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Ep. 99 - Your Marketing Strategy is Your Brand’s Foundation with Arri Bagah

Arri Bagah became an expert in the mobile messaging space and is invited to speak at large conferences including DTC DAY, Traffic and Conversions Summit, and Conversations Conference. Arri is also the founder of Conversmart. 

Conversmart helps DTC brands generate six to seven figures in monthly revenue using SMS marketing. Conversmart’s combined strengths in growth marketing, copywriting, and creative design enable them to turn SMS and Email into top 3 acquisition channels.  

In This Conversation We Discuss: 

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [01:57] DTC Day and missing conferences 
  • [03:33] What led Arri to Ecom and DTC 
  • [06:04] Learning from his first online store
  • [07:09] Sponsor: Gorgias: gorgias.grsm.io/honest
  • [07:57] Why people start agencies
  • [08:31] Conversational commerce
  • [09:55] Conversmart’s recommended apps
  • [12:32] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com/honest
  • [13:11] App vs agency
  • [15:28] Sponsor: Postscript postscript.io/install
  • [15:58] Common mistakes from clients
  • [21:25] Using SMS as supplement to existing channels
  • [22:38] SMS marketing’s competitive advantage
  • [23:14] Automating text messages
  • [25:07] Where to find Arri


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Arri Bagah  

At the end of the day, we all have access to the same tools and some people succeed, some people do not. So what really matters is your actual strategy.

Chase Clymer  

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, where we're dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. 

I'm your host Chase Clymer, and I believe running an online business does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

If you're struggling with scaling your sales, Electric Eye is here to help. To apply to work with us visit electriceye.io/connect to learn more. Now let's get on with the show.

All right, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And today I'm welcoming to the show, a man to answer all of our questions in regards to SMS and email marketing. Arri Bagah, welcome to the show.

Arri Bagah  

Yeah, thanks for having me. Excited to be here. 

Chase Clymer  

I'm excited to have you. So first things first, let people know what company you're from, and how to spell the website because I guarantee it's not going to translate easily to a podcast format. So let's just talk about that real quick. 

Arri Bagah  

Yeah, so my company is Conversmart. It's Conversmart.com and Conversmart helps direct-to-consumer brands generate 7 figures in monthly revenue using mobile messaging. 

So we do things from growth, marketing, copywriting, creative design, to enable brands to turn text and email into top 3 acquisition channels.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. And then I'm gonna clarify there, it's C-O-N-V-E-R-S-M-A-R-T. So there's not there's no second "t" in there. It's "converse" like conversion, smart, like that. Smash those together. So it's not "convert smart." It's Conversmart.

Arri Bagah  

Yeah. So it actually means converse, like having... We do text and email. Having a conversation with your brand in a smart way.

Chase Clymer  

Oh man. You see...

Arri Bagah  


Chase Clymer  

...people that are smart, think of cool ideas for their companies. 

Arri Bagah  


Chase Clymer  

Awesome. So other than that, though, you also have a conference, correct?

Arri Bagah  

Mm-hmm. Yeah. DTC Day. It's the largest conference for all things direct-to-consumer . And we have amazing CEOs and leaders from the direct-to-consumer Ecommerce space. It's a great environment for people to come together, learn, have fun and network.

So that's the community that we built there. And unfortunately, with everything happening, everything is pushed back. But hopefully by 2021 things are back to normal. We'll be able to get back together again.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I mean, obviously, the audience of this show is probably more founders, entrepreneurs, maybe even some consultants in the space. And one of my favorite things about this industry in general is how much fun the conferences were.

Everyone's doing the same thing. And they're all picking up new stuff. And that's one thing I do miss about this industry is... 

Unfortunately, you can't recreate just the atmosphere and the networking that you get from an actual in person conference. So that's just... I guess I'm just playing the world's smallest violin right now. I don't know. (laughs)

Arri Bagah  

No, you're right. It's been really hard to sit through Zoom, live webinars, etc. In-person events really bring up a different energy. 

You get to meet people and get much better business or more business doing that. So yeah, hopefully in the near future. Yes, we'll be able to get together. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. All right. So let's take it back a bit. So what led you into Ecommerce and direct-to-consumer. What's the quick backstory?

