Arlen
00:00:58
Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast. Everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest Lisa Popovich, who is the co-founder at Cartloop, a conversational SMS marketing app for Shopify brands. She’s a Med School graduate turned to tech, an entrepreneur with over 6 years of eCommerce experience, now bringing the in-store experience online, one text message at a time. Welcome to the podcast, Lisa.

Lisa
00:01:32
Thanks for having me.

Arlen
00:01:36
Yeah, no problem. Thank you for your definitely appreciate you coming on. I’m excited to talk to you because this is a hot topic. We’re going to be talking about SMS marketing. When I end up these days, it’s really just exploded it, especially because of the state we’re in, where there’s not as many people kind of going out, going into the retail, you got to do things to engage with your customers and SMS marketing is, is definitely a great way to do it. So we’re going to dig deep into that, and we’re gonna talk about some actionable strategies for e-commerce businesses, but before we do get into all of that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and specifically how you got into what you’re doing today?

Lisa
00:02:16
Sure, sure. So I’m Lisa I’m co-founder and co it’s Karmaloop to give you a little bit of like an overview of what kind of a piece we are an SMS marketing platform that helps Shopify brands drive revenue and build customer relationships. We text with customers in real time. We have a team of real people who are actually interacting with customers through text messages. We combine both sales and support and act like an extension of the brand sales team. A little bit about my background. I previously studied and graduated from med school. After that I turned to, I mean, while doing that, I turned towards e-commerce and then to tech. But during my studying years, I started to e-commerce brands as a side gig. I was learning everything just on the go on my own with the help of my now current co-founder and e-commerce hooked me.

Lisa
00:03:16
And I remember I was so eager to get back from, from classes and from the practice that I had at the hospital to just open my laptop and work on my stores. And the fifth year was a turning point for me, as I realized where my true passion lies and where my all my skills were actually at and after that’s where I traveled to. Yeah, I think San Francisco in 2018, my co-founder and I decided to start to assess company. And that says company would actually solve one of our biggest issues, which was not relying on external marketing channels anymore. And the first business that we had was an email marketing app, but then there were multiple inflection points that made us realize that there was a gap in the SMS marketing space, and that was, you know, the lack of human touch. So this is part of the idea of how Carlo came to life. And we lounged in April, 2020, just went to condemning, was getting started. And that’s basically when my e-commerce started tech, my eCommerce journey turned to tech and in a nutshell, this is my, my journey.

Arlen
00:04:27
Okay. That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. And it’s quite a switch to go from being a med school, graduate into tech. So did you ever go through the process of residency and go that far? Or did you just kind of stop after graduating from med school?

Lisa
00:04:42
So I graduated, I took my, I don’t know how, like my license, so I don’t know how exactly it’s called. I took that exam, but then I didn’t go through with the residency because I just, you know, I didn’t feel like I belong in the hospital or I just didn’t feel like it was for me. I felt like something was missing and I just love the eCommerce space and tech. I felt like it was the right decision for me and I never looked back since.

Arlen
00:05:12
That’s awesome. I definitely commend you for doing that and making that switch. Not a lot of people would have gone through all of that. You know, there’s a lot of schooling involved in going through medical school, a lot of money involved as well. And to realize it just really wasn’t in you, it wasn’t your passion to be able to pivot like that and then kind of follow whatever what was in your heart is definitely very commendable. So I definitely applaud you for, for being able to do that because I tell you the truth. I don’t know if I could have done that. If I would’ve went through medical school, they got to that point, you know, even if I’ve never was, was conflicted, I don’t know at that point I may have just gone forward with it and, you know, but so it definitely takes a lot of courage to do that. So hats off to you, for sure. But yeah, as I said at the, at the top of the episode, you, of course that Yusef state is your bread and butter when you guys are focusing on right now is a SMS marketing and specifically SMS, conversational SMS marketing. And so why don’t you really just kind of define that really? What is conversational SMS?

