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What Is “Conversation Marketing”? – Stephen Carl

Segmentify is excited to host Stephen Carl, founder of the Needle Movement, in our fourth series’s second episode. The podcast reveals the key metrics and methods behind the efficiency of conversation marketing. In addition, Stephen mentions the effects of conversion marketing on buyer’s choices and the key things about how to start and grow conversion marketing. To get detailed information about SMS, mail, or Facebook Messenger marketing, examine our blog and the transcript of the podcast!

Valuable Learnings from Podcast

Conversation marketing and its applications were the main focus of the second episode of the fourth series. Segmentify’s role in conversation marketing, especially push notifications, is examined in terms of increasing customer loyalty and building trust. Here are some key takeaways from the speech: 

  • Especially in the last few years, our buyer preferences have shifted on a large scale. Formerly, people were mostly focused on the cost of the service they received, whilst now they want to see different options. This makes the eCommerce option more valuable because it allows people to see different stores, product ranges, prices, and various options.
  • Today buyers treat stores as human beings; especially millennials have generated expectations for companies to be model citizens or eco-friendly establishments. This creates a tendency for them to have a conversation before purchasing to build trust; building trust comes with 15 interactions. Conversation marketing helps companies build that trust and create instant interactions with their customers. 
  • Email is a great place to start conversation marketing because we are all familiar with the content. However, it is very critical that the emails we send are conversational, including the subject line. Also, you will already have FAQs and answers that help you create an easy and effective conversation with your customers. Besides email, Facebook Messenger, SMS, or live chat might be other content channels that can be used for conversation marketing. 
  • Email is the traditional way of all companies sending their advertisement information, so it may be an overwhelming channel for many customers, who will probably leave their emails unopened in their inbox. In these cases, SMS will be more effective to reach customers. With SMS, companies got 80% open rates and 30% Click-Through Rates because your SMS is a more direct communication form. 
  • If everybody sends an email on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, your messages may go through more effectively. In contrast to emails, your SMS strategy can get 80%+  open rates, 30% click-through rates. That is because there is no inbox to fall back to. 
  • Among all the conversation marketing channels, email has the highest ROI. However, the key in conversation marketing is finding the most suitable channel according to your customer qualifications. For instance, 25 X revenue values are achieved in Needle Movement.
  • When chatbots first emerged, people had negative feelings about them; they were afraid of talking with ‘robots’ and thought that conversation would be boring. However, people started to choose chatbots with quick responses instead of long-lasting customer service conversations at the beginning of this year. This shows that your imperfect, quick, automated messages will help you gain your customers’ trust.

How to Maximise Your List?

Expanding your list is one of the most important aspects of conversation marketing. There are key things to consider to sustain growth. The biggest mistake most companies make when expanding their lists is over-concentrating on the tools they will use while ignoring the necessity of a team or employee focusing on this part. Also, list growth is about constant optimisation and making your website visitors or Instagram followers subscribe to your mailing list. 

There are several tactics to direct these people to your emails. The first tactic is pop-ups that are already used by Segmentify in eCommerce. You might display a pop-up message to your customers for presenting detailed information about your campaigns. Besides that, for instance, to build an effective SMS list, you can place a link that directs your email subscriber to the SMS list. While preparing the list in any way you choose, you have to get your segmentation right and determine the channel you use according to your customers’ behaviours!

Increasing Customer Loyalty with Segmentify

Customer loyalty and trust are among the main benefits of conversation marketing. Direct conversation and quick informative interactions build trust with the customer, especially for Generation Z. Segmentify provides the companies with four different services that increase the eCommerce quality experience of customers: On-site recommendations, on-site search, push notification, real-time analytics. 

Among these services, you can create personalised interactions with the customer by using push notifications. Regardless of which search engine they use, if you get permission to send notifications, you will be able to send personalised campaigns to your customers or provide informational messages about the products they have previously viewed. For instance, in a case where the customer abandons a product in their basket, you can send notifications that first remind them of the product they left and then suggest personalised campaigns on that product, reducing the abandonment rate and increasing customer loyalty. To exemplify, a hundred million organisation that collaborates with Segmentify, raised 1% annual GMD by only using push notifications. 

