1100% ROI on Black Friday with SMS

About Shishir and His “Failing Forward” Strategy 

Shishir Nigam is the Founder of The Dropshipping Council and the YouTube channel, Journey2Freedom, and also holds a full-time management position at a major investment firm. But besides all of these initiatives, Shishir’s curiosity and “itch” to have his own business led him and his wife Namrata to open up their own online store in early 2019.

Realizing they do the majority of their shopping online, Shishir saw the opportunity in this booming field and started exploring the business model. Which is when he and his partner (both in life and in business) discovered dropshipping. It lured them to try it out because of the relatively little financial obligations they’d have to get started. But they also told themselves not to expect overnight success and that it’d take a lot of trial-and-error to find the winning products and ultimately- build a strong brand.

The power duo was not far from the truth. A few thousand dollars, several wrong products and multiple ineffective Facebook ads later, Shishir and Namrata wrapped up 2019 having accumulated $840 000 in sales from a multi-product home goods store, designed to make people’s lives less complicated.
This is what he calls Failing Forward. Because repeated failures are a required step on the journey to eventual success. Knowing where you want to go is what’s going to get you through this challenging step of starting your own business.

Shishir and Namrata had their journey all mapped out in their heads. And the first destination was nailing their first winning product. 


How Did They Find Their First Winner? 

One of the biggest hurdles when starting an online business is to find the right product to sell, which is a process in itself. A process that takes a great deal of research and evaluation to even define the right concept for your particular store.

Shishir had many product alternatives but in the end decided that he wanted to go for functional products, solving day-to-day home problems and simplifying people’s lives. However, “functional” oftentimes means unappealing, so he was also aiming for products that would be eye-catching.

How did he determine if a product is attractive? The ultimate test was to ask himself “Would I stop scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed to take a better look at this product?” If the answer was yes, the product would go on the “To Sell” list.

Having decided that about their store, Shishir and his partner were faced with another tough decision: was their website going to be a niche store or а general one.

"Through experience, we realized that in the beginning it is much easier to test products on a general store until you discover a product or niche that works, and then to develop a niche store around the successful product to give it a more branded feel," advises Shishir.

So far so good. Shishir had his store concept, had decided on his products but here comes the truly tricky part: getting the first 100 customers. He believes that even if you’ve made your mind up about a product and really strongly believe that this IS your winner, unless you get at least a 100 people to believe in that and purchase from you, you don’t yet have it.

It took Shishir and his wife 25 products before they found the one that would drive consistent sales and stable profits.

And it was time for them to scale, which is when they came across SMS marketing and Yotpo SMSBump. 


Shishir’s SMS Strategy 

To make the most out of SMS, Shishir continues to focus his efforts on re-marketing to customers with text messages. His strategy is simple: use Facebook ads for lead generation and SMS to carry on the conversation.

"When you are paying for leads to come to your website through Facebook Ads or any other advertising platform, you should try your absolute best to re-market to them even after they leave your website," Shishir mentions.

Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Following this strategy, Shishir’s main goal with SMS is to maximize each visit to his website and turn a one-time user interaction into a long-term relationship.

Unlike Facebook and other social media platforms, with SMS you own your audience, and there is no need to pay third parties in order to communicate with them. Because you are able to contact your specific contacts with highly personalized offers, SMS sets new benchmarks when it comes to open rates and click-through rates, turning it not just into a feasible, but an effective channel.

"While many of us have thousands of unread emails in our large inboxes that we can’t be bothered to read, I can bet there are hardly any unread text messages," he says. 

Shishir believes that nowadays, with people spending more and more time on their phones, communicating via a short but simple SMS comes most naturally to users, and opening them has basically turned into an instinct, leading to open rates of 90% and more.   

This is why merchants looking to leverage this channel should aim to first build a strong list of subscribers they can market to around major retail holidays, such as the upcoming Black Friday Cyber Monday week.

And it’s exactly what Shishir did for his 2019 BFCM campaign. 


Collecting Subscribers Prior to Black Friday 

Shishir admits that he could have done so much more when it comes to getting people on his SMS list. Still, with just the simplest checkout opt-in, he managed to collect about 15 000 subscribers


How did he do it? 


Since your checkout is not really the place to go overboard with witty (and elaborate) copy, you have to make sure what you will be enticing customers with is truly something of value.

In his case, Shishir took advantage of people’s natural desire to receive updates on their orders, and he especially let them know they’d be opting in for getting tracking information, but also special offers. And who doesn’t want to have this kind of information at one convenient location, accessible at all times - their phones.


"This served the dual benefit of keeping customers up to date on their shipment status (that they LOVE to check up on) and allowed us to market to them in the future," he elaborates.

