August 3, 2022
Reading Time: 11 minutes
It’s been another wild year in ecommerce. From continued supply chain issues to a slowdown in consumer purchasing, merchants are finding themselves up against a lot of challenges and uncertainties.
To help merchants better understand the economic factors at play in the current market—and give them some real, actionable strategies for helping their businesses weather the storm—we recently hosted a webinar titled, “Moving with the Market: How Top Brands Adapt for Success in any Economy.”
Led by our own Chief Marketing Officer, Mike Manheimer, this session featured guest speakers Kent Dagnall, the Email and SMS Marketing Specialist for Perfect Keto, and Amber Reyes, the Paid Media Manager for Kopari. Both shared tons of helpful, firsthand insights on how their brands are dealing with these market shifts.
You can watch a full recording of the webinar below—or select one of the following timestamp links to skip to a particular section of the video.
2:40 - Intro: What the Numbers are Telling Us About Ecommerce Consumer Trends
7:05 - How Merchants are Preparing for the Economic Slowdown
9:18 - Strategies for Acquisition and Using SMS to Move Customers Down the Funnel
17:04 - Using Segmentation and Personalization to Create Great SMS Experiences
29:42 - New and Creative Approaches to SMS to Consider for Your Brand
36:24 - Fresh Strategies for BFCM 2022
42:26 - Creative SMS Wins in the Last Year to Inspire Other Brands
48:25 - Audience Q&A
We’ve also provided a written summary of the presentation, as well as an FAQ based on the questions we received during the Q&A portion of the event.
Slowing Growth: What the Data is Telling Us
While we all had an idea that the pandemic boom in ecommerce wouldn’t last forever—and that we’d eventually settle back into a slower, more reasonable growth pattern—it doesn’t make the revenue squeeze any easier for merchants. Add inflation and seasonality to the mix, and those breezy headwinds start feeling more like gale-force gusts.
Looking at our own all-time order history from shops that are currently using Postscript, we can clearly see the impact of these changes.
Sales are Down this Year, but Ecommerce is Still Growing Overall
In December of last year, we noticed that orders had dropped below the previous year’s count for the first time ever. This trend continued in March, April, and May. In June, the gap did narrow a bit, but merchants were still hitting the annual summer slump—just a little earlier than usual. Year-to-date, based on our data, sales are down around 15%.
But these trends aren’t unique to Postscript users. This data from the U.S. Census Bureau—which we first spotted on Shopify’s blog—corroborates what we’re seeing internally. Ecommerce is still growing steadily overall, it’s just not growing as fast as it was back in 2020.
While we all wish that the jump in adoption could have outlasted the early days of the pandemic, the fact is, consumers aren’t ready to forego all of their pre-pandemic shopping habits. So with that short-lived boost in the rearview mirror, ecommerce merchants are naturally feeling a bit uneasy about the coming months.
Leaning into Owned Marketing as a Way to Control Costs
So, the outlook isn’t exactly sunny. But here at Postscript, we’re not about the doom and gloom. We’re about action.
To that end, one strategy many merchants are implementing in response to current market conditions is embracing owned marketing.
Owned marketing channels give merchants more control over spend and results. At this point, Facebook and Google aren’t giving merchants any meaningful data anymore. So, move some of your focus to places where you can own your customer data, be it a blog, a store app, email, or—our personal favorite—SMS. (Actually, SMS may be even more effective than email considering that the impending iOS 16 update will continue to affect inbox filtering, making it harder to have conversations with customers over email.)
Smart Brands are Converting Paid Media Spend into Owned Data
Leaning into owned marketing strategies will help you drive down constantly rising customer acquisition costs, build brand loyalty, and find better ways to retarget and communicate with customers. It also gives you more control over your marketing in the long term, because you won’t be so dependent on the third-party data that is becoming increasingly difficult to access due to privacy restrictions.
Obviously that doesn’t mean forgoing paid advertising entirely, but you can get more out of your paid acquisition efforts when you also use those channels as an avenue to acquire SMS subscribers. Once you drive folks to your website, how are you going to convert them beyond making a sale (which doesn’t always happen)?