Lisa
00:06:13
Yep. So if we look at a little bit of the difference between automated and conversational SMS marketing, so unlike marketing blasts, which push out promotions discount codes with no intention of offering personalized, real value, conversational SMS marketing on the other side, focuses on engaging customers, offering support, getting real time feedback and insights from directly from the shop or from the subscriber. And it’s an empathy driven approach, which other mediums like me email or push notifications cannot really offer. And the beauty of conversational marketing is that it can be used for almost anything from all the way from recovering a abandoned cards, getting gathering real time, customer feedback, doing surveys through text, providing support all the way to actually placing an order or returning a damaged item through text. Yeah, and if you’re using conversational tools such as SMS or even live chat, your shoppers are basically guided through not only guided, but nurtured through every step of their shopping journey and their experience is, is enhanced. And also for the merchant is a, is a great loyalty driver and customer lifetime value driver.

Arlen
00:07:36
That’s interesting. Thank you for breaking that down. And I can definitely see, you know, the difference there. A lot of people think when you think about texts, marketing, text message, marketing, SMS marketing, you think of just the company, a company is just doing a blast is a blanket blast to their, to the people. They have their phone numbers, whether they’re customers or somehow they’ve acquired a list. You know, they’re just blasting out some messages, making some type of promotion. They’re trying to drive people to their site. They’re trying to get people to engage with them somehow. So that’s where the of times people think about it. But because I think on the technology and I think these, these people are so much more savvy when it comes to advertising. A lot of people aren’t going to just kind of fall for these blanket advertising messages that are coming to their phone.

Arlen
00:08:20
You know, it’s just going to do it, they’re going to delete it. And so the conversational aspect of it, I think is really where things are at right now, when you’re going to be engaging them. Like you said, you mentioned a few key things that I hadn’t even thought about allowing somebody to manage their return or product return, just via text message, which just seems like a, an incredible concept, you know, which just, I could imagine making it so much easier for somebody to get things processed because it really takes it a step further. Of course, a lot of these things can be done online or via the website. But when you’re talking about the via text that simplifies everything tremendously, that adds a lot of value to, you know, your customer definitely stands out a lot. So that’s really what I see now. One specific area, which I know e-commerce companies struggle with really on a daily basis is cart abandonment as a really a big issue. When people come to an e-commerce site, they add items to the cart and they bounce away, you know, for whatever reason they leave and they never complete it. And you have indicated, or previously before coming on that there’s a specific method of being able to actually recover these abandoned cards or in real time using SMS marketing. Why don’t you let us enlighten us and let us know exactly how that works and how a business could actually implement that.

Lisa
00:09:37
I will start from, I would say the problem and the mistake that most brands are doing. So I think that one of the biggest mistakes that brands are doing is they are not treating part of a benefit cards as an opportunity to understand their shoppers better. And, you know, to find out who their shoppers really are, what they need, what are their expectations, why they opted in, in the first place for the emails or the texts. And they just wanted me to see, you know, those cards being recovered as fast as possible and the revenue increasing, and they will, you know, push out promotions, discount codes with again, no intention of offering personalized, real value, or really getting at the, at the root cause of that cart. Abandonment. And then let’s say that one day you recover all of your cards. You’re super happy. Oh yeah.

Lisa
01:10:28
My revenue has increased. My minimum is low. Okay. But then the next day, the abandonment rates might be the same or even higher. And then you ask yourself, isn’t this a sign that something must be off, or isn’t this a sign that I’m not offering my shoppers, what they actually need or care about. And something must upset all those people. And I believe there’s the best opportunity, the right moment to reach out to them and, you know, ask a simple, how can I help? Or was there any problem during your shopping journey? And by going with this approach, you really can find like the main issue, why behind her abandonment, and you can actually adjust your business accordingly from getting that, gathering that feedback from your shoppers. And you also get to learn your customers from, from the inside out. So you going forward, you know, how to target them better and what kind of content to provide or what kind of texts, emails, whatever paid advertising to push out.