Arri Bagah  

Sure. I've always been really interested in selling products. I've always thought it would be cool for someone to wear my shirts that I made or any product that I made myself. So I started an Ecommerce store, a Shopify store, around 2015 - 2016. 

That was my first Shopify store, selling t-shirts. And I just got really addicted to it, just how easy it was to get set up on Shopify. And sales and notification, everything. Every time you hear that "cha-ching" from Shopify was really addicting. 

So I thought, "You know what? I just wanted to go all in on Ecommerce." So with that clothing brand, obviously, I started... I was new. I didn't really know what I was doing. And it's like, when you start a brand your friends buy, and then it's like, "Okay, how do I get the people to buy it now after your friends buy." 

And then that's when I started to get into paid marketing and paid advertising and learning paid ads and trying to figure out how to bring traffic to my website. And around that time, I also found out about a friend who started an Ecommerce brand so I was helping him out with paid ads and trying to get his reach out there to get potential customers.

So that was like a lot of learning experience. And I just really love the fact that you can put something online and someone can give you money for it, especially because I was doing print on-demand. I didn't even have to touch the product release. 

So it was even a much better because, all you need to do is get someone interested in the products. They buy it. You don't even see the products. You basically get that customer. So that was really exciting for me to do it and also help my friends in Ecommerce do it.

And yeah, just been going down the rabbit hole ever since and just learning everything I can about Ecommerce, websites, marketing, you know, conversion rate, optimization, copywriting, etc. I ended up starting an agency to actually help these brands generate more revenue. 

Now I'm definitely interested in getting back on the brand side. I'm doing both, because that's really exciting to do. Right now my focus has been on the agency side and helping brands generate more revenue.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Now do you still own that? The first store that you had the one you cut your teeth on? Or have you since sold or folded that one up?

Arri Bagah  

Yeah. I just shut it down. Because it was a great learning experience. I learned so much about the app ecosystem and the different apps that [if] someone asked me what apps to use, I can really tell him the apps I prefer that I use for... Whether getting emails or getting people to like, add more products to cart, etc. 

So I learned so much from that experience. And I think it was a great transition over to the agency side where I knew exactly what it felt like to run a brand and what people needed as a brand. Yeah, I just wanted to focus on one thing at a time and started the agency. 

And now with the agency running then we also started the conference. 

Chase Clymer  


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Chase Clymer  

It's funny, I think a lot of people in the agency world fall into 2 boats. They're either like they were at an agency and they're like, "I'm just gonna do this myself." Or they just innately had some skill in the space. 

And they accidentally ended up starting one because next thing they knew they had a couple clients that they were helping and it got a little bit bigger than them. And then well now they've got it. Now they've got a business. So we have that in common. 

My agency was kind of an accidental agency, but it's the best... One of the best accidents of my life. So that's fun. Yeah. So nowadays, though, with the agency, you guys are focusing a little more niched down  more on this conversational commerce and this owned marketing arena. Is that correct? 

Arri Bagah  


Chase Clymer  

Just to let everyone else know if maybe those terms are unfamiliar with them. It's specifically you're helping with email marketing and SMS marketing for most of your clients, right?

Arri Bagah  

Yes. So with owned marketing is about marketing to a list of customers or customers or potential customers that you own. So that can be your text list and email... Or email lists. So we started out building a niche. 

Now we're probably the first agency... First of all, we started... I started the first messenger marketing agency, I was doing only messenger marketing with the agency and then transitioned over to text because I didn't like the fact that Facebook had control over your audience on Facebook Messenger. 

So I got into text, too. I was probably the first agency to only do text marketing. And people thought it was crazy that we're only doing text marketing because nobody was doing it, especially in the Ecommerce space. 

And now we started to add it on email just because we want to really own the conversation between the brands and their customers. And it's just been very well received. So that's what we focused on helping brands go up their own lists, and then be able to market those to those lists and generate revenue.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome, awesome. So for those that are just getting started, they found their initial traction with their brand, what's the marketing stack? Or not necessarily the marketing stack? 

But like, what are the apps in the ecosystem that you guys enjoy working with that you seem to deliver results. And not only that, they have customers for it actually cares. 