One of the most important factors that increase trust is that the customers are aware of the product they buy and that your company maintains its transparency. For instance, informing the customer with delivery tracking and guiding the customer during the delivery journey is one of the key elements in building customer loyalty. Also, you can inform your customers about their payment process. You can also increase your customers’ loyalty by sending messages in cases where different payment methods such as open payment tokens are used. 

How to differentiate with Segmentify?

To get the best out of eCommerce and marketing, you need to have various talented employees in different fields in your team. In addition to these, the resources you need to put forth in this area are another of the biggest factors affecting the cost increase. Considering all these, it is easier and more efficient to outsource this service more sustainably and cost-effectively. At this point, Segmentify supports your quick and effective growth in the field of eCommerce with its comprehensive service and a personalised product consisting of 4 basic features. Segmentify enables you to complete all the competencies required for different channels with a single outsourced service and increases your success in matters such as SEO.

Podcast Transcript

Phill Kay: Welcome everyone to another blog in the eCommerce growth show. So now we’re into series four, which is amazing, super exciting to talk to you about this series, where we’re actually interviewing a set of digital and eCommerce agencies across the world that are just talking about something real. Awesome subjects over the coming weeks. As you know, from series three, we were talking about best practice adoption implementation and Segmentify was one of the customers. But as I say, we’ve moved on now to series four where I’ve got a great guy. I’m going to introduce you to court. Stephen Carl. And so Stephen Carl, he was a very interesting guy. He was an early employee of an Amazon store. That specialised in one hour delivery. So it’s going to be interesting. And the company was called and that was actually back in 1998. So we’re talking way ahead of the curve, obviously, in terms of what later became Amazon prime. And, he was saying to me earlier, actually, that this whole idea of how Amazon began to differentiate in the space of eCommerce by delivery, obviously what we’re here a lot more later on. But anyway, as an investor, a lot of money in that and you know, Stephen Carl likes loads and the business has been actually in the eCommerce community for 20 years plus now. He’s really passionate about watching the trends and getting ahead of the curve. So a really interesting guy to have on the show. And actually at the moment, he runs a digital agency called Needle Movement. Super glad to introduce you, Stephen Carl. How are you doing?

Stephen Carl: It’s great to be on this show. I’m doing great. How are you doing?

Phill Kay: I’m really good, thanks. Thanks for being on the show. It’s great to hear a bit more about what you’ve been up to. Why don’t we start with a bit of an ice breaker as we normally do. And we were just talking earlier about the Needle Movement. I mean, tell the guys why that particular name.

Stephen Carl: Okay, good. So with Needle Movement, I had been on the client-side for a long time and about five years ago, I just decided to start an agency and that became Needle Movement. Why needle moving? I’m sure your audience knows the answer to that because I’m always in business. I was trying to, I had a holistic point of view cause I didn’t care how you got sales or how you found success. It didn’t matter if it was a search. It didn’t matter if it was the website email. I just wanted to see what really moved the needle. And then when I watched the news, all over the place I would hear this phrase, move the needle. So that’s how the Needle Movement came about. And I think what’s interesting about that term is that it was about five years ago. I always thought about it as just more money, how the company can make more money and that revenue would instantly lead to success. And now I think moving the needle happens in so many areas of your life. It’s just making progress in your goals. So that’s how the name came about.  We thought about that phrase, moving the needle a lot, so that’s good.

Phill Kay: But I think Needle Movement is cool. It kind of goes well. We also had a quick chat about conscious eCommerce. I thought I’d just ask you about that before we kind of get into the meat bones of the chat. Interesting phrase. An interesting couple of words. What does that mean for you to think of, particularly as you mentioned being a vegetarian struck sort of vegan?

Stephen Carl: So I think we all go on our journey and we have our different preferences, you know, and I actually happen to be married as well to a vegetarian slash vegan. So, I know what’s good for me. So, that was one motivation to become a vegetarian. But just having broad experience in eCommerce and then noticing how buying habits have been changing over the past few years. Cause I remember a long time ago, it used to just be about what’s the price, how cool is this product?  You know, what problem is it solving? And now I’m just seeing people buying for different reasons. I mean, people are going to buy something with the lowest price. That is going to be a factor, but with brands, if the price is the only differentiator you have, then it becomes harder to succeed. So that’s how conscious eCommerce has become an intriguing trend. As I’m learning about different food options, also environmental sustainability is becoming a huge issue in eCommerce as well. So, it’s great to see how I think about brands. A lot of people on the brand side, people don’t just want to talk about the product or just want to talk about price. So, talking about an issue that they’re passionate about or charity they support is wanted. Also, the content team loves it, the creative team, because they have something else to talk about. It broadens the pallet of things that you can use. And that’s where I see brands like Allbirds and Everlane among many other ethical brands finding some legs here. 

