That is a few enormous development in B2B tech that’s been occurring nearly within the background—however, on the identical time, is making a rising influence 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 permit clients get extra worth from the platform they paid for.
Ecosystems are type of what makes a platform a platform: Numerous 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 over the past decade as a result of it’s win-win-win:
- The Platform wins as a result of it may well add far more capabilities approach sooner and serve market niches they could by no means get round to.
- Prospects win as a result of they’ll 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 a couple of information 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 no 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 publish on this collection). Over 90% of shoppers have no less than 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. Below the management of rockstar Paul Nerger, they constructed an superior Digital Alternate (their DX) stuffed with property that focus on all the pieces from particular duties (like, say, optical character recognition) to entire enterprise processes.
In case you’re in B2B tech, you in all probability provide no less than one app or device or widget in no less than one of many app marketplaces on the market.
And in case your merchandise can in any approach be described as a platform, chances are you’ll nicely run your personal ecosystem too.
Actually, 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 major B2B go-to-market. It’s larger than that.
Time to get critical about B2B ecosystem advertising and marketing
B2B ecosystem advertising and marketing isn’t simply an old-school, channel advertising and marketing 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 bought completely different sides to it:
- Play 1: Advertising your personal 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 piece of the platform’s web site with a listing of obtainable 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.”).
At present, 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 current publish, “It’s not nearly enjoying properly with different youngsters within the sandbox. It’s about making a sandbox the place the opposite youngsters need to come to construct their castles.”
The platform app shops are beginning to feel and appear 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 a terrific 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 via the ecosystems are getting higher at their very own in-store merchandising and off-store advertising and marketing. (Play 3).
Getting critical about ecosystem advertising and marketing
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 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 firms are professionalizing their very own ecosystem advertising and marketing, 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 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 folks construct on HubSpot.
BTW: you don’t must 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 finest leverage our rising ecosystem in gross sales and advertising and marketing?
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 possibly can to investigate what works. Then analyze your goal ecosystem and see who’s profitable. Then do a selected competitor evaluation.
Ecosystem advertising and marketing may very well be your subsequent huge progress driver
Solely you’ll understand how huge every of the three ecosystem performs shall be for you.
However I believe that no less than 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 Alternate.” are over.
It’s time to get critical about this. Subsequent publish, I ask Scott Brinker, head of HubSpot’s App Ecosystem, a couple of questions on all this.