How messaging platforms improve marketing and customer experience



Rachel: All right. Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today’s webinar. My name is Rachel and I’m the partner marketing manager here at CallRail. For those of you unfamiliar with CallRail, we provide attribution software to more than 100,000 businesses and marketing agencies to help improve marketing ROI.

Today, we are discussing how messaging platforms like Slack are changing the way we monitor our marketing programs, and how these principles can boost your ROI as a marketer.

You’ll be hearing from Michael Sengbusch, CEO and co-founder of Eletype, and Christina Bourne, a product marketing manager here at CallRail.

Michael: Well, thanks, Rachel. Again, my name is Michael Sengbusch.

I’m the CEO and co-founder of Eletype. We are a marketing monitoring solution, and we happen to be a 100% messaging-based solution, and we deliver our technologies through messaging platforms like Slack. And over the past year or so, Christina and I have had the opportunity to work closely together on a bunch of messaging projects here at CallRail. And I guess we’ll just go ahead and get started.

Today’s Agenda

Okay. Great. So, quick agenda today. First thing we want to talk about real quickly is the rise of messaging platforms. How did we get here? What caused this new medium to become so popular? And kind of how different agencies and marketers are taking advantage of these.

Then we wanted to cover a little bit around best practices. So, when we’re using a messaging platform as either a marketer or internally as our companies, what are the best practices that we can leverage to take full advantage of these new mediums? We’ll talk a little bit about messaging apps in general and how to build messaging apps. And then we’ll finish by talking about what CallRail did in making their new upgraded Slack experience, how they leveraged some of those best practices for building apps, and then answer questions.

Today we’re covering:

  1. The rise of messaging platforms
  2. Messaging platform best practices
  3. How to build out messaging apps
  4. CallRail’s Slack integration
  5. Q&A session

The rise of messaging platforms

This is a rather timely day to be doing a talk on messaging platforms. If anybody is following the news today, everybody knows that Slack had their public offering today on the New York Stock Exchange. So, that’s really very timely in the sense that messaging platforms have been growing traction over the last three, to four, to five years. And you can see here that Slack was the fastest-growing enterprise software ever.

I think we’ve experienced it internally at our company. I know CallRail has experienced it extensively. In fact, when I walked into the building today, I noticed that pretty much everybody’s computer was open, it had a Slack workspace open. So, not really too surprising, but I do think for a lot of folks who maybe are not familiar with messaging platforms, if it hasn’t come to the organization yet, and may be a little bit of a new topic, and so we’ll kind of talk about how we were able to or how this phenomenon has really happened.

We talk a lot about Slack because we’ve noticed that most of our users are on Slack and we noticed here during the poll that I think at least about half of the folks who are called in are using Slack right now. But not to be outdone.

Microsoft Teams is also a pretty prominent messaging platform. And for those of you maybe who are in more of a corporate environment or who are a Microsoft-centric office, you’re probably using Microsoft Teams. And Microsoft Teams is a really… it’s a fantastic product, and it’s actually one that I think is not surprisingly becoming pretty prominent because it’s actually very similar to Slack.

If you’ve been part of Microsoft’s ecosystem, you know that Microsoft probably had a couple of different opportunities, a couple of different messaging products. They realized that Slack was getting a large market share, and then created a very compelling Microsoft Teams solution. And I did find this pretty surprising that Microsoft Teams is the fastest growing business app in Microsoft history.

That’s saying a lot. I think that’s just par for the course here on how popular messaging platforms are. If you’re in a Microsoft environment, the Microsoft Teams solution, if you’re not using it, it’s actually a really great product. So, I’d encourage those folks that if you’re maybe a Microsoft shop and you’re not using messaging yet, this will probably be the app that’s more usable maybe in your environment, but we happen to use Slack here.

We use Slack internally as well, but it’s growing quite a bit. We gave a similar talk at the CallRail Agency Summit back earlier this spring, and we took a survey of marketing agencies and we found that 95% of the agencies that were in attendance were using Slack. So, again, it’s all about usage, it’s about our user base and understanding where our users are.

