A peek into how Unstack is running their Slack community – Issue 4

An interview with Chris Cardone, Customer Success Lead at Unstack

Hey there folks! 👋 Today, we’re sharing a brief peek into Chris Cardone’s life as he manages the Unstack community. They are still in the early days of building the community but are rapidly expanding and currently have over 300 members.

Chris shares their experience of trying multiple platforms (and why some didn’t work for them), how they go about growing the community, shares an interesting engagement concept called ‘product round-ups’ they do within their community, and a few things more! 💪

Enjoy, and don’t forget to hit subscribe if you haven’t yet👇
We have folks from Linear, InVision, Stark, and a bunch more lined-up for our next couple of issues.


About Unstack and Chris

Unstack is a no-code platform for building beautiful marketing websites and landing pages. It empowers marketers to rapidly create websites and iterate on them in order to optimize the performance in terms of SEO and conversion metrics. Although they've been around for a little longer, they launched on Product Hunt in July 2020 and became the number one product of the day.

Part of their success is the Unstack community. As the lead of Customer Success at Unstack, Chris Cardone is actively involved in the community. In this role, he focuses on delivering success stories, strategy advice, and general musings to help SaaS and B2B business build their digital presence better.

At what stage of the company did you start an online community and why?

When I began at Unstack, building an online community was one of my first responsibilities. We had a small user base and were still in beta, so it was hard to get true engagement.

We knew we wanted to be transparent and wanted an open channel from day one.

However, we knew we wanted to be transparent and wanted an open channel from day one. This allowed us to build content over time within the community to bring value so that, as the user base grew and more people joined every day, it wasn’t an empty place and people were starting to get value.

What platform(s) do you use to run your online community? What are the pros and cons?

Slack. We’ve tried Discourse, Facebook, and others, but Slack is where we’ve landed.

We began with Discourse, which is one of the largest community forum providers on the market, however, when you don’t have a tens-of-thousands customer base just yet, the complexity of Discourse is too much. Additionally, you have to think about the experience. We were asking a lot of the members by having them go to an external domain which would be used for nothing else.

After moving from Discourse, Facebook Groups seemed like a good option. The problem here is that the platform is cluttered. Despite them adding tags for posts that allow for members to filter already posted content, there’s no way to have members-only subscribe to certain content. Plus, Facebook limits accessibility to important member data. We didn’t have access to emails or any ability to push registration to the community into a third-party system.

We then landed on Slack. This allowed us to use Zapier to push activity into HubSpot and it allows for users to join and leave Slack Channels based on their interest. It’s almost like a newsletter subscription, only to the content they want.

We’re B2B, and Slack is a tool used almost universally within the B2B SaaS space, so a majority of our customers already have it open and in front of them all day

All-in-all, the pros and cons are subjective. We’re B2B, and Slack is a tool used almost universally within the B2B SaaS space, so a majority of our customers already have it in front of them all day – which is a big advantage and something I’d say anyone else should consider before looking at all sorts of platform features.

Something to keep in mind if you’re considering Slack is that a Slack community isn’t indexable, so we do not receive any SEO value from it. That’s something we might use as a motivating factor to move away at some point when we want/need to leverage the community for SEO.

How do people find out about the community and make sure it keeps growing?

Make your community valuable. Deliver exclusive content. For us, we deliver product announcements to the community 1-2 days before we publicly announce them. We ask for product feedback so community members are involved in the development process of our app. And, we push meaningful content in terms of website-building, SEO, and conversion. All of this provides value for our members created by us. As an additional bonus, we’ve structured the community to be a space for them to connect with others to chat from in-depth topics to more random things too, adding channels like #watercooler.

We push our community through email sign-offs, support auto-replies, in-app messages, and onboarding emails. We actively invite every person who starts using Unstack to join the community as well.

It’s very important for us to grow our community and increase its value. In fact, we even consider new users joining the community as a KPI for onboarding since the act of joining the community further engages them with the brand.

We use this as a selling factor for people to join by calling out the Slack community the unofficial support channel for after-hours.

At this point, I must say that the key reason people join today is instant support, usually from other customers. We use this as a selling factor for people to join by calling out the Slack community the unofficial support channel for after-hours. Our customers have reported being fans of this since superusers can provide tips and advice to more novice users.

Do you keep the community open or invite-based?

We keep our community open to all. The link is mainly available within the app, so an overwhelming majority of our community members are already app users.

Keeping the community open also allows us to quickly onboard new customers and trial sign-ups. Although this expedites the joining process it does then require us to do much heavier monitoring for sentiment, content, and more. Our team actively monitors support channels to move threads to tickets when needed and is ready to delete messages when needed.

Slack doesn’t have any moderation for text content unlike other community platforms, meaning we do not have a great way to moderate for swear words, profane content, and any other violations of our written policy.

How do you keep your community lively and positive?

