An introduction to conversational commerce

an interview with Alicia Thomas.

Marketing strategies go well beyond email, and SMS is one of the fastest-growing areas of consumer marketing. This week on the podcast we’re talking all things conversational commerce and do a deep dive into SMS: what it is, how it differs from email marketing, and how to use SMS marketing as a powerful marketing medium.




Alicia Thomas is the director of community at Postscript, where she is on a mission to teach the world how to text. Alicia is a veteran of the marketing analytics space, and her award-winning work has been featured on sites like A Better Lemonade Stand, TechCrunch, Performance Marketer, and Shopify Plus. Previously, she was an early employee at the profitable high-velocity marketing platform, Klaviyo, where she helped to more than 10X the company. Alicia was also a team member at Lattice Engines (acquired by Dun & Bradstreet) and has worked with brands across the globe to help scale their marketing through content and community building.



Octane AI enables fast-growing D2C brands to increase revenue and collect data from the marketing channels your customers use.

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show notes.

  • [03:22] What is conversational commerce?
  • [06:10] Why it's important
  • [11:41] Types of SMS marketing
  • [16:00] SMS is not email
  • [17:25] What makes SMS marketing a good experience?
  • [18:00] SMS tools to use with Shopify
  • [20:35] Introduction to Alicia Thomas
  • [21:37] What is Postscript?
  • [22:17] Who uses Postscript?
  • [23:19] What is SMS marketing?
  • [24:27] What is conversational commerce? (redux)
  • [26:00] With Postscript, who are you talking to? A human? A bot?
  • [27:41] How can brands leverage SMS marketing for BFCM?
  • [30:21] Really Great Texts
  • [31:13] Examples of great texts
  • [33:11] Postscript's SMS marketing certification
  • [35:12] Store shoutouts
  • [38:56] Where to find Alicia on the internet





 Rhian (00:00):
Marketing strategies go well beyond email, and SMS is one of the fastest growing areas of consumer marketing. This week on the podcast, we're talking all things conversational commerce, and we take a deep dive into SMS. What it is, how it differs from email marketing, and how to you use SMS marketing as a powerful marketing medium. Let's dig in. Welcome to Commerce Tea a podcast to help you succeed on Shopify. I'm Rhian.

Kelly (00:31):
And I'm Kelly. Grab a mug and join us as we talk about all things commerce.

Rhian (00:35):
Hey Kelly, how can merchants get more out of their Facebook Messenger and SMS marketing campaigns?

Kelly (00:51):
I recommend Octane AI, the leading Facebook Messenger and SMS platform for Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants.

Rhian (00:58):
How does it work?

Kelly (01:00):
Using their built-in flows, conversational ads and retargeting campaigns you can easily unlock Messenger and SMS as new revenue channels. The platform has ready to go integrations with top apps such as Klaviyo, Privy, Recharge, and Justuno.

Rhian (01:14):
What kinds of returns can I expect?

Kelly (01:16):
Merchants using Octane AI report 80 to 95% open rates, a seven X increase in click through rates and even a seven to 20% increase in revenue.

Rhian (01:26):
This sounds great. Where can I learn more?

Kelly (01:28):
You can start a 14 day free trial by requesting a demo at or by visiting the Shopify app store and searching for Octane AI. Good morning, Rhian.

Rhian (01:38):
Good morning, Kelly. How's it going?

Kelly (01:41):
Things are great. How are you?

Rhian (01:44):
Things over here are doing really well.

Kelly (01:48):
A little hot over there?

Rhian (01:49):
A little bit warm. A little bit on the hot side. Yeah.

Kelly (01:52):
[crosstalk 00:01:52] smoky.

Rhian (01:52):
Hoping it cools. A little smoky, but overall it's okay.

Kelly (02:00):
That's good.

Rhian (02:01):
We're doing okay.

Kelly (02:01):
That's good. We didn't run into hurricanes. That's pretty good.

Rhian (02:05):
That's good. Yeah. Kelly and I are on opposite coasts so we face different types of natural disasters-

Kelly (02:12):
That's right.

Rhian (02:12):
... which is stressful at different times.

Kelly (02:18):
Yes it is.

Rhian (02:19):
So there's that.

Kelly (02:21):
We've officially reached the point in the podcast where we're talking about the weather.

Rhian (02:24):
Yeah. We are talking about the weather, but it's important. And for those of you who are listening who are affected by the fires or the impending hurricane, we're sending you the best vibes and positive energy.