Lisa
01:11:36
And it’s quite a loop. So how we’re doing things at carb-ups. So how it usually works. You’re super keen on providing like very friendly, personal human approach as if you were talking to your friend via text. So after a shopper, you know, abandons is from whatever reason can be millions of reasons. We’ve all done. It, we’ve all abandoned. Our cards, we’ve all plays like dozens of items and then left. So, you know, if that’s shopper who abandons the cart, except marketing at checkout provides a number, of course, in order to be compliant, he will get a text after around 30 minutes saying something like, Hey, Arlene, I saw you were checking. This is Lisa from Carlos. I saw you were checking out these sneakers awesome choice. How can I help you complete your order? And like 50 to 60% of the time. So there’s the reply rates at conversational SMS marketing.

Lisa
01:12:31
They will reply and actually say, oh, I actually, my credit card wasn’t working or the discount code wasn’t working, or I was wondering if you have express shipping or, you know, all kinds of reasons for natural reasons and super frequent ones. And, you know, with a simple answer that doesn’t really require a lot of effort or resources, you can actually convert that customer, but you just have to listen to him. This is how we’re doing it. And the best part of having real humans handle customer interactions is the fact that they can solve almost 80 to 90% of the issues without having to involve your support team or your development team, or if you have a technical team. So, you know, what our live agents do is they tackle all kinds of use cases, such as providing assistance. When shoppers have technical issues, when chocolates have payment issues, they provide an alternative payment methods, or when they have product related questions, they will provide that, you know, they will get that information about the product and they will provide it.

Lisa
01:13:36
Or if they have shipping or delivery questions, you know, all kinds of all kinds of use cases that are usually handled by the brands that summer support team. So the benefits here would be the convenience for the shopper because the shopper has, once you start texting him, there will be a single point of contact between you as a brand and your consumer. So they can reach out to you via that same number, even six months, further down the line, asking something, if they want to purchase again, they also get the personal shopping, assistant experience, which is very nice considering now that everything moved to online also there’s zero time loss on support tickets, or live chat, waiting for agents to actually be available. It reduces inbox, anxiety, and it’s also the best thing I would say is that conversational estimates, if you do it right, it’s real time, it’s instant. So instant support. I believe it’s the best. It’s one of the most essential aspects that the brands would care about. And it’s related to customer support.

Arlen
01:14:42
Yeah. Very powerful area of which you can communicate with your customers. It really like you kind of mentioned that it’s just really almost opening up just a whole nother of communication. I hadn’t thought about it. The cart abandonment would be a point that initiates that new channel. And there’s a lot of power in that as well that we can tap into, because I think most people are familiar with the systems that do the cart, abandonment emails, that’s common to cart abandonment campaigns, where you’re sending out email campaigns to people that have, have bounce out of your car that, you know, that’s pretty common. But I think there’s a lot of power in tying that into SMS messaging. Like you said, 30 minutes after somebody abandoned their cart, because the one thing is, as we all know, most people are kind of glued to the smartphones and they’ll leave anywhere without it.

Arlen
01:15:30
So it’s always within arms reach most of the time. And if you catch somebody with the text messages, you know, letting them asking them, okay, why did you have been in the car? Like you said, it could always, it could be really just something simple. Like they didn’t understand the shipping options that are looking for the promo, right? Promo, Cofield, whatever it is, it could be something simple and that would allow you to quickly and easily save that sale. So definitely a lot of power in that. As far as this whole channel, you also mentioned that that single point of entry right there, when you’re opening up that line of communication with them via the abandonment issue, it leaves it open. Like you said, what, what can happen is down the line if they have other issues they now know. Okay, great. I can just, let me just text them my question about the product or the issue that I’m having, and they can do that several months down the line. So it definitely makes them aware right away that you have that available. So I think that’s awesome. There’s a lot of power in that. So I don’t eat of course, focused on the cart, abandonment. That’s just a great conversation to, to have, be able to resolve people that have that particular issue, but what are some other types of conversations that businesses can have with their customers? You know, using the SMS marketing without, you know, without being overly aggressive and overly salesy, what are some other things that can,

Lisa
01:16:50
Yeah. So in my opinion, your messages should be a mix of promotions, new releases, educational content, or anything else that you’ve got planned for your emails or social channels. So it should be if your marketing strategy involves multiple channels, you should definitely make sure every single channel is communicating to one another. So whatever types of campaigns or texts you’re sending out, you have to keep it human personal, and you have to start each campaign with the following question. So how can I provide value through this things that I’m sending out? Is this a text that I would read that I would want to receive? Is this like a text that I would click the link that I would be provided with? Would I placate, would it be catchy? What I want to save that phone number in my contact list for that brand. So these are some questions that you should always keep in mind while when you are actually, you know, crafting your marketing strategies and texts, and also conversational SMS marketing can be applied also to SMS campaigns.

