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B2b SAAS Growth hacking case study: How Slack growth hack to Fast growing SAAS startup ever

By March 2, 2018 No Comments

About Slack

Slack is an enterprise collaboration software that allows team members of businesses and companies of all sizes to communicate effectively. It is a platform that allows team members to send messages to one another either through direct messaging or through group messaging.

Slack was founded by Stewart Butterfield alone with other co-founders which include Cal Henderson, Eric Costello, and Serguei Mourachov. It was initially released in August 2013 until its stable releases for different operating systems in 2017.

Investment raised so far by Slack

Slack has received funding from different investors. The funds raised so far includes;

  1. $11.5 Million was raised from investments made by Astound on January 30, 2018.
  2. $3.3 Million was raised from investments made by Plato on August 3, 2017.
  3. $1.1 Million was raised from investments made by Synervoz Communications on January 1, 2017.
  4. $550 Thousand was raised from investments made by Parabol on May 1, 2017.
  5. $20 Million was raised from investments made by Demisto on February 9, 2017.
  6. $2.8 Million was raised from investments made by Lattice on May 12, 2016.
  7. $2.425 Million was raised from investments made by Wade & Wendy on April 22, 2016.
  8. $1.5 Million was raised from investments made by Konsus on August 9, 2016.
  9. $7 Million was raised from investments made by Troops, Inc. on September 12, 2016.
  10. $2.6 Million was raised from investments made by Automat on July 16, 2016.
  11. $1.6 Million was raised from investments made by Statsbot on December 20, 2016.

Stats about slack

  • Slack is the fastest growing company of all time.
  • In just 4 years, Slack grew from being valued at $0 to a whopping $4 Billion.
  • In every 11 days, Slack adds $1 Million in new contracts.
  • Slack has 77% of the Fortune 100 that are using the software.
  • Slack has 4 million active users daily.

            List of growth hacking strategies used by slack

  • Word of mouth marketing

Word of mouth marketing has been a strategy that has been utilized by Slack founders and owners to get it publicized to the general public which has led to its exponential growth.

The initial growth of Slack was experienced due to the word of mouth that the pioneer founder of Slack, known as Stewart Butterfield used in spreading and publicizing Slack.

Stewart Butterfield utilized the strategy of word of mouth marketing, leveraging on the fact that he was the founder of Flickr before the emergence of Slack and as such has already known a lot of people during his time as the founder of Flickr.

Stewart Butterfield followed a 4-sequence step in order to successfully market Slack through word of mouth marketing strategy. These steps include;

Step 1: Once you have a functional product, you need to convince everyone you know to try it out and give feedback about the product.

In order to know the workability of your product, you need to give it out for other people to use so that they can have practical experience of it and give feedbacks (either negative feedbacks or positive feedbacks).

This is what Butterfield did when Slack was released in May 2013. He asked some friends and other companies to try out the workabilities of Slack and give their feedback on their thoughts and what they found out using the application.

Step 2: Find an interesting and catchy “hook” that will help to publicize the word continuously.

A Hook is a slogan which a product is popularly known for. In an effort to get a widespread publicity, Slack created an interesting hook which was Slack is out to “Kill email”. Email is a very popular means of communication in the business world and then saying you have an application that can kill email will surely create curiosity in the mind of people and draw people’s attention which will lead to widespread publicity.

After creating an interesting and catchy hook, it doesn’t just end there, you need to use all available channel to publicise it on social media. Social media is a great way to get your product publicize all over the world within a very short time. Ask people and more people to continually share it on every platform of social media so that it will get to more people.

This is the second step Butterfield and his team  took to get Slack publicize that yielded great results.

Step 3: Invite people to try out your preview release

In order for you to know how well your product is working, invite people to come and try it out. This is what Butterfield and his team did by giving people the chance to request invites so that they can come try out the preview release of Slack.

The preview release is also known as the beta-testing. It is the most important final stage of software development. It is the stage whereby the users and testers give feedbacks about the software by commending the workabilities and benefits of the software, providing suggestions or functionalities that should be added to the software.