Kelly (02:39):
All the good vibes.

Rhian (02:40):
Yeah, all the good vibes.

Kelly (02:42):
So kind of a weird transition, but do you want to talk about conversational commerce?

Rhian (02:48):
I do. I mean, there's no way to transition out of that in a smooth way. It's-

Kelly (02:53):
Fires, conversational commerce.

Rhian (02:55):
Yeah. First of all, let's acknowledge right now that things suck. But let's talk about conversational commerce because it is a way that you can grow and scale your business.

Kelly (03:07):

Rhian (03:08):
And I'm a big fan of it.

Kelly (03:10):
Same. I am too. I feel like it's a bit of a buzzword, but it's a good buzzword. [crosstalk 00:03:14]

Rhian (03:14):
Oh, well we love buzzwords in E-commerce.

Kelly (03:17):
It's also a moderation, so I'm a fan.

Rhian (03:18):
Yes. You do love an iterative statement.

Kelly (03:22):
So what is conversational commerce?

Rhian (03:25):
Okay, so this is directly from Shopify. So I'm just-

Kelly (03:30):
From the Shopify encyclopedia.

Rhian (03:31):
Yes. I'm just ripping this straight out of there. It's like a wedding toast when someone does the definition. Merriam Webster defines love as... Okay, so Shopify defines conversational commerce as referring to the intersection of messaging apps and shopping, meaning the trend toward interacting with businesses through messaging and chat apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, [Talk 00:04:02], and WeChat. Or through voice technology Amazon's Echo product, which interfaces with companies through voice commands. That's a long definition.

Kelly (04:14):

Rhian (04:16):
Let's pick up on some key things in there though. Facebook Messenger. That's a key thing.

Kelly (04:21):
Yeah. Messenger really. The whole point is that you're enhancing the customer experience by chatting with your customers through these platforms. It's just another form of being able to support your customers through really cool things like your customers being able to ask specific questions about the products, the store, or even begin getting personalized recommendations.

Rhian (04:46):
Yeah. And Shopify does have some native features or native tools for this as well such as Ping, which is something that helps elevate conversational commerce and of course Kit, which is something that my company integrates with, which sends you... It's kind of a cross between SMS marketing and conversational commerce. I think they start to become sort of... They overlap.

Rhian (05:08):
There's a Venn diagram of conversational commerce and SMS marketing and Kit is in that Venn diagram. And we're going to get into that a little bit later, but I do want to touch real quick on the Amazon Echo product, because I went to a talk about two years ago about conversational commerce and Amazon Echo.

Kelly (05:33):

Rhian (05:34):
Well, it was a Shopify developer meetup in New York City, and there was a guy there from Amazon talking all about making an app to fulfill a simple command that he had, and I thought that was really interesting. And honestly, I'm not sure there's a Shopify app doing that right now.

Kelly (05:54):
I don't think so either.

Rhian (05:55):
I don't think so. App developer-

Kelly (05:57):
Shopify developers.

Rhian (05:59):
... I have an idea for you that I will never build ever.

Kelly (06:02):
We only require 5% of royalties.

Rhian (06:04):
For the rest of time. So what are some of the benefits of conversational commerce besides that human connection, which is probably one of the biggest benefits?

Kelly (06:18):
One of the things that I think is really, really cool about conversational commerce is it's getting your customers in front of the products they're most likely to buy and getting them to hit checkout much sooner than them just shopping on their own. And so here's an example, let's say I am going out for an evening, aha, like I'm going anywhere during COVID, and I need a little back dress.

Kelly (06:42):
So I reach out to a store that has some kind of chat functionality built in, or maybe it's on Facebook Messenger and I say, "I need a little black dress for a night out with friends under $200." In seconds, I get a message back, "I think you'll love this dress."

Kelly (07:00):
And it contains a link to a personalized product recommendation of a black dress that already has express shipping selected, is already in my size, which at some point I guess I told them, I don't remember when. And then I could just hit checkout and pay for it and then I'm done. Really, really, really fast from going, "Hey, I'm looking for something," to, "Your order has been confirmed."

Rhian (07:22):
And that's near frictionless, especially if there's Apple Pay or Google Pay connected to that.

Kelly (07:28):
Oh, absolutely.

Rhian (07:29):
You could get someone in and out of your store in sub two minutes.

