Acquisition channel of the week: software directories

There are currently 483 founder interviews on Indie Hackers. I've read and analyzed all of them and identified the top 30 acquisition channels mentioned. (See Zero to Users for more details.) I'll be reviewing one of those channels each Thursday.

We have software directories for this week. Software directories are simply websites that list tools by a specific category or type. I've seen them mentioned across many Indie Hackers interviews.

Here's an example from David Cacik of LiveAgent ($300k/month), a help desk & customer support tool:

We've tried hundreds of growth hacks and failed with most. If I were to pick the ones that work best (with the most ROI) I would go with… [b]uilding an online presence by registering your product at software directories/comparison websites; gathering reviews, utilizing their PPC/lead generation programs and promoting the social proof. This practice has been the single most ROI positive hack we've done…

There are a few general-purpose software directories like Capterra, G2, and GetApp. Martial Arts on Rails ($5k/month) sells management software for martial arts facilities and gyms, and they've seen success with one of these directories:

After a couple of months I started running ads on Capterra, a search engine for business software, where I am now ranked first in searches for "martial arts gym software". This has become my strongest source for conversions. I was initially spending around $180 a month on Capterra, and it's now closer to $400 a month. Currently, Capterra and organic search results are the main acquisitions sources for my business.

There are 100s of directories, and sometimes finding which ones bring traffic and users can be a matter of trial and error. Consider the example of Tettra ($61k/month), an internal knowledge based tool for teams:

We also posted to all the typical directories like Stackshare, Siftery, Capterra, and Alternativeto. As you can see in the chart below, only Betalist and Alternativeto ended up driving any significant traffic.

Tettra's posting results

AlternativeTo is another popular website directory that more than one founder has found success with. Phil Manavopoulos of Doorbell ($3k/month), an app feedback tool, used it to find his first customers:

I submitted Doorbell to comparison sites such as AlternativeTo that led to my first few signups.

Like this post? Get my insights on different acquisition channels every week:

  1. 2

    Great post. I'll be looking forward to this every week!

  2. 1

    Does anyone or the OP have a list of all the directories for us indiehackers to utilize?

    1. 2

      Yes! Check out my project: Submit Juice

      We have 150+ startup directories and websites listed :)

      1. 2

        +1 for submit juice. I have already mentioned it in the IndieLetters newsletter.

        How is your growth going? Were you able to get some customers from your PH launch?

        1. 3

          Fantastic! Thanks a ton :)

          PH launch went very well indeed - i'll be sharing a post soon talking about our first 2 months and lessons learned.

  3. 1

    Great insight, much appreciated. Keep it up.

  4. 1

    Thanks for sharing mate. Really appreciate the effort!

  5. 1

    This was very helpful! Thanks Darko for all the info!

  6. 1

    I appreciate your effort, Darko! Thank you!

  7. 1

    @zerotousers LOVE this format 🙏🎉🙏

    When picking a directory, I've found an enormous difference in the prospect's intent.

    I optimise for one of:

    • Casual browsing, open to discovery
      Typically when a directory is new, competition amongst products is low, and the owner is pumping money into attracting viewers. When Firefox Addons began, I got 400 installs a week just from bothering to list a title and brief description.
      Tip: spot new directories gaining traction
    • Verifying you're the best
      They've searched your name, looking for reviews. Everyone is sceptical of claims on your site, they want a 3rd party.
      Tip: ask your customers to review you there, and in your directory description promote the best reviews
    • Verifying your competitor is the best / best value
      Most directories link to related products. Make sure you're seen. Just because a viewer has found your competitor first, doesn't mean they won't check you out: they're in a buying mood to solve a problem, not wedded to a solution.
      Tip: look at how the directory promotes related items, it's unique to each one but winnable
    1. 2

      Hey Andy, I'll talk separately about that acquisition channel (platform-dependent app stores). Here I thought mostly about software (platform-independent) directories.

      1. 1

        As if I wasn't already excited enough about upcoming editions :-)

        Those tips above have worked well for me on any platform though (G2 would be current fave): basically remembering to optimise for different user intents / funnels.

  8. 1

    Great post - looking forward to the weekly deep-dives.

    1. 1

      Will do my best man. Thanks.

  9. 1

    Shopify App Store is a really juicy software directory. 😁
    Although, it requires a bit of effort to get your app listed there.

    1. 1

      I'll do a separate post on these (I don't consider them to be 'software directories', but rather 'platform directories', because you're building on top of a specific platform). I think I need to spend more time distinguishing between these 2, hm. Thanks for the feedback!

  10. 1

    That's interesting. I never really believed in conversions from Capterra, especially through their sponsored listings and ads. But perhaps I should revisit?

    1. 1

      They seem to be pay-to-play though. AlternativeTo seems to be one of the cheaper ones ,that rank well for "[some big software] alternative" on Google.

  11. 1

    Great information! I'll be following this one.

  12. 1

    Wonderful post, bookmarking it. I suspect I’ll do the same with the whole series. Thanks!

    1. 1

      Really appreciate it :)

  13. 1

    I was trying to do the same sometime back and added Siteoly to https://www.saashub.com/siteoly-alternatives and https://alternativeto.net/software/siteoly/

    But so far it hasn't been much traffic yet. As you mentioned in the post, some channels pick good traffic some times but adding to directories will help achieve this at some point.

    @zerotousers I have been reading couple of your other answers and posts. I think your "to-the-point" comments makes lot of sense. I also read your PDF. You have been doing a great work on acquisition side.

    Probably you should launch this as a weekly series with below things.

    • Your answers posted for that week consolidated into one thread
    • One new strategy to improve acquisition every week.
    1. 1

      Hey upenv, the strategies really depend on the depth of research I do. I wouldn't want to do a lot of 'you should X' advice without backing up with proof (like seeing multiple founders across many interviews mention it as 'working').

      1. 1

        That makes sense. Thankyou.

  14. 1

    Hey Darko, I think I read once that there are services that automatically post your website/product to lots of directories for a fixed fee. Have you run into these and are they any good?

    1. 2

      There's a few out there, if you search on PH you'll find a few. They're okay, save you time for sure.

    2. 1

      Hi Steve! We do this for startups at Submit Juice - do check it out and let me know if we can help!

      1. 1

        I'll check it out, thanks!

    1. 1

      Happy to hear this ^_^

      1. 1

        What acquisition channel do you plan to cover next?

        1. 2

          Probably 'powered by' marketing.

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