Cooper Marcus is in Business Development for Platform at New Relic. He previously grew Wishery through B2B app marketplaces, and he eventually sold Wishery before joining New Relic.
→ Business-to-Business (B2B) marketplaces
→ Discusses the growth of Witchery, but does not disclose specific numbers
→ Witchery used B2B marketplaces as a distribution channel to grow the business
→ A useful channel for companies with business software or buyers that are app businesses
→ Talk and slide deck focus on B2B marketplaces for distribution and discovery of business software
→ For publishers of SAS and freemium business software looking for underutilized channels
→ B2B marketplace: a publisher hosts the marketplace and ISV list and sell their software on it
→ Benefits: SEO, higher conversion rates, co-marketing, financial support, future of software buying behavior
→ And a whole lot more
→ B2B App Marketplaces Resources link
Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor, and today I have Cooper Markus with us. Cooper, thank you so much for coming on the program.
Cooper: My pleasure to be here.
Bronson: Absolutely. Now, Cooper, you are you were the co-founder of Witchery and you currently do business development for platform at New Relic. Now, I want to have you back on in the future to talk about New Relic, because New Relic is loved by the startup community, by developers. And I know you guys have some really cool things coming out that you can’t quite talk about yet, but they’re going to be really interesting to our audience. So I’m going to have you back on for that. Right. But right now, I want to talk about witchery, because you have an amazing amount of knowledge about business to business marketplaces. And we’ve never really had him on the show to really do a deep dove into that. So I know you have a slide deck here. So we’re going to work through the slide deck and and kind of just have a dialog talking about what you’ve learned about business to business marketplaces and how awesome you think they are, and all the little tips and tricks about how to get users, get, you know, profits and all those kind of things. But to start out. COOPER Tell us what was witchery?
Cooper: So witchery was essentially a CRM for small and medium businesses that brought together everything that a business already knew about its customers right into the email communication flow. So a plug in for Gmail, at least it started out as that that word automatically went information from your email marketing, your E commerce, your Google calendar, Google Docs and show it to you right there in Gmail. So you had some context about who you were emailing with in a in a business, a little bit like reporting for business reporting is a great sort of social plug in for Gmail, the kind of the business plug in for Gmail.
Bronson: A very great makes a lot of sense. Now, tell us about the growth of Whisper. You tell us about kind of, you know, how big it got. You know, anything you can disclose so that people have an idea of the size it got to?
Cooper: Sure. So we Shruti was co-founded by me and a technical co-founder, and we didn’t have a lot of resources for buying growth, so we had to hack it. And we did so by focusing exclusively on B2B marketplaces as our distribution channel, and it proved to be very effective. At our peak, we were signing up over 100 new businesses a week with essentially zero acquisition costs. We weren’t we weren’t paying for the traffic, we weren’t paying for the signups. They were just showing up through these B2B marketplaces. We also had some exceptional conversion to paid rates. Well over 20% of our active users upgraded to our paid product. And for a freemium B2B product, that was a pretty good conversion rate.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s great. Now to start out, kind of tell us what is a business to business marketplace as a as opposed to just some other kind of app marketplace? Because I think people don’t make that distinction early on. This is going to be a hard talk to follow that.
Cooper: Try it so you could think of a B2B marketplace as a business focused or exclusively business version of the Apple iTunes store or the Google Play Marketplace now in iTunes store and Google Play. You can certainly find B2B apps, but there’s also a lot of purely consumer apps in B2B marketplaces. There are no consumer apps. They are only for business applications, and they are typically hosted by a vendor of a business software business application. So MailChimp has a integration directory. Google Apps has a Google Apps marketplace. Salesforce has an app exchange. They all have different names, but they essentially do the same thing. They allow the users of a business app to easily find and discover and acquire other applications that are pre integrated or work well alongside the app of the host company. They dress for business buyers. They adjust for business applications. So if you have a piece of business software or you have buyers of your software that are app businesses, they are a vital channel for you to consider.
Bronson: Yeah. So the orientation of this this talk, this slide deck is really not so much worry about consumers. It’s not really worried about mobile apps per se. They might be mobile, but that’s not really the focus. It’s not really worry about, you know, number of downloads, that kind of thing. It’s different than just the normal things you talk about when you talk about the iOS App Store. So what does this you know, what does this talk really for? Who’s it for?
Cooper: This talk is really for the publisher of a piece of business software, typically SAS, typically freemium, that wants to explore a new kind of discovery and distribution channel that is fairly underutilized. Getting your app well ranked and making a good business of it in the Apple iOS App Store is tough, right? What do we at half a million apps in the Apple iOS App Store? There’s plenty of beta free app marketplaces that have less than 100 apps. Send them. I mean, think about the difference, right? How are you going to rank? Well, when there’s 100. Hey, it’s totally doable. We did it. You can do it, too, when there’s half a million. It’s a whole different story. Yeah. So, yeah, this is for business application publishers who want to look at this this channel. And, you know, to be fair, this channel is not your only channel. Folks will still come to your website. You still need to have other ways of people discovering and acquiring your software, but it can be very effective and extremely efficient once you get good at it. And I think that’s what we’re going to talk about today is how to get good at it.