Kelly (07:33):
Exactly. I think it's-

Rhian (07:35):
It's like having a personal shopper. What's interesting is there are some big legacy brands like Cartier, who right now are moving to a model, from what I have heard, where they're having real people man the chats, so to speak or to be on chat where they are helping people shop online-

Kelly (08:00):
That's awesome.

Rhian (08:00):
... whether that's over the phone or via chat. And the reason why is because people who are used to luxury products are used to that a little bit of handholding. They're used to have white glove treatment and Cartier had to pivot really fast. And that is one of the things they're doing in their pivot. And I think it's smart [crosstalk 00:08:17]

Kelly (08:16):
That is really smart.

Rhian (08:18):
I don't expect all of y'all to be selling $30,000 watches, but there's a lesson there and it's something that they have done, and I think it's very smart and very timely.

Kelly (08:31):
I think it goes for any high price point product. The more expensive your products become, the more important it is to have that extra touch point with your customers to give them that option to reduce any kind of barrier that might be preventing them from checking out.

Rhian (08:45):
Oh, 100%. Because if I'm buying, I don't know, a $3,000 couch and I can't get someone on chat right then, what is the likelihood I'm going to buy that $3,000 couch? Or am I going to bounce to another store where there is chat where I can talk to someone, because maybe I want some type of customization. What's that likely? I would say that's fairly high.

Kelly (09:10):
Oh totally. It has to be, because again, especially if you've never shopped with that brand before, what are you going to... Where is that trust building to be able to be like, "I'm going to enter my credit card information on this website and hand you over $3,000 and hope for the best."

Rhian (09:26):
Right. Right. And I will say though, if you are selling a $3,000 couch, that is a good use case for Sezzle or for Affirm or for any of those type of breaking up the payment.

Kelly (09:41):
Slip payment.

Rhian (09:42):
Slip payment type methodologies.

Kelly (09:44):

Rhian (09:45):
Okay. So conversational commerce can be both with a human being and with a bot.

Kelly (09:53):
Yeah. It's really cool, as you can... And actually one of our sponsors, Octane AI, does this in their app where you can preprogram specific answers to most common questions and still help guide your customers to a specific product recommendation or a 20% discount code or something just to keep that conversation going without having to have a real person typing out those responses and get that customer to checkout.

Rhian (10:23):
Having a powerful tool like that is well worth the money. And I think also if you're using a tool like Octane AI, you cut out the middle person so to speak. That reduces the amount of customer support debt, which is a fancy way of saying emails from customers, that you get in a day and it just brings it live to the customers right there and then.

Kelly (10:50):
Exactly. And the more you can automate, the better off you're going to be, just because it's-

Rhian (10:54):
Oh Yes.

Kelly (10:55):
... fewer hands on what can go wrong. And you're saving so many support hours, not only actual customer support, but just in general having more team members that need to do the same thing that could just be automated.

Rhian (11:07):
100%. 100%. So the other part of conversational commerce we are talking about with the Venn diagram is SMS marketing. What is that? A few weeks ago we couldn't remember what SMS did for... But that's okay because this industry loves an acronym and as long as what it means, it's fine. So what type of things should SMS marketing be used for?

Kelly (11:35):
I think most people think of marketing texts like, "Flash sale. Jump on our website now."

Rhian (11:40):
Oh, I get so many of those a day.

Kelly (11:42):
Okay. So I've started with that one because that's the worst example.

Rhian (11:45):
Yeah. 100%. You're like, "No. Stop texting me."

Kelly (11:49):
I feel like it's a bit of an abuse of SMS. I feel like SMS should be much more personalized messages because the open rates on SMS are so high, but it's also... I open up all of my messages because I hate seeing that unread count. So I have to wonder what those numbers actually are.

Rhian (12:09):
The difference between Kelly and I is Kelly's an inbox-zero type of person, and I'm a inbox [inaudible 00:12:16] type person. I have 287 unread text messages at this very moment.

Kelly (12:23):

Rhian (12:24):

Kelly (12:24):
I have one that I just got while we were recording this.

Rhian (12:27):
Well, that's...

Kelly (12:28):
It is stressing me out.

Rhian (12:29):
That's so funny. Okay. But a lot of people are the inbox-zero type of mindset and they do open all of their text messages. Okay. So what is bad is that, "Come to our store. We're having a sale." What is good?

Kelly (12:47):
It's an easy way to get people to reply text stop.

Rhian (12:51):
Yes. It is. That's the thing. You get an email like that, and the first thing you're like, "How do I unsubscribe from this email?"

