How do you contend with one of the greatest names in your industry—and with a manufacturer new solution?

A few a long time ago, we launched Chanty, a SaaS application for staff chat. This was absolutely nothing new. Hundreds of apps are born and die each and every calendar year. There was one difference—we were being likely in opposition to Slack, the big that is the SaaS job model. Call it daring or stupid, but we experienced our work slice out for us.

A few a long time later, we have faced a series of problems. We solved some of them. We’re even now having difficulties with other folks. Here’s that tale.

Why contend with Slack?

When we initial thought about launching a SaaS in the staff chat area, we experienced a key decision to make. We could possibly grab a slice of the recognized industry or carve out a new one (e.g., a staff chat app for accounting companies).

A pair of variables affected our decision:

  1. We wished to stay bootstrapped.

We did not want to be guided by someone else. We experienced that luxury—we experienced a few other successful companies (targeted on world wide web design and style and development) when we made a decision to start Chanty. Chanty was, at its outset, a enjoyable aspect challenge.

  1. We wished to shell out money on solution development, not industry research.

Due to the fact the idea of a staff chat app was by now validated, we experienced our focus on industry appropriate in front of us. We experienced a key competitor, much too, but Slack experienced by now completed some of the significant lifting by popularizing the idea of a staff chat app.

Figuring out a new industry could have taken months and loads of cash. Rather, we saved most of that money for solution development. We did do some research, largely among our clients and some colleagues in the SaaS entire world. But our major guideline was to produce some thing that worked perfectly for us.

We experienced made use of Slack—and loads of other messaging apps—but they were being possibly much too complex, lacked audio and video calls, or pressured us to update right away. We also wished a designed-in, easy-to-use challenge administration features.

Nonetheless, to make it in these kinds of a aggressive discipline, we experienced to stand out. Even before we started, we frequently acquired requested the similar concern: “How is your solution any different from Slack?”

Differentiating our solution

chanty beta invites.

In the early times of the app, we requested a couple of concerns throughout signal-up. Principally, we wished to know if a person experienced switched from a different staff chat app and, if so, why they switched to Chanty. This gave us a myriad of great concepts.

We also identified out why people switched from Slack, which became the initial of two ways we sought to differentiate our solution.

1. We solved a primary agony level for Slack end users.

The initial way we positioned ourselves was to go after the greatest agony level for existing Slack users—that 10,000 message restrict in Slack’s free approach. We made a decision to have an limitless message record in our free approach, which became a major cause why people switched.

chanty beta invitation.

That has not been the major cause why new people signal up for our app, but it’s been the primary way that we have “stolen” Slack end users. Presenting limitless messages in the free approach acquired speedy results, and it was one of the major factors that we acquired our initial one hundred end users in just a couple of times of our start.

We realized that these Slack end users weren’t probably to convert to paid out end users appropriate away—our free approach solved their primary agony level. Some, of study course, figured out that an limitless message record indicates that they can proceed using Chanty for free eternally. We have a number of teams like this, but they are the minority.

So how could we get the rest to update?

We experimented with supplying audio and video calls (and other attributes) in the paid out model only. But practically no one upgraded to a paid out approach due to the fact of attributes, which were being nice-to-haves, not necessities. Our app use information confirmed that most people made use of the chat purpose only—and that a great chunk of teams experienced far more than fifty end users.

We realized that the only way to incentivize an update from the freemium plan—without undermining our “unlimited messages” differentiator—was a cap on the number of end users. This fit with our app’s adoption: A lesser staff would signal up and choose whether it was value upgrading for the complete company.

We settled on a restrict of 10 end users for our free approach, which has grow to be the primary way we transfer people from freemium to paid out end users.

2. We were being the very affordable selection.

The next way we positioned ourselves was with cost. Quite a few SaaS apps demand customers primarily based on the number of seats, which isn’t that much for a landing site tool (typically just a single person). But the expenditures for that model scale immediately for staff conversation apps—they work only if everyone’s involved.

