure you have claimed the free profile listing on all of them. There’s no harm in doing this, although you may get an email from a sales rep wanting to convince you to try the premium listings. By claiming your listing, you will have more control on how you want your company to be portrayed.
To decide which of the three listings is most appropriate, spend some time on Google to see which ones rank higher. If you’re an inventory management software startup, plug that phrase into Google and see which one has a higher rank (in this example, Capterra is the first result for ‘inventory management software’, Software Advice is second, and GetApp is not on the first page of results).
Don’t stop there. Make a list of your top keywords that closely relate to the categories for which you compete, and jot down which software directory comes out on top. This simple exercise will help you prioritize which one to invest in the most.
In my experience, Capterra tends to have the stronger footprint on Google for most software directories, followed by Software Advice, then GetApp. Of course, this varies from category to category (and niche to niche) as well as the everchanging ebbs and flows of search engine algorithms, back links, etc. So don’t take my word for it, do some research of your own to see which category strikes the strongest chord with your offering.
If your startup could use help generating awareness while strengthening their online presence and pipeline, the SaaS marketers at Bay Leaf Digital are here to help. Contact a SaaS marketing consultant today to learn how to make your SaaS startup more visible.