Reviews Madness 2016 Playbook: The Must-Read Game Plan to Collect the Most Software Reviews

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As February finally begins to transition into March (aka spring…hopefully!), it’s time once again to get ready for our favorite tournament of the year: Reviews Madness!

reviews madness playbook

Based off of the super-popular NCAA basketball tournament, Capterra’s Reviews Madness Tournament puts 64 software vendors head-to-head to compete over who can collect the most new software reviews each round, until just one vendor is left standing as the Reviews Madness Tournament Champion.

The tournament doesn’t officially start until March, which gives you just a few weeks to prepare and get pumped for this year’s tournament! Every basketball team has a playbook for their games, so I wrote one just for our software vendors to use before, during, and after the tournament, with tips and strategies that will help one software vendor make it into the winner’s circle.

Pre-game Warm-up

playbook - warm up

Before the game starts, players usually spend 15-20 minutes warming up. From taking practice shots to running through a few plays, they use this time to make sure each player, and the team as a whole, is ready to play the big game.

Capterra’s Reviews Madness tournament is no different; in order to succeed and make it through to the end, all participants need to do a quick warm-up before the tournament begins.

I’m not telling you to throw a basketball around the office (Capterra is not responsible for any broken items from Reviews Madness practice activity), but don’t enter the game cold either. Prepare for the tournament by getting a feel for how to best collect reviews and which of your customers will be the most responsive during the tournament.

In order to actually make it onto the bracket, a software vendor needs to have reviews of their product already. Vendors will be ranked and seeded based on their average reviews rating and the number of reviews collected within the past two years; only the top 64 vendors will make the bracket after those calculations are complete.  

So what can you do to give your software the best chance to make the 2016 bracket?

In the days leading up to seeding, start collecting more customer reviews to increase your chances of making the bracket. We’re only considering reviews that were collected in the past two years, so even if you’ve just started gathering Capterra reviews, you won’t be at a disadvantage to vendors who started years ago.

However, do not waste all of your reviews collections efforts before the tournament starts! Last year, we had a vendor do just that. They collected over 50 reviews in the days leading up to the tournament, were ranked as a #1 seed, but couldn’t make it past the 2nd round. They had asked all of their customers to leave a review right at the start, but they couldn’t keep the momentum going after they ran out of customers too early in the tournament.

The lesson here is to pace yourself. Don’t waste all of your energy during the warm-up. Come up with a strategy now so you have a reliable flow of reviews and can avoid the early exit from the tournament. Only use the warm-up period to test that strategy and make adjustments, not to collect all of the reviews you possibly can.

Game-time Action

playbook - action

The lights go down… the music starts pumping through the arena… it’s GAME-TIME! Nothing beats the energy from thousands of fans as they watch their favorite teams battle for the coveted championship title and trophy.

The same can be said about Capterra’s Reviews Madness Tournament! Each round lasts just a few days, and to advance to the next round, vendors must collect more reviews than the competitor they’re facing off against. When each new round begins, review totals will reset to zero and winning vendors will face-off until a champion is crowned. The competition is fierce and the suspense is high as software vendors compete to stay in the game.

So how can you collect enough customer reviews each round to become the Reviews Madness Champion? Here are just a few quick ways to collect reviews and win:

Email Your Best Customers

The simplest way to get new user reviews is to ask your current customers. And there’s definitely plenty of them out there that haven’t written a review yet.

Pull a list of some of your favorite or happiest customers and send them a quick email asking them to review your product on Capterra. You don’t have to mention that you’re competing in Reviews Madness, but past participants found that including that urgency and reasoning behind the ask helped them to collect more reviews and keep up with the tournament’s fast pace.

Here’s an example of an email you can send:

Hi “First Name,”

Thank you for using “Software Product!” We’re currently competing against 63 other software companies to see who can collect the most reviews in a March Madness-style tournament by Capterra, and we need your help to win!

Please take just a few minutes to leave a review of your experience with “Software Product” on Capterra at this link: [Link to Your Capterra Listing Page]  

Thanks in advance!   

Feel free to use and customize this email so it fits your brand’s voice and add in any other CTAs that will help you collect as many reviews as you can.   