Bronson: So in case people are kind of on the fence about, you know, really investing in these B2B marketplaces, which are was eventually sold. Is that right?
Cooper: That’s right. Yeah.
Bronson: And there’s light at the end of this tunnel.
Cooper: Absolutely there is. And I feel like there’s even more sort of opportunity in the future because of essentially the training that the consumer marketplaces are giving. Everybody everybody is becoming used to buying applications throughout marketplaces. But this is kind of a new behavior for business buyers. It’s important to be right there as this behavior changes. And you can be edge of that. That’s right.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s great. So tell us about the terminology a little bit. Use the words publisher and ISV. What is a publisher? What’s an ISV?
Cooper: So in this case, let’s say a publisher is a company that is hosting a marketplace. We might also call them a host. They typically have an application like MailChimp or Google Apps or Shopify, but they also want to provide a place where ISV is. Publishers are about locations, can list an integrated offering on that marketplace. So let’s call the the other party than the ISV. That’s the that’s you you, the audience of this talk. You publish a piece of software and you want to distribute it through a B2B marketplace. That marketplace is hosted by a publisher. You’re the ISV. And then, of course, there’s also the end user or the consumer, the person that uses your app and the app, the publisher.
Bronson: Yeah. And then you give some examples here. You’ve already mentioned a few of these. We have the Shopify App Store here. Yep. And then below that you show the Google Apps marketplace, another popular one, MailChimp, you know, a company. A lot of people that watch this use for their email campaigns and things like that. They have their own marketplace, B2B like we’ve been talking about. So kind of tell us why. Why should we be focused on these B2B marketplaces? We know that it worked out for you, but get into a little deeper now.
Cooper: Sure. Certainly. Well, first of all, the publishers are doing a lot of work to drive traffic to these marketplaces. They’re saying if you’re use MailChimp, you should shop for things that work with MailChimp. In our store, you need to be where the buyers are shopping. These marketplaces can be great for SEO. The benefits are being well ranked in a marketplace, extend well outside of the marketplace. Google indexes basically all of these marketplaces so we’re well ranked well traffic Istanbul translate to people that buy through marketplaces tend to have a higher tendency to buy to upgrade to a paid version of your product. There’s something about the psychology of shopping in a marketplace compared to just shopping on the web that produces higher conversion. In some cases, the marketplace host, the publisher will actually do co-marketing with you blogging and tweeting and other things that will bring more visibility. Also, the marketplace may give you money. Wish we got the money, literally. Yes, that’s right. MailChimp wrote Wish three. I check. Very early in our history, it was instrumental in getting our company off the ground that came out with the MailChimp integration. Find more and more and marketplaces have these funds. And finally, as I mentioned earlier, the app marketplaces are the future. Everybody is going to be buying basically all of their software from marketplaces in the future. And you need to be there.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. And you give some great slides here. Next, it shows you at the top of the Google Apps marketplace, which is impressive. But then on the next slide, it shows you, you know, taking 1 to 3 of the top spots on the actual Google.com search for witchery. And so there’s really a translation here between maybe ranking high in the app store of Google and ranking high in Google itself is right.
Cooper: That’s right. And you can see these these 1 to 3 listings in the Google search result are from three really different properties. The first one is which reason website, but the second one is the Google Apps marketplace. That’s a Google.com domain. And the third one is the MailChimp integration directory or MailChimp dot com domain. So you basically get to kind of spread out your web property across lots of areas that are well trafficked and thus result in higher rankings in Google and other search engines.
Bronson: And you mentioned that, you know, one of the benefits already is that you get a higher conversion. Eight of the free to the pro. But here you actually show us the graphs. Talk to us about these graphs. These are these bar charts real quick.
Cooper: So this is a fascinating piece of research that was presented at Google i0a couple of years ago where one of the more successful apps in their marketplace showed that the conversion from free to paid was much higher when a given user arrived through the Google Apps marketplace than when they arrived through the the ISP’s own website. So think about that. The user’s using the same product. You would imagine that no matter how they get that product, they’ll have the same tendency to upgrade to paid. But this data was quite clearly showing that is not the case. A user that arrives to a marketplace will have a much higher tendency to upgrade to a paid product. And I believe this actually holds true well outside of this single example.
Bronson: Yeah. And then you talked also, you mentioned how you get marketing from these people that you integrate with. And here’s an example of the MailChimp blog blogging about witchery. You have a tweet from MailChimp being sent out about witchery. How much does that help you guys getting a blog post like that and getting a tweet like that?
Cooper: It was huge. I mean, it was absolutely viral. It produced big traffic spikes which tended to convert. Well, right. This wasn’t just the kind of hacker news traffic or or the Slashdot effect where people show up and leave. These people actually found our product, acquired it, started using it, and later bought it because of this extra coverage that we got from, in this case, MailChimp. This coverage would not have been available if we were not in the MailChimp integration directory. They reserved coverage like this for the companies that integrate with their product. So the price of entry to this kind of coverage is the integration that you’re potentially going to build between your product and one of these marketplaces.