Slack gave people the chance to request invites and over 8,000 people agreed to be invited on the very first day, which almost doubled 2 weeks later.

With the feedback of your testers, you then know what needs to be done before the final launching of your product.

 

Step 4: Launch your product for public use

After the preview and testing stage, you now have a good functional product which you need to launch for public use. This is what Slack did 6 months after they have released the previewed version.

Slack experienced very high traffic after launching the application and had active users of above 4 million daily.

This high traffic was attributed to the great word-of-mouth that was seriously engaged in by Butterfield and his team from December 2012 to February 2014.

  • Youtube Video marketing

Youtube Video Marketing is another way in which Slack uses to publicize its services. Youtube is Slack’s second highest social media traffic and about 155,000 views are recorded monthly on Slack Youtube channels.

Slack has different Youtube videos about its product and features and also Ads videos. The Ads videos are observed to drive more traffic with the highest number of views. This is a great way to drive more traffic to their official site by placing a call-to-action URL link on each video posting so that viewers can click the link which will take them directly to the Slack website.

Slack also uses a marketing strategy called “Curiosity-gap” to get viewers to stop watching a video for a moment and visit their website to check on what they have just watched on the Youtube video. This is a smart way to drive more traffic to their website and increase Slack users.

  • Podcast marketing strategy

 Podcast Marketing Strategy is another great strategy to get to more potential audiences. Slack used this strategy by sponsoring podcasts and also creating their own podcasts. Slack sponsored up to 10 different podcasts that have different audiences thereby communicating with a very large audience.

It is also important to sponsor podcasts with loyal audiences that regularly interact with the host.

Slack created their own podcasts namely “The Slack Variety Pack” and “The Meaning and Identity we find in work”. The Slack Variety Pack is a podcast about the work, people, and teams that work together in workplaces. It talks about the culture, teamwork, stories, and happenings around workplaces and office environments.

This podcast generated up to 2 million listeners in the course of the 15 episodes of the whole podcast sessions.

Slack used promotional techniques during this podcast episodes. These techniques include;

Promotion technique 1: Slack used a promotional technique by first introducing Slack and telling customers to visit their site before the commencement of an episode.

Promotion technique 2: Slack as people to tweet their own story after specific podcast stories. This is a smart strategy to get the audience to actively involve themselves and communicate with the host.

Promotion technique 3: Slack also ask the audience to share their thoughts and feedback after the end of every episode. This also allows audience to be actively involved with the podcast activities.

 

  • GitHub and Trello Integration

Using referral programs by integrating traffic from another website to your website is a way Slack uses to generate more traffic.

Slack integrates GitHub and Trello to their website to generate more traffic in a way that if you click on the GitHub link, you get to read about Slack and how GitHub is been integrated with Slack. The same thing also applies to Trello when you click on Trello link.

GitHub and Trello generates a total click of up to 350,000, where GitHub generates a total click of about 200,000 and Trello generate a total click of about 150,000. This is an easy way in which Slack generate more traffic.

Slack has other numerous integrating sites but GitHub and Trello are the sites with the highest clicks and referrals.

  • Blogging in Medium.com

 Slack also uses blog posts to generate more traffic. Slack uses different types of blog posts to make publications in order to get their product to more audience and thus generate more traffic to their website.

Slack blog posts include;

  • Company and Product updates
  • Product tutorials
  • Practical workplace tips
  • Personal Stories

With these blogs and publication, Slack has been able to make some impacts and generated positive results. These results include;

  • They have been able to generate extra 70,000 and above viewers monthly to their main website.
  • They have been able to keep their customers informed and also update potential customers with every necessary information about Slack and what they need to know.
  • They have been able to boost and increase the Slack website in search engines so that when people search for related software or applications in search engines Slack appears tops on results.
  • They have been able to uniquely connect with audience and readers as well as build their brand name with utmost trust and reliability.

Slack uses 4 different types of blog posts to achieve all these results. Each blog posts perform unique functions and create unique results.