Phill Kay: I know it’s interesting because people would be getting bored now of me talking about Gumbies because, in the UK, I buy my flip flops recycled rubber-like TK and Maxx. And that was it. I became kind of a loyal customer, but then I dealt with them directly on the website. And I realised, I read about that eco-friendly kind of approach that differentiates sustainability. Yes, it was a great price, it was still the same price as Amazon. So there was no need for me to sort of jump ship and try and hunt on the price. Plus they have free delivery and right in the middle of COVID, I got the delivery within 24 hours and it just ticked all those boxes of not just price that you talk about, which just nailed it for me in terms of my customer lifetime value of that brand. 

Stephen Carl: You just mentioned another brand. I have to check out, but I love that approach that you’re talking about because it’s not like what’s a turn-off to conscious consumerism is this holier than thou aspect to it where it’s like, we’re the most sustainable company on the planet and that’s all we do and everybody else can’t do. And that’s not what it is, I think like with Gumbies and even, I think Allbirds does this really well, too. They don’t just say, we care about the environment. We’re also into making really comfortable shoes and they tell this story about New Zealand wool, that’s gorgeous. So it’s all these little factors. And then someone says, this brand cares about people. This brand cares, I can buy my flip flops in a hundred different places. Now you’ve given me a reason to switch.

Phill Kay: Exactly. And I think you’ve got my psychology on it as well. That’s exactly kind of how I felt. So clearly it works, but as you say, it’s not just one or the other. I think it’s a combination. You sit down and you realise that there are more ways than price. In fact, there have to be more ways than price to be able to grab that loyalty of a customer. And yes, you have to have a fantastic product, a hundred per cent. You can’t just black it out on ecology and price because then you’ll have a really rubbish flip-flop that dies within a month and you never do it again. But interesting that I’ve not heard that before, but so why don’t we kind of crack on with the main topic, if you like, and it’s this thing called conversation marketing that we were talking about earlier. So this is an interesting thing, I’ve not heard that. I mean, I’m not in your space obviously, but is that a phrase that is common? I mean, have you coined that?

Stephen Carl: No, it’s been coming up a lot over the past year. Some people say conversation commerce, chat commerce, or conversation marketing.

Phill Kay: Very interesting. So the question is then obviously you are passionate about finding, watching trends you’ve been in eCommerce for a long time. So do you feel that this is a lasting trend that obviously we’re going to hear about it and how should eCommerce, therefore, our brands, how should they prepare for this type of thing that you’re talking about?

Stephen Carl: So with conversation commerce, I think it is a lasting trend and we’re at a good point right now because we’re in that early adopter wave where there are plenty of companies that are doing it, but most companies are not. And to explain conversation commerce, I focus on the channels of email, SMS, live chat, and Facebook messenger. It goes in that and it kind of fits into there’s another phrase that’s making the rounds and I’ve been in this business for a long time. You hear buzzwords all the time and you just have to gauge them but owned media is a very popular one right now. And owned media is that brands can make brands. If brands own the subscriber list, then they can mark it at their own cadence. And they don’t need a middle person, like Google or Facebook to have access to an audience. So, because they’re not paying for that audience, they’re not paying a bounty for every click advertising. 

