Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson. It’s a very special guest. Arri Bagah, who is the founder of Conversmart which helps DTC brands generate seven figures in monthly revenue using mobile messaging. Conversmart’s combined strengths in growth marketing, copywriting, and creative design enable them to turn Text and Email into top three acquisition channels.

Arri Bagah became an expert in the mobile messaging space and is invited to speak at large conferences including Traffic and Conversions Summit, and Conversations Conference, and DTC DAY.  Welcome to the E-commerce Marketing Podcast.

Thanks for having me. No problem. Yeah, it’s a pleasure. And I’m really excited to dig into this topic of today, the mobile messaging, text marketing, because it is huge and it just really seems like the past two years it’s really just taken off because, you know, I can just think of right now in the election season, whoever’s listening to this episode probably go live a little bit before the US elections in November.

And I know the campaigns throughout the US are heavily using text messaging for this. You don’t know how many text messages that I’ve had to opt out of because of this whole campaign and the fact that when you’re a registered voter, your information is public. And so all of the different candidates are taking advantage of that to try to promote themselves. And they’re using mobile messaging more than ever these days to get their message out there. So I definitely see the power of it and I see that it’s exploded more than ever because I can’t recall a time where I’ve been getting so many different messages for different campaigns and not only the political campaigns, but I’ve also subscribe through different brands that are utilizing this to send out promotions and just stay in touch with their customers.

But, you know, before we dig deep into the topic of today, why don’t you just tell us a little bit more about your background and specifically how you got into what you do today.

So I grew up in Togo in West Africa, and I moved here and went to school here and everything. And when I went to college, I was always interested in some sort of like tech. So I went to college for computer science and I quickly realized that computer science was really hard and I didn’t really want to pursue it. So I decided to learn everything that I know today on my own. So I started first, started to learn how to code, and then eventually got into marketing.

And when I first got into marketing, I learned everything about Facebook marketing as well as about marketing. And that kind of led me to Facebook Messenger marketing world. So when I started, we primarily did Facebook Messenger marketing and leveraging it for e-commerce. And after doing that for a while, I was looking for a channel that was that Facebook didn’t have control over. So I then stumbled on a way to use text marketing for e-commerce because we have been along for around for the past decade and a half.

But it wasn’t really, really use for e-commerce until the past couple of years. So when I found like a platform that can do exactly what I wanted to do, I think I really like the fact that you can reach your customers directly. Yeah, text superhigh open rates. We’re talking about ninety nine percent and then the rates were really high, like 10, 20, sometimes 30 percent click the rates. So it was just the perfect channel, especially right now to help Helprin’s.

Get that message out there and get those promotions and campaigns out there, so that’s how I got into it. And over time I realized, like consumers love to receive text messages. And I know that’s a question that I get a lot of the time, but because it’s working really well, it’s a big revenue generator for brains. I think more brains are not sorry to see that. Yeah, definitely.

And thank you for that background and telling us all about how you kind of got into it. And I definitely feel your pain as far as the computer science, computer engineering, that’s actually my background. I went to school for that. And it’s not easy is very difficult.

I graduated from Howard University and studied computer engineering with emphasis on computer science and programming. And I came to several points where I reached several crossroads where I thought it was this for me was I got to stick to it, that I will jump ship, but I decided to kind of stick it out. And you’re fortunate, though, like you said, were you able to pick up coding outside of the formal education within a university or college? Because these days there are so many different resources and platforms to learn coding.

Whereas I recall when I was in school, I mean, we’re talking, of course, dating myself when we’re talking about the early 90s, there was nothing like that. The Internet was really just getting started. And so, you know, if you wanted to learn coding, you had to go to school. You can get books. But it’s really difficult if you’re just getting into it and you don’t have a background in it at all to not have any type of teacher or any other type of resources.

It’s very difficult. So I definitely feel your pain in that. But you’re totally right. As far as text messaging and marketing that brands, I think, are now really kind of waking up to the fact that it’s been huge for a while as far as personal communications. And I think brands are now getting on board to really, really realize how effective it can be to getting their message out there. And so why don’t you first just start off just breaking it down into really how it really does text messaging and text marketing really work for an average brand and average e-commerce brand.

What are some things that you’ve seen them do?

So when it comes to text marketing, you want to also look at it as an email channel because it’s just a way of reaching a customer on a mobile device. So how we’re kind of looking at it is from top funnel and bottom of the funnel. So how do you first get someone to opt in? How do you get those phone numbers and what do you actually send to that subscriber? Right. When they give you that phone number? And then if they make a purchase, how are you getting them back on site to make another purchase, etc.