So, you know, what are the apps out there in the ecosystem for Ecommerce that you guys enjoy using when helping your customer succeed with doing these own marketing initiatives?

Arri Bagah  

Yeah, that's a good question. I think with apps... First of all, with apps, I don't really think... For me, it's not really about the apps even, it's about the actual strategy. Because at the end of day, everyone has access to the same tools. 

And some people succeed, some people do not. So what really matters is your actual strategy. But with text marketing being new, there's a bunch of apps coming out every day. 

Chase Clymer  

Oh yeah. 

Arri Bagah  

And yeah, so what I typically like to do is probably use all the apps that I think are very Ecommerce focused that integrate with your store. And they work just like the current email apps in the ecosystem. 

And with text marketing, typically, if you're on Shopify apps, like Postscript has a really good name out there, in terms of making it easy for you to integrate. If you're more on the enterprise level, maybe apps like Attentive could work for you. 

And with Shopify, there's a bunch of apps in there. But I think what really matters is the strategy, because everyone... There's a bunch of apps that you could use that do the same thing in the Shopify App Store

So if you know exactly how you should be collecting subscribers and texting your subscribers to get them to buy, that's the most important part. Now when it comes to email... 

Email has been around, especially for Ecommerce, for a lot longer for over 2 decades now. So it's a little more robust on what you can really do with email. So apps like Klaviyo are what we typically use. 

And that's what we really focus on because they have an amazing platform. And you can do pretty much anything really. So those are some of the apps I would recommend for breaks that are Shopify.

Chase Clymer  

Hey Arri, you answered that question perfectly, shutting me down immediately with my dumb question, because that's the correct answer. An app is just a tool and without a plan, it's not going to do anything for you. So thank you for answering that completely. Honestly. (laughs)

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Arri Bagah  

Right. Yeah. Because I think even our marketing director said recently, "Just because you have a hammer, that doesn't make you a carpenter." So it's actually the skill. 

And I think a lot of people want to buy the app and just completely ignore the expertise from agencies. I'm not saying that everyone needs to hire an agency. 

But considering the fact that agencies, typically, are experts and they specialize in certain things means that they're probably better at delivering the results versus you just getting the app and trying to get it up and running.

So that's becoming... That's the conversation that we have and really getting that across...

Chase Clymer  

I know. I use roughly the same analogy when I'm talking about it. And I was even saying this the other day when people were talking about, "What platform should I build my Ecommerce store on?" It's like, "Who cares? What's your product? And how are you gonna market it?"

Arri Bagah  


Chase Clymer

At the end of the day, there are businesses that are doing great numbers that you wouldn't believe on Magento and on Wordpress... And heck, I know of some million dollar businesses on Squarespace, surprisingly enough. 

Arri Bagah 


Chase Clymer  

And it's just because they had a good product-market fit and they had a great marketing strategy. The tool to sell it is just something that will help you create efficiencies and help you create profitability within your business. 

That's why I'm a huge fan of Shopify, because it scales so well.

Arri Bagah  


Chase Clymer  

But all these other things can do the same thing.

Arri Bagah  

Oh yeah. 100%. It's not about... People need to forget about what tools should I use and really focus on the strategy. And I think a lot of marketers would do much better that way.

Chase Clymer  

For sure. I think the one of the things uphill battles of running an agency is competing against the marketing that some of these SaaS products put out there where they're like, "You don't need anything except this." 

And it's like, yeah, except you need the understanding how it works and the strategy that is going to make it work for you. So yeah, it's an uphill battle for us, I guess. 

But as people mature in business, they realize getting the correct answers the first time is more valuable than stumbling through it.

Arri Bagah  


Chase Clymer  


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By the way, we're powering our text messages with PostScript, the #1 text message marketing app for Shopify stores. Check out the show notes for a link to install PostScript for free today. 

Chase Clymer  

So within your guys's business, you guys are helping Ecommerce brands make more money, doing all this email marketing and SMS marketing. 

What's one of the common traits that you see out there or just common mistakes that newer clients are making and that you guys are helping them to correct? 

Not to call anyone out, obviously, but just to try to give like some quick wins out there for people that are looking for something that they can take home from this and implement into their business. 

