The slack growth study: From 15,000 users at launch (February 2014) to over 2 million active daily users now.

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Jessica Bubenheim
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This article aims to highlight the early traction of slack. Slack joined the unicorn club just two years after their initial product launch. With roots as an internal corporate communication tool slack has blossomed into a cloud-based tool for teams globally. Following Slack’s success, naturally everyone is trying to connect the dots, and find slack’s rainbow road to success.


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Apparently colors don't only make up the rainbow- they also make up slack’s success.

Andrew Wilkinson of Metalab, slacks design agency wrote  Slack’s $2.8 Billion Dollar Secret Sauce . The designer explains the marketplace for chat tools were crowded, attributes slack’s success to its vibrant design.

3 key takeaways from his post:

  • It looks different. Vibrant colors, a curvy sans-serif typeface, and emojis is what slack app design is all about.“We gave it the color scheme of a video game, not an enterprise collaboration product.”
  • It Feels Different. Fun design in core interactions, with animations and color bursts leaves your senses perfectly satisfied with every click. “Like a well-built home, great software focuses on giving its users hundreds of small, satisfying interactions.”
  • It Sounds Different. Sounds are cute, bubbly, and there’s just nothing corporate about them.  

In summary, The chat took on a charismatic personality, and we all know how captivating a charismatic personality can be.

 

Slack founder Butterfield argues there may be more than rainbows in scaling from 0 to $1 billion.

Steward Butterfield posted his own experience. From 0 to $1B — Slack’s Founder Shares Their Epic Launch Strategy.

3 key takeaways from his post:

  • Easy adoption. “We made it very simple to adopt Slack. We didn’t have to convert the whole company and facilitate committee-level decisions”
  • Design thinking.  Slack used the bottoms-up approach of taking the core feature and  using an iterative process to develop the core features and interactions in repeated cycles.
  • Feedback implementation. Slacks success derives from feedback implementation. Early on they understood the importance of gaining customer feedback, learning as much as possible and pivoting quickly.

 

No slacking for success- there’s more to it.

Taking a holistic look at the slack growth case, shows that apart from some nice colors and customer feedback, there are a few more variables for success which you too may be able to learn from.  

 

Defining. 

For slack, finding their focus was an issue at first. The market was overcrowded - offices globally all had different communication tools set up with varying teams and team members. Whilst competitors were everywhere, solutions were missing. To define their value add  slack went straight to the market. “we started inviting teams in batches and watched what happened. then we made some changes, watched what happened, made some more changes…”

Precisely the saturated market made it clear for slack that their focus on simplicity would define them. Slack worked on implementing feedback fast, and  by the time they launched they had created a perfect product market fit. 


Focus.

Slack wanted to win. To do so they focused on key software features by talking to customer to find out what they needed most. Winning big instead of a distributed focus across the board was a fundamental pillar for success. When they heard feedback  on file sharing, they focused on designing the smoothest core interactions specifically for this. They used this customer challenging as an opportunity to come out on top. “Every customer interaction is a marketing opportunity. if you go above and beyond on the customer service side, people are much more likely to recommend you.”

 

Adoption.

How do you convince a group of professionals, in work environment, that they will benefit from a a chat tool designed colorfully to look like a video game…  How could this possibly contribute to productivity? And if it’s about fun at the workplace,  why is this chat tool better than all the other chats and social media tools already out there? 


Somehow Slack got 8000 people to request access to the platform on the first day of launch. Clearly, they had a brilliant marketing strategy. ‘We created materials to explain Slack to individuals – what it was for, how it worked, what you’re supposed to do – but we also built resources for team administrators.’  They focused on marketing to individual teams, and not just firms as a whole.

How did they communicate their unique selling position? A few marketing strategy tricks right out of slacks handbook:

 

  • Reach the people. Don’t bother with contacting the firm, if you can reach out to someone directly. Find an article related to your startup and directly contact the journalist to see if they can feature you.
  • Tell. Don’t sell.  Tell a story, don’t sell a product. Stories are emotional and engage people by taking them on a journey.
  • Quantity Quality . With contact its quantity is at least equally as good as quality. It’s simply a game of probability, and its up to you to increase your chances!

 

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Tags: Performance Marketing

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