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How app marketplaces are putting marketers in the driver’s seat

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How app marketplaces are putting marketers in the driver’s seat


As the martech space matures, so have app exchanges that offer easier access for marketers to load up their stacks.

Today, Salesforce unveiled a new homepage for their AppExchange that helps marketers better navigate the marketplace of over 7,000 prebuilt partner apps. And this serves no small portion of Salesforce’s client base. They report that 91% of their total business customers use AppExchange apps, and that the exchange has surpassed 10 million downloads.

Teams have become more remote over the last two years, and business processes in many companies have transformed as a result. Even as some professionals reunite at the office and at live events, bringing people together requires more technology, not less. Hence, Salesforce’s Safety Cloud.

In feeding this appetite for digital transformation, HubSpot has more than doubled the number of app partners integrated with its CRM platform, reaching the 1,000-app milestone earlier this year. Organizations are using these tools to connect processes, teams and, importantly, their data.

“People are looking to aggregate their data in one common place and then looking at how they can activate it,” said Scott Brinker, VP of platform ecosystems at Hubspot. “What’s important to us in martech is that everybody loves innovation, but marketers don’t want to be in the business of fitting these things together.”

New intuitive experience for AppExchange

Salesforce is activating their customer data to help streamline the app discovery process in their AppExchange. They have a single source for each customer called the Trailblazer ID, and this helps surface a personalized experience through recommendations based on preferences, search history and other data points for Salesforce customers.

For instance, specific tech categories that a user has previously shown interest in or worked with, like within the Sales or Marketing Cloud, will appear now in the Top Categories section of the homepage when that user visits the AppExchange homepage.

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An AppExchange live-chat icon also provides the opportunity for Salesforce customers to speak directly with app partners in real time. Additionally, the homepage surfaces relevant case studies for customers to view.

“We’ve seen an evolution with the AppExchange from a directory to a marketplace to a recommendation engine, and the use of AI really changed it,” said Leslie Tom, SVP of AppExchange Marketing for Salesforce. “The experience has gone from allowing customers to find and search for an app to more of a marketplace, where they look and find what they need. We’re moving in the direction where the experience is pushing the right apps by personae to customers, along with the right content and consulting partners.”

Video content isn’t embedded yet in the app experience, but it’s on the roadmap, Tom said.

“From our perspective, the same thing happened [internally as with our customers] where digital transformation was happening at lightning speed,” Tom explained. “When the pandemic hit, they needed the tools now to get business done.”

Partner integrations for B2B customers

Integrations for work-from-home tools like Zoom skyrocketed during the pandemic, pressing app marketplaces to expand their partnerships.

“Recommending apps to support customers was something that changed so much because we depend on bringing partners, customers, and the workforce together,” said Tom. “How do we connect customers and partners together? With AppExchange we’re asking how can we bring the experience back together.”

Read next: HubSpot app marketplace teams up with ON24

“Platforms like HubSpot have a responsibility to open up our API to make it possible to integrate with us,” said Brinker. “From a discovery perspective, our responsibility is to provide an organization governance, certifications, and show that the platform has reviewed an app. The platform’s job is to make it easier to integrate, install and trust.”

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Connecting teams and departments within the organization

Now that there’s an even greater need for organizations to connect remotely, they need to find and install apps that streamline processes. Increasingly, teams across different departments also need access to work together.

“The category of products and the way they integrate is kind of related,” said Brinker. “For instance, between marketing and sales. There’s been a collapse of the customer experience through marketing and sales departments. Customers can’t distinguish what’s a marketing touchpoint or a sales touchpoint. These are internal hurdles in determining who was doing what. So that’s the low-hanging fruit – greater alignment between sales and marketing, just making sure to have data in common platforms.”

He added, “I think this next stage we’re at, is that an organization might have pretty good alignment, but they’re expanding that to customer service and support functions. If you have digital products or e-commerce, you want to connect that universe. And increasingly there is a need for finance and financial relations with these customers – showing the company is in good standing and producing lifetime value as finance sees it.”

Tom also cited financial services as a major growth area in the Salesforce AppExchange, with currently over 200 app in that category.

“Integrations are getting deeper, so it’s not just sharing data,” said Brinker. “Workflow automation enables work across these functions. Teams want to see if there’s some issue that’s happening in support or the renewals department. More and more of these integrations are being implemented in a shared workflow.”


About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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MARKETING

Build-A-Bear using data to make itself into an all-ages brand

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Build-A-Bear using data to make itself into an all-ages brand

Build-A-Bear is remaking itself for the 25th anniversary of its founding this year. This means using its experience and its data to appeal to older customers and create stronger online connections.

“The goal that was stated for us was to diversify our brand, evolve our retail portfolio and build stronger relationships with our consumers,” said Ed Poppe, Build-A-Bear’s vice president, loyalty and performance marketing for Build-A-Bear, in a presentation at The MarTech Conference.

That’s why they launched HeartBox, an e-commerce play which the company says will let it move into “the adult-to-adult gift-giving and gift box market which has been meaningfully expanding over the past few years.” This goes along with its new Bear Cave line of “adult” bears (in this case adult means they have alcohol in hand). The brand has also expanded through partnerships with film, entertainment and streaming TV properties like Harry Potter, Pokémon, The Matrix and the Marvel series WandaVision.

These efforts are designed to give more options to customers who buy online, and increase options for engagement. This has required integrating new teams and new sources of data.

Connecting customer data and teams

“Over half of businesses now say that they expect the majority of their revenue to come from digital channels,” said Loretta Shen, senior director, product marketing, marketing cloud intelligence for Salesforce. “To meet changing consumer behavior, marketers are adopting digital channels like video, social media and digital ads across search and paid media. But it’s not just adopting these channels, but how you use them, and in particular how you use them in tandem.”

Build-A-Bear adapted to customers’ increased digital use by adding new digital experiences while also reorganizing customer data to better understand what customers want.

“We have to understand our guests at Build-A-Bear,” said Bryce Ahrens, Build-A-Bear’s senior analyst, CRM, loyalty and performance marketing. “How do they engage with our email, our websites, our advertising and, of course, how do they engage and experience our in-store environment?”

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They keep a large CRM database made up of loyalty program members, website customers, retail customers and sales prospects. Additionally, through access to the CRM, the organization is pulling together different teams: web development, analytics, marketing and also data privacy people.

These teams have to remain connected because data is coming through different systems. Build-A-Bear has a first-party data warehouse, a commerce cloud storefront, an order management system, marketing cloud, an email platform and different analytics solutions, not to mention ad platforms for campaigns.

“We need to be able to bring this information together, prioritize what we look at, and identify strategies to move quickly,” said Ahrens.

Read next: What you need to know to grow your e-commerce business

Count Your Candles

Data and digital experience come together in an ongoing Build-A-Bear effort called “Count Your Candles.”

The promotion is a special offer for customers to order a discounted bear (regularly priced at $14) that costs a dollar amount that matches their age.

The dedicated webpage for this promotion also allows customers and gift-givers to buy gift cards and become loyalty members. Additionally, there are a number of other ways that customers can celebrate birthdays, including in-store birthday parties and special birthday gift boxes that can be ordered and delivered.

These strategies came from marketers looking at the data and seeing what sparked their customers’ interests. In this case, it was birthdays.

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“We’re lucky to have a team up here who wants to jump in and help drive our business forward,” said Poppe. “But it also brings us back to where it’s important to aggregate data, identify patterns, see your opportunities, and pick your path forward.”


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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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