New Research Firms Harness Wisdom of Crowds

Dan Lyons
Dan Lyons

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The following post is an excerpt adapted from our new ebook, "The 'Yelpification' of the Software Buying Process: A CMO's Guide." Download your free copy if you want to learn about new firms that take a crowdsourced approach to doing research about business software programs.

The people behind G2 Crowd, a new crowdsourced research firm, created their firm after discovering first-hand how difficult it can be to shop for business software programs -- and how hard it can be for smaller software vendors to get the word out about their products.

Before launching G2 Crowd, the founding team created and ran a software company called BigMachines. BigMachines grew to have about 400 employees before being acquired by Oracle. But that wasn't big enough to get them much attention from big market research firms like Forrester, Gartner, and IDC, and the team became frustrated trying to build awareness among enterprise customers.

What's more, when the management team at BigMachines went out shopping for software to run their own business -- programs for HR, CRM, marketing automation, and so on -- they found it really difficult to get any good information about products.

mattgorniak"We said, `Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a place where we could get all these third-party validated customer references? And we could incent them to provide high-quality reviews and make themselves public?’” says Matt Gorniak, head of operations at G2 Crowd, in Highland Park, Ill. 

In other words: why not make a Yelp for software?

That in a nutshell is what G2 Crowd is all about. It's taking the same crowdsourced approach to reviews that Yelp uses for restaurants and local merchants, and applies it to business software.

This means that if you're shopping for, say, a marketing automation program, you can go to G2 Crowd and see what real customers have to say about the products they're using.

Gaining Momentum

So far G2 Crowd has collected 10,000 reviews of more than 3,000 products in 200 categories. Its strongest categories are CRM, marketing automation, and email marketing. G2 Crowd has 10,000 registered members, and draws 50,000 monthly visitors.  

In addition to providing customer reviews, G2 Crowd has built an algorithmic engine that can sift through huge amounts of data and produced detailed, customized reports. That engine also provides data for G2 Crowd’s Grid, which ranks vendors based on customer satisfaction across scores and scale, and identifies the top products in each category.

“It’s crowdsourcing plus big data plus statistics -- that’s what we’re doing,” Gorniak says. Gorniak says G2 Crowd is especially useful for SMB customers, for whom “there really is nothing out there.”

Reviewers are verified by using their LinkedIn profile information. A special twist is that readers can filter reviews of a product to find only reviews written by people to whom they are connected on LinkedIn.

Gorniak says the rise of crowdsourced reviews represents a shift in the way vendors market their products. Vendors today have less control than they’ve had in the past. “Users are banding together to share information about the world. That’s going to change everything,” he says.

Learn more about crowdsourced research by downloading the form-free guide.

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