For many developers, building a product can seem like the easy part. But launching a product? That’s another story.
Whether you’re building a Slack-first app or an add-on to an existing business, creative foresight can go a long way towards a successful product launch. And you don’t need a marketing team – or a marketing budget – to do it.
Follow these steps to get your Slack app ready for its big debut.
Planning the product launch
A well-crafted product description is an all-important tool for attracting happy users.
When determining how to describe your app, understanding your target users – the people you’re building for – is job one. You’re not creating something for everybody; you’re solving a specific problem for a certain group of people.
You need to describe your app using terms that your potential users will identify with. To do that, first gain a deep understanding of their “pain points” and the challenges they seek to address. Get out there, talk to your target users and ask questions. What keeps them up at night? What’s the hardest part of their job? What problem, if fixed, would boost their work productivity tenfold?
Next, explain why your solution is different and better than what already exists. (Or as marketers say, you must differentiate your app.) All of this can be captured in a positioning statement that outlines the benefits of using your app in the context of the problem(s) it solves for your customer.
Value proposition example:
- For productivity-driven Slack users looking to stay on top of their schedule, the Google Calendar app brings your calendar into Slack where you’re already working, so you can stay focused on making progress in Slack, instead of switching tabs to check your calendar.
Whether you’re a team of one or 1,000, setting a foundational positioning statement can help ensure that your team reinforce the same key points across all external channels – from website copy and sales pitches to investor calls and press pitches.
Crafting your app listing
Next up is creating your Slack App Directory listing, where a lot of your positioning statement will be brought to life. Think of this listing as your app’s shopfront – people will stumble upon your app and decide whether or not to install it based on the information provided. Use this space to tell your app’s story, share a compelling preview of your app’s use cases and smooth the path towards clicking the button to install.
Your app’s name
A great name can evoke the experience of what it’s like to use your app. Choose a name that’s easy to remember, say, search for and spell. If you plan for your app’s service to exist outside of Slack, do a quick Google search and make sure the name isn’t already taken.
Straightforward, straight to the point, straight to the heart. Your description is a powerful tool to communicate how your app will make people’s lives at work better. This is where your positioning statement becomes extra handy – it can help keep you honest as you wordsmith your description, making sure you don’t lose any key points in the creative process.
We give you two opportunities to describe your app: a long and a short description.
- Short description
Be concise; use no more than 140 characters.
- Longer description
Provide three to five sentences about who your app is for, what your app does and how it will help them get work done (or maybe fill their life with a little bit of fun). Be clear and clever.
Your app icon should catch people’s eye – or stop their thumb – when they’re scrolling through the App Directory. Make it unique, distinctive and simple enough to pass the squint test.
App card colour
Your app has a profile inside Slack, just like people do. When you upload your app to the directory, you can pick a colour that reflects your brand. It’s basically your app’s aura.
App icon, description and card example:
Images and screenshots
Screenshots can give people a sense of how your app works and can illustrate important features introduced by your long description. Showing is better than telling; you’ll give people a peek into what they can expect after installing the app.
You can add up to six high-resolution app images to your app page. Take stock of your app’s use cases and create an image that shows a use case coming to life inside Slack.
App image examples:
Consult our app-directory-assets GitHub repository for the most up-to-date design templates and resources. You’ll find:
Videos might be the single most efficient way to communicate the benefits of using your app, so roll your sleeves up and get a YouTube video on your App Directory page!
You don’t need a full production crew. In fact, you can say a lot by creating a simple screen capture video with minimal editing. It’s also handy to use that screen-capture video to create animated GIFs. There are free services such as GIF Brewery that make it easy to upload a video, trim it to an appropriate length (under 10 seconds) and export a GIF file.
Whichever direction you take, tell people how your app works, who it’s for and what they can accomplish by using it within Slack.
Your future fans are out there and they can’t wait to sing your praises. Find them early to make a big splash on launch day!
Put together a landing page (services such as Instapage and Unbounce make this easy) to highlight your now crystal-clear messaging. Use your landing page to give curious readers a way to opt in to learn more. You’d be surprised how many people want to raise their hand for more information. It’s your job to give them a compelling reason – and a way – to do it.
Slack app suggestions
In addition to your App Directory listing, there are other ways that users can discover your app directly in Slack. For example, build in the logic for Slackbot to send a message suggesting your app when a link with the domain name associated with your app is mentioned in a conversation.