So usually when you look at it that way, it makes it a lot easier to get things set up.

So when it comes to getting subscribers, we’re looking at what options can be installed. Can we do a form on our website that collects phone numbers only or phone numbers and emails? Can we just do it like a check our phone number there and text that customer? So there’s multiple ways to be like do social posts like text me to this number to get subscriber, etc.. So we look at some of those different strategies to get users to opt in, because that’s the most important part.

If you don’t have the phone number, it’s very hard to get text marketing to generate revenue for you. Right. And when it comes to sending the text messages, you have two ways that you can do it. You have automated flows, automated flows are automated, and they send text messages based on actions that users are taking on your website. So you can have like a welcome series that’s automated, like an abandoned cart flow and abandoned browse slow in order information flow, etc.

So you want to set up some of those flows that generate revenue on autopilot, even if you’re not doing the campaigns. If a customer takes a certain action and you can reach in with the right message at the right time and get them to come back to your website and convert and then you have your weekly campaign. So let’s say like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, you really want to leverage text. You can do that with promotions, etc., sending it to your subscribers.

Then another bonus thing that we like to do is also use text for customer support. So if customers are replying with questions, if you have a customer service team, you can have them respond to those customers because those customers who have questions, usually they’re ready to buy and they just have one simple question before they make that purchase. So if you have someone to be able to just jump in and answer the questions, you can definitely see revenue coming in from that.

So when you look at it from those steps, it’s definitely not too different from email. The only thing that’s totally different. Is how you’re communicating with the customer, because text is a conversational channel and how you communicate through text should be different than how you communicate via email, right? Definitely, yeah. And I’m glad that you mention that because the communications, the messaging that you said, it’s totally different than email. Of course, we’re not necessarily limited.

But the bottom line is nobody wants to get a text message that’s like 10 paragraphs long. Look at that and be like, what is this mess? And probably delete it. Yeah, they’ll be turned off. So with text messaging, your you want to keep things brief and concise, have quick calls to action, of course. And really just get straight to the point, whereas the email you a little bit different of course is going to happen.

The emails, the longer the message is totally different. So that’s that’s very important. You’re totally right about that.

One thing that came to mind, we talked earlier initially that how text messaging has just really exploded over these past few years. Brands are just now understanding the power of it. One of the things I thought about and I think a lot of it does have to do with the accessibility of of text in general. When I’m talking about accessibility, I’m talking about these days, most people’s mobile cellular plans include usually some form of, if not unlimited data or high data plans.

They also typically include like and it’s pretty customary these days to see unlimited text plans. Now, where I can recall years back when text messaging was really just starting to ramp up, you know, there was limitations on text messaging where I remember I had different plans where I didn’t have unlimited text messaging and was for a certain amount per month. And I really wasn’t. It was something that you a little bit more conscious about the amount of text that you were sending and things like that were these days.

And most people don’t think anything of it. They’re sending text to their friends all day and night and they don’t think anything of it about the limitations. And so I think brands really realize that it’s really become such an accessible form of communication that it’s kind of know people don’t think twice about communicating through that platform. So I appreciate you breaking the down of our works. And now I know a lot of the listeners here on the podcast, of course, have heard hundreds of different e commerce marketing strategies on my podcast or other podcasts and anything that they’ve found online as far as resources are concerned.

But what do you really see are the main advantages of text marketing compared with other marketing strategies?

Yeah, I think the biggest advantage is for using text is the high open rate and click the rates. So for example, if you were to text one hundred people, ninety nine would open it and you probably get 20 to 30 to click. So compare that to like a channel like email. It’s a big difference. Right. Where in email if you email a hundred people, maybe 10 to 20 might open it and then you might have like one to five click.

So it’s a really big difference and the reach that you get on this channel. Right.

So that means you don’t need as big as a list to be able to generate a lot more revenue than email. Now, that being said, we’re not saying that you have to completely disregard or forget about email. You still want to keep using email, but you want to use text as a supplementary channel where you’re using both email and text at the same time. But you’ve got to figure out the timing of your campaigns.

So with text two, it is very short and to the point in customers, things like that, especially right now with friends, a lot of friends that have gone out of stock.

Customers wanted to receive these notification by, hey, your product that you’re looking for is back in stock. So click here to shop that product. So if you have a lot of products coming back out of stock, it’s a great way to get customers updated, etc.. And when you have like promotions, etc., customers really like receiving those text messages. And we recently released a 20 20 set of DC text marketing report on Comverse. And we saw that in the past year, over seventy five percent of consumers signed up to receive text messages on e commerce stores.

