Three years ago, Smartsheet was one of the first third-party applications available in the Google Apps Marketplace. At the time, we were a scrappy little startup with fewer than 10 employees and were looking for avenues to grow.
Google took a simple but effective approach to developing the Google Apps Marketplace:
- Provide an ecosystem of cloud apps that are designed to work together
- Ensure that users can sign in once and be connected to all the apps
- Increase efficiencies with great cross-application feature communication
It’s a winning formula for everyone involved – admins, users, ISVs, and Google.
Fast forward nearly 3 years to today’s update to the Marketplace. Where’s our business? Our collaborative work management solution is used in more than 30,000 organizations in 160 countries – from small and medium-sized businesses to some of the largest, most sophisticated enterprises – including HomeAway, McGraw-Hill, Toshiba, ESPN, Sony Music, MetLife, Colliers International, Bloomingdales and Behr Paints.
We often get asked what role the G Suite Marketplace plays in our business, if this channel has changed our expectations about the larger cloud ecosystem, and if we’re still betting on Google.
Short answers respectively: Pivotal, Yes and Hell Yes.
Why so confident? The G Suite Marketplace as a channel is one of the most profitable for us – not only in terms of the initial discovery and acquisition of users, but also to keep the users engaged and drive growth through viral expansion. It is the combination of three aspects (acquisition, engagement, expansion) that makes the Marketplace an extremely valuable channel for us.
Why the G Suite Marketplace (Really) Matters to our Business
Reason 1: Juicing User Acquisition
Users who discover Smartsheet through the G Suite Marketplace tend to be serious users who are looking for real business solutions. In our case, they’re looking for collaborative project and work management solutions for their team or organization. Not only can they find apps quickly, but the simple single sign-on with Google Apps helps lower the barriers for them to trial Smartsheet. Single sign-on, coupled with rich integrations (Gmail, Calendar, etc.) helps us deliver a more streamlined experience for our trial users.
Why does this matter?
To business buyers, these integrations mean increased efficiencies, resulting in them buying larger group (larger, higher priced team) plans. Coupled with these bigger deals, Marketplace buyers tend to be higher quality trials for us. In fact, they end up converting at a higher rate – 4x higher than the average of all our other channels.
Reason 2: Driving Higher Engagement
When people discover Smartsheet, they tell us it’s vastly better than what they’re currently using (typically Microsoft Excel + email) for managing team projects and work progress. While Smartsheet retains the ease of use of a spreadsheet, it layers in several highly valuable collaborative functions.
One of those powerful and popular features is sharing files in context of the work by uploading files or linking to items in Google Drive.
This is where it gets interesting. Users from the G Suite Marketplace tend to contribute on average 2x more attachments than our non-Google Apps users. By offering an easy way for our users to collaborate on their content and providing deep integration with Google Drive, we enable our users to transition from their traditional MS Office documents to Google Drive and Smartsheet.
Google Apps users who find Smartsheet through the Marketplace are more engaged users of Smartsheet, in terms of sheet use and even advanced feature use – making them more engaged customers who derive real value from the integration.
Reason 3: Google Apps Users are More Collaborative
At the heart of Smartsheet’s collaborative solution is the ability to simply share the sheets with team members, inside and outside the organization. When it comes to sharing and collaborating on work, we weren’t expecting users from the G Suite Marketplace to be any more collaborative than users coming from other channels.
However, these users share their sheets broadly – 1.5x more shares compared to our regular paid users – both within their network and outside. So not only are they some of our most committed customers, they also perform a key role in helping us spread the word and attract new users to Smartsheet.
The G Suite Marketplace has also given us a new way to think about the value of an app directory and how to critically evaluate who we work with to grow our business as we deliver better user experiences. We entered the GAM with modest expectations but the numbers don’t lie: the G Suite Marketplace is one of the best sources of business. So we’ll be doubling down on our work with Google.
The G Suite Marketplace is a strategic investment for us. Yes, it's a highly profitable distribution channel. But more importantly, it's an easy and effective way for companies to find the solutions they need.