Think through how you can turn that traffic into owned marketing opportunities. As Amber mentioned, this allows you to turn acquisition into retention. For example, you might have a two-part email and SMS capture on your website in the form of a popup, as Kopari has implemented. Or, you could take it a step further and lead with an SMS collection popup on mobile, as Perfect Keto does.
If you already have a robust email marketing list, you might start thinking about ways to expand that owned marketing footprint by converting email subscribers into SMS subscribers, as Kopari has also done.
That being said, many brands have caught on to the power of owned channels—which means they are more competitive than ever. This makes unique content and smart approaches to personalization even more important. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time cutting through the noise.
Focusing on Personalization in All Marketing Efforts
One major benefit to owned marketing is the amount of personalization you’re able to incorporate due to all the granular data points you have access to. We’re not just talking about using your subscribers’ first names in your emails and texts—that’s table stakes at this point.
But when you pull in deep segmentation based on things like products purchased, number of purchases, keyword engagement, time between purchases, etc.—that’s when you can really make your messaging feel like it was written specifically for an individual recipient.
SMS Empowers Customers to Tell You What They Want
SMS, in particular, opens an opportunity to simply ask subscribers what kind of content or engagement they want—by inviting them to select from a list of keywords representing different product or information categories, for example.
This leads to better customer experiences—which in turn increases the value of a brand’s SMS program.
Perfect Timing and Deep Segmentation Equal Highly Targeted Messaging
Even something as simple as sending a personalized cart can make a huge difference in whether a message converts to a sale. When that is combined with perfect timing—like Kopari has achieved through their integration with Repeat—it becomes even more effective.
Kopari has also embraced personalization through automation, using subscriber triggers and actions to create more timely and contextual messages—including welcome series, abandonment flows, shipping updates, and replenishment flows. (In fact, shipping updates and other transactional SMS plays are a great way to introduce customers to the value of receiving texts from your brand if you’re new to the channel.)
Recently, Kopari also launched a quiz to help them better understand newer subscribers’ interests—which fast-tracks them to creating personalized SMS experiences right off the bat. Perfect Keto has also used this type of quiz with subscribers, even going so far as to put advertising dollars behind promoting it as a way to grow their list.
Enhancing Integrations and Brand Partnerships
As Kent mentioned during the webinar, it’s especially smart to seek out partnerships with other stable brands as a cost-effective way to acquire new customers.
This may also be a time to explore or deepen your brand’s relationship with retailers as more consumers return to in-person shopping.
Integrations Help Brands Further Monetize the SMS Channel
On the technology side, integrating SMS with other revenue-generating platforms can help you supercharge your use of the channel to drive sales. For example, you might use Postscript in conjunction with Recharge to allow subscription customers to add items to their upcoming orders via text. Or, you could use Postscript’s integration with Repeat to text a reorder reminder at the exact time a past customer is the most likely to buy again—which is exactly what Kopari has done with excellent results.
Creating Unique Strategies for Each Channel
Kent encourages brands to identify the strength of each channel and double down. For SMS, that means leveraging a conversational approach as much as possible. Perfect Keto plans to create more campaign and automation flows that involve interactivity and two-way messaging.
SMS is the Channel for VIP Experiences and Two-Way Conversations
It’s a perfect approach for their highly engaged SMS subscribers—many of whom fall into the VIP segment. Because these customers are so high-value, the investment of creating a unique, high-quality experience is absolutely worthwhile. It also makes it a great place for exclusivity—giving early or special access to sales, for example.
To that end, Perfect Keto plans to continue investing in high-quality creative, which helps set their brand apart from all the generic SMS messaging out there.
Kopari also embraces the conversational nature of SMS, seeing it more as a way to “share secrets with friends.” As Amber explained, it has become their go-to VIP channel, where their most loyal subscribers can get the scoop on things like new product launches or back in stock announcements before anyone else.
Unique Strategies Don’t Always Require Unique Content
That doesn’t mean writing every piece of content for every channel from scratch—re-use and repurpose what you’ve already created, but tweak it to resonate with your audience on each channel. For example, an email might showcase multiple new products at once, whereas a complementary SMS campaign might invite subscribers to reply with the keywords representing the new products they’re interested in learning more about.