Besides checkout though, Shishir plans (and advises people with big email lists) to run an email campaign and encourage subscribers to sign up for SMS marketing, while incentivizing them to do so through a discount promotion. It’s not only easy, but also cost-free and you will be capitalizing on the leads you’ve already put enough effort to acquire.

On top of this, if you happen to have a good Facebook presence, he urges brands to take advantage of Yotpo SMSBump’s integration with Recart and run a Messenger sign up campaign to fill up both their email and SMS lists with brand new leads.

Remember: the more people you have in your list, the more leads you will be able to target with promos, and the more sales you’ll have a shot at making. 

After the easy and effective subscription methods, Shishir’s favorite Yotpo SMSBump tool remains the abandoned cart reminder. 


Shishir’s Abandoned Cart Strategy for an ROI of 12 000% 

Yes, you got that right. With just one reminder that cost him a total of $75, he managed to save over 200 orders that brought him an additional revenue of $10 000.

His abandoned cart automation gets fired 1 hour after the customer has left behind their cart, and is a simple reminder - no discounts, no pushy lingo. Simply:

{SiteName}: Hello, {FirstName}. We noticed you left your shopping cart behind. We miss you already! Complete your order here: {AbandonedCartURL}. Reply STOP to opt out. 

Very casual, non-intrusive and straight to the point, this reminder helped recover over 92% of all the abandoned carts! The click-through rate with this one was also extraordinary: more than 60% of his messages got their recipients to click on the link provided!


"These sort of numbers are just not possible with email marketing or even Facebook ads retargeting campaigns," Shishir comments.


He also has enabled one more abandoned cart notification which targets customers who didn’t complete the order after the first round of messages. They receive it 1 day later and it comes with a discount of 10%, prompting them to act quickly as this is their “Special offer”:

Hey again. Special offer! Use this discount code: “10OFF” to get extra 10% off your {SiteName} order! Click here: {DiscountCodeUrl}. Reply STOP to opt out. 
You will notice that while the first SMS turns to the customer by their name, this second one omits that. The reason behind is to give this SMS sequence the most natural feel possible - in a real-life conversation you will almost never turn to your friend by their name twice in a row just to get their attention, would you? And this is what Shishir is trying to emulate here: a truly friendly nudge.

However, see how he didn’t forget to include his store name in the second reminder? Shoppers often bounce from store to store, so letting them know who is contacting them, especially after a while has passed after your first interaction (in this case - 24 hours), is crucial for your recovery rates. 

Apart from trigger-based messages, Shishir’s most prominent use of SMS marketing came with the three one-off campaigns he launched right around Black Friday. 


His BFCM SMS Campaign Sequence 


Around major holidays like Black Friday, Christmas etc. the cost of advertising skyrockets on most ad platforms. The last quarter of 2019 actually saw an increase of over 40% in the cost-per-click for Facebook ads, compared to Q3 of the same year!

Having this in mind, Shishir deduced that the true power of SMS would show for real during the busiest shopping times. As the price of SMS doesn’t fluctuate based on anything else but geographic location, it makes it cost-efficient especially around major retail holidays. On top of the stable (and predictable) price, SMS still remains rather unsaturated so your chances at grabbing your customers’ attention are much higher than with some of the other, more popularly used channels. 

Seeing the potential in SMS, Shishir set out to launch three campaigns in November that brought him a 1000% return on investment

  • One to build anticipation and warm up customers 

  • A second one on Black Friday, with a much bigger promotion

  • One last campaign on Cyber Monday, igniting people’s FOMO 

Let’s take a look at each one of these campaigns independently and see what he did that brought him such significant results.


Flash Sale Campaign 


Like we already said, this first campaign, launched on November 14, was Shishir’s rehearsal sale. He attempted to attract his early birds, enticing them with a 20% discount - big enough to make them not want to wait for the Black Friday deals, yet not too big so it doesn’t hurt his profits. 

Shishir took a very interesting approach with the copy of the text message, opting for a very casual mention of the 20% discount but also swiftly letting customers know they only have 24 hours to grab it. Laid-back, yet result-driven and effective!
While his click-through rates weren’t as high as what he’d usually see with SMS, Shishir says they were high enough to show that his campaign succeeded in stirring up some excitement and getting people ready for the next sale.

"The purpose of sending this campaign in mid-November was to get into our customers’ SMS inboxes, so that when we messaged them again on Black Friday, we would no longer be strangers," Shishir points out. 