Social Media Promotion

One of the biggest benefits of social media is the ability to reach all of your fans with just one post. I use the term “fan” because most people who follow a brand on social media actually like that product and want to hear from them. Link either to the full Reviews Madness bracket showing your progress or send your fans a direct link to leave a review to help you advance to the next round.

Promote the tournament where the majority of your users already interact and engage with you, whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social channel. And use that channel to then thank your customers for leaving those reviews. Remember, without those user reviews, there’s no way you can win Reviews Madness. Show your appreciation with a Tweet or Facebook post about new reviews and how your customers are helping you win.   

Customer Performance Calls

If a customer isn’t responding to your emails or they’re not engaging with the tournament on social media, the next step is an old-fashioned phone call. The call doesn’t even have to be focused on getting reviews for the tournament.

For example, say you’re following up with a customer. When you’re on the call with them, you might go over how your software is working toward their business goals. At the end of the call, mention the contest and ask them to leave a review; the worst they can say is no! If they are interested, send them a follow-up email too, so they can have a direct link to the bracket and where to leave the review.  

Run Your Own Contest

One of the vendors that made it to the Final Four in 2015 actually created their own contest to drive up demand and reviews collection. Once a customer left a review, they were entered in a drawing to win a T-shirt. Since this specific vendor ended up collecting over 100 reviews during the tournament, that incentive definitely worked!

You don’t have to do a T-shirt giveaway, but incentives and contests are incredibly effective ways to get a lot of reviews quickly. You can also try an internal contest: challenge your sales and client success teams to see who can get the most reviews from their clients. You’ll get lots of reviews and turn the tournament into a company-wide event. But remember…pace yourself. Don’t just have your conetes last for a day or so! Keep it up for as long as you’re in the tournament.

Whichever strategy you decide to go with, make sure you do the following to get the best results from your fans and ensure your victory:

  1. Share the 2016 bracket with your customers so they can get in on the action and help you win!
  2. To leave a review, they can click on your name in the bracket, bringing them to your Capterra profile page.
  3. Once there, they can leave a review by clicking “Review This Product.”
  4. After submitting the review, they will receive a confirmation email. The review must be confirmed before the end of the round for it to count towards your total for that round.

And if you’re looking for more resources on reviews gathering, check out the many, many blog posts we’ve written on the topic.

Post-game Press Conference

playbook- post game

Win or lose, teams and their players have to face the public after the game. Whether it’s with celebrating fans or question-wielding reporters, you don’t walk off the court without providing insight into your performance. After the tournament, even after each round, go over the software reviews you received.

Did some happy customers rave about your software’s ease of use or customer service? Reach out with a big thank you, and perhaps use those reviews as new testimonials for your website.

Are there some not-so-nice ones that warrant a response? You can directly respond to that reviewer on Capterra, but depending on what was said, a separate outreach wouldn’t hurt, especially if you can actually help them with their problem and turn their experience around.

And just because the tournament’s over, that doesn’t mean you should stop collecting reviews! Based on our own research, we’ve found that listings with reviews on Capterra get 22% more traffic and 79% more leads than those without reviews. The players don’t stop playing during the off-season, so neither should you. Continue to collect reviews throughout the year, especially as you acquire more customers. By the time Reviews Madness 2017 rolls around, you’ll be in a great position to make the bracket and get a top seed position.

What to Expect for Reviews Madness 2016

Capterra’s 2nd Annual Reviews Madness Tournament will start on March 17th. Close to 600 reviews were collected between the 64 vendors during the tournament in 2015; let’s see if we can beat it this year! Check out the Reviews Madness 2016 bracket now.

This year, 64 vendors will enter the tournament and only one will emerge victorious. Could it be you? Tell us how excited you are for this year’s tournament in the comments below!

Looking for software? Check out Capterra's list of the best software solutions.

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About the Author


Caroline Malamut

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Caroline is the Vendor Marketing Manager at Capterra. Her love of marketing began while growing up in Philadelphia and has only grown since attending the University of Pittsburgh. In her free time she enjoys reading, spending time with friends and family, and cheering on her Philly and Pitt sports teams.



How do we sign up?


Hi Lauren,

The bracket for 2016 will go live on March 16th. We’re still in the Pre-game Warm-up of the tournament 🙂 vendors are currently signing up to be a part of the tournament and then we will seed the top 64 vendors before the bracket goes live on the 16th.


When will this year’s bracket be posted? I can only find last year’s

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