So, if you have three hundred workers, the difference amongst $7 per person per month and $3 per person per month indicates paying $2,one hundred per month instead of $900 (or far more than $13,000 per calendar year).

Our research identified that it’s mostly new end users who are attracted to the cost (i.e. individuals who have in no way made use of a staff chat app before). Customers from Slack (and other apps) rarely switch to our app due to the fact of the lesser cost tag.

So, we made a decision to have the most very affordable approach out there, at $3 per person per month. The low cost level became the way for us to differentiate our solution for new end users who were being a lot less willing to make a fiscal determination on a new procedure of conversation.

chanty pricing site.

Going after new-to-chat end users also intended that we necessary to be very person-pleasant. For beginner end users, Slack (and other staff chat apps) can be daunting. We designed our signal-up approach and onboarding as simple as possible—you can get an account with an e-mail, invite colleagues by adding their email messages, and do just about anything at all in a pair of clicks.

Our positioning break up our person base practically evenly amongst people who arrived from competitor apps and individuals who experienced in no way made use of a staff chat app. Which is added a problem: Our marketing—and solution development—have experienced to handle equally focus on marketplaces.

Developing and scaling a marketing approach

Our existing world wide web design and style and development agencies experienced gotten most of our clients by way of word of mouth. When it arrived time to industry our SaaS solution, we experienced zero understanding of other channels.

Having by way of the initial pair of months was actually difficult—we were being mostly builders and designers.

The initial (and failed) endeavor

We started with some clumsy PR—badgering our clients to point out us in their content in trade for some free work on their sites. Needless to say, individuals attempts sucked. Lots of clients ignored us.

As we thought of other possibilities, we ran into roadblocks:

  • We did not have a big budget to snag Slack’s customers by way of paid out advertising and marketing.
  • E mail marketing wasn’t an selection given that we did not have a big mailing record.

Search engine optimisation and natural acquisition became the reasonable selection.

A simple natural approach, with a twist

Our approach was uncomplicated:

  1. Use content to get visitors.
  2. Turn visitors into app signal-ups.

There was one wrinkle: We wished people to convert instantly from studying our content instead of capturing their email messages and showering them with drip strategies right until they converted. We did not want to be known as a pushy, frustrating brand—we wished enthusiastic end users, not reluctant types.

That want affected our content (further than the common inbound marketing mantra of “be helpful”). We understood we’d want to go far more bottom-of-funnel with our keyword research.

We wrote a large amount of article content comparing staff chat apps (Slack, Flock, Fleep, Microsoft Groups). We made use of each and every tool before we wrote about it and, in our critiques, highlighted solid and weak details.

Due to the fact we experienced no stake in, say, whether Slack was far better than Flock, we posted some of the most unbiased app critiques in the group. (There was an added advantage: We acquired to do competitor research at the similar time.)

The decision to focus on branded competitor key phrases has not adjusted to this day. Natural traffic is our best resource of new qualified prospects and customers, and the primary cause why Chanty has 10,000 lively end users currently.

That said, acquiring new end users by using natural traffic took really a though to pay off it was at minimum six months before we started looking at results. But individuals results have been the primary catalyst of person advancement.

organic traffic to chanty.

The most beneficial subject matter we have strike on so considerably? “Slack choice.” It has 1000’s of month-to-month searches and substantial intent. We have doubled down on posts like these:

  • Skype alternatives
  • Discord vs Slack
  • Slack competitors
  • Microsoft Groups vs Slack.

We also identified a way to make our content far more aggressive in search: Guest blogging to construct hyperlinks to article content with the optimum opportunity for conversion.

Guest posts to make content far more aggressive

In the beginning, we experienced abysmal results with outreach. Sending out email messages en masse and just modifying the recipient identify and company did not work. At the time we made a decision to write individualized email messages one by one, we acquired significantly far better results.