Starting BFCM Prep Earlier than Ever
With supply chain uncertainties looming, Kent says it’s never too early to start planning and strategizing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While Perfect Keto saw excellent BFCM results last year, they aren’t taking their success for granted this year.
2022 is the Year of Automated Campaign Flows for BFCM
Kent plans to leverage the Flow Builder for both campaignsandautomations to set up as much as possible in advance of Q4. This allows for personalization and two-way communication at scale during a busy time when engaging on an individual basis in real time isn’t always possible.
Another strategy Perfect Keto will look to in the coming months is using geotargeting for folks that are physically near one of the brand’s retail outlets. That way, they can use SMS messaging and offers to drive more foot traffic to those physical locations.
Re-engagement for Lapsed Buyers will be Key to Maximizing Holiday Sales
Amber said Kopari has also started their BFCM prep. They’re planning some re-engagement campaigns leading up to this peak selling season, with a particular focus on subscribers they know only purchase during big sales. There’s a lot of competition around this time, so it’s important to get Kopari top of mind before the sale goes live. They’ll also leverage paid channels to grow their list as much as possible in advance of BFCM.
Frequently Asked Questions from Our Live Q&A
What KPIs are the most important to follow?
Both Kent and Amber recommend paying close attention to the click rate for your SMS sends. While revenue per recipient is also important—especially for sales-focused campaigns and automations—it can be tricky using revenue metrics comparatively because your SMS strategy should include a mix of conversational and experience-focused messages, which don’t always directly result in sales.
Globally, Amber says Kopari closely follows conversion rates for any sales-focused campaigns. If conversion is low but click rates are healthy, it could be a sign that you need to re-evaluate your landing page. Customer acquisition costs are also an important metric to track here, because you want to make sure the money you’re spending to acquire customers is worthwhile when considering the value of those customers.
On that note, a metric we highly recommend tracking here at Postscript is Subscriber Lifetime Value (LTV). This gives you an idea of the total dollar value of SMS to your business—now and in the future. You can learn more about this metric here, or get an analysis on your brand’s Subscriber LTV here.
How can I increase signups for email and SMS marketing?
As Amber mentioned during the webinar, it’s crucial to have a way to capture all traffic you’re driving to your website through some type of popup (Kopari uses a two-step popup to gather both email and phone number).
Additionally, because Kopari—like many other brands—has a much larger email list than SMS list, they leverage large events like new product launches to convert email subscribers into SMS subscribers. This is a strategy pretty much any brand could adopt: send a pre-launch teaser email and incentivize SMS opt-ins by telling email subscribers that they’ll be the first to know when the new product drops if they sign up for your SMS messaging. (Just be sure to follow through on that promise—both Kopari and Perfect Keto limit access to new products to SMS subscribers only for the first 24 hours after launch.)
Kopari also uses their quiz to drive signups as well as partner giveaway campaigns where they convert other brands’ subscribers into Kopari subscribers.
Furthermore, as Kent mentioned, don’t underestimate the power of your imagery and creative in catching people’s eye and sparking their curiosity enough to get them to sign up. For example, Perfect Keto recently created some fun, nostalgia-inspired images for the launch of their low-carb mac and cheese.
Do you create different welcome series for different opt-in keywords or different audiences?
Both Perfect Keto and Kopari create automations—including welcome series—aligned to different opt-in sources and audience segments. After all, you want to welcome someone who opted in via a social media giveaway differently than someone who opted in to receive a special BFCM discount or be the first to learn about a specific product drop.
They also segment according to purchase history. For example, Kopari’s messaging for those who have not purchased yet is more focused on founder stories and social proof, whereas those who have purchased before may receive a personalized recommendation based on their last purchase.
Perfect Keto’s messaging for first-time customers is designed to drive additional purchases, whereas their flows for second-time and third-time buyers focuses on reviews and loyalty programs, respectively. They also segment out Recharge subscribers so they can educate them on different subscription options as part of their welcome experience.