Bronson: Now, in this next slide, you know, you mentioned that you can actually get real money, that people will pay for you to develop things in their marketplace. And I think you saw the MailChimp Fund was really instrumental to you guys early on. And here’s some examples from MailChimp has a $1 million integration fund, the Shopify fund, the BigCommerce Fund. So it’s not just, you know, it happened to be MailChimp. You guys happen to get lucky. Like these things are happening on an ongoing basis, you know, at different cycles in these companies.
Cooper: Absolutely. And I believe they actually happen even more than we know. There’s some that are not announced. If you have a great idea and you need a little extra funding to get over the hump with a particular marketplace, ask them. Right. Just reach out and ask. These things are happening even when we we don’t hear about them, when they’re not publicized. And not all cases where we’d actually be them writing you a check. It may be an advance on your payments. It may be a commitment to co-marketing ad buys. But regardless, these are companies that want more patients in their marketplaces, and in some cases they are willing to pay for that. You could be the recipient of those dollars.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. Now, this next slide explains to me a little bit. You have the Google play store up here. You have some other stores on the iOS store on the phone. Where are you communicating with this slide?
Cooper: So what I’m trying to say here is that these are the biggest companies in tech, Microsoft, Google, and they’re training every single one of their users to acquire applications through app marketplaces. They are doing the training. They are doing the expensive and difficult task of changing behavior. You, as a small app publisher, have a huge opportunity here, which is to capitalize on this behavior change that’s occurring. You know, everybody buys apps through these consumer app marketplaces. Not everybody yet buys them through business app marketplaces. But to the extent that people, you know, this becomes the new norm, the B2B marketplaces will also become the new norm. That’s important that you be where people are shopping. And thanks big tech companies for training our users on this this nice, new, efficient way of reaching there because frankly, reaching people through B2B app marketplaces, I believe, in some ways is easier than cutting through the noise on the Internet. And General.
Bronson: Yeah, it seems like it is. And so now we’re really going to get into how because there are so many questions. You’ve laid out a great framework. You’ve told us why it matters, why we should care. But now the how is where the rubber hits the road. We really get, you know, to see how it’s done. I’m going to run through kind of the steps and then I’m going to have you walk us through each one. First is a scan. Second is a deep dove. Third is an engage. Four prioritize five build six test in turn seven launch eight reviews and ranking. Nine Invest. And then ten and 11 are profits, right? So that’s how the 11 things are going to work through here. But let’s start with the first one. Scan. Well, what do you mean, scan? Where does this whole thing begin?
Cooper: So there’s a lot of marketplaces and there’s more all the time. I’m going to provide a resource link on this page. Where you can find a list I put together a while back, something like 150 different companies that either have marketplaces or are likely to have them in the future. You’ll find even more. What you’re doing in this step is you’re kind of quickly building a target list. All right. I think maybe these ten or 20 are the ones that are at the top of my priority list. Heading into an app marketplace does require effort on your end, and you want to make sure that your effort to reward ratio is there. So this first step is do a quick review and figure out which ones where is it going to be? Lowest effort for you to get into the best audience appeal, which means that your product, your software is most appealing to the audience that’s already in the marketplace and also has a good addressable market size. Google Apps Marketplace and MailChimp Integration Directory have some pretty huge market sizes. There’s other marketplaces with much smaller ones. However, raw marketplace sizes are not what you need to consider, it’s the addressable size. So for instance, I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re thinking about the migration to about but your app is only useful to owners of pet stores. Well, okay, your addressable market size isn’t the entire audience at MailChimp. It’s the audience that has Pets Stories. Maybe is also a SAS application that is a accounting software only for pet stores. They might have a 100th the audience of MailChimp, but the addressable audience is 100% right. Every single people person who has that product could also have your product. So think about the addressable market size for each of these marketplaces. Basically, in this step, you’re building a quick ranking that we’re then going to refine in subsequent steps.
Bronson: Yeah. Now, let me ask you a kind of a side question here. You know, if I go to, let’s say, the MailChimp marketplace does what I do have to be something about email. Does it have to have a really close correlation? Or do they let things in that are maybe interesting to their audience, even if it’s not related to email? What’s been your experience with that?
Cooper: You know, there is on the marketplace and we’ll certainly get into a place here where you’re going to do a review of those particular details. In most marketplaces, there is some requirement that it be somehow related. But say when it comes to Google Apps Marketplace well, Google Apps Marketplace is pretty much for any B2B piece of software. The relationship required in Google Apps is more of a technical one around single sign on in MailChimp marketplace. It kind of probably should have something vaguely to do with email or with marketing, but, you know, they vary, these marketplaces vary, and you can always ask, we’ll see. In a later step you’re going to make contact with the host of the marketplace and you can check with them, Hey, this is what I’m thinking about. Are you going to let me into the marketplace? Am I going to get a warm reception? Just ask if you have some doubt.
Bronson: No, as great advice. So after you scan. The next thing is to really do a deep dove. So. So what do you do during this deep dove stage?
