Top 6 Actionable Takeaways from Group Chat! LA

Top 6 Actionable Takeaways from Group Chat! LA

Brooke Andrus
September 15, 2022
Reading Time: 5 minutes

We’re fresh off the bus from our very first stop on Group Chat! The Tour—and we couldn’t be more stoked about our incredible day in LA. 😎🌴

We mixed. We mingled. We fed our brains, souls, and stomachs (for real though, the food was ah-mazing 😋).

Get a small taste of the Group Chat vibes with our super-quick recap video below!

If you’re feeling the FOMO, we gotchu. In this blog post, we'll cover 6 of our tippity-top takeaways from the coolest IRL event series in ecommerce—and give you an idea of what to expect from future tour stops!

In this recap (click to navigate to a particular takeaway):

  1. Embrace owned marketing to combat increased ad costs and decreased consumer spending.

  2. Prioritize customer experience above all else.

  3. “Shake hands” with your new subscribers.

  4. Think in terms of continual conversations versus single sends.

  5. Turn zero-party data into meaningful segmentation.

  6. Make Subscriber LTV your SMS North Star.  

1. Embrace owned marketing to combat increased ad costs and decreased consumer spending.

There’s no way around it: ecommerce is a tough industry to be in right now. The tailwinds of the pandemic have died down to a breeze—and the macroeconomic environment has put a squeeze on consumer spending in recent months.

Shrinking advertising budgets have led many brands to embrace owned marketing more than ever before. And that’s a great thing, because the beauty of owned marketing—particularly SMS—is that:

  1. Your list and subscriber data are yours.

  2. Your messaging can go two ways.

The problem, of course, is that as more brands jump on the SMS train, the competition for subscriber attention will become more fierce. And that makes doing SMS the right way even more critical to the long-term value of text for your brand.

2. Prioritize customer experience above all else.

Early adopters of SMS saw massive success by simply doing it. But as Alex Beller, Postscript Co-founder and President, emphasized during his session in LA, message content and strategy are quickly becoming crucial to a brand’s ability to drive revenue through SMS.

“The way to make SMS a top revenue channel is to prioritize customer experience in the channel,” Beller said.

He pointed to chocolate bar brand Feastables as a perfect example of a merchant who went all-in on subscriber experience—and reaped the revenue rewards of a totally customer-centric approach.

Run by celebrity YouTuber MrBeast, Feastables started their SMS journey earlier this year with a deep understanding of who their audience was—and that helped them design an SMS strategy that served up exactly what their subscribers wanted and expected: fun, irreverent humor.

The result? They sold $1.5 million of chocolate through SMS in just 6 months.

Now, not every brand has a diehard audience of fans who are just itching to text with them. In many cases, you’ll have to entice customers to opt into your SMS list. But getting them over the initial barrier of subscribing is only half the battle.

3. “Shake hands” with your new subscribers.

As we noted here, SMS subscribers are more likely to unsubscribe within the first 30 days of opting in than they are at any other point in the customer lifecycle.

That’s why Jason Wong, the founder of Pughaus, says your welcome series is one of the most important pieces of your overall SMS strategy—especially for subscribers who may have been a bit reluctant to sign up.

“With SMS, you have to be very intentional,” Wong explained while moderating our Chat Bubble panel session. “When you get a new subscriber, you have to shake their hand. When we first started [on SMS with Doe Lashes] we didn’t shake their hands—we just blasted them with a sale.”

Doe, like many other brands who have ultimately found their SMS stride, learned from those early mistakes, going on to build SMS programs that feel much less like marketing and much more like conversations with friends.

“When we first started with SMS, I was scared of how many touchpoints we had,” added Amber Reyes, Paid Media Manager for beauty brand Kopari. “But I learned that you shouldn’t be scared to utilize the channel as long as you know you’re engaging with your customer base in a meaningful way.”

Reyes also added that in the increasingly noisy SMS space, contact cards make all the difference.

“Having a brand saved in your phone makes it feel more like it’s coming from someone you know,” she said.

4. Think in terms of continual conversations versus single sends.

And that—making your subscribers feel like they’re getting, and responding to, texts from a friend or family member—is where the real magic happens.

Sure, it means that not every single message is going to show a clear-cut ROI. But truly strategic SMS marketers don’t see success through the lens of a single campaign. They know that their relationships with customers—just like relationships with friends and family—are much more nuanced and complex than that. You don’t expect a single post on Instagram to produce an immediate ROI—it’s about building awareness and community.

And the fact is, the subscribers who engage with you the same way they would engage with anyone else on their contact list are the subscribers who will prove most valuable to your brand in the long term.

“We see in our data that subscribers who engage in a genuine back-and-forth are 4 times more likely to buy and are worth 4 times as much as an unengaged subscriber,” Beller said.