Lisa
01:18:00
So what for example, at Carla, we, we have, they’re called two way SMS campaigns, basically again, we enable the two way communication. So even if you receive like a promotional text saying, oh, we’re having like an Easter Easter sale with 50% off or something like that, you as chopper are able, you know, to ask questions and engage in the same one-to-one conversation with the agents. So this is the beauty of conversational SMS marketing. It has no, like it’s not one to many it’s one-to-one and, you know, people actually feel more cared about, they love the attention they get, they love the support and they really, they really love talking to, you know, to someone and feeling valued and another, like another ideas, just giving you some other ideas, for example, for two-way campaign. So you can be a welcome text, you know, you segment the new subscribers and you just send them a friendly text, a wealth of like to nurture them, to make them feel part of the family, or you can celebrate your loyal customer with the VIP campaign. You can, you know, create category promotions. You can ignite interest on new product launches or inside a formal on almost sold out items or, you know, let them know when you, when you have back in stock items, all kinds of things.

Arlen
01:19:25
Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah. So it does seem like the possibilities are really kind of endless as a, you have to be creative about it. And it also sounds like you need to have a mix of not things that are just pushing your products or services, but a mix of things that are going to inform people, educate them and show that you care about them, but you’re concerned about different things that they may be concerned about. So yeah, I definitely have to put your self in the shoes of the end customer and figure out what’s practical to send to them overall. Definitely. So, yeah. Great, great tips there. So as we get ready to prepare, to wrap things up, what are some businesses that either you’ve dealt with yourself directly, or just in businesses that you’re familiar with in general that have really been successful with conversational SMS marketing and what specific things did they do where specific campaigns that they do?

Lisa
02:20:17
I have one example. So it’s one of our brands called on, they are an American brand that crowdsources unique and creative products from talented artists all over the globe. And their shoppers usually have a lot of questions because they also provide customizable products. So customizable necklaces or bracelets, or all kinds of jewelry. So when something is customizable and you have to do it yourself, some people even don’t know how to do it. So they will have a lot of questions. So this is one we use case where conversational estimates, marketing comes in handy, and they want it to explore text message marketing as a potential growth strategy, but also they wanted to get customer insights. So they wanted to find out why their shoppers were abandoning their cars. They wanted to see if there’s any issues they would adjust or, you know, something they would be hands on and improve.

Lisa
02:21:12
And they actually had very good results from the very beginning. Actually, they had a great performance even in the free trial and they still help with the, and easy it is for helpers to connect with them and get instant support on their inquiries. And for example, I have the case that is, are also on our website for anyone who wants to take a look. But for example, we have here. So they generated, this was in a one month, one month timeframe. They generate over $1,000. The ROI was 30, over a slightly over 30 X reply rate, 39%, which is pretty high. And they gained over 56,000 new SMS subscribers and what we found out. So we found out a couple of reasons why there’s poppers were abandoned. So the top score was, you know, 80% around 80% had issues with the website. So they either didn’t, they did, they couldn’t edit their cards and they were frustrated because it didn’t work.

Lisa
02:22:16
And, you know, having that team of people or agents actually edited the card for them and then provided the edited cards link. So that also helped a lot. A lot of them experienced, you know, declined credit cards. So we, we reached out and say, Hey guys, you should check out your payment providers. Are they working properly? Is, is something wrong? Because a lot of people are complaining about their credit cards not working. Then others said the delivery is too slow. And the last reason was, you know, they needed another payment methods. So having someone to be there to answer the questions and the concerns really helped.