Cooper: Okay. So in the first step, we reduced our list of 150 or 200 potential marketplaces, maybe down to five or ten. Now, in this step for those five or ten, you’re going to do a deep dove from the the the customer perspective. So that’s the end user of the publisher’s product, which is also the potential end user of your product. And also you’re going to do a deep dove from your perspective as a potential participant in this marketplace. So from the customer perspective, you actually want to walk in their shoes, go to the website, go to the MailChimp website, click, sign up, create a new test account. Walk through it and watch carefully. Is the marketplace promoted? Is there mention of integrations? Are new customers to this this company that you’re thinking about integrating with? Are they going to be alerted to the fact that there is a marketplace and your product is there? And then once you become a test customer, watch their email communications in their newsletter. Do they mention it in their getting started sort of nurturing emails? Do they say, hey, also check out our marketplace? If they don’t, then your addressable audience at that particular marketplace may be smaller than you expected because there’s a lot of people using that product, but they might not know that our marketplace exists. Companies vary widely at the level. They promote the marketplaces to their own user base. And then there’s also the ISP perspective. So what’s it going to be like to build and integrate and publish your listing? How is this support? Is there an active mailing list or are you just out of luck if you have a technical question and review the terms and conditions, but there may be a legal reason that you cannot get in there. Right. This goes back to can you publish something that is unrelated? It may say right. In the terms and conditions, no. So this is the point where you’re kind of looking to eliminate some of your top ten list and get it down perhaps to our top three.
Bronson: Yeah. And then you have. Some slides here that really show us how prominent things are featured in the different B2B app stores. So you see in Shopify here, it’s actually built in to the log in. So during the log in process, you’re actually seeing featured apps. So that might sway your opinion about, okay, do I want to put resources into getting into Shopify or something else where I’m not displayed as prominently? Is that right?
Cooper: That’s right. And you can see in the next example with constant contact that at the time I took this slide, Constantcontact was doing very little to promote their app marketplace to their users, at least compared to Shopify, which was doing a ton. Now these things change over time, and these slides are from a little while ago. You know, this does not mean for you Shopify is a better marketplace than constant contact. You need to do your own analysis and look at the factors and how they’re going to affect your app within this context, within these particular marketplaces. But this is the kind of thing you’re going to see as you walk in the shoes of a potential customer of Shopify or CrossFit Contact or any other place you’re thinking about becoming a an ISV and listing in their marketplace.
Bronson: Yeah. So you’ve done the scan, now you’ve done a deep dove. Now it’s really time to engage with these marketplaces. So talk to us about that a little bit.
Cooper: So before you start coding a thing, before you make any kind of plans, maybe do some quick sketches, layout in a paragraph or two, what you’re going to do and how it’s going to work and why it’s interesting. Get in touch with the host. Right. Pretty much every company has somebody or maybe even a whole department in some cases dedicated to making these app marketplaces a success. Find out who those folks are and reach out to them directly. Look, your growth hacker. I don’t need to teach you how to find and reach out to people. So find the right people. Reach out to them and say, Look, I’m thinking about coming in. This is what I’m thinking about doing. What do you think? And if you get a positive feedback, then check on. Okay, great. I think I’m going to do it. Can I get a blog post? Can I get tweets? What are the co-marketing opportunities that are available? And do you have any sort of funding program? As I mentioned earlier, even if it’s not public, they may still be able to write you a check or make a financial commitment to you to get this integration out there. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and this is a great time to ask about it.
Bronson: Yeah. And depending on how the engagement goes, you start to prioritize, you start to kind of, you know, rank order the list to decide where you’re going to really spend your limited resources. Talk to us about prioritizing a little bit.
Cooper: So these previous steps, one, two and three in step one, you really kind of built up a big list. And step two and three, you were winnowing them down. Hopefully, you’ve been keeping track of all of this on a Google spreadsheet, and now you click this sort button. All right. You’ve given us some sort of a score to each one of these marketplaces. You’ve totaled up the score for each marketplace. And now you look what what’s your data telling you? Okay, I need to start with this one. This one. This particular one seems to have the highest opportunity. Do a quick gut check. Is my math right? Is is this making sense? Is this really where I want to start? Probably you do. But there may be some confounding factor that suggests you actually start with your number two. For the most part, you want to do this in sequential order, particularly with the first one. Working with these app marketplaces is new and different. You want to get familiar with it. There’s a lot you could do wrong. So don’t screw up to it once. Start with one. But you may have the resources to go on some sort of parallel track to go into two or three marketplaces simultaneously. I generally don’t recommend it, but I mentioned it there because some companies will be big enough that they can do that. Yeah.
Bronson: So after prioritize, that’s when you really jump into the building stage, which is interesting because, you know, just because you’re doing something B2B doesn’t mean you can skip customer development. And that’s really what you’ve told us already. It doesn’t mean you can skip over really figuring out, doing your homework and deciding how you should spend your effort when you start to engineer something. And so you’ve done a lot of work and you’re just now getting to the build phase, which I think is an important point to note.
