That is a few large development 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 just about 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 permit clients get extra worth from the platform they paid for.
Ecosystems are form of what makes a platform a platform: A number 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 might add far more capabilities method quicker and serve market niches they may by no means get round to.
- Prospects win as a result of they will prolong the worth of the platform into extra nooks & crannies.
- App distributors win as a result of they get entry to huge 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 just a few knowledge factors from simply three not-very-randomly chosen firms (Velocity purchasers):
The Salesforce App Alternate has over 3,000 apps and parts on provide. Over 90% of shoppers have not less than one app put in, totalling over 10 million installs to this point.
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 collection). Over 90% of shoppers have not less than one app put in right here too — and the typical 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 massive, apparent platforms. A complete 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 consumer (no, you shut up), is a pioneer of Robotic Course of Automation. Below the management of rockstar Paul Nerger, they constructed an superior Digital Alternate (their DX) stuffed with belongings that concentrate on every thing from particular duties (like, say, optical character recognition) to entire enterprise processes.
Should you’re in B2B tech, you in all probability provide not less than one app or software or widget in not less than one of many app marketplaces on the market.
And in case your merchandise can in any method be described as a platform, it’s possible you’ll properly run your personal ecosystem too.
In truth, 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 now not simply be handled as peripheral to your most important 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 turning into a B2B self-discipline of its personal, with devoted groups and instruments and processes.
Like several market-making mannequin, it’s obtained totally different sides to it:
- Play 1: Advertising and marketing your personal ecosystem or app retailer to potential distributors.
- Play 2: Advertising and marketing your ecosystem and its apps to your buyer base.
- Play 3: Advertising and marketing your apps and instruments to the customers of different platforms.
The early variations of every of those performs have been fairly primitive: a piece of the platform’s web site with an inventory of obtainable app integrations.
These early SaaS app shops weren’t even marketed—the apps have been simply launched throughout the gross sales course of to assist clinch the deal (“True, our dashboard sucks, however try this Domo integration.”).
In the present day, all three performs are getting refined.
Companion groups are making it very easy for Third-party distributors to hop in and begin promoting (Play 1). As Scott Brinker says in a latest put up, “It’s not nearly enjoying properly with different children within the sandbox. It’s about making a sandbox the place the opposite children need to come to construct their castles.”
The platform app shops are beginning to feel and look like Amazon, utilizing all of the methods of the commerce to merchandise the apps; assist customers uncover what they want; and assist app companions market themselves. (Play 2). For an incredible instance, try OrgChartHub’s itemizing on the HubSpot App Market (full with video, critiques, rankings, options, display pictures, pricing, documentation…)
And distributors who promote by 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 significant income for some software program distributors—as much as 100% (a harmful method to dwell; we’ve all seen firms 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 firms 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 essentially 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 perfect ecosystem expertise for each customers and app distributors?
- How will our ecosystem change our product roadmap?
Take a look at HubSpot’s developer portal to see how a lot they’re serving to individuals construct on HubSpot.
BTW: you don’t must construct these superstores your self: ecosystem administration platforms like Constellant make it straightforward (sure, one other latest consumer: sue me).
Play 2: Advertising and marketing your ecosystem to your customers (and prospects):
- How can we assist each buyer see the worth of our ecosystem?
- Which apps are most essential 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 and marketing 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 particular competitor evaluation.
Ecosystem advertising may very well be your subsequent massive progress driver
Solely you’ll understand how massive every of the three ecosystem performs will likely be for you.
However I believe that not less than considered one 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 Alternate.” are over.
It’s time to get critical about this. Subsequent put up, I ask Scott Brinker, head of HubSpot’s App Ecosystem, just a few questions on all this.