And marketing agencies, by a overwhelming margin, are using Slack on a day-to-day basis. So, the question we were asking here, and we talked a little bit about this during the Agency Summit was, “How did this happen?” And we really see this as a generational shift in how businesses operate. I think it’s every bit as transformational as what we saw when we moved into the browser and into web apps, and then about 10 years ago as we moved into mobile apps.

What we’re seeing now is a trend into messaging apps. I think that’s been caused by three things. The first is we’ve become a highly mobile-first business. I think most people know that we’re living in our smartphones. A mobile-first design philosophy is a pretty common practice. And what happens is when we move into a mobile-first approach, everything starts to become more bite-sized, it starts to become smaller, engagements and conversations start to become quicker, and that starts to look a lot like messaging, so messaging as a platform starts to become pretty prominent.

The second issue here, the second trend is that the increase in flexible and remote workers has really changed how we operate as teams. And so no longer is everybody expected to be in the office, really, 9:00 to 5:00. We find people working different hours of the day from different locations, you see folks in the gig economy or folks that are in…remote workers, remote teams are much more the norm than they used to be.

When you have a disparate team, you need additional ways for people to collaborate. And the existing toolset that we had, email, maybe video conferencing, certainly the phone call, wasn’t really adapting to how today’s teams work. So, what you needed was not only a way to message people better, but to collaborate, and that needed to be done in a way that was team-based and transparent as well.

A new set of tools was created and in the early days, there was some attempts at how to get better at messaging and then I think Slack really figured it out. And then now we talked a little bit of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Teams kind of came on right after that with a very similar product. And those really become the two dominant ways that teams are collaborating. And I think that’s been driven quite a bit by the fact that we have so many flexible and remote workers now.

Especially in our industry as marketing, where you see agencies and marketers very, very much accustomed to teleworking and remote workers. And the final one is really breakdowns of previous forms of communication. So, what had previously worked didn’t really adapt very well into remote working and kind of how today’s teams operate.

I think the biggest example of that or the worst offender is really email. And email as a form of communication was something that just…I think everybody’s had their own frustration with email. We were giving a talk. I gave a talk for a large organization last year and we talked about the rise of messaging platforms and how people were taking advantage of them.

We had somebody in the back that asked, “Hey, couldn’t you just send this as an email? Why couldn’t we do this in Slack? When should I use this in Slack?” And that really very much sounded like this. And, “Can’t you just send it as an email?Wouldn’t that be great?” And I think we’ve all been there. We all see how email has started to break down. And the way we answered the question was, we said, “The question isn’t, ‘When should we use Slack?’ The question is really, ‘When shouldn’t we use email?’And oftentimes, the answer is really, like, not to use email.”

Messaging platform best practices

Email as a communication channel has really, I think, caused a lot of frustrations for most people’s day-to-day work. And while email is great for really one-way communication, email really starts to break down when it comes to collaboration and team-based work. And if all we have is email, we start to really abuse how email is used and I think that leads to a lot of the frustrations that a lot of people have in their day-to-day life.

Coincidentally, meanwhile, while all this was going on, something was going on in China that I think a lot of people really might not have been aware of, is that messaging kind of skipped a generation in China. Like, China never really had email, they never really had browsers because everything went mobile much quicker. And as a result, you got applications like WeChat in China, which is the dominant application throughout all of China.

And it’s 100% messaging based. Really quickly, China bypassed the browser and went directly into messaging. That’s very typical, I think, of what’s happening now and maybe China got there a decade or two earlier, but now we’re much, much more comfortable with messaging, but that happened in China pretty quickly.

I think we see the same things happening here. So the question is, if we’re marketers, what are some of those best practices that we can do in order to take advantage of messaging tools in a way that leverages the best parts of them while also improving on the worst parts of previous forms of communication like email? So, messaging can help in a couple of things. So, I think the first thing it does is that it really helps flatten out org structure, and it removes hierarchy, and it allows people to interact in a very peer-to-peer way rather than in a hierarchical way, which is usually what happens in email.