And a lot of them are actually enjoying the experience of receiving text messages because of how easy it is to use and how direct it is. Now, obviously, not every customer is going to be like very open to receiving those text messages, but the idea is that most customers are already receiving text messages. And they’re predisposed to it, someone is not going to be really surprised if they actually opt in to receive this text message from your brand, so it’s offering a great experience to your customers and being able to get those open rates in click through rates, which is really important when it comes to you wanting to send that campaign to your face.

Yeah, those are really some amazing opening click through rates for sure compared to email. I think a lot of that really also has to really do with just the way that text messages typically come through on most people’s phones. You know, even if you’re you’re doing something else, you’re out and about most phones. I know personally I have iPhone.

I’ve always used iPhones in the way they have it now is you’ll get the notification on the closed screen. So you’ll see even though the screen is locked with a lock screen, rather, even though it’s locked, you’ll see any of the notifications that you have and you can kind of scroll through them right there. And so whenever you open the device, I mean, you can really open right to that text message. And it’s just most people are going to just naturally do that because you’re not going to be able to see the full actual message itself.

And so when it comes through on your lock screen, you know, you’re going to really want to know what that is. What is it? Who is it from? You’ll be able to see that, but you’re not going to be able to see the full detail if you actually go into it. So it’s kind of like something that is really tempting because you want to see what it is that you’re going to go into it. So I think that has a lot to do with the open rates of it.

Just the way that the phones are structured in general, it makes it really kind of tempting to just really go right in there. So I think that has a lot to do with it now to make all of this happen. You kind of mentioned earlier the way text messages are structured, where you can have something automated or desktops look kind of a more of a basic level. What really are some specific tools and general tips that you can impart when launching a text marketing campaign in terms of tools are quite a few tools that we’ve used in the past.

A few that I would recommend would be postscript for Shopify users, attentive for those who are using most other platforms like eCommerce through Commerce or Magento, etc.. And then you have these episodes, which is a great tool if those tools don’t work. But those are the main ones that I use that I think can get the job done. I mean, also, Clavier also released their text marketing tool. So if you’re already using Clavier, you can also take a look at that.

And right now, like a lot of tools are just building up their tech stocks. Things text for e-commerce has been on the ground, at least the integrations have only been around for the past two to three years. And they just only getting that some of those tools can really help you get your text marketing setup. As far as, like, launching, like I said, you need those phone numbers. So the first thing that you need to do is set up an opt in to collect those phone numbers.

And compliance is a big thing when it comes to text marketing. And luckily, most platforms have compliance built into their platforms. But typically, I always recommend taking a look at the TPA Telephone Consumer Protection Act to make sure that you’re not spamming your customers. But most platforms kind of if you have questions on the top your platform and ask them about compliance. But once you have your in set up and they set up your basic flows like your welcome series, your Men and Flow and then your customer, when backflow, those are the main ones that are super simple to set up.

So with the welcome flow, you get the welcome the customers to your website. And if they’ve opted in for an incentive, you can deliver that incentive and say thank you for opting in your 15 percent off, etc. and you can have a couple of follow up messages if they do not make the purchase from the first text and then you have your abandoned car with the Benkert, it’s probably one of the best performing fliers with text. If you send it within 30 minutes of an abandoned car, you’ll get a lot of customers recovering their cash through text because they actually get to see the text and click back to the product page and make that purchase.

So that’s one top performing flow that we’ve seen. And you can do like an order confirmation, too, if you like, because sometimes brands want to have customers like reaching out like, hey, my own the process. So this could be a way to solve that problem, to shoot him a text when they make that purchase and just say, hey, thank you for making a purchase. Your order has been processed because they get those emails, but they get buried in the promotions tab or in the spam folder.

So sometimes they may not receive it, but with the texts and really ensure that they get that message. So those are some of the initial flows that I recommend getting set up.

And once you have subscriber’s coming in, you’re probably going to be generating revenue already, depending on how much traffic you have and you see how Texas performing and then maybe once a week you want to send one promotional text or even just content or update your list to get them to come back to purchase. So it’s more like a nurturing strategy updates or a content benefit until the products, et cetera, to get them to come back to your website.

OK, great. Thanks for sharing those tools and tips. Yeah, definitely makes sense. It just also sounds like you have to have a strategy in place before you really kind of jump into it. And then initially, of course, the bottom line is you’ve got to get a strategy for updating the phone numbers, the cell numbers, because you have nothing. If you don’t have that, you got to have that to be able to initiate any into these campaigns.

