Capterra has assisted with many software purchases over the years, and one of the most common approaches we have witnessed is to begin with the most popular offerings in the market. It is my belief that there is both a right way and a wrong way to do this. The wrong way is to determine what you deem to be the 2-3 most popular and then use that as your shortlist from which you do not deviate. Butler University epitomized this approach when they made their LMS selection notes public back in 2011. They appear to have done many things right, but why limit yourself to two offerings when there are so many other viable options?
The more sensible way would be to begin with a longer list of market leaders and narrow that down based on your requirements. Then, proceed to find other alternatives that may be lesser known but possibly a better match for your overall needs. There are some great products that are either too new or too niche to have a high market share, receive high marks in a Gartner or Forrester report, or win any sort of popularity contest. Capterra’s “Top 20 Most Popular” infographic series is our attempt to help those buyers who take this approach to do so successfully.
There are two reasons why we decided not to create a typical market share report. First, product pricing can have a huge impact since revenue is usually the sole component of market share. Focusing on users and/or customers removes price from the equation. Second, most software companies are private and are very hesitant to disclose their revenue. Even public companies often do not break down their revenue by product line. This means that creating an accurate view of market share would be difficult if not impossible.
We settled on three components for our popularity index: number of customers (aka installs), number of end users, and what we call “online presence.” The first two are the most important and each make up 40% of the score. Online presence, which has multiple components, makes up 20% of the score. Each of the three overall components is flawed, but all three together help compensate for the individual flaws; the end result is what we believe to be the best measure of overall popularity within a given software sector.
We began our LMS research by scouring the Web for all mentions of leading LMS solutions. Awards sites, blogs, discussion forums, social media channels and other research published online led us to some of the biggest vendors in the LMS software space. We used Capterra’s own LMS Software Directory to find which vendors had received a high number of reviews. Plus, we ran a check of our 450+ vendors to see which ones had the highest amount of web traffic according to 3rd party estimates. This resulted in an initial list of more than 50 LMS vendors. For each of these vendors, we attempted to find their revenue and users online before calling them to verify. They were surprisingly accommodating and much of the data we collected is not published anywhere, which means that a significant portion of our research is original.
One flaw in the end user data is that every vendor seems to count their active number of users differently. We did our best to keep it consistent, but I know there is room for improvement.
The data points we collected to measure online presence include Twitter followers, Facebook likes, LinkedIn followers and customer reviews which are compiled from across all Gartner Digital Markets companies (Capterra, GetApp, and Software Advice).
Once we compiled all of the data, we ranked the vendors within each component. Our calculation of overall scores blended their raw totals with their ranking among the top 20 and weighted the two equally. The table below shows the hard data (Capterra-generated estimates are highlighted in yellow):
One final note: some of the vendors provided “lowball” estimates of their users or customers so please take all of those data points with a grain of salt. I think it is safe to say that, especially by the time this blog post is published, every vendor will have more than the numbers listed. And given how dynamic the LMS market is, we intend to do this report again in another 12-18 months. If you have any suggestions, question any of the vendors listed, wonder how other vendors didn’t make the cut or even catch any errors, please let us know!
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