Usually, what happens in email is one person is the sender, everybody else is copy, and it kind of incentivizes a hierarchy about where things came from, as opposed to messaging, which is very much one to one or team to team. The other thing that I think is great about messaging, particularly Slack, is it tends to encourage praise rather than negativity. And the worst parts about email… and for some reason, I don’t know exactly the reasons for this, but email tends to encourage formality, it tends to encourage passive aggressiveness and delay.

Whereas in messaging, it seems like everything’s always a lot more fun in messaging, particularly in Slack and Microsoft Teams, where you see folks that are engaging in a way that’s collaborative, you have different reactions that you can use, and it tends to keep it much more positive, the communications are much less formal, and it’s done in such a way that work is actually getting done rather than kind of delayed, what you see in email.

Third reason or third best practice is that this can really help streamline QA. So, anytime somebody has a question, people are much more apt to respond with an answer inside of a messaging channel as opposed to email. So, we’ve all seen email chains that start with somebody asking a question, you see a lot of people copied on the email, and then every time somebody replies, more people get copied, and then each returned email tends to be rather formal and rather long because that format of an email is really replicating a memo.

When you have the time to sit down and compose an email, it’s going to be very detailed, it’s going to take time to do it, it incentivizes delay, and it encourages formality. Whereas in messaging, it encourages timeliness, shorter communication, And because it’s shorter, it’s less formal, can be more fun, and people can get answers much quicker.

A couple of kind of tips on that. When introducing a messaging platform into an office, it’s really key that the executives and the management teams also participate. And just the nature of Slack, in general, tends to come bottom-up in an organization, where it’s usually either the engineers, the developers, maybe it’s the marketing team that introduces the software first.

Then it has to kind of rise up through the organization. And one of the things that can encourage or can make messaging work even better is when the whole organization is using the software. Sometimes if you have some people in and some people out, it can create some divisions. So, here’s just a tip: make sure that the executive team and the management team is also participating to do that.

The other thing that it does, which I think is great, is it creates a lot of transparency in collaboration. And even though Slack does have private channels, as part of kind of corporate best practices for messaging, I would recommend that you discourage private channels, not that they’re not going to exist, but it should be something where we should always try to put it in a public channel for transparency.

Also, how can we open this up to our clients? And so, if you guys aren’t using shared channels, one of the things that’s great about Slack is not only can we use it internally, but we can also open it up to third-party stakeholders or clients. That’s a great way, again, to streamline the Q&A that you’re having with those clients.

In a way, again, that’s less formal. It can be more… It can resolve things much quicker, it can get you to be more transparent with the client, and also increase credibility because of the rapidity of getting answers back to a client. Finally, there’s some negative things too. So, messaging can also help create a distraction.

There’s plenty of examples of people spending maybe too much time in Slack or maybe too much distraction because messaging is coming in at such a frequent basis. So, kind of the tip here is there is a proper use case to use email. This doesn’t mean email goes away entirely. And if you do need formal communication, you do need to document things, you do need to have a formal written memo that goes out to people, that’s a great time to use email.

But if you’re talking about discussion, let’s move that into a slideshow. So, once we kind of know how to implement a messaging platform throughout an organization properly, the question is, if we’re building applications inside of the messaging platform, what are some design principles that we can leverage in order to build the best possible products inside of that? And so this is an old quote from Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message.”

I’m sure a lot of us as marketers have heard that quote before. But in this case, the medium really does matter. And just like any new medium, there’s new rules, there’s new tactics, there’s new things that we need to consider before we build applications inside of that new medium. And again, messaging is no different. So, some of the things that we’ve learned along the way around how to build inside of a messaging platform is really, number one, understand your use case.

Not all use cases work great inside of messaging. So, just because you have something that you want to implement, doesn’t necessarily mean it should go in messaging. So, let’s consider what works well in messaging. And we’re going to talk about that when we talk about what CallRail has done. The second thing is being able to balance signal versus noise. So, one of the mistakes that a lot of companies or a lot of products make when building messaging applications is we create too much noise.