Owned media can be more profitable for a company. So now, just having your subscriber lists, I think within America, TikTok became a hot button issue because we had these poor influencers who were rocking TikTok and had millions of followers. And then all of a sudden the government is threatening to shut down TikTok. These influencers that had millions of followers, what am I going to do? And I think that’s resolved now. But it’s the idea of like, if you don’t own the channel, what happens if they take it away from you? And that’s where email and SMS like building up those lists are really important. So, I think what conversation commerce and conversation marketing are like is that everybody says that marketing is about storytelling and that is very true. And evolution is that we’ve now turned brands into human beings. They have companies like Casper, they have human names and just like with conscious commerce. Now we have all these millennials, especially gen Z, who expect their companies to be good citizens. They treat them like human beings and they have expectations like human beings. So the extension of that is if you like a human being don’t you want to chat with them? Don’t you want to have a conversation and that having these little bits of conversation deepens the relationship, they say in marketing, you have to have 15 interactions with the brand to trust them enough to purchase. And, let’s just say I have a live chat on a website with a customer service representative. I had a good experience with them. That makes me feel better about the brand. But that is what conversation marketing is. It’s the ability to have a two-way dialogue so that, it’s kind of like, back in the day when there was a flea market. An open market where you have a buyer and a seller and they have a cute conversation. And they, the buyer, have certain things that they need to have answered. And the seller is trying to bring out certain information. So by having a chat, you get all that done quickly. 

Phill Kay: That makes sense. So in terms of the content, I’m interested that you’ve said this is a reasonably early adoption phase, so that’s interesting. So obviously you will all be familiar with email and the fact that it is two way in the sense that, okay, it’s not real-time, but I’ll get an email. I can respond to it as opposed to it being one way. When you start talking about messenger SMS, et cetera. What does it look like in terms of the messaging and what are you trying to do? I know you talked about the relationship deepening, but what is one trying to do as a brand within that medium?

Stephen Carl: So I think email is a great place to start because we all do it. We’re all very familiar with it. The one thing I noticed on email these days is how subject lines have changed so much. That subject lines are just so conversational and that’s the extension of it. But, with email, I guess what’s nice about content is your brand is going to have certain frequently asked questions and answers, and you can riff on that. A lot of content from the email can be repurposed into say an SMS or a Facebook messenger or with live chat. Whenever someone asks a certain question, you’re going to have a canned response to it. So there is additional content but I think email is a really good starter kit for conversation commerce. Because we know how to build an email. We’ve done an abandoned cart series and like automatons. So now we’re just taking the email messages and cutting them in half and putting it into SMS. I think with all mediums, you just have to tweak it to the platform, but the good news is that you don’t have to start from scratch in many cases with these newer channels. 

Phill Kay: So are you saying that everybody will be used to getting emails from brands, a newsletter, a discount, a deal, a review, etc.? Are you basically saying that this is moving now to cutting it down in some way, so that it’s palatable for say a text message or messenger, and you start getting that information rather than, or in addition to email via text and messenger for argument sake? 

Stephen Carl: That’s a good question.  I don’t think you’re going to stop getting emails. I think it will be an additional message. You’ll get additional messages on those channels. I think with SMS, it’s a very personal channel and you want people to get nasty, send them an SMS every day. They will not be subscribed to your list. So, there’s a sensitivity to that. But I think it’s kind of nice actually. Beause, I think people get away with murder on email where they’re like, ‘let’s send to everybody and I’m sure everyone wants to get a message twice a day’. So, I think with SMS, you have to send important messages. It’s not going to be something where you spend all the time. 

Phill Kay: But it is an important part of the strategy. You’re basically saying if you use it carefully, it shouldn’t be something that we should be embracing. 

Stephen Carl: I mean, with SMS in particular, the advantage is that you get around the inbox, because I got 200 emails today and I didn’t open every promotional message. I didn’t open up the Gmail tab. So all these email scientists are like, ‘why don’t people open? Why don’t people click? ‘It’s because we’re also getting so much more news. And even with the holidays, SMS is how people are going to slide in because if everybody is sending an email on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, your messages are going to get through as effectively. So with SMS, they get 80% and up to open rates, 30% click-through rates. And that’s because there’s no inbox. So if I really like a brand and I want the message, then I want to hear about their sale or the new product. So that is a way that brands can.

Phill Kay: Interesting. I mean, you say it’d be interesting to see. Like you say, it’s kind of an early adoption phase. Obviously, you do this right as part of the Needle Movement from a strategy point of view. Have you seen any results from this type of thing yet?