Kelly (12:58):

Rhian (12:58):
That's the first thing you think of. You don't want to send out text messages like that. You want to send out something more nurturing.

Kelly (13:07):
Some good examples. First off welcome series and abandonment cart. If you're opted in to receive SMS on a website, it's a really great way to start the conversation and to start that personalization so you can get to know who your customers are and ask them questions. That's going to keep them... You're going to keep on giving them more relevant content.

Kelly (13:29):
And it goes beyond just the texts that you sending since people do use marketing texts, but I'll give a specific example that also kind of falls into conversational commerce as well. There are some really unique ways that you can use SMS in a way that's not necessarily promoting a specific product. And a really good example of this is the company Judy. So Judy sells basically preparedness kits.

Rhian (13:55):
Oh, I keep getting targeted. In my head I was like, "Who?" And then I keep getting targeted for them.

Kelly (14:00):
Yeah. So what's really cool is they send texts that are like, "Okay, there are currently fires all over California right now." So they can send texts to... If they know you're in California, they're like, "Here's what you need to prepare to make sure you have everything you need if you need to get up and go."

Kelly (14:17):
Let's take Louisiana for example, since this is going to be released on a Tuesday and that's when I think Laura is supposed to be hitting. So I've a total nerve when it comes to hurricane tracking, side note. So they can send a text to people in that general area in the South who might live in Texas and Louisiana and Mississippi basically saying this is what they should be keeping in mind to prepare for the impending tropical storm or hurricane however it is when it hits.

Kelly (14:47):
These are some really good examples of like, "I'm not pushing a specific product to you. I want to know that I'm here for you and I'm here to help. If you don't have one of these things, well, hey, we sell it, but I'm not just saying, 'Make sure you prepare. Buy our preparedness kit.'"

Rhian (15:03):
Yeah. And I wonder too if you'd link to a blog that talks about how to make a go bag or something like that, because obviously you're not getting the Judy bag in the two days leading out that, right?

Kelly (15:14):

Rhian (15:16):
So it would be... I don't know if this is what they do, but in my head, if you're getting that text message and you're told, "[Bloke 00:15:22] what should you have in your go bag?" And it's something the other day we had a fire really close to my house and my husband and I were talking about, "Okay, what are the things that we absolutely need?" Because of course I'm not prepared. And we're sitting there for our passports, birth certificates, the things that are hard to replace. A link to a blog there would be really smart.

Kelly (15:47):
Oh, absolutely. And it's also just a good way to get that blog content surfaced. Because you spend time writing all that content, let people see it.

Rhian (15:56):
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Okay. So one thing to point out though is SMS is not email. It does not replace email marketing.

Kelly (16:08):
Indeed. It absolutely should not replace email marketing. Just like we were just saying those marketing texts that are like, "Hey, we're having a flash sale," or, "New summer dress released." It's an easy way to get people to unsubscribe.

Kelly (16:21):
It is a very different kind of conversation you're having with your customer on SMS via email and not all your customers are going to be opting in for SMS. I am not signed up for a single one of them. I only receive emails from merchants. So, do both.

Rhian (16:38):
Yeah, absolutely do both. And plus you never know, you might catch someone on a bad day on one of the platforms and catch them on a good day on another one.

Kelly (16:47):
Exactly. I even see, for example abandoned cart, you can actually do both. Let's take Klaviyo for example, you can have SMS and email under the same flow. So the first touch point might be via email, "Hey, you love some items in your cart."

Kelly (17:04):
The second touch point might be via SMS saying, "I think you'd really love this product," being whatever they had in their cart. "Here's an extra 10% off your order," whatever it might be. So basically you can kind of bridge the two if your customers are opted into both. Just to kind of switch up that kind of conversation.

Rhian (17:23):
Yeah, absolutely. So what makes SMS marketing a good experience? We talked about what makes it a bad experience? Do we have any notes on what makes it a good experience?

Kelly (17:36):
I think a good experience would be a very quick but personalized conversation. It is not an email blast. As we've said, SMS is not email. It should be very, very, very customized to whatever it is I am shopping for and who I am as the customer.

Rhian (18:01):
And what are the best SMS tools to use with Shopify.

Kelly (18:08):
I mentioned Klaviyo as an option. You can also use Postscript, which we're going to be talking to Alicia Thomas shortly here about Postscript. You can use Attentive, you can use Emotive. I am blanking on any other ones, but there are four options.

