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Slack tests advertising effectiveness

News, 30 March 2016

AUSTIN, TX: Slack, the cloud-based digital platform seeking to transform the way that people communicate at work, is testing the effectiveness of advertising as a means of further accelerating its rapid growth.

Stewart Butterfield, Slack's Co-Founder/CEO, discussed the start-up's shift into paid media during South by Southwest (SXSW) 2016.

"We're spending money on advertising now to see how effective it is for us," he said. (For more, including further insights into the brand's strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: Slack tests the growth effect of advertising.)

"If it is effective, then we'll probably spend more. But we're still at the very early testing stages … It's a hope that paid advertising will be an effective means of driving growth."

The company's forays into this area began late last year with an outdoor campaign run across four cities, followed by two TV spots which struck an irreverent tone to explain how its group-messaging product works.

Having previously depended almost exclusively on word of mouth to attract its base of over two million users, Butterfield argued that the flexibility of advertising was key.

"The good thing about advertising is it's very scalable. You can just add more money and you get more results. When you want to stop, you just stop," he said.

Beyond spreading awareness, one useful role of these messages is helping the fledgling company convince potential users about the benefits of reducing their reliance on email and utilise its collaborative messaging tool for certain tasks.

"We are asking people to change how they do everything. And that's a big ask," Butterfield said. "You can't unilaterally decide that you're going to use Slack to communicate with your colleagues; everyone has to buy into it.

"And at the moment you're starting off, there's no value. If you're the first person in there, you can't send a message … No files have been uploaded; there's nothing to search or comment on.

"So it's a really big hump. And we focused a lot on trying to get people over that hump, which is both giving them enough of an idea of what they were getting that they would pull through any friction, and also to try and remove the friction."

Data sourced from Warc