Slack’s Epic Marketing Strategy and Stewart Butterfield’s thoughts about storytelling

Marketing Trends, 11/22/17

Quote of the Day

“If there’s one piece of advice I could go back to give myself, it is concentrate on that storytelling part, on the convincing people. If you can’t do that it doesn’t matter how good the product is, it doesn’t matter how good the idea was for the market, or what happens in the external factors, you don’t have the people believing.” ~ Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack

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News that Matters

  • We got a Slack-themed version of #MarketingTrends today! Check out this fantastic deep-dive from Stewart Butterfield where he details Slack’s epic launch strategy. (First Round)
  • ICYMI, Slack is valued at 5.1 billion and raised 250 million in September (TechCrunch)
  • Here is a cool look at how Scientists use Slack to hone research papers, monitor experiments, and more. (Nature)
  • The rise of the bots! A look at the bots that Slack, Facebook, Skype, and others are creating. (Business Insider)

Lessons Learned

I think the role of any leader, whether in marketing or another function, is to keep the path ahead clear of roadblocks for their team and to hustle to make sure people have what they need to get work done. — Kelly Watkins, Head of Global Marketing, Slack

Original Content, Series, and Shows

Did you know Slack has a new-ish podcast? Give it a listen!

Want to be featured on the pod? Give em a call!


Stewart Butterfield cofounded Flickr with his wife and then launched a nonviolent MMO that gained a cult following. Today, he’s releasing Slack, a team messaging unifier and archiving app for Mac OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android which got this resounding tweet of approval from Marc Andreessen yesterday. For all his feats, he should be Internet famous. But unlike his other famous Flickr cofounders, Butterfield has been innovating under the radar, attempting to solve one of the hardest problems in business. So how did he get from Flickr to gaming to here?

“Slack is gratifying to work on in the same way that Flickr was,” Butterfield says. “The mission is to make people’s working lives simpler, more pleasant, more productive.”

It might sound strange to find a common thread between a photo community, an online video game, and a productivity portal. But Butterfield’s work has always been to get people talking, and he concerns himself with how to architect the environment where people talk. The path Butterfield took to get to this pure vision, however, is a strange one.

Continue reading the origin story from the February 2014 issue of Fast Company.

Marketing Q&A

Note: we’ve outlined the content below from a great Slack Strategy post by Openview.

Q: How did Slack growth hack their way to virality in the enterprise of all places?

A: The first step was a product that was fit-for-purpose, and the founder, Stewart Butterfield had a pretty great network from his days founding Flickr. But the ultimate organic traffic source was Word of Mouth. Almost all of their web visitor traffic comes from direct links. Which means someone types it into the URL bar. That only exists if you build a great product with a great feature set designed precisely for its customers. Hire a product manager for that.

Q: What about their SEO? Does slack do content marketing or pay for keywords?

A: Slack doesn’t create a bunch of content marketing. Instead they rank for keywords related to their 3rd party app ecosystem. They rank of the 1st page of Google for a variety of keywords that point directly to Slack’s app landing pages. Integrations are like gold:

Q: Are there other interesting hacks to get organic inbound traffic?

A: Of course, the little known or talked about Online Help Portal. It’s one of the strategeriest product hacks in all of software to drive SEO:

Q: Does Slack do any paid advertising?

A: You betcha, it’s secondary to organic but they have found success using their Name + Team or Collaboration as title combination. See the funnel for yourself:


How about some Slack hacks to get the most out of using the tool?

  • Want to format your text? Look no further than these shortcuts:
  • Bold: *your text*
  • Italics: _your text_
  • Strikethrough: ~your text~
  • How about a reminder?
  • /remind
  • As in: /remind @person to get me some 🍕
  • How about changing the color scheme of the app
  • Preferences > Sidebar > Sidebar Theme (we just got into “Hoth” for winter, peep it)


Know somebody that wants to be an Associate Content Strategist @ Slack? Open req!

Are you curious about roles at Slack? Have a look at their careers page.

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