The easiest way to get people to tune out to your product or to your value is by putting too much information inside of a messaging channel. So, I’m sure we’re all familiar with how Slack works. And when you have messaging, some good information that goes in there, eventually, if it gets old or there’s too much, it’s hard to view because it scrolls away as part of the messaging thread.

That’s a new UX element that doesn’t exist maybe on a kind of website, but we have to be real careful that the information that we choose to communicate to our audience is done in such a way that it really filters the signal from the noise, and if we put too much information in, that’s a great way to have your audience tune out.

Finally, number three, since it is team-based, if we’re going to have a team-based medium, how can we leverage collaboration? How can we take advantage of the fact that multiple people can be communicating about information? How can we take feedback from that audience? And if you’re building a messaging application, there’s really got to be a two-way application or two-way conversation.

Be conscious about, if we’re communicating to the audience, how can we take feedback back from the audience in order to really create a two-way conversation rather than just a one-way channel for noise? And so with that, we’re going to talk a little bit about the new messaging experience in Slack.

Christina is going to kind of describe a little bit about kind of the approach that was taken. – [Christina] Yeah. Thanks, Michael. So, at CallRail, we had a couple of different things going on. We’ve had some direct feedback from our customers about communication that they actually wanted from us.

We had a couple of choices on how to get that information out to our customers. But we also had some really new ideas about some analytics that we wanted to be sharing with our customers. So, we had two pieces of information we wanted to be pushing, some direct feedback that we got, as well as an analytics option. And we looked at what were our options for how to get this information out to our customers.

Maybe we could be sending more emails to our customers or maybe we could put some information in the app, in the application. We, at the time, had a Slack integration through webhooks, but when we actually started working with Eletype, we discovered that a Slack app would be the best way for it. And I’ll talk through how we came to that conclusion.

Like Christina was saying, there’s a difference between just doing Slack integrations and doing a Slack app. And this is something that’s a new…this is new. This is a new environment. It’s a new medium. It’s certainly a new way to build applications and a lot of folks aren’t familiar with the differences between just pure Slack integrations and Slack apps. So, one of the things we worked on together is understanding that a Slack integration is usually done with just a webhook integration that takes data from one product or from one data source and pipes it directly into a Slack channel.

Some of the issues there is it can become a little bit of a… it can be a little noisy. And what it’s doing is it’s creating a pure passthrough of notifications alert that then gets sent directly into, in this case, a Slack channel with very little intelligence around, is it appropriate? Is it the right amount of information? Let alone getting feedback from the user. And when you move from a Slack integration over to a full-blown Slack app, a couple of things happen.

The first one is that we try to incentivize a less-is-more strategy, where less communication is probably a little bit better, that ends up cutting down on the signal-to-noise ratio, tends to increase the value of the signals while decreasing the noise. And you can accomplish that with a layer of intelligence that tries to inform what the proper insight is for that user and tries to distill it down to what’s going to be most valuable and most timely.

Then number three, we can take advantage of the interactive components of the Slack app in order to give feedback back to the product.

Some of the ways that we applied these is that the information that we had received direct feedback from customers was they really wanted to know when things were breaking or when something needed their attention. And so when we got that feedback, we thought about email but we thought, “Well, that seems kind of passive.And if something is really that important, shouldn’t we be telling you in a more prominent and more active way?”

Then we thought, “Well, maybe we should put it in that, maybe a big, red, shiny band or something that alerts you that something is wrong.” But then we realized we had to wait for you to log into the app to get this really important information. So, a Slack app solves that for us. We can push information to our customers without the risk of it getting lost in an email or waiting for the next time a user logs in. So, that was really important to us, to be where our users are, and if it’s really important, we should send it to you where you’re living right now.

– I think that’s a great example about understanding the use case because if the use case involves information that the user may not know they need, you can’t expect them to be in the app or at where the information could potentially be. So, a lot of times, all that great intelligence that exists behind a web app, how do we draw attention to it? So, the use cases, maybe it’s a warning, maybe it’s an alert, maybe it’s something that’s broken.