What type of SMS content converts best?
According to our 2022 SMS Benchmarks Report, keyword opt-in messages—which subscribers receive immediately after texting a keyword to join your list—generate the highest clickthrough and conversion rates of all message types. So, make sure you’re leveraging keywords across all of your marketing channels to grow and segment your subscriber list.
The same report showed that abandoned cart messages produce the second-highest clickthrough and conversion rates. That’s why we here at Postscript always recommend having an abandoned cart automation up and running in the background to help convert high-intent shoppers.
Kopari says their secret sauce includes these three things: imagery, urgency and UGC to deliver social proof.
How do you send personalized shopping carts with SMS?
You can do this using Postscript’s abandoned cart automation—which automatically links back to the products subscribers added to their carts but didn’t purchase. You can also deliver personalized carts via SMS using Postscript’s integration with Repeat, which reminds past purchasers to re-order products (and sends a personalized cart containing those products) at the exact time when they are the most likely to repurchase.
Can you add Klaviyo SMS subscribers to Postscript?
Postscript allows you to import any SMS subscribers that were compliantly collected using another platform. You can learn more about the import process here. Curious about how top brands use Klaviyo email in conjunction with Postscript SMS? Check out this page.
Do you use Klaviyo or Postscript for your SMS?
Both Kopari and Perfect Keto leverage Postscript for SMS. (Check out Kopari’s case study with us here.)
What strategies have been most the successful for enticing a demographic outside of your usual target? Is it better to expand or double down?
Amber says testing is key here. Test new audiences through paid campaigns to see which resonate with your creative and website the most. From there, try creating education around your product, and let the end consumer know what type of problem your product solves.
It's important to remember that your current target demo may not be tapped out. Find different ways to communicate with them, look for gaps in your current messaging, and do some competitor research. Find our what key competitors are doing and how they're messaging their audience differently than you are.
Don't forget to use your current customer database to collect feedback (e.g., reviews, ad comments). Then, use positive feedback in new creative. SMS is powerful because you can actually ask your customers what they like the most about your product or where there are concerns—and then find ways to address those.
We only see significant conversion on automations and sales. Is this something you can relate to? Are you struggling with conversion on email and SMS blasts in 2022?
Being strategic with what segments you are messaging is key for success here. For campaign sends, Amber suggests sticking to launches, re-support of hero products, and sales. Automations should be a unique and personalized experience to help retain customers based on their engagement with your brand (e.g., on your website) and previous buying behavior
What is one “non-traditional” automation that’s doing well for you?
Both Kopari and Perfect Keto shouted out Repeat integrations within our webinar—and for good reason. Kopari's Dynamic Replenishment Flows know when to send out replenishment reminders based on a customer's previous buying behavior. It's a great way to automate a special customer experience.
Where do you see better conversion rates—SMS or email?
For Kopari, SMS generates higher conversion and engagement rates. SMS subscribers are the brand's most loyal and engaged customer database. To retain them as best they can, Kopari prioritizes conversational campaigns as well as high-quality creative and messaging. When consumers are in their text messages, they are in an engagement and communication mindset. So, speak to them as if they’re your friend!
Amber also stresses the importance of considering your audience for each automation before you set it up. Campaigns, on the other hand, are great for big launches, product support, sales, and back in stock messages for popular products (though Postscript does offer BIS integrations too!)
Create segments and speak to each segment based on their specific buying behavior. High AOV? Speak to any GWPs or offers you have on site that have a minimum threshold
Repeat customers? Let them know how much you value their loyalty. New customers? Provide social proof and third party validation to get them to buy.
What's the incentive to take Kopari's quiz?
The quiz offers shoppers a way to discover their ideal beauty routine. The goal is to provide a personalized experience for subscribers, and the results are dynamic based on quiz responses. On top of that, those who finish the quiz receive 10% off their next order.
Kopari also sends follow-up emails with the customer's discount code along with the products recommended to them based on quiz answers.
A huge thanks to our merchants for taking the time out of their busy schedules to help our greater ecommerce community. Want to join the Postscript family? Start your free trial now or book a call to learn more!