Publishing Software Apps: Choosing the Right Marketplaces
Once your software application is developed, you need avenues to distribute it to users. App marketplaces offer a fast path to reach millions of potential customers already actively looking for new software across industries.
But with so many options like mobile app stores, SaaS marketplaces, developer portals and more, where should you list your app? This comprehensive guide explores major software app marketplaces, criteria for selection, optimizing listings, and distributing direct through your website.
- Leading general mobile app marketplaces
- Specialized industry and enterprise SaaS platforms
- Developer community and open source portals
- Optimizing listings for maximum visibility
- Commercial considerations like costs and revenue splits
- Maintaining control through direct sales from your website
- Multi-channel distribution pros and cons
- Transitioning between marketplace and direct sales models
Follow these tips to pick the optimal marketplaces aligning with your software app, audience, business model and distribution strategy. Let’s dive in!
Mobile Application Marketplaces
Massive exposure reaching mobile users across iOS and Android:
Apple App Store
Access to over 1 billion active iOS users. But requires adhering to strict, sometimes arbitrary app guidelines.
Google Play Store
Android’s official app store. More flexible for developers but higher chance of getting lost amid over 2.9 million competing apps.
Preloaded on Amazon devices. Can help expand reach but scaled down compared to Play Store and App Store.
Pre-installed on Windows devices and Xbox. Much smaller audience than other mobile platforms but still over 100 million users.
Industry-Specific SaaS Platforms
Specialized marketplaces catering to niche verticals and use cases:
The #1 enterprise SaaS ecosystem. Rigorous review process but over 7 million customers to tap once accepted.
Shopify App Store
The top marketplace for ecommerce apps reaching over 1 million Shopify merchant subscribers.
Showcase apps that integrate with Twilio’s leading communications APIs used by developers and call centers.
HubSpot App Marketplace
Marketing, sales and CRM focused apps to extend HubSpot’s popular platform used by 150,000 businesses.
Apps tailored for Atlassian’s developer and collaboration tools like Jira and Confluence used by 200,000 companies.
Extend business applications for SAP’s 500,000+ global enterprise customers across industries.
Developer Portals and Communities
Publish apps where your fellow developers hang out:
Promote tools and integrations to GitHub’s massive 85 million developer community.
Database tools for MongoDB’s 13 million+ user ecosystem of cloud developers.
MuleSoft Anypoint Exchange
Showcase integration apps and components for MuleSoft’s 7 million API-led developers.
Distribution and monetization of API integrations and microservices reaching 17 million+ developers.
Bubble App Marketplace
No-code web and mobile apps for Bubble’s visual development platform used by 1 million builders.
Listing and Distribution Considerations
Key dynamics shape marketplace publishing decisions:
Marketplaces charge anywhere from free listings up to 30% commission on paid apps driving downloads. Factor costs against upside.
Assess market size and demographics against your target users. Big app stores drive sheer numbers but niche vertical works if aligned.
Some require extensive developer documentation, support capacity, marketing etc. Determine if ready for publishing rigor.
Direct Monetization Ability
Many allow apps to process payments independently while others require in-store purchases limiting flexibility.
App rankings, ratings and featuring impact discoverability. Research store search optimization best practices.
Alternatives Like Web
Consider direct sales from your website if app doesn’t require native platform functionality.
Optimizing Your Listing
Maximize on-page optimization for store search algorithms and user browsing:
Include relevant keywords in title, description and categorized tags to be found in searches.
Compelling Listing Copy
Summarize the value proposition clearly and persuasively while aligning with brand voice.
Professionally designed screenshots vividly showcase core app UI and usage flows.
Ratings and Reviews
Prompt satisfied users to leave positive reviews and ratings which influence search rankings.
Frequently release updates, localizations and performance fixes to keep listings fresh.
Integrate app store accounts with website and social channels to cross-promote.
Maintaining Control Through Direct Sales
Selling from your site allows greater control and monetization:
Customer Data Ownership
Collect all sales and usage data directly instead of relying on third-party marketplaces.
Higher Profit Margins
Avoid store commissions resulting in greater revenue capture.
Manage support directly with users vs relying partly on marketplace technical teams.
Launch desired features freely without navigating store approval processes.
Maintain singular brand experience driving to your website vs inconsistent marketplace presentation.
Set own pricing, discounts, bundles and promotions instead of relying on marketplace sales.
A hybrid model leverages both marketplaces and direct sales:
Marketplace Audience Acquisition
Leverage huge marketplace audiences for initial customer acquisition and scale.
Transition larger enterprise accounts to direct contracts and premium support packages.
Mobile App Store Visibility
Maintain app store presence for continuous mobile visibility even as growing direct sales.
Website Referral Traffic
Highlight website and direct purchase options prominently within marketplace listings.
Track customer activity and optimize experience across direct and indirect channels.
Keep monitoring marketplace reviews and feedback even as growing direct customer base.
Transitioning Distribution Strategies
Apps may shift focus between channels over time:
Marketplace to Direct
Launch in stores to establish product-market fit then emphasize higher-margin direct sales.
Direct to Marketplace
Once achieving scale, expand audience through highly trafficked marketplaces.
Marketplace to Website
If marketplace metrics underperform, refocus on selling through owned properties.
Website to Marketplace
Listing established commercial apps provides a growth and visibility surge.
Publishing on aligned marketplaces accelerates exposure for software apps while maintaining direct sales enables greater control over customer experience. Weigh factors like audience reach, costs, capabilities and branding when devising an integrated distribution strategy across channels. Marketplaces and websites working in tandem maximizes discoverability and revenue.
- 1 Publishing Software Apps: Choosing the Right Marketplaces
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Mobile Application Marketplaces
- 1.3 Industry-Specific SaaS Platforms
- 1.4 Developer Portals and Communities
- 1.5 Listing and Distribution Considerations
- 1.6 Optimizing Your Listing
- 1.7 Maintaining Control Through Direct Sales
- 1.8 Multi-Channel Distribution
- 1.9 Transitioning Distribution Strategies
- 1.10 Conclusion