How do we make these users aware? And that’s a great use case that’s very much an ideal use case for building inside of a messaging platform. And then email, you have to assume that somebody’s going to look at the email, and we all know we get plenty of email anyway. Am I going to see an alert that’s buried in an email? Well, if we found 95% or more of the user base is inside of Slack, let’s deliver it directly to them.

Another way that Slack was really important to us was we were able to bring in some intelligence. So, Slack app was able to offer that whereas the webhooks integration wasn’t. So, this is some of the examples of what we actually built. And I’ll talk through how some of these used intelligence. So, we talked a little bit about alerts.

We created real-time alerts to inform you when there are potential problems with your campaigns. This has been really beneficial for customers. It’s been things that people have been asking for. Maybe you have a high rate of abandoned calls coming in and we’re the first ones to notice, so we push that out to you. Or maybe you have an integration that’s broken, we’re going to let you know in real time when that breaks. Other examples, or maybe you have a phone number set up, but it stopped receiving phone calls.

That was a big one that was happening occasionally. And now we proactively notify you when that’s happening. We also are now doing insights. And this is where Slack app became really, really important. Previously, with a Slack integration using webhooks, we were just pushing information, but now with a Slack app, we can actually use intelligence to start to decide, what is the most important information you need to know today?

Out of all of your phone numbers, out of all of your sources, out of all of your campaigns, which one has actionable insight that you need to take action on? Maybe it’s that you need to optimize into a campaign or you need to optimize out of a campaign. And those are the things that we can now decide and look at for you, and we can push that information to you. So, we’re really excited to offer a level of intelligence.

You still obviously can go into CallRail and make these decisions on your own with a full set of data, but this just gives you a little prompt, a little nudge to say, “Hey, maybe you should check on this campaign.” We’re also still doing notifications. Our old webhooks integration could do notifications, but now you can actually choose the mediums you want.

If you have customers or clients that you maybe only want to see the form submissions that come through, you don’t really want to see notification for call, you can make that choice now. So, we’re really excited to be able to offer the flexibility to only receive the communication you actually need or want. And then lastly, site feedback and transparency. Like Michael was saying, this was really important to us.

Some of these, like I said, were direct feedback and some of these were ideas that we had. And so, using Slack, we can actually communicate directly with you guys, with our customers. So, you can use Slack, you can give us a thumbs up, a thumbs down, maybe on an alert or an insight. You can tell us if it’s useful for you, you can tell us if it’s noisy. And we made it super simple to do that.

We’ll show you some examples here. So, this is an example of a daily summary where we show you the top things that are maybe happening with your account, and maybe some things you should be paying attention to, maybe you didn’t notice or maybe you did notice, but we’re just kind of giving you that nudge that you need to pay attention to these campaigns.

This is very similar to what we do with marketing metrics as well, but with these telephony metrics and these call metrics, a lot of the agencies, a lot of the folks that are on the phone, I’m sure, are dealing with dozens, if not hundreds of different trackers. Logging in to inspect all of those to figure out what to pay attention to is a lot of effort and requires that maybe you’re doing it on a regular basis, like once a day.

No one wants to do that once a day. So, if we can come in and help extract that information, add that layer of intelligence here that’s pulling up, “Hey, what’s trending up and what’s trending down?” this is drawing attention to what could use investigation today. And one of the things I love about this is that all these are hyperlinked up in such a way that if you click on it, it drives you directly back to that section inside of the CallRail app for deeper investigation.

Here’s an example of another insight. This is where we actually built the logic to understand what’s a high rate of abandoned calls? Abandoned calls are going to happen, but sometimes there’s more than you think is proper.

We actually built in a threshold and now we can determine what is a high number of abandoned calls that’s worth maybe digging into and starting an investigation. So, this has been a really useful proactive alert that people are receiving.