The key is recognizing that SMS is a wholly independent channel. Yes, it can work in tandem with paid media, social, and email—but none of those channels were built for quick, two-way communication. That’s the superpower of SMS—and failing to integrate it into your strategy means missing a huge chance to drive satisfaction, loyalty, and future sales.

“SMS is a unique platform that gives us a unique way to talk and engage with our customers that other platforms just don’t give,” Reyes said. “When you’re just transactional in your messaging, you’re losing out on that opportunity to create brand loyalty.”

Alec Avedissian, the CEO of Rareform, said brands should be especially careful not to simply regurgitate their email content into their SMS campaigns.

“Email was such a big channel for most of us, and now you spend so much time and energy designing and copywriting for email,” he said. “But look at how hard it is to get through to those customers now. My take is that SMS is going to become a much bigger part of every brand’s revenue mix. So the brands that are able to create that community…it’s going to be so impactful.”

5. Turn zero-party data into meaningful segmentation.  

Zero-party data was perhaps the biggest buzzword at Group Chat! LA—and for good reason.

This is part of the long-term ROI of conversational messaging, because an engagement-focused campaign you send this month might not drive direct sales—but the information you collect via subscriber responses could help drive better segmentation (and higher conversion!) for a campaign you send next month.

“The beauty of the SMS channel is that collecting customer information can happen in such a natural and conversational way,” said Alex Meyer, Postscript Group Product Manager.

We highlighted tons of new Postscript features and enhancements during Group Chat! LA—including our text-to-buy beta and our expanded partnership with Twilio (which will majorly enhance deliverability during peak traffic times like BFCM)—but our revamped popups and nested branching within Flow Builder take the cake.

“Flow Builder has become, for brands seeing the best results, the absolute heart of their SMS messaging experience,” Beller said. “This is the most rich, SMS-first Flow Builder on the market.”

By leveraging Postscript to create campaigns and automations targeted to highly specific customer segments, brands like Lotus and Luna, Death Wish Coffee, and Dr. Squatch are turning SMS into the heartbeat of their relationships with customers—and as a result, one of their top revenue channels.

“We see brands who are making 30, 40, 50% of their revenue with SMS,” Beller said.

Nested branching within Flow Builder enables brands to pre-load automated responses based on incoming subscriber responses. In addition to giving subscribers a conversational experience (at scale, with no need to manually respond to every incoming message), this functionality empowers your brand to tag—and later, segment—subscribers based on what they text back.

And that is precisely what zero-party data is—as defined at Group Chat by Rachel Tyers, SVP of Strategic Partnerships at Okendo: “Data or information that is proactively shared with you from your customers.” (By contrast, first-party data is information a company collects from customers—without those customers necessarily sharing it proactively.)

Zero-party data is the most valuable data you can collect as an SMS marketer, because it enables you to not only strategically segment your audience, but also message those segments in a highly contextual way.

That’s how Dr. Squatch makes sure they’re getting the right offers in front of the right “clusters” of customers at the right time. For example, some want—and will continue converting on—multiple messages per week or month. Others only take action on new product announcements or discounts. The key is finding the right balance to achieve high conversion with low unsubscribes—and targeted, personalized messaging is a crucial piece of the puzzle.

“As each customer continues to get more and more SMS from more and more brands, personalization will be critical,” said Cody Griffin, Sr. Director of Marketing for Dr. Squatch. “Otherwise it’s going to turn into email.”

6. Make Subscriber LTV your SMS North Star.

But today’s revenue means nothing if it all disappears tomorrow, which is why future-looking brands use Subscriber Lifetime Value (LTV) as their guiding KPI for SMS.

While brands focused on today’s revenue and ROI may achieve short-term success in the SMS channel, those interested in driving long-term growth know that these metrics don’t tell the whole story. The main reason for that, as we explain here, is that they don’t account for list growth and contraction.

Subscriber LTV, on the other hand, accounts for 4 crucial factors in your long-term SMS marketing performance:

  • Acquisition

  • Revenue per message

  • Messages per subscriber

  • Retention rate

Together, we call these the ARMR metrics—and you can learn all about them here.

Postscript tracks ARMR and Subscriber LTV right on the main dashboard, and it drives everything we do—from both a development and overall company strategy perspective.

That’s because, as Beller noted during Group Chat, “You have to bring all elements of Subscriber LTV into harmony in order to maximize the channel.”

Phew—that’s a whole lotta inspo from a whole lotta textperts. Have questions about anything we covered above? Hit us up here!

Interested in attending a future Group Chat! The Tour event? We’d love to see you! Keep an eye on our event page to learn about new stops as they’re added to the schedule.

Brooke Andrus
Brooke Andrus
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Brooke Andrus is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Postscript. A journalist by trade, Brooke now uses her nose for news to keep ecommerce merchants informed on industry trends and business best practices.