Rhian (18:25):
Yeah. There are. I know SMS bump off the top of my head.

Kelly (18:28):
Yeah. I mean, again, Octane AI does SMS conversational commerce. We already mentioned them as well.

Rhian (18:35):
So that's a lot of different options.

Kelly (18:38):
It is. And I know it can be overwhelming to try to pick just one. So I highly recommend trying out multiple, talk to their support team, get a demo. They all have different features. They all have different price points. See what's going to work best for you in the way that they function along with your other tools that you're using if there are any required integrations.

Kelly (18:58):
For example, for customer support and make sure you find the one that actually works best for you, because once you are on one it's much better just to stay on one as opposed to move to another platform, then move to another platform. So take your time picking out a platform that works best for you.

Rhian (19:13):
Yes. One of the things that I really look for in an app besides functionality, which obviously functionality is king, but the other thing is customer support. So when you're emailing around or you're chatting, seeing how their customer support functions is...

Rhian (19:31):
It's a partnership, right? If you start using said platform, it's important to really think, "Is this a team that I want to work alongside? Or is this team going to take 72 hours to get back to me?"

Kelly (19:44):
It's also important to note that the customer support team is not the sales team.

Rhian (19:49):

Kelly (19:49):
You're going to get a very different type of cadence in responses for sales versus customer support.

Rhian (19:56):
Very true.

Kelly (19:57):
So please talk to customer support at some point.

Rhian (20:00):
Talk to customer support. Yes. So why don't we get into the interview?

Kelly (20:06):
Let's do it. Let's talk to Alicia.

Rhian (20:18):
Today we're joined by Alicia Thomas, Director of Community at Postscript. Alicia is on a mission to teach the world how to text. Hi, Alicia. How are you doing?

Alicia (20:27):
I'm great. How are you?

Rhian (20:29):
I'm doing phenomenally today. Thank you for asking. So tell us about yourself.

Alicia (20:35):
Yeah. So as you mentioned, I'm the Director of Community at Postscript and I'm really passionate about E-commerce education and helping people figure out how to build great strategies for their brands and help them grow. Before I worked at Postscript I was an early employee at Klaviyo, the email marketing platform.

Alicia (20:51):
And there, I was really focused on content marketing and helping people learn how to do email well. And then I moved into a role that was community-based and spent a ton of time with merchants, learning about what was working for them, what they were finding and really just helping tell their stories so other people could learn. I've been in the E-commerce space for about five years and I love it.

Kelly (21:12):
Same. Same. I love having conversations with people in E-commerce, just because I feel like it's such a niche that people are a part of, and I feel like... I have conversations with other people who aren't in E-commerce and they're not at all interested in what I have to say.

Rhian (21:28):
And that's all I want to talk about. I'm like, "What do you mean?"

Kelly (21:30):

Rhian (21:33):
So is that What you do all of the time? [crosstalk 00:21:35] normal.

Kelly (21:37):
So tell us about Postscript.

Alicia (21:40):
Yeah. Postscript is a platform that's built specifically for SMS or text message marketing. And really we are focused on one thing and one thing only, and that's text message marketing. So helping brands figure out how to send the right message to their audience.

Alicia (21:56):
And we do cool things like let you segment and integrate all your other technology and data like Shopify and Klaviyo, so you can send better messages. And you can also do things like send gifts and MMS messages and things like emojis to really improve the quality of your text message marketing.

Kelly (22:17):
Is there a certain size merchant who tends to use Postscript?

Alicia (22:22):
Yeah, it's early days in SMS marketing and I think that that's really exciting and something that really attracted me to wanting to join this team. We find a ton of SMB for small and medium sized E-commerce brands that are like, "Alright, I figured out email marketing and I need to do more," and kind of that's our sweet spot of brands that are looking to get into SMS and they really want to figure out how they can continue to scale relationships.

Alicia (22:49):
So it's companies that you've probably heard of. Ones like [Kopari 00:22:52], ones like Bloom. Folks who've been around for a while and also people who are just starting out. I don't think there's really any person or a brand that isn't a great fit for SMS. Really it's what you're looking to do and kind of what your marketing strategy is.

Rhian (23:09):
So you said it's early days for SMS marketing, Kelly and I actually couldn't figure out what SMS meant the other day, and will you, just for a second, explain exactly what SMS marketing is.

Alicia (23:26):
Yes. So SMS, which is short for short message service, is the ability to text, so write to your iMessage inbox if you're on an iPhone, promotional messages or marketing messages in a way that almost feels like you're talking to another person. So you can do things like send updates on new product releases, promotions.

