You would never believe the things we were doing just a few years ago to get reviews.
This week, we crossed the million review mark. This is a huge accomplishment for us—reviews are the lifeblood that power the rest of the company. In my time at G2, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a number of milestones including funding announcements, acquisitions, and all of the review milestones leading up to this point. None of those have come close to feeling quite like this.
|This is part 1 of the 1,000,000 Unbiased Reviews: How We Did It series.|
How we reached 1 million reviews
It was only about a year ago that we were celebrating our 500,000th review. In the time since, that number has doubled, a growth rate that continues to accelerate as we work to fuel G2’s future with even more reviews. Though hitting the one million review milestone took a lot of work, this growth rate is not new to us.
In fact, we’ve been able to achieve or exceed a 100% year-over-year growth rate with reviews each year since we began collecting them.
Maintaining this growth hasn’t been easy. As the volume of users and reviews on G2 scaled, the challenges we faced changed, too. Early on, our biggest hurdle was just convincing anyone why they should submit a review on G2. Asking someone to review the software they use at work isn’t the most natural request.
As we grew and solved some of the problems we faced, the challenges began to shift. Many of the early methods we used for generating reviews couldn’t scale beyond a certain point, so we learned to adapt quickly and effectively. Keeping that agility over time has been one of the most important pieces of our overall strategy.
One approach we realized would not scale was our tactic of review outreach through personal emails. Reliant on a team with a lot of time and patience, we were connecting with people on a 1:1 basis to generate reviews. There were very few emails going out to our full list of users. Instead, we would identify people one by one who would be able to review specific software and work to convince them over email. This process wasn’t just unscalable, it was indicative of a mentality that we had to change before we could achieve the kind of growth we currently experience.
Personal email cadences do have their perks. For one, they’re incredibly useful for establishing a relationship with someone. At the time, we felt this was important because it usually took some explaining for people to understand why we wanted their review and how they could write it. The individualized approach followed patterns akin to B2B sales outreach. It didn’t work well with an audience that was more accustomed to B2C marketing emails landing in their inbox.
Evolving our strategies
Luckily, the interactions we had with users at that level were not a complete waste. Those 1:1 connections helped us better understand how we needed to adapt our messaging across different audiences. In those early conversations, we found many people were convinced they didn’t use any software at work. As we began to realize the industries where this came up a lot—healthcare, education, and construction, to name a few—we adapted our messaging to engage with them more personally by calling out the tasks they were likely using software to complete.
Our email tools changed as well as our tactics evolved. We moved from tools that enabled those 1:1 interactions, to our first email marketing tool, followed by a full-fledged B2B marketing automation tool, then finally on to a B2C marketing automation tool. Though not our intention, this gave us plenty of opportunity to keep writing more reviews ourselves.
Learning how to effectively target and communicate to our users at scale was one of the biggest problems we faced and ultimately overcame. I am proud that our email marketing program is now our biggest source of reviews.
Applying new knowledge
As we began to see success on the email side, we wondered how we could apply these lessons to our user acquisition efforts. If drawing from our user community was going to be our number one source of new reviews, we needed to grow our user community.
Our first experiments driving new user registrations were conducted with paid social ads at roughly the same time we began gaining traction with our emails. Initial tests weren’t successful for the same reasons our emails weren’t. We assumed our message was applicable to everyone when it wasn’t. Even though most people use software at work, we were targeting people who weren’t engaging with us.
We paused and evaluated our existing users to figure out who they were and what they had in common. Then we translated that information into criteria for targeting new audiences on different platforms in our subsequent tests. We developed internal methods to support this and supplemented the targeting by tailoring our messaging and sign-up promotions to each new group. This remains our approach today, as we are still expanding to new audiences.
|Learn more about our social media marketing strategy and how it evolved over time.|
With our increasing effectiveness in acquiring new users and generating reviews, we also made significant improvements to the user sign-up and review flows on our site. In addition to any surface-level changes to the look and feel, we were able to improve the review process as a whole, streamlining new review generation.
We started learning more about our users earlier in their G2 journey to improve our onboarding process. A major improvement at this time was adapting this flow to become more mobile-friendly. Considering the channels in which we were gaining traction, this was a no-brainer.
Changes at the product level impact every new user and review channel. Even though ads and emails have been our two biggest review channels, we’ve also needed to keep in mind the other influences on our review metrics. That list includes the vendors who garner more reviews by sending their customers to G2, efforts from our hyper-targeted reviews team, any of our G2 Gives review-for-charity campaigns, and many more.
Building a community of reviewers
With all of these reviews building on each other to contribute to this milestone, I want to thank everyone who has helped us hit this number by writing a review.
Our users have spent more than 20 million minutes (that’s nearly 40 years) writing these reviews to get us here. They work for more than 400,000 different companies, and they’ve uploaded more than 500,000 screenshots as part of our QA process. Speaking of which, our QA team has read more than 1.3 million reviews over the years, validating only those we can confirm are coming from a real person with real experience.
What the future holds
As we look to our future review growth, I’m excited for the new things our team will learn together. The milestone celebrations will get farther apart as the numbers get bigger (I don’t think we’ll be celebrating our 1,100,000th review with too much fanfare) but this first million has been an exciting road with great lessons and achievements.