We push all content we produce to the community first and allow them to react/give us feedback. However, to keep users coming back, we openly invite them to share their side-hustles, talk about their weekends, and promote what they’re doing.

Communities won’t always be positive — there will be times people get mad, so we address it calmly as we would do with any other support inquiry.

Do you distinguish different types of members within the community?

We don’t officially distinguish levels or give names, but we keep shortlists of highly active members to make sure those users are offered our affiliate program, specific discounts, and more. 

An example of how that’s applied: we’re pretty clear on the fact that our official support hours are from Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm Eastern Standard. But I guess we have around 50 people that we would call our impromptu support staff – community members that are super excited about what we do and help others with questions they have. This means that even on the weekends, people get quick answers from fellow community members as long as it doesn’t require specific internal knowledge. 

So we definitely further incentivize and stimulate that behavior by rewarding those people. The good thing is we actually see that this level of responsiveness helps stimulate conversion for our product as well. Due to the nature of our product, it really helps when novice users get a super responsive reply from other members.when they’re stuck on setting something up in Unstack

Also, these highly engaged members are the ones we tend to go to first for feedback on new product improvements.

How did engagement change when you grew from the first 50 members to now over 300 members? Any challenges anyone can learn from?

When we first began, our main focus was simply having people post in the community. We didn’t really think it through or cared about what it was specifically — we just needed engagement. 

Now, we’re expanding beyond the 50 member mark you mention and are over 300 members, so we’re looking beyond having continuous, active engagement. We care less about the quantity. We’re looking more for meaningful engagement. We’re still very much in a learning process in that regard.

We’re stimulating a couple of things currently to drive higher quality engagement. One of them is that we pro-actively try to stimulate members to share content that’s helpful to other community members. We try to stimulate questions outside of support-related topics and more into strategy, and allow for educational growth.

How do you involve your community in improving your product?

Slack makes things easy to separate by channel. So next to channels where people share meaningful things they created, we have channels for feature requests, product updates, and general questions users have.

For starters, the company is very much customer-first. That means that from developer to CEO; all of them are present in the community and have some customer-facing element to their role.

Then there are a couple of things we do to have a close connection between community and product.

For starters, the company is very much customer-first. That means that from developer to CEO; all of them are present in the community and have some customer-facing element to their role.

Of course, this differs, but our CTO for example tends to be quite active in answering and publishing. We do this really as an operation of showing face. We are very forward to humanization in the organization. When it comes to product updates, our CEO is often involved as well. It seems much appreciated by the community and is a sign that we deeply care about our users.

Another thing is that we are using Shipright to track trends in requests internally but also use their portal to show it to our members and communicate the status of those requests.

We actually got really cool feedback on that. One of the users told us: “I can’t believe you just created a page for me to see what’s happening with my request”. Obviously, this is just a general page for such a request, but it shows how giving that level of transparency is much appreciated.

we tend to do what we call product update round-ups (example), which includes a video of us walking through new things. The community gets those before anyone else, which makes community members feel special. 

When we eventually ship product updates, we tend to do what we call product update round-ups (example), which includes a video of us walking through new things. The community gets those before anyone else, which makes community members feel special. 

When doing these updates, we sometimes thank specific people from the community that shared their initial ideas and feedback which can really create an amazing ‘wow’ moment for them.

We are super cautious about doing that though. We first ask permission for that. We don’t want to risk people being in a confidential sector, or not having disclosed their position or work openly on a project to suddenly get thanked out in the open in front of hundreds of community members and thousands of people that receive our emails.

One piece of advice you would give to anyone that is building out an early community

Community needs to be top of mind for every conversation. You should have sales, success, leadership, and support pushing people to it. There’s only a handful of people who will read a marketing email and go “yeah, I want more digest emails from another community.” Instead, when someone reaches out to support with a question that support doesn’t know because it’s outside their scope, have them ask the community. Or, when sales have an unusual use case, send them to the community.

This will be amazing for giving your customers a reason to engage in the community. The next step is making sure you’re monitoring and ensuring their questions are answered.

Your favorite tool that helps you better run your community, if any?

There’s no one tool that makes an online community perfect. I’ve stopped spending valuable time searching for one, and I’ve come to the conclusion that community management and community building is a lot of manual work.

Keep a spreadsheet of members, update their statuses, and keep in touch with them as much as possible.

Keep a spreadsheet of members, update their statuses, and keep in touch with them as much as possible. The best “tool” is equipping your members with value. Make them want to log back in.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

If you’re a founder or marketer, have a look at Unstack. If you want to connect on anything customer success or community-related, you can find me on Twitter at @chrisrcardone


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Thanks for reading till the end of this issue 🙏

Next week we plan to have another cool interview for you 💪, stay tuned, and subscribe if you didn’t yet.

✌️ Cheers,

Steven, Frank, Gino, Lennart