Black Friday Blast 

November 29: time for a 30% off store-wide sale. Besides the bigger discount of 30%, the copy of this second text message urged customers to act on the offer “while stocks last”. This aimed to fuel people to make a purchase right away, driven by both the generous discount, but also their own sense of urgency and fear of missing out on some good offers.
And it did work! This campaign saw a CTR of 9% and brought $4,800 in sales and 115 orders. Given the number of marketing messages that customers are bombarded with from all angles on BFCM weekend, Shishir considers the 9% CTR as a big achievement, that earned them more than 10X what they spent on the campaign. 


Cyber Monday - Last Chance 


This was the SMS that gave customers one last chance to take advantage of the BFCM sales. And this was in fact Shishir’s most successful campaign: it saw a 19% conversion rate and an additional sales of close to $7000.

The success of this particular campaign he believes came exactly from the wording they chose and the urgency it drove, but also the timing. The message was again simple, but started off with “LAST DAY, last chance!” and went on to reiterate the discount they will be getting. Since it was December 2nd and really the last day of the Cyber week, people were quick to act on his offer, knowing it’s their last shot and presumably - that inventory was also running low.
Bottomline, Shishir points out that what’s most important when it comes to launching campaigns during times when deals are flying in from everywhere, is to make your offer as simple as possible - both in terms of what it includes, but how to access it as well. This is why SMS is invaluable, as it makes it extra easy for customers to benefit from the offer by simply clicking on the link, which would already have a discount included, and place an order. 

One other factor that will contribute to the success of your SMS campaign, according to Shishir, is personalizing your offers and creating a targeting strategy that will make sure you only reach customers with the most relevant promotions, based on their personal preferences, buying behaviour and even budget. Let’s talk segmentation


Segmenting Customers for Ultimate Success 


Understanding that in retail there is a customer for every product (and a product for every customer), Shishir developed segments that would split his subscribers base according to the products they bought, how much they spent overall, level of engagement, and even geo-location.  As a result, he has come up with 11 segments, mix-matching different filters available in Yotpo SMSBump, such as Money Spent, Number of Orders, Clicked on a link, and many more, that not only give him a better understanding of how customers shop at his store and other trends, but also make sure his campaigns are always on-point.

"Such customized messages would see drastically higher CTRs and conversions when compared to generic mass text messages," he comments.

Looking more into his segments, Shishir shares that those which brought the most value to his store are the product-based ones, i.e. containing customers who purchased the same item. Since every store out there typically has a few best sellers, but also products that are bought less frequently, segmenting based on items will tell merchants where their inventory might need a little extra marketing push, but will also outline their star products they can bid on during slower sales periods. On the other hand, these types of segments make it possible for brands to send much more tailored follow-up messages, that acknowledge the customer purchased Item A, and encourage them to either buy another one of the same at a discounted price, or try complementary Item B. The so-called up-sell or cross-sell technique.
Besides creating segments containing people with the same product interests, Shishir believes a good tactic is to break down subscribers based on how much they’ve spent or how many orders they’ve made. This is a way to distinguish who your “VIP customers” are, those who have bought the most and are most loyal. VIPs, or in marketing terms - high-value customers, are what makes businesses sustainable and although they usually represent a small portion of a brand’s entire customer base (about 8%), they account for 41% of the annual profit.
In addition to always trying to maximize conversion by offering customers deals that would speak to them, Shishir believes that for a brand to grow steadily with time, it’s important to focus on post-purchase customer care. And one of the ways to make this happen is to provide shoppers with seamless experience even after they’ve purchased from you and a way to communicate with your brand if they need to. 


Keep an Open Line of Communication with Customers 

… is his advice to any brand looking to turn one-time shoppers into long-term customers. Shishir says that he doesn’t just use Yotpo SMSBump for retargeting, but has enabled the Chats function for customer support as well. Oftentimes customers would reach out to his team, looking for clarification or additional information on their order. And if their questions remained unanswered, that could potentially cost them that customer.

Enabling the chat functionality allowed them to always keep their customers at arm’s length, and their inquiries - answered within minutes. As a result, Shishir got numerous customers praising his team’s prompt and personalized support. In turn, this led to his business getting more and more repeat purchases, accumulating over 25 000 happy customers.

Quality products, teamed up with quality marketing, proper care and personalized treatment, has made it possible for Shishir to scale all of his businesses, but also to become an inspiration for others. 


Want to Connect with Shishir? 

Make sure to follow Shishir and his wife on their YouTube channel, Journey2Freedom -  to benefit from their knowledge and get to know more about how they achieved in excess of $1 million in sales across several stores. Moreover, if you are a dropshipper like Shishir, looking to connect with like-minded people, such as eCom legends Kamil Sattar, Ricky Hayes and Peter Pru, consider applying for his newest initiative: The Dropshipping Council.

And don’t forget: if you haven’t yet, leverage Yotpo SMSBump. Because, like Shishir said, it is an “Insane ROI App”. 


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