Cooper: And this is not to be clear here. This is about building the integration. I’m making some assumption here that your product, your core offering is either done or well underway. The integrations themselves tend to have a little bit of engineering effort, sometimes a lot that engineer engineering effort may or may not be reusable across marketplaces. This is really about building a minimum viable integration. This slide should probably say that, right? The minimum viable integration, that isn’t lame. You don’t want to do something that’s just totally lame because it’s going to bite you in later stages. Now, if you’re new to building integrations between your app and these marketplaces, the first time around is going to be tough or there’s going to be some new stuff for you, particularly around things like authentication off. Some of these are tricky to learn, but once you’ve learned them, you will find that many of the techniques will carry over, if not your actual integration code. That may end up being a bit different. Our marketplace. But the general techniques and the general approaches they use can end up being pretty similar.
Bronson: Yeah. And so now you built the integration, you built the minimal viable integration. How do you tested and tune it? What’s the process look like there?
Cooper: Well, so it varies a lot per marketplace. Some of them are very helpful in providing kind of a process and framework for doing a closed beta where you can invite just a few people to try out your integration without publicizing it. Others, this doesn’t exist. It’s either nobody tries it or it’s public. Most marketplaces, you’re going to need to have some sort of reset button, which is going to be something you’re going to build. What a marketplace generally provides is sort of technical framework for a new user to become a user of your product, and typically to do some sort of single sign on or some sort of integration of data for you to really test this well, you’re going to need to pretend to be a new user coming from that marketplace and signing up for your product the first time. You’re going to have to walk in their shoes again and again and again, which means you need an easy way to go back to new user state. You’re going to build this reset button, and the first thing you’re going to do before each test run, each Hands-On Test run is click the reset button. And so you can so that you can walk through.
Bronson: Yeah. Now, go ahead. I’m sorry.
Cooper: And at this point, just to be clear, because your new you want to check the most for the most part, you want to minimize your requests of the the host, the publisher here. Don’t don’t be a burden on them. There’s generally a lot of documentation that is generally a lot of past discussions you can look through, really try to help yourself at this point. It’s going to be valuable later on that you weren’t annoying asking dumb questions early on. You’ll see later why that’s so important.
Bronson: Yeah. So now it’s kind of the moment we’ve been building up to it’s time to launch it. So. So what does a launch look like?
Cooper: So launch in this context looks a lot different than the launch you might be expecting. Really? You need to do it quietly. Oh, and first, many of these marketplaces will have a review. So at some point you’re going to click a button that says, I’m ready to list. They will then look at various aspects of your integration. The review varies dramatically at Salesforce App Exchange. The review is extensive. At other marketplaces, it’s very cursory, but you always have to pass on sort of a review. The trick with this launch, though, is to do it quietly. Do not tweet, do not post, do not share with the world, do not deploy your range of growth hacker techniques. At this point. It’s a little too early because remember your new to app marketplaces, you’re working with new integration technologies, you’ve done some good testing and you think the new user flow is solid, but it probably won’t be. You probably forgot something. Somebody is going to come up with something that’s going to break your integration. You don’t want to have a big flood of new users here because it will make it much more difficult for you to fix the problems that they might be encountering. This is also a great time to be communicating individually, one on one with every single person that signs up to your marketplace listing. See how the experience was, fix any problems they have. Really, this is the time where you’re providing incredible support, fixing issues quickly, maximizing your focus on this phase. This is why this phase is why I suggested earlier that you may not want to parallel track because you cannot launch in multiple marketplaces simultaneously and gives the level of kind of quality attention that’s needed to ensure success in the marketplaces. Yeah, you really want to make sure you have good reviews right at this point because they’re important later, but also they’re important with your relationship with the publisher. The host of the marketplace wants to see apps in their marketplace that the end users love. And if you come right out of the gate with a bunch of bad reviews, you’ve pissed off the host, right? They’re not going to be happy with you. They’re not going to give you the co-marketing support you want later on. That’s why this is the number one most important step in this whole 11 step process.
Bronson: Wow. So it’s really, though, one, communicate personally with the new signups and get great reviews and that whole thing and fix the issues quickly. It’s awesome.
Bronson: Yeah. And so now you mentioned just a second ago the reviews and the rankings and how important those are. Walk us through that a little bit more. We know reviews and ranking are important in a lot of other ways, but it doesn’t seem like they’d be as important with B2B marketplaces.
