eCommerce Rant 1: Quizzes, SMS Marketing & Acquisition VS Retention

eCommerce Rant 1: Quizzes, SMS Marketing & Acquisition VS Retention

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I’ve been in a contentious mood recently across social, stirring up debate on all types of topics like the mad Brit I am. This week, I wanted to respond to some of the most common questions I’ve been asked over the last few months as the industry’s changed.

1: Should I install a quiz on my eCommerce site?

The fallout from the loss of data that ensued from Apple’s iOS 14.5 updates on Facebook Ads paved the way for a torrent of technology companies in the industry to capitalise on the fallout.

Suddenly, “zero-party data” was in, and the way to counteract the loss of data was to install a quiz on your website and personalise the customer experience more effectively.

Here’s the thing though: creating a strategy based on data requires deep expertise and critically, strong execution.

If you think that by simply pushing customers into a quiz you’ll somehow be able to create an epic experience that unlocks insane Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), you’re going to be severely disappointed.

We haven’t seen the rush to install quizzes improve acquisition strategies, retargeting or better CRM management, largely because of their misuse.

And whilst this is nothing against quizzes (they can actually be fantastic tools to help you understand your customers better), they aren’t a magic bullet for your store, and they can actually lower conversion if not set up correctly and monitored.

Strategies based on quiz data require experienced marketing operators. We’ve seen their application in flows in Klaviyo being utilised as the custom properties pass through to create more personalised Welcome Flows, but apart from that, I haven’t come across many merchants using quizzes for anything special.

The bottom line is that unless you have the expertise, testing infrastructure and culture to execute a quiz on your website effectively, you should focus on other things that move the needle more effectively, of which there are dozens.

Don’t get sucked into paying for software for the sake of it - you’ll lose time, money and resources by getting caught up in the hype.

2: Klaviyo VS Attentive for SMS Marketing

It seems to be almost a daily occurrence at this moment in time to be asked this question.

Here’s my bold opinion: if you’re using Klaviyo for email, you should absolutely be using it for SMS marketing as well.

In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer.

We all know Attentive is a better product. They were the first major player in the Shopify ecosystem for SMS marketing and their platform is beautifully designed from a UI perspective, easy to navigate and the product itself feature-rich.

But we’re talking about SMS/MMS marketing here. It’s text messages that get sent to customers, which isn’t really complicated.

And while Attentive also has more sophisticated features (such as concierge), they’re just not utilised enough for most merchants or provide enough leverage to not manage all email & SMS activities under one roof.

My biggest gripe with merchants who use both is that they end up overpaying for software costs for features they don’t use and workflows that work in silos and don’t result in a great customer experience.

For example: building an abandoned cart or welcome flow should be managed, tested and built within one platform. Jumping between two is inefficient, skews analytical reporting and is cumbersome to manage.

And given how much Klaviyo is investing in its SMS product (it’s improved dramatically over the past year), I would need a compelling reason to change my position at this point in time.

Bite me.

3: Should you focus on retention or acquisition for your eCommerce store?

This is perhaps one of the silliest arguments reverberating around the ecosystem at the moment and needs to stop.

This was another fallout from the great iOS 14.5 debate - that acquisition was now going to be more challenging than ever, so we should double, triple, quadruple down on retention and turn out efforts there.

While the theory (and it is a theory - let’s call a spade a spade) that you can treat customers incredibly good and they’ll buy from you over and over again repeatedly for the rest of their lives sounds great, seldom does this play out in reality.

People change interests, buy from your competitors, pass away and churn for innumerable reasons, many of which are outside of your control.

For this reason, it’s critical that you don’t turn your hand off the tap for acquisition, otherwise, you’ll die a slow, gradual death (and fast if you stop completely).

If you do an exceptional job with retention, then you can get it as high as up to 40% in many industries but only with a proven product-market fit, wonderful customer service and critically, physical availability (distribution in multiple locations making your product easy to consume).

I say all this to ground you in reality as to what drives growth for an eCommerce business. I’m being as truthful as possible here, even though most email marketers will lambast me for being so open about this as many position themselves as retention magicians.

Now, all of this is not to deter you from focusing on retention. You absolutely should - but not at the expense of acquisition efforts.

If you’re struggling with acquisition, then you need to work on your unit economics to ensure profitability, as well as your payback period to ensure you can scale profitably.

Channel diversification has been touted heavily over the past few months but in all honesty, the black hole left by Facebook has yet to be filled by TikTok and other channels just aren’t as capable of churning out consistent customers as the Meta machine.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. We have to remember that the conditions over the last 2 years due to covid were always partly temporary, and a reversion to retail was always going to happen to some degree. eCommerce, and D2C specifically, is still very much a wonderful business to be involved in if you’re building a brand, and now is a time to not lose hope but to play the game more intelligently and strategically for the long-term.

This, of course, requires you to have a strong product, healthy margins, a focus on building a community and clever marketing. The fundamentals of building a great brand haven’t changed, it’s just that the barrier to entry may not be as low as it was previously. If there’s a cull, it will probably be because of underlying issues that were never stable to begin with.

Keep at it.

If you enjoyed this article, please Follow me on Twitter - I’m trying to post more often and drop knowledge on there.

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