So there has to be some thought into it. You have to go into how are you going to collect that? Are people opting into it? And you want to make sure you’re not, of course, violating people’s privacy and you want to definitely take a look at those that Consumer Privacy Act for sure to make sure you cross and cover all the bases. Definitely. Well, as we get ready to wrap things up. I’m always interested in what some of the larger e-commerce brands are doing.

So in your experience and being in the industry, what are some brands that are really doing a great job running a text marketing campaign?

Yeah, I think a big blanket is a really great one. I think they do a really good job at leveraging all facets of their brand experience from the website to social media to campaigns to collect phone numbers. So actually, our team at Converse Smart is running that program. So if you want an example, that’s a good one to check out. And as far as like other brands, I think Verb Energy does a really great job at leveraging texts for out.

They only need to check out context. So that’s a really great example to see how you can use it for recurring purchases. Like think about how easy it would be to take someone like take get them to renew their subscription or to cancel it or to skip this month’s replenishment, etc.. So that’s a really great example of that. But I think in general, a lot of brands are delving into text marketing and a lot of them don’t have the right strategy.

So most of the time I’m looking at how they’re running the campaigns and usually they’re sending kind of like not necessarily spamming both the same promos all the time, which is what I don’t recommend.

So, yeah, for most brand, like try to treat text as a one to one communication channel. Think of it like how you communicate with friends, family, coworkers, etc.. I told one to one communication channel you’re not sending like super long paragraphs.

Typically you use images, you use gifts to make the channel very fun for your customers. If you know your customer, just figure out how you can get them that content that would pretty much make their day when they open that text message and then take it back to your website. So, like casual, you don’t have to be like super professional because we’re not really texting professionally all the time. So use it as it’s meant to be used as just a casual and make it fun.

Celebi nothing.

You really see great results. Yeah, definitely. That’s so true because I think naturally when people are texting, especially their family and friends, it’s usually pretty light. It’s conversational, it’s brief, it’s that funny, it’s witty. And you want to kind of keep things in that same tone and then don’t necessarily have to be so serious about your messaging. You just keep it light. Like you said, you can use GIFs, images and things like that.

So I think that can definitely help by keeping it hidden within that same context that people are comfortable getting text messages with. Lara, it’s been a pleasure having you on and you’ve really shared a lot. I’ve definitely learned a lot as far as text marketing, and I really see that the possibilities are endless now for brands that are either getting into it or been into it for a while. It’s definitely not going anywhere. And the bottom line thing that came to mind is that, of course, the difference between text marketing and email marketing is, like I said before, it’s just the accessibility of it.

And everybody these days, I mean, the saturation point of people that have cell phones is tremendous. There’s, you know, I don’t know the numbers, but so many these days, if you don’t have a smartphone, it’s it’s hard to believe. But, you know, so the sensibility is is tremendous. So I think the opportunity for business is to reach people and connect and engage, especially as is really there. Well, yeah, like I said, I’ve definitely learned a lot.

And what I always like to do now here at the end of the podcast is just. This year, I just saw I’d get to know you a little bit better, so if you don’t mind sharing one fun fact about yourself that we may be interested to know about, you share one fun fact about me.

I like going on hikes like really likes. And I think it’s a great way for me to get out in nature. And just like because I live in a city and yeah. Just noise all the time to it’s really great to go somewhere where it’s pretty quiet. OK, great.

Well thank you for sharing. That’s awesome. I definitely hear what you’re saying as far as being able to get out there and just enjoying nature and getting away, you know, especially when you’re in the tech world like we are, we’re surrounded by all of these devices and technology. And, you know, every once in a while you have to break away and then get back in touch with nature. And doing long hikes is definitely a great way to do it.

So, yeah, thank you for sharing that, Arri. And of course, thank you for being on the e-commerce marketing podcast. But before I let you go, if our listeners would like to pick your brain any more about text messaging and mobile marketing, what is the best way for them to get in contact with you? Sure.

The best way to get in contact with me is to visit Converse Smart Dotcom CEO and the e r s m A.R.T. dot com. You can fill out a form that we do free audits for text as well as email. I can do enough for Clavier. You can change the different opportunities in your account and if you want a free consultation to chat with me or my team, you can definitely do that on our website.

OK, great. Well, thank you for sharing that, Arri. And I know our listeners are looking to get into this. Will definitely reach out to you and check out which you guys have to offer for sure.

Thank you once again for joining me today on the E Commerce Marketing podcast.

It’s been great. Thanks for having me. Thank you for listening to the E Commerce marketing podcast, 

Podcast Guest Info

Arri Bagah
Founder of Conversmart