Bundles are back. For years, web apps prompted a great unbundling of software, with a focus on apps that did one thing well. That changed in 2018. Adobe added Marketo and Magento to their wide-ranging suite of apps, Microsoft acquired GitHub, and Google built the new Hangouts Team Chat to expand G Suite. Even newer apps got in on the game with Twilio’s SendGrid acquisition to add email to their messaging services bundle, and Slack consolidated their team chat lead by purchasing Atlassian’s HipChat and Stride chat apps.
We’ve observed the same on a micro level. Zapier’s 1,300+ app integrations give us a unique view into the most productive businesses’ workflows. Each year, we check which apps are most popular and which are growing fastest in new business workflows. This year, two of our fastest growing apps are part of bundles—and our app “All Stars” are dominated by classic suites like G Suite and Facebook’s Business tools, alongside newer apps like ActiveCampaign and HubSpot that continually add new features to broaden their focus from one task to an entire range of marketing tasks.
Here’s what we learned in 2018:
2018 in Business Software
- Software bundles are back.
- 2019 is the year copy/paste dies.
- The most popular new business apps are DIY.
- The Year’s Fastest Growing Apps, Most Popular New Apps, and Business Software All Stars
Software Bundles Are Back
Less isn’t always more. Slack wants to be the inbox for all your communication in one app. Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign are still best known for their email marketing tools, yet they include a wide range of features from forms to customer relationship management to automation workflows that might require a half-dozen apps to replace. There are different approaches to bundling. Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite both feel like a collection of co-branded, yet only faintly related software. Twilio’s many APIs, meanwhile, each work together to solve a different messaging need. G Suite’s apps each deeply tie in with the other apps—Hangouts Team Chat, for example, is a way to collaborate around Docs and Sheets as much as it is a dedicated chat tool.
Instead of software suites of the past as a collection of software for general use, today’s software suites build on their anchor app’s core strengths to strengthen their offerings for specific audiences and tasks.
In 2019, expect to see more popular business apps join new software suites—or turn into suites in all but name.
2019 is the Year Copy/Paste Dies
Mundane tasks, like copying and pasting data from one application to another, are a drain on productivity. In 2018, companies decided that enough is enough, and embraced smart automation and workflows that at last make computers help us work faster. Integrations like those Zapier offers move data between apps automatically, saving you time and ensuring accuracy.
The best new apps include deep integrations to move data around for you. Then, the new software bundles help. Instead of looking through a half-dozen apps for your data, apps like GitLab or HubSpot that keep everything together make information easier to find.
Templates and workflows take automation further. From Netflify’s streamlining of the development process to PandaDoc’s tools to turn data into complete documents ready to be signed, they’re hyper-focused on making specific workflows take less time, making their apps fit into the way your team works and not the other way around.
In 2019, expect to copy and paste less—and have more of your routine tasks accomplished automatically.
The Most Popular New Business Apps Are DIY
Few people use every feature in powerful professional software like Excel and Photoshop—but we each have a unique set of features we need, and it shouldn’t require coding to get a customized experience. Many of today’s fastest growing apps are DIY-friendly, letting you build the experience you want in your software. ManyChat, Bonjoro, and Mailshake let you customize your team’s communications tools; Squarespace, Leadpages, and Netlify help you make a customized website; ClickUp’s deeply customizable project management shows projects the way each team member wants. All of these apps allow you to make them your own.
The next viral app might not be something radically new—it just might be a better way to customize the tools we’ve used all along.
Here are the apps that led those trends this year.
The Fastest Growing Apps in 2018
Chatbots were everywhere in 2017—only to fall off the zeitgeist this year. But they’re far from gone. ManyChat, this year’s fastest growing app on Zapier, found the sweet spot for chatbots, driving continued growth after being our fastest growing new app in 2017. Its Facebook Messenger bots share personalized info with Facebook fans and answer routine questions automatically—then hand the conversation over to a human for the questions that need a personal touch.
For longer messages, Front’s collaborative email inbox filled a need teams have well enough to be our second fastest growing app. With internal collaboration and companion apps built into your email app, you can work more efficiently with your team—and make sure everyone hits inbox zero.
Working efficiently often means having everything in one place. Dubsado, our third fastest growing app this year and last, takes that seriously. More than just a CRM (customer relationship management tool), it includes forms and proposals to start the project, to-dos to manage the work, and invoices to get paid when everything’s done. It wins by streamlining work so you don’t waste time looking for info.
Here are more details about our 10 fastest growing apps this year:
- ManyChat: An app to build Facebook Messenger bots to engage followers and gather lead info automatically.
- Front: A collaborative email app for teams to work together on email inboxes, increase response time, and save time.
- Dubsado: A business management tool to invoice, sign contracts, schedule appointments and more to save you time, impress your clients, and grow your business.