Once that insight has been sent to the user, with lots of these issues, sometimes being notified about it once is enough, and sometimes you can’t correct it, right? So, there’s the opportunity here, the option to mute this alert, which says, “Thanks for letting me know.That provided me some value, but you don’t have to tell me about it every day.So, I’m going to mute it.”

You can mute it for a period of time. You can mute it for one day, one week, one month, or indefinitely. And if you mute it for a short period of time, maybe you can rectify it, but if it comes back again, you’ll see it after that mute period.

Then we have alerts. We have the things that need your attention right now. This is another big win that our customers have been asking for. Slack is the perfect place to solve this. If you have something that’s broken, you don’t want to have to dig through email and you don’t want to have to wait until you log in the app to find out what’s broken.

We are sending these messages in real time, when it’s happening, where you are, in Slack every day.

Again, here this is hyperlinked back up, so you can just dive right in and fix it right from there.

Then we still have notifications. So, if you are looking to see every call that your clients are receiving or every form submission, you can get those directly pushed to you in Slack. And we also were able to add… with the Slack app, we were able to add text message responding. So, now, you or your clients can respond to a text message right there in Slack. And then as a product manager, one of the most important things for me is the feedback.

SWe made it super simple to provide feedback on any of these alerts, or insights, or notifications, a quick thumbs up or thumbs down. We’ll actually start a thread where you can type in and tell me directly what the problem is or what you liked, and I can use that information to help make this better for all of our customers.

– Yeah. Is the threshold correct? Could there be additional alerts that aren’t being captured that could be added to a subsequent version? Is there deeper insight not getting pulled off? All of this, I think, creates that instant communication channel that can happen right there inside of Slack. It doesn’t mean you…you don’t have to send an email. You don’t have to go log into anything.


Great. So, we will get to questions. All right. So, our first question is, a customer cannot find the CallRail app in Slack marketplace.

That’s a great question. So, right now you do have to access the Slack app through the CallRail application. We will be rolling it out to the marketplace in our next iteration or two, but for right now you have to access it through the CallRail app.

– And one of the ways in which the CallRail Slack app was rolled out was version 1 came out during the agency conference. We’ve made some changes and updates since then and I think the next version will probably be on [inaudible]. Okay. Cool.

1. Is the Slack integration available at a specific pricing plan or all pricing plans?

That’s a great question. It’s available on our Essentials plan and above.

2. And I know yesterday you just launched forms. So, is there information from form tracking that pulls into Slack?

There is. You can see form submissions directly in Slack. And then we are working on additional insights that will be pulled into Slack and included in those insight reports.

– One of the things we didn’t talk about was the configuration options inside of CallRail to kind of turn those on off. So, if anybody is… If there are certain alerts and notifications that need to be on for specific companies and trackers, those are configurable inside of the CallRail Slack integration page.

3. Is it possible to push messages into several Slack teams at the same time?

Yeah. So, right now the Slack integration can be installed to multiple workplaces per company, I guess. You want to talk a little bit about what we’re doing with the [crosstalk]?

– Yeah. So, this summer, we are looking to create a consolidated insight report, so that if you want to have multiple accounts or multiple clients consolidated into one insight report, that is exactly what we’re looking for here. So, we are looking to do that this summer and we’ll be really excited to announce that.

Another question on what’s going on with Slack today. Slack did go… The difference between a direct listing and a IPO. So, Slack did go public today on the New York Stock Exchange. For those who are curious about the difference, Slack took a slightly unique approach into how they went public. They used what’s called a direct listing rather than a public offering.

The difference, really, between the two is Slack took kind of a chance on not issuing new shares. They just kind of went directly to the public market. It’s having a great day today. I think that’s further validation of Slack as a channel, as a company that’s really hitting their stride right now and, again, very timely day to do this webinar. Slack’s gaining a lot of press today and has had a very successful public offering.

All right. I believe that’s all our questions. So, thank you, everyone, for attending. Again, as a reminder, you’ll receive a follow-up email tomorrow that has a link to watch this webinar on demand if you weren’t able to stay the whole time, or you tuned in late, or if you’d just like to share with your teams.

All right. Thank you.