  • Company and Product updates – Company and Product updates are the blog posts with the highest viewer activities and traffic. Slack updates about its Company’s products and services per-time and these posts have generated a lot of viewers share both of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

These posts on the company and product updates are to create brand awareness and also to informed customers and potential customers about exisiting and upcoming products, innovations or other events going on in the Slack world. It is also to create brand awareness in the mind of prospective customers and also impress them so that they will be more willing to be part of the Slack world.

 

  • Product Tutorials – Product tutorials is another type of blog posts Slack uses to increase their SEO so that more people can find their publications easily in search engines. Product tutorials account for the second highest traffic drivers in Slack blog postings.

Slack uses special keyword phrases to generate more traffic to its page. Keywords such as slack blogs, slack bot tutorials, slack meetings, slack status, slack hq, e.t.c, are some of the keywords used to generate more traffic to its page.

With these keywords, when people make searches on search engines, they are directed to Slack publications which invariably lead to more traffic to the Slack page.

Slack also uses CTA links to get readers to read about other important publications and updates from other useful pages which are of importance to the readers.

  • Practical Workplace tips – Practical workplace tips is the third type of blog posts that generate traffic to Slack page. These kinds of articles or posts accounts for the third driver of traffic. Slack intelligently post articles about practical workplace experiences on the Slackhq’s referral sites. A lot of traffic is generated from the referral sites on to the Slackhq site.
  • Personal Stories – Slack also uses blogs about personal stories and feedbacks to drive traffic from referral sites back to the Slack website. These stories are to create brand awareness and show off the company products to existing customers and potential customers.

An Interesting and eye-catchy headline should be used to call the readers attention so as to get more clicks and generate more traffic. This is what Slack did which have generated a good result.

  • Organic Marketing strategy

Slack also uses organic marketing strategy to increase traffic to their website by intelligently using Slack’s app directory landing pages. They use top Slack organic keywords to drive traffic to their app directory landing pages.

Top keywords such as google drive, google calendar, windows, trello, jira, wunderlist, and giphy generate a lot of traffic to Slack’s app directory landing pages. These keywords have a high rate of global monthly search volume that takes readers to the app directory pages of Slack.

A Slack organic keyword search result analysis shows that the keyword “google drive”, produces a monthly search volume of 6,120,000. This means that about 6,120,000 times people type in “google drive” on search engine every month which is the same amount of time Slack app directory pages appears top in search engine for google drive. Another high-rank keyword is “google calendar”, which produces a monthly search result of 1,830,000.

How did Slack do this that when people type in these keywords even when they are not searching for Slack, the Slack website pops up?

Though Slack does not have a lot of keywords compared to other top ranking websites with a very high amount of keywords, Slack keywords are still ranked on the first page of Google and Bing. How did they make this possible?

Slack uses integration strategy to integrate with other app web pages. They made sure that if anyone searches for a product with Slack integrates, the Slack web page shows up on the first page of search results. They do this by creating an individual landing page for each of their integrations which are created by the app directory partners and Slack themselves.

Slack keywords such as slack, slackapp, slackdownload, slacklogin, produces most of the traffic to the Slack website. The keyword “slack” alone produces a whopping 72.72% traffic.

 

  • Social Media Marketing strategy

Slack also uses social marketing strategy to drive traffic to their website. They use Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn to drive traffic to their website, with Facebook driving the highest amount of traffic of 52.20% making more than half of the total traffic generation.

Slack uses Facebook to drive a lot of traffic from their Facebook page to their website by making posts and adding URL links that when clicked directly take people to their web page.

Youtube is the next highest traffic driver which generates traffic of 19.09% amounting to about 155,000 views per month. The Youtube channels comprise of Slack’s content, tutorials, case studies, and Ads. Ads generate more of the total views.

Slack gets traffic from Youtube by incorporating a Call-To-Action that directs viewers from Youtube directly to the Slack website when they click on the CTA link. Slack also uses the “curiosity-gap” to get viewers to take a moment to visit their website to check about what they have just viewed on Youtube. With this, Slack get more visits to their website and also more clicks on Youtube.

