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Publishing Software Apps: Choosing the Right Marketplaces

Introduction

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.

We’ll cover:

  • 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.

Amazon AppStore

Preloaded on Amazon devices. Can help expand reach but scaled down compared to Play Store and App Store.

Microsoft 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:

Salesforce AppExchange

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.

Twilio Marketplace

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.

Atlassian Marketplace

Apps tailored for Atlassian’s developer and collaboration tools like Jira and Confluence used by 200,000 companies.

SAP Store

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:

GitHub Marketplace

Promote tools and integrations to GitHub’s massive 85 million developer community.

MongoDB Realm

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.

RapidAPI Marketplace

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:

Costs

Marketplaces charge anywhere from free listings up to 30% commission on paid apps driving downloads. Factor costs against upside.

Audience Reach

Assess market size and demographics against your target users. Big app stores drive sheer numbers but niche vertical works if aligned.

Store Commitment

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.

Exposure Algorithms

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:

Keyword Metadata

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.

High-Quality Screenshots

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.

Updated Builds

Frequently release updates, localizations and performance fixes to keep listings fresh.

Social Linking

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.

Self-Support

Manage support directly with users vs relying partly on marketplace technical teams.

Feature Flexibility

Launch desired features freely without navigating store approval processes.

Brand Consistency

Maintain singular brand experience driving to your website vs inconsistent marketplace presentation.

Promotional Control

Set own pricing, discounts, bundles and promotions instead of relying on marketplace sales.

Multi-Channel Distribution

A hybrid model leverages both marketplaces and direct sales:

Marketplace Audience Acquisition

Leverage huge marketplace audiences for initial customer acquisition and scale.

Enterprise Upsell

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.

Cross-Channel Analytics

Track customer activity and optimize experience across direct and indirect channels.

Review Monitoring

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.

Conclusion

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.

By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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