Cooper: You bet they are. They’re vital. I mean, they they serve the same folk, same function in B2B marketplaces that they do on consumer marketplaces, which is that they allow an end user to get a sense, is this thing any good? And particularly to get a more trusted sense right. When an end user gets or sees a five star review from a fellow MailChimp user that this MailChimp add on is great. They’re going to trust that a little bit more than when they see something from who knows to saying it’s great. Right? There’s kind of a higher level of trust there. These. Reviews are really important. They help with your rankings. They help with discovering in the app marketplaces. The ranking and review kind of algorithms really vary from marketplace to marketplace, but the short answer is you need great reviews and a lot of right. And the best way to get that is to ask, so every single one of your users ask them at the right time. Don’t ask them right after they’ve had a bad experience. Don’t ask them right after they’ve discovered a bug. Ask them when you think they’re primed to give you a good review and also specifically ask them not to give you a bad review. Email them. I am them. However, you get in touch with them and say, Look, if you’re having a great experience, please let the world know. Click this link throughout the review. If you’re not having a great experience, get in touch with me personally. Here’s my cell phone number. Call me and tell me what I can do better. But whatever you do, don’t leave a bad review. You should ask specifically for the behavior you want from your end user. Now, as you’re getting these reviews, you need to kind of measure and monitor. And in most marketplaces they give you very little in the way of analytics support. It’s very little in the way of alerting or notifications. You’re going to need to set up your own notifications. And I think this change detection e-comm service is really one of the best. It just watches the web page and tells you when it changes. So you’ll get an alert every time somebody posts a review. And in some cases you have the opportunity to respond to reviews or reach out to users. And if somebody does leave you a bad review, you’re going to work hard starting right then to turn that around and get them to change their review from a bad one to a good one. Yeah.
Bronson: And then you also talk about experimenting to improve the rankings. How do you experiment? It doesn’t seem like there’s much experimentation to do.
Cooper: It’s tricky. So experimenting in these app marketplaces, there’s a lot to learn. App marketplaces do vary in the way that they do. RANKING Are you on the home page? Are you listed in are you listed in the rank for a category? Where are you monitoring that and experimenting to improve that is important. You getting good reviews generally helps a lot. Getting lots of installs typically helps making sure you keep your installs. Some marketplaces, track the people that uninstall your product after they install it. So it’s only net installs, not gross installs. There’s also some clever things you can do with app marketplace optimization ammo, let’s call it. And we’ll show I’ll show you one of those in a second here.
Bronson: Yeah, yeah. You have a couple of sites are the really great one it shows on the Google Home page. This isn’t the Google app marketplace. We’re on Google.com again. You do a search that brings up witchery and below the link is actually how many good reviews you have. You have 56 reviews and it looks like a five star rating. So they’re actually putting that data inside of Google proper.
Cooper: That’s right. And you don’t know when this will happen, right? You can’t tell in advance when your reviews will kind of travel along with your integration to other places on the web because you don’t know. It’s even makes it even more important that you have great reviews. That’s right. Because you can’t tell where they’re going to appear. And you can be sure that if they’re great, they’ll be very helpful. And if they’re bad, they will be hugely damaging.
Bronson: Yeah. And then you’ve actually taken the reviews from the Google App Marketplace and you’ve actually put them back into the Witchery website. Is that right? You actually integrated their good reviews back so people can have that social proof of.
Cooper: That’s right. I mean, reviews are terrific content marketing. You retweet them on your website, you can put them blog about user that left a good review, interview them and post that back to your blog. They are terrific pieces of content marketing there from the mouths of users. They are authentic. Even though you’ve asked for a good review, you didn’t write the review for them. And these users won’t give you good reviews unless they’re having good experiences. So these things are very valuable pieces of kind of content marketing that you can repurpose all over the place, including right on the home page of your own website.
Bronson: So you also mentioned something kind of interesting, which is keyword stuffing in the reviews and in the or in the description of the product. Now, you know, I’m used to the SEO world, the normal SEO world, which, you know, keyword stuffing was something we did in the late nineties where, you know, Google is kind of banned and they penalize you for it. But the B2B marketplace is it’s a very different animal, isn’t it? So talk to us about keyword stuffing.
Cooper: So I put this in here because it is such a a no no in normal search engine optimization, but app marketplace optimization is different. Don’t bring your preconceived notions about how to do SEO to a memo. Bring a fresh king and think about things that maybe you weren’t allowed to do. Well, here you can do, and this tends to work great. I see it done rarely. It was very effective for Wish three and it could work out well for you too. So let me explain what’s going on here. What you’re looking at is wish series listing in the Google Apps marketplace. You’ll note at the top in the feature section, we did some things with kind of trying to call out keywords and key phrases that customers are likely to search for. So maybe they’re going to search for spreadsheets or maybe they’re going to search for or maybe they’re going to search for unsubscribe. We’ve got those things right there in the top in the features section, but also maybe they’re going to search for a Web or Evernote or vertical response or campaign monitor various applications that they use. And they’re looking, Hey, I’m on Google Apps Marketplace. I’ve got Google Apps. I’ve also got a Weber, what can I get? So they just type a web into the search box. Well, in many cases, the only result that would show up would be witchery, because we were the only listing in an entire marketplace out of four or 500 integrations at that time that mentioned Weber. Now, to be clear, I mentioned a Weber in the section that said coming soon integration with a Weber. So we weren’t deceiving anyone, which at this time was not compatible with a Weber. Nevertheless, if somebody has a Weber and somebody has Google Apps Marketplace and they do the search, they’re going to find we’re free and maybe we’re still useful to them. This isn’t deceptive because we’re not saying we’re compatible when we’re not. This is just about discovery. Hey, you might like witchery if you have a Weber. Maybe you also have Shopify. And yes, we are compatible with Shopify. Yeah. So this was useful in terms of writing. I show up in in search rankings for a lot of keywords and you can do this on some marketplaces, perhaps not on others. Depends on your product, right? Not all products can have a big off coming soon section. And now that we’ve shown this technique, it may sort of quickly decrease in its viability. But hey, give it a shot. Right? Remember an earlier step, we said experiment, experiment with see what it produces. Because particularly in the Google Apps marketplace, as we go to the next slide, we’ll see the other thing it produces, which is valuable market research. Now, the Google Apps marketplace is different from some other marketplaces, but not all in that it incorporated a Google Analytics tag. This meant that you could see search traffic on the Google Apps marketplace that resulted in your listing, that landed on your listing as if it was on your own website. And some other marketplaces also have analytics integration and they let us see something like this. Let me explain what we’re seeing in this list. We see here that the number one and number two search terms for finding our listing in the marketplace where we’re sure pre and CRM. Okay, great. We’re we’re sorry we are CRM, but number three and number four were Salesforce and Evernote. So that meant that a lot of the people that were showing up on Wish series listing in this marketplace were searching for something that worked with Salesforce or something that worked with Evernote. This is incredibly valuable market research because now as a app developer, I might consider prioritizing a Salesforce or Evernote integration above some other integration that is appearing way down this search results list. This kind of data is just absolute gold and it can be difficult to get if the marketplaces that you’re working with have this analytics data available or even make it available through some sort of clever experimenting, then it’s really worth considering. And you know, I call out here, is this keyword stuffing or is this market research? The answer is yes, but it’s fine either. And it’s a valuable growth hacking technique.
