Review Methodology


Last updated: 01 June 2017

A lot goes into reviewing any complex marketing software. Here's how we understand, evaluate and compare the products listed on GrowthSimple

How We Approach Software

Evaluating software presents a particular problem: Do you evaluate a software for all audiences, or only its target audience?

A software meant for enterprise customers will be understandably too complex and expensive for a solopreneur. Similarly, a tool for bloggers will likely be underpowered for larger operations.

This is why in our software evaluation approach, we've borrowed a leaf from the late Roger Ebert's book.

Ebert - who some readers will recognize as arguably the influential film reviewer of all time - compared each movie against others in its genre. That is, an Adam Sandler movie was evaluated against other slapstick comedies, not Godfather.

We follow a similar approach with our reviews. A software meant for startups is compared against other startup tools in its pricing, feature availability, support and ease of use. One meant for enterprise cusomers is evaluated against other enterprise software.

This is the reason why tools like ConvertKit score as well as much more feature-rich software like HubSpot. The former has fewer features, but compares favorable against other blogger-focused marketing tools.

Keep this in mind when you read our reviews and analysis.

Below, we'll show you a step-by-step breakdown of the exact process we use for evaluating marketing software.

1. Find All Relevant Products

Our review process starts by making a list of all relevant products in a software category (such as marketing automation or landing page builders). While we strive to look at all tools, we factor in product popularity while making our list.

To find relevant products, we use the following resources:

  • Google search results
  • Relevant web directories
  • Software suggestions from social media surveys
  • Suggestions collected through our contact form

Once we have a list of products, we set about understanding them better.

2. List & Evaluate Software Features

Our reviews focus primarily on the software's features and capabilities. We understand that this is what businesses evaluate heavily before making a buying decision.

Hence, the second step in our reviewing process is to make a list of every feature included in the software and understand how it works.

We consider the following in the evaluation process:

  • Availability: Whether the feature is available in the software.
  • Integration: Whether the feature is well-integrated with the rest of the feature set.
  • Performance: Whether the feature performs adequately for its intended audience.
  • Complexity: Whether the feature is easy or hard to use.

3. Evaluate User-Experience

Next, we sign-up for the product (either a paid version or a demo, if available) and use the software to build a test campaign. Our objective here is to evaluate the user-experience on the following criteria:

  • UI design and visual appeal
  • Ease of use and learning curve
  • Navigation, search and the ability to find necessary solutions
  • Overall user-experience for different features (separately and together)

We place a premium on user-experience in our reviews. Our exerience has shown that a positive user-experience usually correlates to positive results from the software. If the software isn't easy to use, deployment suffers sharply.

4. Evaluate Pricing

Pricing often affects software purchase decisions even more than feature availability. After evaluating the user-experience, we analyze the pricing, taking the following into account:

  • Cheapest available
  • Recommended plan with most features
  • Whether the software has an annual contract (minimum billing period)
  • Whether the software has any mandatory paid onboarding
  • Whether the software price varies based on the number of users/contacts
  • Price for add-ons, support, etc.

In some cases, pricing isn't publicly available (commonly with enterprise software). In such a case, we estimate pricing for a small business with 20 employees as a standard test case.

5. Support & Community Evaluation

In the fifth step, we evaluate the software's support and community. These are often overlooked when making software decisions but can have a large impact on your success, especially for more complex software categories (such as marketing automation).

We evaluate support and community based on the following criteria.

Support:

  • Types of support offered (email, phone and live chat)
  • Support responsiveness and knowledge
  • Whether the support is free or paid
  • Documentation quality and depth
  • Support content (guides, videos, etc.) availability

Community:

  • Officially supported communities (private Facebook groups, forums, etc.)
  • Unofficial communities (blogs, social media groups, etc.)
  • Sponsored meetups, conferences, etc.
  • Community outreach

6. Analyze and Award Scores

After collecting data and evaluating features, user-experience, pricing, community and support, we award scores to each software. The following rules apply for all our scores:

  • All scores are on a scale of 5 in increments of 0.5
  • Highest possible score is 5.0. Lowest is 0.5.

Scores are calculated on a weighted average as follows:

  • Features: 40%
  • User-Experience: 30%
  • Pricing: 15%
  • Support: 10%
  • Community: 5%
  • We prioritize features and user-experience since our experience has shown it has the highest correlation with successful software deployment. Pricing is important, but most tools within the same category and target market have similar pricing, so there usually isn't much to differentiate between them.

    About Your Reviewer

    Your chief reviewer is Puranjay Singh, founder of GrowthPub. As an experienced marketer, Puranjay has used a number of marketing tools, individually and on behalf of clients. This has given him the practical insight and hands-on experience necessary to do in-depth marketing software reviews and analyses.

    Puranjay's writings on marketing have been featured on a number of publications. You can find some of his work on MarketingProfs, CoSchedule, Business.com, and Ahrefs.

    Get in Touch

    Have questions or suggestions? Interested in a partnership? Need help choosing the right software?

    Get in touch with us using our contact page, or drop us an email at hello (at) growthsimple (dot) com.