That is a few big pattern in B2B tech that’s been taking place virtually within the background—however, on the similar time, is making a rising affect on the go-to-market methods of virtually each firm.
It’s the rise and rise of platform ecosystems—particularly SaaS app shops, the collections of more-or-less-easy-to-integrate, third-party apps, instruments and widgets that allow clients get extra worth from the platform they paid for.
Ecosystems are form of what makes a platform a platform: Plenty of buyer/customers; and slick, well-documented APIs so Third-party distributors can come and play; and a SaaS app retailer the place clients can discover new goodies.
The mannequin has skyrocketed during the last decade as a result of it’s win-win-win:
- The Platform wins as a result of it will possibly add far more capabilities means quicker and serve market niches they may by no means get round to.
- Clients win as a result of they’ll prolong the worth of the platform into extra nooks & crannies.
- App distributors win as a result of they get entry to large put in buyer bases in distinct, targetable segments.
How massive is the B2B platform ecosystem alternative?
It’s actually, actually massive and rising quick.
Let’s begin with a number of information factors from simply three not-very-randomly chosen corporations (Velocity purchasers):
The Salesforce App Trade has over 3,000 apps and parts on provide. Over 90% of consumers have at the least one app put in, totalling over 10 million installs so far.
The HubSpot App Market has over 1,000 apps in its thriving ecosystem (a testomony to the management of VP of Platform Ecosystem and all-around martech megastar Scott Brinker, intervieqwed within the subsequent put up on this sequence). Over 90% of consumers have at the least one app put in right here too — and the common buyer has put in over 7 integrations.
The Slack App Listing has over 2,400 apps in it, throughout 19 classes that cowl the enjoyment spectrum from ‘Safety & Compliance’ to ‘Social & Enjoyable’.
And it’s not simply the large, apparent platforms. An entire bunch of distributors on the market are rising their very own SaaS app shops and actively recruiting different distributors to inventory their digital cabinets.
Blue Prism, one other shopper (no, you shut up), is a pioneer of Robotic Course of Automation. Underneath the management of rockstar Paul Nerger, they constructed an superior Digital Trade (their DX) stuffed with belongings that concentrate on every part from particular duties (like, say, optical character recognition) to entire enterprise processes.
Should you’re in B2B tech, you most likely provide at the least one app or software or widget in at the least one of many app marketplaces on the market.
And in case your merchandise can in any means be described as a platform, you could nicely run your individual ecosystem too.
In reality, you would possibly play each playing cards: the SaaS app shops usually embody distributors who’ve their very own SaaS app shops.
All of this cooperation and coopetition can not simply be handled as peripheral to your major B2B go-to-market. It’s greater than that.
Time to get critical about B2B ecosystem advertising
B2B ecosystem advertising isn’t simply an old-school, channel advertising play. It’s changing into a B2B self-discipline of its personal, with devoted groups and instruments and processes.
Like every market-making mannequin, it’s received completely different sides to it:
- Play 1: Advertising your individual ecosystem or app retailer to potential distributors.
- Play 2: Advertising your ecosystem and its apps to your buyer base.
- Play 3: Advertising your apps and instruments to the customers of different platforms.
The early variations of every of those performs had been fairly primitive: a bit of the platform’s web site with a listing of accessible app integrations.
These early SaaS app shops weren’t even marketed—the apps had been simply launched through the gross sales course of to assist clinch the deal (“True, our dashboard sucks, however try this Domo integration.”).
At present, all three performs are getting subtle.
Accomplice groups are making it very easy for Third-party distributors to hop in and begin promoting (Play 1). As Scott Brinker says in a current put up, “It’s not nearly enjoying properly with different youngsters within the sandbox. It’s about making a sandbox the place the opposite youngsters wish to come to construct their castles.”
The platform app shops are beginning to feel and appear like Amazon, utilizing all of the tips of the commerce to merchandise the apps; assist customers uncover what they want; and assist app companions market themselves. (Play 2). For an awesome instance, try OrgChartHub’s itemizing on the HubSpot App Market (full with video, opinions, scores, options, display screen pictures, pricing, documentation…)
And distributors who promote by way of the ecosystems are getting higher at their very own in-store merchandising and off-store advertising. (Play 3).
Getting critical about ecosystem advertising
Ecosystems have gotten a serious income for some software program distributors—as much as 100% (a harmful option to reside; we’ve all seen corporations fail when the Huge Kahuna decides to construct their very own model of their widget or purchase a competitor to be the chosen integration).
As the chance grows, B2B corporations are professionalizing their very own ecosystem advertising, with clear methods to cowl issues like:
Play 1: Rising your ecosystem:
- Who ought to we get into our ecosystem? What capabilities add probably the most worth?
- Can we get our personal modules and add-ons in there too?
- Are our clients constructing stuff different clients would possibly need?
- How can we construct the most effective ecosystem expertise for each customers and app distributors?
- How will our ecosystem change our product roadmap?
Try HubSpot’s developer portal to see how a lot they’re serving to folks construct on HubSpot.
BTW: you don’t should construct these superstores your self: ecosystem administration platforms like Constellant make it simple (sure, one other current shopper: sue me).
Play 2: Advertising your ecosystem to your customers (and prospects):
- How can we assist each buyer see the worth of our ecosystem?
- Which apps are most necessary to advertise and merchandise?
- How and the place will we promote the app retailer to our current clients?
- How can we greatest leverage our rising ecosystem in gross sales and advertising?
Energy tip: Observe down and interrogate the individuals who have already constructed this stuff—like Paul Nerger at BluePrism and Scott Brinker at HubSpot.
Play 3: Advertising your app in different ecosystems:
- Which app exchanges can we have to be in?
- How can we we win in each?
- How can we get found contained in the app retailer?
- How can we optimize conversions in our micro-store? (App Retailer Optimization: ASO)
- How can we drive the platform’s clients to our app?
No-brainer tip: Go to as many app marketplaces as you may to investigate what works. Then analyze your goal ecosystem and see who’s profitable. Then do a selected competitor evaluation.
Ecosystem advertising might be your subsequent massive progress driver
Solely you’ll understand how massive every of the three ecosystem performs will probably be for you.
However I think that at the least one in every of them deserves greater than an afterthought or a footnote in your technique deck. The times of, “Yeah, we actually ought to get round to itemizing ourselves within the App Trade.” are over.
It’s time to get critical about this. Subsequent put up, I ask Scott Brinker, head of HubSpot’s App Ecosystem, a number of questions on all this.