Alicia (23:56):
We see a lot of brands who are doing conversational text message marketing, which is really interesting. And yeah, it's... I said early days, I guess it's been around for a little bit now, but it's definitely starting to gain more popularity amongst E-commerce at large. Does that answer your question?

Rhian (24:15):
It absolutely does. I've been getting asked a lot of questions about SMS marketing and I know virtually nothing about it, so I'm so happy that you were able to join us for today.

Kelly (24:26):
For sure. I think one of the buzzwords that's floating around a lot these days is conversational commerce and I think SMS marketing does play a role in this. So how would you explain what conversational commerce is and its role in SMS marketing?

Alicia (24:44):
Yeah. That's a great question. So I think back to how marketing has really shifted for a lot of brands from going heavy on paid promotion and paid acquisition and how that really hasn't been a scalable thing, especially the last couple of years when places like Facebook and Instagram and Google have continued to change the rules and the algorithms, and it's just kind of expensive to market.

Alicia (25:12):
And I think conversational marketing, when we talk about that, really means talking to your audience, the people that they actually are. I think, as marketers, we often think of people and customers as numbers and data points, but really at the end of that telephone, in this case, is going to be a person. That could be a college student. It could be someone in their 50s picking up their kids from school.

Alicia (25:35):
There're actual people on the other end of that phone, and so why as marketers are we not talking to them like actual people talk to each other? Right? Like, "Hey, how are you doing? What are you... What's happening this weekend? Did you like that new thing you just bought? Tell me more about it." So I think it's really adding humanity to marketing which has been missing for so long especially in E-commerce.

Rhian (26:00):
I have a potentially silly question. When someone is engaging in an SMS text conversation, are they talking... So if you're a user or a buyer, are you talking to the merchant, are you talking to a third party or are you talking to a bot? How are those communications taking place without getting too technical?

Alicia (26:22):
Yeah. So the answer is yes to all of them. There are so many different ways. It's actually really cool, and I had the same question too. For transparency prior to working at Postscript SMS was this really cool thing, but I was like, "I don't know anything about this and I'm really intrigued," but like, "Yeah. Is that a person sitting behind a computer texting me back? How is this happening? I thought it was all just chat bots." It's not.

Alicia (26:45):
There are a lot of different ways that you can execute SMS. Some of them have actual people at call centers responding, live folks. In Postscript, we have the ability where if someone wants to text you back they can ask the question then it goes into a help desk and you can communicate one-on-one so you can have the SMS marketer, or even your help team texts back and forth real conversation.

Alicia (27:09):
And then the resolutions that it's if you text back anything except for stop, you're not going to hear anything. So it's really... There's so many different levels of depth that you can do in terms of having that conversation.

Kelly (27:22):
I love that. Once again you're bringing that human element back into it.

Alicia (27:26):
Yeah, absolutely.

Kelly (27:28):
So let's talk Black Friday Cyber Monday, because this is obviously a hot topic it's approaching very quickly. It is already in the [crosstalk 00:27:40]

Rhian (27:40):
It is upon us.

Kelly (27:41):
So, how can brands be taking advantage of SMS marketing for Black Friday Cyber Monday?

Alicia (27:47):
Yeah. 2020 in general, as we're all been talking about just nonstop, has felt like the longest Black Friday cyber Monday ever just because there's so much happening. So I think that that's actually helps brands a lot. Think about like, "Oh my gosh, it's go time, right?" Most folks, their numbers are up across the boards, but as far as there's Black Friday Cyber Monday and SMS, I think there's a couple of things that people should be thinking about.

Alicia (28:14):
First, if they aren't already using SMS, just start collecting compliantly phone numbers. People ask all the time, "Is my business big enough? Is it time? What should I do?" And I'm like, "All you can... If you're on the fence well, number one thing you should do is just start collecting and building that list similar to email, right? Once you have all those numbers, then you can really do something with that and have impact. But until you've got a list nothing's going to happen."

Alicia (28:39):
So I'd say whether that's running campaigns to get signups or adding a complaint checkout box at the end of your cart that's the way to go. But just start building that list. I would also say that letting folks know what to expect is huge. It's always a chaotic weekend, and so the sooner you can let people know what to expect and what the offer is and when it's going to happen the better. And so maybe choosing that out in SMS would be a really smart idea.

