Digital Marketing Redux   //   May 9, 2023  ■  6 min read

SMS marketing platform Postscript expands into text-based sales

SMS marketing platform Postscript is expanding to offer brands a text-based sales channel.

The company, which first launched in 2019 and most recently raised $65 million, has made a name for itself by working with Shopify brands to help launch personalized text-based marketing campaigns. But, according to co-founder and president Alex Beller, a year ago Postscript decided to test out whether it could use its platform to facilitate sales. This takes both more manpower and a different type of expertise than what the company has traditionally offered.

“Figuring all this out and getting all this right — it’s been quite a process,” said Beller. “What we’ve landed on is that we hire and staff a team. We’re a remote company, and now we have a Phoenix e-commerce sales center, where we are bringing in staff and we’re training them.”

Postscript has been beta-testing this with about a dozen brands, slowly adding more businesses each month. According to Beller, the company is completely booked with interested brands through July. Currently, Postscript works with over 10,000 brands (up from 8,500 last summer) — Beller said this latest sales program will add more brands every month, but will likely not be open to every single client in the near future (he didn’t provide a timeline for when it would be fully open). The Phoenix office currently has 18 employees with three managers and has plans to grow it even more as more brands sign on. However, Postscript isn’t planning on exponentially growing the team in the near future — rather, Beller said that some new tech may help scale the company’s ambitions as this arm of the business grows.

“AI is building tools to make the sales reps way more efficient,” he said. “That means using AI to carve out data insights to harvest the conversation at the right time… but still have a human touch in those high-experience moments. [We see that] as a path to get meaningfully more efficient over time, in terms of staffing.”

Here’s how it works: one of the early beta testers in the program was the men’s body care brand Dr. Squatch. Dr. Squatch tested SMS sales by using the Postscript team to craft a new conversation flow and personally answer any incoming questions from customers. Before, the company used SMS has a marketing engine — to send out discount codes and information about new promotions — but the idea was to see if customers would respond to a more personalized interaction that focused on conversion.

Beller himself worked on the Dr. Squatch account to understand how the new sales flow worked compared to Postscript’s traditional marketing campaigns. “There were a bunch of instances where people were like ‘I want my husband to smell better,'” he said. In a normal marketing scope, this would maybe lead Dr. Squatch to give a discount code on a deodorant product or link out to other material that explains how the products work. But, Beller said, “I knew Dr. Squatch had recently launched fragrances — the price point of those are way higher. And I would build a custom bundle,” and then Dr. Squatch could promote this custom bundle via SMS.

Dr. Squatch said this new focus led to an incremental increase in sales from its SMS list, compared to the conversions it was getting before.

According to Beller, getting SMS sales right takes some training — as well as trial and error. Currently, Postscript is focusing on training its sales team on two things. “One, the brand — not only the q&a and all the objections that this brand deals with, but also the unique like sales prospects that happen with each brand,” Beller said. For example, if Postscript is selling deodorant on behalf of Dr. Squatch, “that’s a very different motion than if I’m, trying to sell high-end rugs.” In addition, Beller said, “there’s training people on just how to sell and everything we’ve learned about how to close a customer via text message.”

According to Postscript, early data shows the sales program leads to better, well, sales. It saw a 30% increase in new subscriber conversion in the first 30 days, Beller said. “For a brand who’s already spending all this money to acquire those subs to see their conversion rate go up 30% is very meaningful.”

Cody Griffin, the former vp of marketing at Dr. Squatch, said testing out SMS as a sales channel seemed like a natural extension of its existing strategy. Over a year ago, “our full lifecycle team reoriented to SMS as our primary tool,” Griffin said. That meant “pop-ups capture SMS before email, everything was SMS first,” he explained, “because we were just seeing such differential results on LTV from [SMS] customers who are opted in.”

At the beginning of this year, Dr. Squatch let Postscript test out 10% of its SMS list using the new sales-focused funnel. With that first batch, the company saw about a 30% lift in conversion, so Griffin decided to increase the number of customers. “We did see a drop in performance in those periods,” Griffin said, “but it quickly rebounded.” This was because the e-commerce sales team was growing quickly, and it took some time for this new arm to learn the ropes of the new strategy.

But once the sales team did, and “got more familiar with our brand, they were quickly able to get back up to speed and quickly accelerate,” Griffin said. Currently, Dr. Squatch has 50% of its customers using the sales platform, and has plans to increase that as time goes on.

In some ways, this type of expansion is a return to the basics of sales teams. “Operationally, there is nothing that’s being invented here,” Chris Toy, co-founder and CEO of MarketerHire said. “There are call centers much bigger than this — it’s been done before.”

But, he said, only a few SMS platforms have gone the sales route. He pointed to the SMS cart recovery company LiveRecover, which sold to Voyage SMS a year ago. Having an SMS-based sales team is “one of those things that hits the gap,” Toy said. “It works — so why wouldn’t [an SMS marketing company like] Klaviyo and Postscript do that?”

Toy went on, “if you follow all the AI stuff, that really is a step function.” Which is to say, he sees the opportunity for a company to start a more analog version of this service with the idea of adding new technology and software to scale it. “I’m honestly surprised people haven’t done it sooner,” Toy said.

This seems in line with how Postscript sees it too — it’s building a team of humans to text clients’ customers and bring them into the sales funnel, but will add AI to the mix to make it easier to scale.

Beller added that layering in additional functions to an SMS strategy may help it stay useful in the future. “Every marketing channel declines in some way from its novelty days,” he said. “I think the adoption we’ve seen in SMS over the last few years into a very mainstream channel for e-comm has a record of seen some decline.” But, he added, “that kind of plays to our strengths… we’ve always advocated [that brands] send hyper-targeted messages. Now we’re saying have human conversations.”

While this is a big new program for Postscript, Beller insisted that the company’s main focus is still marketing. “We really see it as just another piece of the pie,” he said.”