Over time, we perfected our pitch, which served us graduate from acquiring posts on great blogs to fantastic types. (At one level, we realized that we experienced completed far more than one hundred guest posts in a single calendar year.) We finished up acquiring showcased on sites like Hubspot, Entrepreneur, Marketo, and a lot of other folks.

referring domains to

A couple of suggestions that worked for us:

  • We reached out only to blogs that coated subjects intently related to our solution: SaaS, marketing, efficiency, staff conversation, and so forth.
  • The blogs we reached out to experienced to have a Domain Authority (DA) of at minimum 40. As our personal DA increased, we upped the reduced restrict.
  • We checked the website’s traffic before we sent a pitch. A web-site with a big DA and minor to no traffic smells like a link-constructing plan.

We did all of this with two people. One was an outreach and link-constructing supervisor, whose task was to construct a databases of appropriate blogs and get in contact with their editors.

The next was a committed writer who experienced a firm grasp on a wide variety of subjects. (If we experienced scaled this strategy, we would’ve necessary to employ a different writer initial. We normally experienced far more pitches acknowledged than we could finish.)

Sometimes—as happens to everyone—our guest posts acquired rejected. It was rarely due to the fact the post was flat-out poor the editors just did not like it for one cause or a different. In practically every circumstance, we acquired the post posted on a different weblog with insignificant alterations.

(One observe: If you notify the focus on website’s editor that you by now have a completed post, they’ll see appropriate by way of it.)

Scaling the model

Guest posts also opened the door to expand an initial partnership. For illustration, with each and every new guest write-up, we experienced an option to cite earlier partners’ content.

We requested individuals partner CMOs and content heads if they would include things like us in their forthcoming articles—and allow them know that we would do the similar. As a result, we multiplied our attempts, just by achieving out to a couple of associates.

The danger of relying on a single channel

A lot more a short while ago, we have all over again tested other strategies, these kinds of as paid out ads, but the ROI has not been virtually as great. Which is a liability. When SEO is a key component of your direct technology approach, one algorithm update can undo a long time of work.

An algorithm update that rolled out at the beginning of November 2019 price tag us 20% of our overall traffic—including a drop in rankings for a couple of actually vital internet pages.

rankings drop.

We have also experimented with to diversify our attempts with our Facebook team. We stay in contact with recent and opportunity customers and response their concerns. We also use it to stimulate dialogue about staff conversation, to announce new attributes and releases, and, in the finish, to have some enjoyable.

The Facebook team at the moment has a minor more than 600 users. We mail out the link to the Facebook team as component of our onboarding e-mail sequence, so it’s comprised largely of lively end users. Developing the team was rather quick, but holding it lively requires a couple of hrs every month.

chanty facebook team

Ultimately, we have added a simple pop-up for people to join our publication and, more than time, produced a series of ebooks, each and every with its personal opt-in type.

Which is served us go after new end users.

A new problem: likely after a market that isn’t on the lookout for us

Publishing solution comparisons has worked perfectly to catch the attention of end users by now on the lookout for an app. But we also wished to catch the attention of and convert individuals who experienced in no way thought of a staff chat app—small corporations, businesses, non-profits, and so forth.

We necessary to encourage them to give staff chat apps a try—and to use Chanty initial. This frequently was simpler than getting Slack’s customers.

This gave us a two-tiered content marketing approach:

  1. Content to convert people actively on the lookout for an choice to some thing they are using.
  2. Articles to appeal to people who were being dilemma- but not remedy-informed.

To seize the focus of the next tier, we write about the value of conversation, collaboration, work-existence harmony, efficiency, and similar subjects.

These parts have served form the Chanty weblog into what it is currently.


Our journey is now a few a long time in the earning. We a short while ago reached 10,000 lively customers, but it feels like we started just yesterday.

Although there are even now key breakthroughs to make, acquiring 10,000 people to decide on us in a industry heavily dominated by one company by now feels like a key victory.