Bronson: Now, that’s a great insight, and I’m sure that is applicable to so many other things that are not B2B marketplaces. And people just get a little bit creative. They can also outsource their, you know, to do lists of of where their market is. So I think there’s some insights there beyond what we’re saying, but that’s awesome what you are saying. Now, the nice thing here is to invest. So what kinds of things that we invest in here?
Cooper: So to be clear, we’re investing in the success in a particular marketplace. So you thought about all the marketplaces, you ranked them, prioritize them, you built your integration, you launched it quietly, made sure it was working extremely well, made sure you’ve got a process for getting lots of good reviews. All right, now a double down. This is the time when you can potentially ask the marketplace, host the publisher, hey, will you feed me? Every marketplace has a home page and the featured listing on their home page is almost always at least partially editorial. That means somebody is deciding which apps go on the home page and which apps don’t through the previous sort of process here. You built a great relationship with the person that decides now’s the time to ask them, Hey, we’ve done a great job. People love our migration. How about putting us on the homepage? In some cases, you could spend money. I believe the Salesforce App Exchange allows you to buy better placement. Most other marketplaces don’t, but you can ask, even if they don’t specifically allow it. You might ask, Hey, you know, if you all put me on the homepage because of asking nicely, how about I pay you? And of course you want to be careful with making sure you get a great return on your investment, just like with any kind of advertising and you may find advertising is helpful. I wish we did some experimenting with Google keyword advertising. In some cases it was quite effective low volume, but high return on investment. So you can experiment with that as well. And to be clear, we’re advertising to get traffic to the app marketplace listing. So this is unusual, right? You’re not trying to get people to come to your website. You’re trying to get people to go to somebody else’s website where your product is promoted within that website, which it can be. It can make the tracking a little bit different, difficult, but it can be really good. And then we get into kind of typical content marketing blog, post it videos, case studies, webinars. Typically the publishers, the app marketplace hosts, they love to promote this stuff, write guest blog for them, let them guest blog for you, talk about how to use the products together. These things have to be educational. They have to be useful. These are not advertisements. These are content marketing, you know, growth factors. So you’re already good at content marketing and in some cases you can outsource the production, right? If you’re writing blog posts about how to be great at email marketing, well, there’s a lot of people that will write those blog posts for you. You don’t necessarily have to do them yourself and then find that you may discover that you need to add more features. Many marketplaces have a lot of integration hooks, a lot of richness to their APIs. Remember early on we built a minimum viable integration minimum, right? It’s just the minimum to get into the marketplace. Maybe you realize if I added one or two more features to my integration, I’m going to get a lot more traffic, a lot more conversions to paid. This would be the point that you go from minimum to built out integration.
Bronson: Yeah. And so now we get to the fun part. Number ten is profit and number 11 is more profit. So and then you kind of have this like rinse and repeat mentality after that, talk us through where we go after the profit, you know, aspects.
Cooper: So when you go after the profit aspect is basically back to step one or maybe step two, right? We started with a giant list of marketplaces. We winnowed it down to a few. We built on one. We became successful on one. Great. You’ve learned a lot. You can do it next time. Faster you’ll be smarter about which features to include, which integration points to use. It’s just going to be plain better. Take all you’ve learned, take the playbook you’ve developed, and go back and repeat. Repeat the same playbook on each app marketplace. Remember, there is a huge diversity of marketplaces. You’re going to need to be in a lot of those companies that a few that have built big successful businesses in a single marketplace, except those are all consumer marketplaces. They became big on the Apple iOS store and that’s it, right? There is no single app marketplace that’s big enough for you to rely on exclusively. Maybe Salesforce, AppExchange and Google Apps Marketplace. Google Apps Marketplace are getting close to that, but I’m in touch with some of the people that have number one rankings on the Salesforce AppExchange. And I know that they also have to consider other channels for acquiring users. So when you approach this technique, as I said right in the beginning, this is a tactic. This is not the thing that you bet their whole farm on. This is a thing that you have in your quiver. It can be very effective, it’s very efficient, it’s undercapitalized. But what you’ve just learned is how to do it well. So keep doing it.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. What percentage would you say of your effort with witchery went into this kind of system you’ve laid out for us? Are we talking this is 20% of your effort? 80% of your effort. Give us an idea of what how big the piece of pie that this consumed was.