Alicia (29:10):
Using MMS, so photos or gifs to let them know, "Hey we're going to have this cool thing, mark it on your calendar." And the other thing is just an SMS there... It's different than email in that you have to work with carrier networks. And so on Black Friday Cyber Monday, often those get overwhelmed, and so we advise people that they should be sending SMS messages rather than MMS.

Alicia (29:35):
So we say keep it simple. Just do texts, don't do images or emojis, just because there's a chance that they might not get sent through and you'd rather have your message to be delivered rather than have it be beautiful and not really shipping out. So we actually look at the data and see the SMS and MMS perform almost exactly the same. So there's not really a downside to that, but it's a great way just to make sure you have your bases covered.

Kelly (30:01):
Is there a cost difference between sending SMS versus an MMS?

Alicia (30:04):
Yeah. SMS is much cheaper, just due to the fact that it's a much smaller size and as less complicated. So you can do a lot more with MMS. But I would say, start with SMS and see how that performs and then kind of go from there.

Kelly (30:21):
So you've been curating a list of really great text examples on a website called By the way, really great domain name, but where did this idea originate?

Alicia (30:34):
Yeah. I mean, coming from the world of email really good emails has been kind of Mecca for email marketers to go and look and get inspired. And it's something that whenever I talk to merchants, the first thing they say is, "Do you have any examples or any other brands that are kind of like me that I can look at learn from?" And there wasn't a resource like that or SMS yet.

Alicia (30:56):
And it just seemed every conversation we were having with folks, they kept asking for this. And so it just made sense to build this site out. And it's something that we're actively updating every day and really making it easy for people to go and explore and just find new inspirational SMS messages.

Rhian (31:13):
What are some of your favorite examples where you're like, "You have to market SMS like this?" Maybe top two.

Alicia (31:22):
Oh, man. That's tricky. I'm looking at 100 messages every day. I'm so addicted. They say that people typically subscribe or you'd expect someone to subscribe to maybe 10 to 15 brands. I probably have 40 on my phone. I'm constantly just looking for cool new messages. I'm totally hooked. But I would say my standouts right now are Bloom, which I know a lot of people are big fans of.

Alicia (31:49):
They do self care beauty products and I guess period products for teenage girls. But they do a really cool campaign every Monday. They send out a Starbucks barcode, and so you can go get yourself a drink at Starbucks for free on them, which I love. It's the opposite of a promotional email. They want you to go get a drink on them, which I think is such a cool way to interact with the brand and to feel like you're getting something from them and you're excited to get the message from them.

Alicia (32:19):
So that's the super cool one I've seen recently. And then there's another brand called Outer Aisle and they sell cauliflower pizza crusts and sandwich wraps. And they had this fun game last week, or the week before where they texted me a picture of the wheel of fortune, then a whiteboard and a question. And I had to guess what the answer was and if I got it right, they sent me a fun coupon and promotion and it was just really cool.

Alicia (32:48):
Somebody actually texted back and they're like, "You're totally right," and it felt like I was having a conversation with a friend and that's kind of the vision for great SMS. When you have that positive experience with a brand and you're also just excited to interact with it, right? It's a really delightful experience.

Kelly (33:07):
I love that example, especially that second one.

Rhian (33:10):
Postscript recently released an SMS marketing certification. Is that right?

Alicia (33:15):

Rhian (33:16):
Tell us more. We need to know. What is it? Do I want it? Who should take it? Et cetera.

Alicia (33:23):
Yes. You absolutely want it. This is certification that is for everyone and anyone who is interested in SMS. So it's not Postscript training. It is vendor agnostic. We show some examples obviously in our product. But really we're on a mission to educate people about the right way to compliantly get subscribers, how to send campaigns, even how to look at your analytics and be like, "Hmm, am I doing a good job? What could I improve?"

Alicia (33:49):
It's a soup to nuts course where we go over everything that you'd possibly want to know about SMS. So after we launched Really Good Text, it kind of just made sense, where we have this great site of inspiration, but really there's no single resource where someone can sit down and learn everything they possibly want about SMS.

Alicia (34:07):
So I look at it as Really Good Text is sort of the creative side of things, and the certification is kind of all of the operational side of how you should be thinking about SMS. So it's totally free. It takes around two hours to complete. It's a video course, so you get to meet nine different members of Postscript and there's some fun little quizzes along the way.

