We had to go a long way before we started working on Standuply. The first bot we worked on was called Sprinterbot. It had similar functionality to Standuply’s, but was more focused on scrum processes. While working on the beta version of Sprinterbot, we faced many challenges in attracting early adopters. We reached out to bot experts and ran our own research to answer this question. Today I’d like to share some of the data we gathered and insights of other Slack bot builders.
1. Communicate with the community
Prior any marketing activity, your main goal should be understanding your target audience in order to serve them better. It is a well covered topic in many articles and books, but I will highlight the key points from domain experts:
Ross Simmonds (entrepreneur at getcrate.co) says:
Start with a landing page or even a Slack group that has the goal of gathering insights about your target audience. You want to do this so you have a mini army ready to talk about your bot on the day of the launch. It’s building this pre-hype that will help you have a handful of beta users commenting on the value your bot offers the ecosystem. There are Facebook groups, Slack channels, Subreddits and Forums all dedicated to Bots. Spend time building relationships in these communities and share your bot with them upon launch.
Ernest Oppetit, Product Manager at qubit.com shares similar insights:
Get known in the community you are targeting, via reddit, Producthunt, Growthhackers, Hackernews, etc. Show the value of your bot easily via a free demos / trials (but be upfront about costs down the line). Let users refer their friends and professional connections, gamify / incentivise the referral program
In addition to establishing contact with your target audience you may want to reach out to the influencers and talk with them about getting their feedback, help or just to get to know the community better. There is a great article by Robert Hopman covering this topic which also covers other aspects of attracting customers to your Slack bot: http://puuush.com/funnel/the-beginning-of-slack-bot-marketing/.
Related links below
Slack communities catalogs:
Slack communities lists:
2. Create and share value.
While working on your bot, don’t just develop and deploy, but be proactive and communicate your bot’s value with your target audience and Slack community. I found it is useful and exciting — while looking for insights to share you may find something really valuable to your product. Once you prepare material and share it with others not only do you start promoting your brand but you build a community tied to your product.
Alyx Baldwin (co-founder and CTO at kipthis.com) also advises to be into publishing:
I would suggest publishing your own Medium articles around what you’re building and the experiences you’ve had in iterating on your product so that others will share your writing and raise awareness overall. I would also figure exactly who will be using your Slack bot within each Slack team since you can apply marketing methods directly at that type of person (i.e. the developers, the sales folks, the managers, etc.) The tricky part is how you convert a slack team when the admin of the team might not be your target users within each team. So it’s best to appeal to the Slack users within your target demographic and as a call to action have those users ask the Slack administrator to add your bot to their team. Make it easy for everyone involved to understand the bot’s value add and easy for the target user to share info about the bot with the Slack admin.
While Alyx sides with Medium we ended up with having our blog on WordPress. I’m a big fan of Medium as well, but we like to have full control of our content and audience and we didn’t feel Medium allowed this. If you face, the same as we did, the choice of searching for information on this to decide which platform best fits your needs, you can find a lot written on this subject on Quora and Medium.
I also think Slack-related content marketing can help bring visibility to your Slack bot and recruit more teams. for a few reasons. First, it helps you be seen as a thought leader in the “Slack Bot” industry, and can help generate free PR, as long as you are being useful to people. When we started out, the concept of Slack bots was at an early stage, so part of the job was evangelization around slack bots to help create the market. I thus created SlackStack.io as one a “startup side projects”, and the response was really amazing, including a feature in TheNextWeb. Helping Slack thrive through evangelization can also bring opportunities to collaborate, or even be featured by Slack. Besides this, creating thus side projects can help you drive very targeted leads to your website, through newsletters or retargeting.
In order to help you with creating content here are several useful links to use:
- System for writing a 10,000 word blog post in 5 hours: http://blog.videofruit.com/writing-blog-post/
- The Anatomy of a Shareable, Linkable & Popular Post: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/seo-social-media-study
- Insightful discussion with Brian Dean: https://inbound.org/discuss/i-am-brian-dean-founder-of-backlinko-ask-me-anything
3. Add your website to startup catalogs
Once you have your landing page it’s time to add it to startups catalogs to get traction. I believe in the 80/20 rule, and I suppose 80% will come from Betalist and Producthunt (Crunchbase, Angellist and https://news.ycombinator.com are must-haves as well) but in order to get as much attention as possible, here is the list of other catalogs as well.
Marwann Al Saadi points out the same thing:
Listing our Bot on early adopters websites has brought us an interesting amount of teams. These sites include BetaList, Product Hunt, Hacker News, Reddit, etc. Product Hunt was the most effective one, but preparation can make a difference between a great and an okay launch.
Also we’re listing catalogs related to bots only, most of them have low traffic but they’ve very relevant and could certainly grow into a more substantial ‘bot store’:
4. Prepare for launch on Producthunt
Producthunt is one of top drivers of customers to your Slack bot. According to Matty Mariansky post on Medium https://medium.com/building-the-robot-assistant/our-first-week-on-the-slack-platform-8d5a996f6bb6#.aeqt1j4ld we can see that the amount of traffic from Producthunt is almost the same comparing to Slack directory (at the peak).
Also verified by Bahaa Galal (co-founder and CTO at notify.ly):
What have caused the tremendous growth of Notify.ly is Product hunt campaign. So if there is a single advice I can provide you here, is to focus 100% on your product hunt campaign by doing it right at the right time. Everything should be in place before the campaign and you should focus all your efforts to make it work.
For the details of launch on Producthunt you can read post on Medium by Marwaan Al Saadi of his experience publishing Birdly: https://medium.com/inside-birdly/600-upvotes-later-the-story-of-our-product-hunt-launch-6c088d7ec584#.3u1viqskb
As we can see the first impression on Producthunt is very important so polish the website having a clear message what do you do, run product tests with the help of early adopters and make sure everything is brilliant. Notify your community, but instead of sending a direct link to your page on Producthunt, send a link to the main page. Otherwise you`ll be dragged down, here is the the information on the Producthunt algorithm.
5. Strive to be listed in the Slack directory
Of course it should be a goal for every Slack bot creator to be listed in the Slack directory and we’re on our way towards it, so I will share our own experience later but here’s what other have to say:
Matthieu Varagnat (entrepreneur & developer of smooz.io) writes:
the main traffic driver is the Slack app directory, and from time to time, some press. In that regards, I don’t think Slack bots are hugely different from other apps – it’s just that the Slack Directory is not yet super-crowded and allow for some visibility, even for small players
Mind the comment from Alex Godin (founder of slash-hyphen.com) as well:
The Slack app store is fantastic, but, just like the iOS app store, will not be enough to build a giant company on top of. Instead, the Slack bots that break out will spread organically through word of mouth.
Marwann Al Saadi confirms mentioned above:
Finally, being listed in Slack’s App Store (https://www.slack.com/apps/) can bring a substantive amount of new teams every day. If your bot is great enough according to Slack, you might even be featured in the “New and Noteworthy” or “Brilliant Bots” categories.
Here are couple of great guides how to prepare your bot for Slack directory submission:
Good luck on getting new customers for your Slack bot. I hope this guide helps you. If you have any questions feel free to reach me:
Alexey Kistenev, founder and CEO of Sprinterbot
P.S. Did I miss something? I did for sure, at least it’s Twitter. For some reason I’m not a heavy Twitter user and would like get your advice in the comments below how to use Twitter for attracting customers. Thank you!