That is a few enormous development in B2B tech that’s been taking place virtually within the background—however, on the identical time, is making a rising impression 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 prospects get extra worth from the platform they paid for.
Ecosystems are form 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 during the last decade as a result of it’s win-win-win:
- The Platform wins as a result of it might probably add far more capabilities manner sooner and serve market niches they could by no means get round to.
- Prospects 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 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 a couple of information factors from simply three not-very-randomly chosen corporations (Velocity purchasers):
The Salesforce App Exhange has over 3,000 apps and elements on supply. Over 90% of consumers have at the very least one app put in, totalling over 10 million installs up to now.
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). Over 90% of consumers have at the very 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 massive, 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. Beneath the management of rockstar Paul Nerger, they constructed an superior Digital Change (their DX) stuffed with belongings that focus on every little thing from particular duties (like, say, optical character recognition) to entire enterprise processes.
For those who’re in B2B tech, you most likely supply at the very least one app or device or widget in at the very 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 personal ecosystem too.
Actually, you may 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 foremost B2B go-to-market. It’s greater than that.
Time to get critical about B2B ecosystem marketing
B2B ecosystem marketing isn’t simply an old-school, channel marketing 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 received 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 had 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 had been simply launched throughout the gross sales course of to assist clinch the deal (“True, our dashboard sucks, however try this Domo integration.”).
As we speak, 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 publish, “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 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 photographs, pricing, documentation…)
And distributors who promote by means of the ecosystems are getting higher at their very own in-store merchandising and off-store marketing. (Play 3).
Getting critical about ecosystem marketing
Ecosystems have gotten a serious income for some software program distributors—as much as 100% (a harmful strategy to dwell; we’ve all seen corporations fail when the Massive 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 marketing, 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 prospects constructing stuff different prospects may need?
- How can we construct the very 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 simple (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 vital to advertise and merchandise?
- How and the place will we promote the app retailer to our current prospects?
- How can we greatest leverage our rising ecosystem in gross sales and marketing?
Energy tip: Monitor 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 have to be in?
- How can we we win in every one?
- 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 successful. Then do a selected competitor evaluation.
Ecosystem marketing could possibly be your subsequent massive progress driver
Solely you’ll know the way massive every of the three ecosystem performs can be for you.
However I believe that at the very least certainly 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 Change.” are over.
It’s time to get critical about this. Subsequent publish, I’m gonna ask Scott Brinker, head of HubSpot’s App Ecosystem, a couple of questions on all this.