That is a few enormous development in B2B tech that’s been occurring nearly 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 prospects get extra worth from the platform they paid for.
Ecosystems are sort of what makes a platform a platform: A lot of buyer/customers; and slick, well-documented APIs so Third-party distributors can come and play; and a SaaS app retailer the place prospects can discover new goodies.
The mannequin has skyrocketed over the past decade as a result of it’s win-win-win:
- The Platform wins as a result of it could add far more capabilities manner sooner and serve market niches they could by no means get round to.
- Clients win as a result of they will lengthen 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 huge is the B2B platform ecosystem alternative?
It’s actually, actually huge and rising quick.
Let’s begin with just a few knowledge factors from simply three not-very-randomly chosen corporations (Velocity purchasers):
The Salesforce App Alternate has over 3,000 apps and parts on provide. Over 90% of shoppers 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 collection). Over 90% of shoppers have at the least 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 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 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 property that focus on every part from particular duties (like, say, optical character recognition) to entire enterprise processes.
In case you’re in B2B tech, you in all probability provide at the least one app or device or widget in at the least one of many app marketplaces on the market.
And in case your merchandise can in any manner be described as a platform, it’s possible you’ll nicely run your individual ecosystem too.
The truth is, you may play each playing cards: the SaaS app shops typically 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 predominant 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 all market-making mannequin, it’s acquired completely different sides to it:
- Play 1: Advertising and marketing your individual 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 accessible app integrations.
These early SaaS app shops weren’t even marketed—the apps have been simply launched through the gross sales course of to assist clinch the deal (“True, our dashboard sucks, however take a look at this Domo integration.”).
At the moment, all three performs are getting refined.
Associate 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 taking part in 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 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 awesome instance, take a look at OrgChartHub’s itemizing on the HubSpot App Market (full with video, opinions, scores, options, display photographs, 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 significant income for some software program distributors—as much as 100% (a harmful approach to dwell; we’ve all seen corporations fail when the Large 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 prospects constructing stuff different prospects may need?
- How can we construct one of the best 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 should 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 prospects?
- How can we finest leverage our rising ecosystem in gross sales and advertising?
Energy tip: Observe down and interrogate the individuals who have already constructed these items—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 should 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 prospects to our app?
No-brainer tip: Go to as many app marketplaces as you possibly can to investigate what works. Then analyze your goal ecosystem and see who’s profitable. Then do a particular competitor evaluation.
Ecosystem advertising could possibly be your subsequent huge development driver
Solely you’ll know the way huge every of the three ecosystem performs will likely be for you.
However I believe that at the least 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.