App suggestion example:
By adding a small amount of HTML metadata to your site templates as explained here, app suggestions will be enabled for your app and your app will be recommended when a user could benefit from using your app most.
Apps page in Slack
Lastly, there’s now a handy Apps page in the left-hand sidebar of Slack where users can discover your app if it’s already installed in their workspace. More specifically, your app’s name, app icon and app description will show up in-product, so it’s even more important to follow the recommendations mentioned above so that your app is represented in the best way possible.
Broadcasting the launch
Now that your app messaging is ready to go, it’s time to prepare for the big reveal. How will you let people know about your app? After narrowing down your audience, you should have a better idea of the best channels to reach them.
Consider press coverage (what outlets do your potential customers follow?), community groups and your own company channels, such as social media (is your audience on Twitter? Facebook?), paid promotion (think ads on LinkedIn or Google), your blog, website and emails. Throughout your marketing efforts, be sure to adhere to our brand guidelines when referencing Slack.
You should keep all messaging consistent with your brand’s voice, while keeping the tone upbeat and the content centred on why your launch should matter to your target audience.
When writing these launch announcements, make sure you have a place to point readers to, or in marketing speak, a “call to action”. What next steps do you want them to take? Where should they click to learn more, download the app and connect to your team?
Starting with PR, think strategically about your target outlets. Narrow your focus by considering how your story will be uniquely interesting to a specific publication’s readers – whether it’s in a particular vertical, related to a recent story it’s published or maybe it’s a competitor to a company it’s covered. Craft a well-written pitch tailored to each publication.
Elements of an effective PR pitch:
- What problem your product is solving and who it’s for
- Why your solution is innovative, unique or surprising
- Why it’s better and different from the alternative
- Why it matters to that specific writer at that specific publication
- Any other newsworthy information: Is your growth rate impressive? Do you have big-name, ecstatic beta users? Are you the first to do something? Are your founders well-known or uniquely qualified to solve this problem?
- The date and time when the news should go out (the embargo date)
When writing your draft, please follow this handy, Slack-approved press release template.
Press release example: “Dropbox introduces new workspace to bring files, tools and teams together”
Amplifying your story through social networks can help drive traffic to your app’s page. Make sure you craft a unique message for each platform, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or another destination popular with your audience. Don’t forget to include us, @SlackHQ.
Social media example:
A blog is where you can tell the full story of what your app is all about, why you created it, how it solves a problem for your customers and where they can go to learn more. (Hint: link to your App Directory listing!) You want it to be catchy and also easy to understand.
Similar to your press pitch, you can share why your app is unique and any impressive stats you have to make the story more compelling. Maybe it’s solving a problem that’s part of a bigger issue in an industry or perhaps it’s a one-of-a-kind solution. This is your chance to make this app shine!
There are many other ways to reach your audience. Consider community groups, targeted events, paid promotion, your company website and email campaigns.
As always, include details about your app: what it is, why someone should care, what problem it’s solving and what to do next.
Paid search ad example:
- Identify your message and call to action
- Determine the right distribution channels
- Spread the word through the press
- Broadcast it on social media
- Write a compelling blog post
- Consider other avenues – paid promotion, community groups, website, email
Enabling your team
There is one more audience to consider – your colleagues! As ambassadors of your company, you’ll want to ensure that they are aware of the newest app. In particular, if you have a sales team, make sure that they have all the materials they need to help get the word out about the newest integration. Use these helpful templates to create an internal toolkit.
- One pager–Think of this as a summary and introduction to your app.
- Slideshow–Start with slides to provide more feature-specific details and visual explanations of how the app works.
- Customer story template–Hearing first-hand from a customer who loves the product is the best validation you can find.
- Slack messaging–Reference this to make sure you’re mentioning Slack appropriately. “Slack is a collaboration hub that connects you to the people and tools you work with every day.”
Keeping the momentum going
Take a minute to celebrate your success – you did it!
Then it’s back to work.
In addition to optimising your app and tracking usage metrics, consider capturing some of the insights from your promotional activities and launch day to inform future releases.
Did a particular message or channel outperform others? Why? What fell flat? A swing and a miss can teach us just as much as smashing a six. Share your findings with your internal teams so they can benefit too. Knowledge is power.
And keep these lessons in mind as you continue to refine and update your app. Lastly, of course, thank you for partnering with Slack.