Cooper: Well, for wish, we had a product that would only work in the context of integrations. So there was no witchery standalone product. There’s other business. Most B2B apps can work by themselves without being integrated now because it was dependent on integrations. We were also essentially dependent on B2B marketplaces. Most of our users, most of our signups never came to our website. They found a. Customers started using gas through these app marketplaces. Just like most users of iOS apps never go to the website of the publisher. They just find them and acquire the app on the IRS marketplace. So for Witchery, the marketplaces themselves were hugely important and a major channel for us in terms of level of effort. This was my main job was working with marketplaces to optimize our distribution. My technical co-founders main job was to build our product and build the integrations. But, you know, there is especially if you’re parallel tracking a fair amount of work involved with getting good at working with these marketplaces, though I got to say this do it all again, faster, smarter, better. It really works. Each time you do this, it’s going to get perhaps twice as easy. You can imagine, right the fourth time you do it, it’s trivial, right? You’re cranking these out. And so it doesn’t mean it’s a lot of effort always. There’s also the kind of the customer support, customer service, the review management aspect of this. The reviews are so critical that sometimes you’re communicating one on one with individual customers, changing their experience from bad to good so that you can change their review from bad to good. That can be time consuming, but it’s typically worth the effort. So that’s that’s the kind of thing you’re going to learn to get faster and better at, and your product is going to get better over time to make all of that work well.
Bronson: Yeah. Talk to us about the timeline a little bit, just so people have realistic expectations. Now, obviously, every app is different. Every integration is going to be different. But I mean, your first integration with Witchery. Are we talking three months, ten months? I mean, what kind of what are we looking at here?
Cooper: No. I mean, if you really want to compress this process and if you’re doing truly a minimum viable integration of marketplaces, you could potentially go from zero to starting to see users from the marketplace. I don’t know, couple of weeks, maybe less. Other marketplaces, depending on the technical effort and what you design for your integration, may take a bit longer, but you can just, in some cases, crank them out very quickly. I did find I just have a vague notion that well integrated apps and marketplaces that offer a more integrated experience tend to produce more value. And the closer you get to a marketplace, just being a listing, right, just a directory with no integrations, it’s just the list of URLs. The closer you get to a marketplace being a list of URLs, a less value there is for the end user, right? Well, it could just be Google, right? I mean, they could just find the list of a whole bunch of apps. Right. And there’s no integration. When there’s no functional benefit to finding your product and getting it through a marketplace, then I find that less people do it right. There’s just, why would I bother? Some marketplaces present a lot of great advantages to the end users to go through those marketplaces. Those marketplaces tend to be the ones that are a bit more difficult to integrate with. But they’re better. They’re better for the users and they’ll be better for you. So don’t expect to kind of shortcut the effort to reward tier. If Marketplace is incredibly easy to get into, you may find it doesn’t perform as well. That one and one that actually takes a bit more effort.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s good advice. Now you have a few resources here. Yeah, I think you have three of them. List off some of the resources that you think are helpful for people kind of going through this process.
Cooper: Right. So we’re going to have some links here. There’s some great success text around Google Apps Marketplace, but they’re really applicable to all B2B app marketplaces. You know, frankly, I think this topic is fairly under-covered on the Internet. There’s not a lot of good forces out there for learning how to succeed in these marketplaces. But this posting on this this blog that I’ll provide here was very helpful. There were also some good sessions at the Google I o and 11 conference about succeeding in B2B at market places. And then finally, I’m going to give you a list of at least 150 companies that have B2B apps that either have or are going to have app marketplaces. Remember, back in step one when we said start winnowing your list of potential integration targets, potential marketplaces. This is a great list to start with, but I don’t just list a while back and I welcome viewers to let me know about the ones I missed. I’ll add them to the list. This is a Google spreadsheet, so I’ll keep editing it as I get information and try to make it better and better, at least as a starting point for the giant list of app marketplaces that you could potentially integrate with.
Bronson: Yeah, well, Cooper, this has been an incredible interview. I hope people realize just how much information you’ve actually given them that’s actionable because none of this was theory. This was things that you actually did that actually worked. And it’s stuff like you said, it’s not being talked about. So I really hope that when people have an app that falls in the category that could benefit from B2B marketplaces, that they’ll just put this talk on replay and listen to it over and over and over again. COOPER Thank you so much for coming on Growth Hacker TV.
Cooper: My pleasure. It’s a lot of fun.
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