Arlen
02:22:54
Yeah, definitely. Those are some great examples. Thank you for sharing that. And I also encourage people to check out your site cart, new bed IO, and view those case studies. So they can be that in detail. But yeah, it makes sense because the real time person on the other end there, that’s able to kind of hit things off immediately. I think that really makes a difference because the longer you take to get back to that customer that had the issue, the, you know, the, the less of a chance that you’re going to have to get them to complete that because, you know, if they had a problem, it could have been a million things. Like you said, it could have been just something as simple as, especially these days with so much fraud, protection and security that credit cards have in place. A lot of times they just going to blanketly decline things.

Arlen
02:23:36
If they, if they think the site is an unusual as a kind of unusual activity, or maybe use an unusual purchase of mouth, you know, they cause is declining. And then the person there on the other end purchasing may, you know, they made them to just wonder why they may think of by like, oh, I’ll just try this later. Or, you know, they may think of it as an afterthought to come back later, but nine times out of 10, they may, yeah. They may not do it. They may never come back. So the be able to reach them via text, you know, in a short amount of time, I think definitely can go a long way to helping you pull through these sales that you will kind of would’ve otherwise lost. So definitely great examples there. Well, Lisa, I’ve definitely learned a lot here talking about conversational SMS marketing.

Arlen
02:24:19
I know our listeners have as well. It’s definitely a hot area and I see we’re really kind of at the beginning phases of this, because I think the possibilities are really endless. I think a company is still totally, really haven’t figured it out how to do the proper engagement, how to get that conversation right on the like today, I’m, you know, I’m still getting blanket blasts from different companies that, you know, I was just constantly just trying to promote and you know, there’s like you said, there’s a fine line. You can, you can do that, but you want to have a true conversation with your customer rather than just kind of pushing your products and services down their throat via their, their, the text message. So yeah. Companies are still trying to figure it out, but yeah, I think everything that you’ve shared will definitely help the e-commerce businesses that are listening and watching at least get on track to try to implement some things that are going to be lasting and worthwhile. Well, you know, lastly, before we let you go, I always like to switch gears here, just so our audience can get to know you just a little bit better. If you don’t mind sharing one closing fun fact that you think our audience would be interested to know about.

Lisa
02:25:26Okay. So I’m not sure how fun this is, but I sometimes, or the people around me find it funny, cause I’m very, you know, very organized and very time I’m a time saver. I don’t know how to express it differently, but basically every part of my day is thought through and planned. And I always try to see how can I optimize my time even more or even better, you know, to not have any wasted time during the day. I like to, you know, everything to be planned even, I don’t know, of course even the free time or the learning time. So this sometimes can be exhausting, honestly, like, okay, take a break, don’t play anything. But I also think it helps me, you know, keep going and be energized and do my best.

Arlen
02:26:23
Gotcha. Well, thank you for sharing that I understand when it comes down to at the end of the day, time is really all we have, but you do have to be very intentional about how you spend your time and to have everything planned out is good. I take it. You’re probably the type of person that when you take vacations, you try to plan out every single step of the way.

Lisa
02:26:43
Really? Like, I like to have an idea. Okay. So I want to do that, that and that, but I try to take it a bit more easy. I plan my weekends. So I plan. So I know that I want to learn in my week is I know that I want to work out or, but I still try to give myself some chill time.

Arlen
02:27:03
Yeah. You gotta have a fine, a good mix and definitely good to plan things out because otherwise a lot of times, if you don’t plan it, it won’t get done. So Greg, that’s awesome. And thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. But lastly, before we let you go, if any of the listeners or viewers would like to reach out to you and pick your brain anymore about conversational SMS marketing or any other digital marketing strategy will be the best way for them to read.

Lisa
02:27:28
Sure. So I think on Twitter, I’ve been spending quite some time there lately. I’m at least so you should find me very easily.

Arlen
02:27:38
Okay. That sounds good. Lisa Popovich said Twitter. So I will definitely encourage people to check you out there and pick your brain. Well, great. Elisa. It’s been awesome talking to you. I have definitely learned a lot and I know everyone has lists that’s listening and viewing as well. So thank you again for joining us today on the e-commerce marketing podcast.

speaker 1
02:28:02

Thank you for listening to the e-commerce marketing podcast.

Podcast Guest Info

Lisa Popovici
Co-Founder of Cartloop