Alicia (34:33):
Again, it's for anyone and everyone who is either thinking about SMS or if you've gotten started and you're like, "Oh, I wish there were more things that I knew about, or I don't feel confident in the certain area." Our goal is really to just make people feel like they're confident in sending SMS.

Rhian (34:49):
Okay. That sounds interesting, and something I should probably do. So I'm [crosstalk 00:34:56] check it out. Yeah. By the way, the next time we talk, I won't be as much like, "What is SMS?" And I'll be... We could have a conversation at a higher level.

Rhian (35:12):
So, every week we like to shout out a store that we think is just crushing it. Do you want to go ahead and throw out a couple of stores or a store that you really are digging on this week?

Alicia (35:31):
Yeah. I mean, I mentioned Bloom before, big fan girl of their entire marketing plan and how they market to customers and how they build connections. I'm also really into Kopari recently. I'm big on the self care trend. They texted me about a wellness event that they were having. You could go and listen to five different speakers and it's something I totally was into. So I was wowed by that.

Alicia (35:55):
And my last one that I guess I'd be really digging on recently is Super Coffee. They make a coffee beverage and they send me these really great texts that have personal photos of them. They're three brothers and they had a campaign where they sent a photo of them with the Jonas Brothers for some reason.

Alicia (36:13):
It was just really delightful and kind of bizarre. And I was like, "Oh, I feel like this is a friend. This person is... These guys are texting me a photo of them with the Joe Bros. This is super interesting, and I'm really curious about what's going on and how did that even happen?" So yeah, those are my top three picks of the last week or so.

Kelly (36:32):
I would be super curious about that because I was the biggest Jonas Brothers fan when I was in high school or early college and so I'd probably pry.

Rhian (36:44):
What if it was the Jonas brothers and Taylor Swift though, Kelly? You'd just pass out.

Kelly (36:49):
I mean, I would just print out the picture and be like, "Daniel, this is our new fridge decoration."

Rhian (36:56):
Just the whole thing. Just make wallpaper out of it. Kelly, what's your store of the week?

Kelly (37:02):
My store of the week is called Kin Euphorics. I have never purchased their product before. Rhian, I know you have, but I just absolutely love their website. It's beautiful. They have some nice animations at the top. Really creative things that they've done for when you add an item to the cart, you can see it literally move into the cart. And there's just, I don't know, all of these little micro animations that really add up to the overall user experience, but you could probably speak more to the product.

Rhian (37:32):
I got the product recently and it's just wonderful. Well, the one I got is a non-alcoholic nightcap. So you can put it on the rocks or they say you can put it in oat milk or something like that, and you'd just drink it before you go to sleep and it helps you fall asleep.

Rhian (37:53):
I'm sure everyone has noticed by now, I am a power consumer of direct-to-consumer products. So it shall be no surprise that my shout out of the week is also a direct-to-consumer product, and it is Bright Land. Bright Land is an olive oil and they have now expanded into vinegar direct-to-consumer product. It's based in California.

Rhian (38:18):
Their storytelling is really what draws me in. Their storytelling and their branding it's crisp, it's clear. You know what they're selling. Their assets are beautiful. The product is good. I know because I have it in my kitchen and I should say this, it's not the kind of olive oil, and maybe I'm wrong, that you cook with.

Rhian (38:37):
It's the kind you finish with. You know when you're at a fancy restaurant and you get that little drizzle with some salt on top and you're feeling fancy, that's this kind of olive oil. It just elevates your... So A, I'm a fan of their website, B I really like the product. So Alicia, where can we find you on the internet?

Alicia (38:59):
Yes. I am a big Twitter fan like many E-commerce marketers. I love all the conversation and help everyone get to each other. So if you want to reach me on Twitter, my handle is @aliciathomas. And if you want to submit your really good texts go over to and we have a submission form. I would love to see any of your outstanding examples. Those are the best places to reach me.

Rhian (39:23):
Thank you so, so much. Thank you for coming on and being our resident SMS marketing expert. We really appreciate that and we appreciate your time.

Kelly (39:35):
Thank you so much.

Alicia (39:36):
This is an absolute [inaudible 00:39:37]. Thank you so much. I'm excited to see who you have next on the show.

Rhian (39:41):
Cheers. Yeah. So are we. But it's a secret.

Kelly (39:51):
Thanks for tuning in, and thanks again to our sponsors for supporting this episode. You can subscribe to Commerce Tea on your favorite podcasting service. We post new episodes every Tuesday, so grab your mug and join us. See you next time.

Rhian (40:11):
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