Arri Bagah  

I think the first one that I see is that people don't have that defined strategy or a proven process to follow. And especially with text marketing and with the fact that it's new... 

With email, I think people can get away, because a lot of the platform has helped in at least automating some of the different ways that you should get set up and get up and running quickly. 

But I still see that with text marketing, what marketers are doing is they jump in first... We like to go in order of how we think a brand should run it. 

And it's about... First... Okay, how do we collect your subscribers? And then what automated flows are they going to receive as they are going through their buyers journey? 

And as you're going through that buyer's journey, how are we going to engage with them on a weekly basis to try to get them back to site. And I think a lot of brands don't have that strategy. 

They would, let's say, install the app, and then maybe launch one opt-in... Actually, a lot of them we've seen that on launch didn't opt in to collect subscribers and then they assume that the channel doesn't work or doesn't generate revenue for them. 

That's pretty much what I've seen for the most part. But I've also seen some marketers who are also getting set up collecting subscribers, but then the problem is that the copy isn't doing its job. 

So what we try to do is "Okay, how can we implement our strategy?" Or "How can you define the different steps that you need to take in order to achieve a certain result?" 

And it's like, Okay... First you need to get your subscribers. If you don't have a list of subscribers, you can't generate revenue. 

So that means you need to install your opt-ins whether on your mobile site or desktop site, at checkout... Use social to collect subscribers: Use Facebook, Facebook ads, every channel that you can to start collecting these subscribers onto your list. 

And once you have your subscribers, then you want to start to engage with them. 

Now the difference is that text is a very unique channel. It's very conversational... because think about how you text your friends and family, it's usually images, gifs, emojis, etc. So text is supposed to be a fun experience. 

But what marketers do is that they would just send super "sales-y" messages. And then they see a really high unsubscribe rate. We had a brand that we work with that was seeing an 8% unsubscribe rate. 

And then after we changed our copy and started using creative gifs, images, etc, we were able to bring it down to 2.9%, which is like pretty good for text. And right now most of our clients are averaging around like one to less than 1%. And I'll say most are between 1% and 2%, which is really good for a channel like text. 

So I think like what you actually send, the copy that you actually send is really important because it's what's gonna get that user to engage and come back to your website. And then the last thing is optimizing. You need to look at data. 

So when it comes to picking the platform, you need to make sure "Okay, do I get the click through rate, the revenue generated, the conversion rates from this platform?" If not, you can use Google’s UTM tracking codes  to track these URLs so that you can see that data in Google Analytics and this is something that I recommend for a reminder to do like obviously every app likes to take credit for every sale. 

So it's always best practices to have that second layer of tracking through Google Analytics. So that you can compare both. Because like apps, an app can tell you that you made $30,000. But you really made like $15,000 or $20,000, when you double check them, and from there, you get to decide if you want to, you know, the difference.

And then in terms of attribution, but it all comes down to having a strategy. And what I've seen in the space is that marketers want to jump into texts, and then just start, like spamming their existing lists, which they're not supposed to do because of compliance, and they could get them in trouble. 

So yeah. That's pretty much what I've seen.

Chase Clymer

I can agree with you wholeheartedly. We've audited so many stores, like very successful stores that are using, the tools that you've mentioned here today. And it's just that they didn't have the understanding of how that tool worked. 

And they didn't set it up appropriately. And you know, it's funny, because like, oftentimes, when we're talking to people out there, and we're like, “Well, how is this working for you?” 

And then their answers like, “Well, I honestly don't know.” It's just because like, they just installed something thinking that it would fix a problem for them.

Well, going back, I guess, to the title of this show is going to be like “Strategy is everything when it comes to how to actually market things.” 

Arri Bagah  


Chase Clymer

Awesome, Arri. Now, is there anything else that I forgot to ask you that you think is gonna be worthwhile to share with our audience today?

Arri Bagah  

Sure, what I want to... My point about using... Let's say, you're using email right now, and you're thinking about leveraging text marketing. What I'm saying is that you need to use both channels.

I think most people think that when I talk about texts is [that] you need to stop using email and start using text. But what you want to do is actually use both because historically, adding more channels always increases revenue. 

And we've tested this where we sent out one campaign to just a portion of the email list and generated like $3,000, we sent a text and that text generated around $6,000. And then we sent both an email and a text and we generated $15,000.