- Gitlab: A software development app to plan projects, manage code, test apps, then release and monitor them; also Inc’s 4th fastest growing private software company.
- Facebook Offline Conversions: A Facebook feature to track in-person purchases from ads and measure effectiveness.
- Bitly: A link management app that create and track branded short links, with an API to help brands do this at scale.
- Bonjoro: An email marketing app to send personal videos to new customers and subscribers.
- WPForms: A form builder for WordPress, with powerful add-ons and logic to build mini apps without coding.
- Mailshake: An email template app to build personalized outreach emails with suggested copy improvements.
- Zoho Forms: A form builder app that works with other Zoho One apps and makes template documents automatically.
The Most Popular New Business Apps in 2018
The original telephone was called a toy by telegraph giant Western Union’s CEO, and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer similarly dismissed the iPhone’s lack of a keyboard. New tech often looks unproductive at first, and the new business apps in 2018 that grew fastest on Zapier are no exception. Designed as a better way for gamers to chat, Discord is toy-turned-tool. Its fast chat apps, deep integrations, and generous free plans make Discord a great chat app for any team (not just teams planning to storm a virtual castle).
Other apps grow over time to fill new needs. Squarespace, a longtime popular tool to build websites without coding, snagged the second slot on our fastest growing list with its new forms integrations. That brings a Squarespace site’s functionality deeper into your business workflow as a core part of sales and support workflows.
Streamline workflows, and your app has a fair chance at winning in the workplace. Netlify, our third fastest growing app, excels there. Even the simplest sites and apps take dozens of steps to design, develop, and deploy. Netlify simplifies that away with a one-click workflow to publish and maintain sites. That makes life easier for development teams—enough to snag $30 million from investors this year.
Here’s the full list of the top-ten fastest growing apps on Zapier in 2018:
- Discord: A free team chat app with always-available voice chat to easily talk to or text your team.
- Squarespace: A website builder app to design and host websites without coding, with forms to gather data.
- Netlify: A platform to build and deploy websites from GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket repositories in a click.
- Leadpages: A landing page builder to design marketing pages that gather lead data and convert into new customers.
- Things: A newly redesigned to-do list app to manage events and projects, with email integrations to add tasks.
- PandaDoc: A document template app to automatically generate routine documents and get them eSigned.
- Klaviyo: A marketing automation platform that uses your sales and marketing data to send personalized, targeted campaigns.
- WebinarJam: A webinar app to present ideas and broadcast them live on Facebook, YouTube, and your website.
- ClickUp: A productivity platform with list, box, and kanban board views to organize projects and tasks the way each person on your team wants.
- Proposify: A newly redesigned proposal app to creates new template proposals automatically and accept payments.
2018’s Business Software All Stars
The apps that connected teams rely on today aren’t the same tools and suites you’ll find in traditional offices from any industry. Instead, they’re smaller, nimbler apps that work everywhere.
They’re new takes on classic business apps like email and spreadsheet in Alphabet’s G Suite, forms with Typeform, and teamwork with Trello and Asana. They’re tools to reach customers where they are—whether that’s in email with Mailchimp, HubSpot, and ActiveCampaign, or on social networks with Facebook’s and Twitter’s business offerings. They’re tools like Slack that are so influential, nearly every other software suite now includes a similar chat app.
For over half the apps on our All Stars list, they’re new ways to market your products and reach customers. Marketing isn’t a one-step task. You need to build an audience, share timely info, keep track of interested leads, and make sure they purchase your products. That makes marketing apps a crucial part of today’s business workflows.
Even if they’re not marketing tools, the apps below are what the most productive teams use today to get work done.
- G Suite (including Gmail, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Contacts, and Google Forms): A suite of business apps.
- Slack: A team chat app.
- Facebook Business (including Facebook Pages, Instagram, and Facebook Lead Ads): Tools to market your business on Facebook’s networks.
- Mailchimp: An email newsletter app with new marketing automation tools.
- Twitter: A social network with short status updates and real-time news.
- Trello: A project management app that popularized kanban boards.
- Typeform: A form builder app to make interactive forms.
- HubSpot (including HubSpot and HubSpot CRM): A CRM and marketing automation app.
- ActiveCampaign: An email newsletter, marketing automation, and CRM, and chat messaging app.
- Asana: A project management and to-do list app for teams.
Discover more popular apps and compare trends over time with Zapier’s app reports:
- Zapier Software Trends Report: What We Learned From 1,000 SaaS Apps
- Summer 2018’s Fastest Growing Apps
- 2017’s Fastest Growing Apps
- 2016’s Fastest Growing Apps
Whenever you need new work apps, check Zapier’s App Directory for an up-to-date list of the most popular and fast growing apps in each category.