Slack also generates a good amount of traffic from their Twitter page. Twitter accounts for 8.64% of the total traffic generated by social media. Twitter also played a leading role in Slack’s word-of-mouth growth. When tweets are made by someone or people about Slack, it is been seen by hundred’s and thousand’s of other people.

Slack relies heavily on Twitter for customer support, feedback and to create awareness to the general public. Slack uses Twitter not only to drive traffic to their website but also to connect with their customers and create brand awareness. Each tweet and retweet talks about Slack and this create very high brand awareness in the mind of people and it also helps to establish a personal connection with the people reading the tweets and also retweeting them.

  • Highly converting paid users

Slack uses an intelligent strategy to convert 30% of their free users into paid users. How do they make this possible?

It is a good thing to get a lot of traffic, acquire a lot of free users but when they are not converted into paid users, it amounts to no revenue for the company. Slack has used a very intelligent technique to convert over 1.25 million users into paid users of their active users of over 4 million.

Slack was able to convert users from free version into paid users by using three intelligent techniques which include;

  • An excellent onboarding process

Most customers or users don’t completely understand the benefits of a product or how to use a  product and so they do not see the need to convert from the free version to paid version.

Slack provides answers for this kind of situation by providing training, tutorials and other resources the customers need so as to totally understand the benefit of using Slack and how to use it. They have to be able to convince people of the total benefits of using the Slack app by telling them all they need to know.

When you register and login to Slack as a new user, you are taking through a tutorial and show all the steps you need to take. Slack’s Youtube channel is another great way for new users to learn about Slack and how to use it.

  • Non-salesy sales process

This is where Slack used the intelligent psychological plan by making sure that new users don’t feel like they are been cajoled to pay for the services of Slack. They made new users feel like they can use Slack for free by not encountering any message of a paid version.

When new users sign up, they are not confronted with any page of a paid version. Slack has thought that this could make new users lose interest and opt out and so they created an intelligent psychological plan of non-salesy process.

  • Putting customers success at the core of their services

Every customer wants to be assured that a service provider actually cares about his/her total satisfaction and not just about the money they will get out of the customer. This is an intelligent step that Slack took by putting customer success and satisfaction at the core of their services.

Slack did this by offering customer support whenever needed and also incorporating the “Fair Billing Policy”.

The Fair Billing Policy is a policy whereby a customer needs to pay only for what is used. You are not charged for what you are not using, you only get charged for what you use and if a user becomes inactive, the account is credited for unused time.

The Fair Billing policy make the Slack’s team to be very accountable to provide an effective onboarding user experience so they can onboard as many active users as possible from the free version to paid version.

Slack make sure that their product is fully integrated into users everyday work and then set usage limits instead of directly asking users to subscribe to the paid version when there are too many users activities.

In the free version, chat history limit is 10,000 messages, file storage limit is 5GB, app integration limit is 10 apps. Slack made it in a way that after users have exhausted all these free version limits, they will have no choice but to subscribe to the paid version so as to continue with their work.

How can you replicate these Growth hacking strategies for your B2b SAAS startup?

  • Build an application that is of great market value. As a SaaS startup, users and other companies need to know the importance and benefits of your app. If an app is of great importance to users and other companies, more users and more companies will want to be part of the experience and with little effort, you will see your SaaS startup grow in a very short time.
  • Use word-of-mouth to create awareness to more people about your product.
  • Focus on SEO branded keyword strategy and integration.
  • Use social media to create brand awareness, connect and interact with people, and get feedback.
  • Use podcasts to get to more audience about your product.
  • Always create updates about your products, services and other things that customers and potential customers need to know.
  • Use Call-To-Action (CTA) to direct people from other website or social media platforms to your main website page.
  • Use medium such as blog posts to get to more audience and use URL links to drive traffic to your main website.
  • Develop intelligent ways to convert users from free version into paid versions without being pushy in the process.

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