So having two channels just spread your reach, right, you're able to reach the customers on email, and text. And with texts, you're getting like 99%, open rates, and 20 to 30%. click through rates. 

So text is kind of supplementing, you're dropping email marketing performance, where you're seeing like, I would say the best brands are seeing at most 20%, click through rate, open rates, or email. And honestly, most are seeing like less than 10% open rates, especially for really big brands. 

So using texts, that channel that really allows you to get that customer to engage with you to see the message that you spent so much time crafting, and get that campaign out to your customer and get them to click back to the site. 

Because at the end of the day, we're not just building the lists just for the sake of building the list, we want people to actually see these messages, these campaigns discount. 

So we want to send in texts, the channel that really at least for today allows you to get that reach that they need. So when it comes to these two channels combining both. Being able to use both text and email. 

And the question that comes from this is like, “Okay, I have my automated flows on email. How do I set them up over text?” So what we try to do is figure out where text fits in your current automated setup. 

So for example, if you're doing an abandoned cart, and let's say you're sending an abandoned cart, like an hour later, maybe why don't we try sending a text 30 minutes in because we've seen like abandoned cart tests performed so well, I mean, the highest performing flow out there, because of that high region, the high click through rate. 

So why don't we maybe try sending a text in 30 minutes, and if that customer doesn't convert, they will receive an email within an hour or maybe four hours. 

So we figure out like your current timing for email flows and fitting texts in it, and testing it out and seeing how they both work together. 

And when it comes to campaigns, you don't need a really big list to generate revenue with email. 

So like if you have 100 email subscribers and 100 tech subscribers, if you text those hundred people, and then 9 of them open it, unless they're like 20 to 30 of them click, there's a much higher chance of you generating more revenue versus if you send out versus like sending out the email and having 20 people open it and like 5people clicking back to site. 

So the point is, you need to use both channels because of the reach and then allow your customer to decide which channel they want to convert on. 

So that's the whole point of mobile messaging, at least for us at Conversmart where we're leveraging both channels, because they're both great channels, they generate a lot of revenue, and it's by combining both to maximize your revenue on both.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Absolutely. I couldn't agree with you more. The more touch points, the better. You know, there's a I guess maybe there's like a diminishing return at some point. 

But I can agree that adding a few more channels and not being so reliant on a single channel is always great advice. 

Before we go, is there anything that you want to share with the audience where you want to direct them if they want to learn more about you or learn more about what you're up to? 

Arri Bagah  

Sure, we typically do a free Klaviyo audit. So if you're running a brand new interest in learning different ways that you could optimize your klavier account, you can request a free audit on our website. 

And if you want to learn more about Conversmart, and what we do with text, just head over to conversmart.com. And you can also shoot an email, I'm more than happy to answer it. It's arrib@conversmart.com. I can talk about texts for hours. 

So if you have any questions at all, just feel free to email me. And last thing is that I recently also been interviewing CEOs at different brands.I had one of the Sharks from ABC’s Shark Tank, Matt Higgins is on the show and a bunch of other CEOs of Ecommerce brands just talking about the current landscape of Ecommerce and what it takes to become successful, etc.

So if you're interested in that, look up the Personal Mastery Podcast as well, on any platform that you listen to podcasts on. 

And just continue learning because I think like there's a lot of stuff going on in the Ecommerce space right now. 

And what we're trying to do here, what you're trying to do is provide that information to people right, as much value as possible to the people. So yeah, definitely check out the podcast if you're interested in learning more.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. Just trying to provide value here. And here's the thing, I'm cheating. I'm learning all this stuff like weeks before you guys hear it. So it's super fun to host this thing. (laughs)

Arri Bagah 


Chase Clymer  

Arri, thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm sure we'll talk soon.

Arri Bagah 

Awesome, man. Thanks for having me.

Chase Clymer  

I cannot thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their journey and knowledge with us today. We've got a lot to think about and potentially add to our businesses. Links and more information will be available in the show notes as well. 

If anything in this podcast resonated with you and your business, feel free to reach out and learn more at electriceye.io/connect. Also, make sure you subscribe and leave an amazing review. Thank you!