Stephen Carl: In the Needle Movement, we’re executing campaigns for clients. I actually started off as a digital strategy person where I would work with brands. And I would say, this is what you should be doing. This is the best use of your money. And what ended up happening, a funny thing ended up happening, which is everything kept going back to email because email is the most profitable channel. And with email brands, they can find their most passionate audience. With these channels, we’re seeing great ROI. 

I think email has the highest ROI. I don’t want to throw out ridiculous numbers. But people say a hundred eggs. I don’t know if it’s that high, but it’s high. You’re definitely making more money on email than a lot of the paid media options that you have. So that’s where it starts. I think with SMS, we’ve seen, you could be killing it at 25 X revenue. But I think with these channels, it’s like there’s this war between all the different channels and what works best. And again, I like to see it holistically. But, I’ve seen great results that come from conversational marketing channels. And it can actually be an extension of your paid media strategy as well. Because like when you advertise on Google or Facebook TikTok or whatever, you want to get people to your website and most of them aren’t going to buy. So I feel like, with ads, there’s this buyer die. And I think getting signups is awesome. Like if you can prove in your campaign, well. We signed people up to our email list. We signed people to our SMS list because then you own the relationship. You can mark it however much you want your cadence. You don’t have to depend. So, just to answer your question about profitability, I look at a number of dashboards and I am happy with the results that I’m seeing right now in email, SMS and messenger. 

Phill Kay: I’m interested in some of the applications because obviously when you come with Segmentify, you mentioned the sensitivity to the nuances around SMS messaging, for example, obviously we’ll all be familiar with how fantastically powerful delivery tracking and guidance on the delivery journey is via text. And how that helps to obviously build customer loyalty, great customer satisfaction and lifetime value indirectly as opposed to a direct sale. In terms of application within the Segmentify domain, we have some interesting stories to tell around that one, one which is quite compelling is that we did a deployment with a very large retail operation, both bricks and mortar and online. And they wanted to utilise the open payment token window. I don’t know the full technical insights, but effectively, I think you probably know about an idea that if you’re using a payment gateway at the till as a token, it opens up for a half an hour window after payment. So we did this implementation whereby you could basically send an SMS message within that half an hour window based on the recommendations, the personalisation of that customer. Whilst they were still browsing in the shop, or when I would get coffee and a pizza before they go home, you’ve sent them a message. That perhaps has analysed what their abandoned basket was, innovative covers in the shop or some of the complementary upsells. So in products that go with the item that they bought, and he said, ‘Hey, by the way, you know, there’s a, there’s a 10% discount on this kind of thing right now, what if you pop back and grab it or something like that?’ And it raised an extra 1% of the revenue of annual GMD. And this was a hundred million organisation. So that was not to be sniffed up. And so that was a really cool kind of deployment. I think in terms of the clever way to use this kind of chat marketing, you know?

Stephen Carl: Yeah, I don’t think it’s a lot of the types of campaigns that people are already running. And then SMS made it easier. So you could send that message, you know, but it’s not, I mean, I think you can start pretty, you can do some of the same things that you do with email, but you make it a multi-channel thing because like what people are doing now is like, it’s an abandoned cart campaign, essentially you’re talking about. And now what brands are doing is they just mix it up and they just say, okay, I’m going to send an SMS a couple of hours later. Then I’m going to send an email because everybody has their own favourite channel that they, you know, some people look at email more, you know, God bless my mother. She likes being on the phone like that’s how she communicates. And then like my nephew he’s on, he’s texting all the time. Yeah, just find people where they are in their natural habitat.

Phill Kay: Yeah. I totally agree actually. I know there are many people that will run their life on notifications, right? So Segmentify is spent on a floor with four key pillars, right? On-site recommendations, on-site search, push notification. And, I’m just thinking about it in terms of what you’re saying around this conversation, comments and using different channels. So the ability to push out, push notification for a price drop on the product that was abandoned, something really quick. And it’s literally like two lines, but it’s coming in on a desktop or it’s coming in on mobile and you’ve set notification steps to get her up. There’d be Chrome or whatever, all of a sudden you’ve got access to those people that like to operate that way. And it was sitting on a smartphone and every three seconds had gone. Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing, and like, what are you doing? You know, I mean, that would do my head to be honest. So I don’t bother to turn notifications on and I might get tasks or I’ll try and control the environment more because I’ll go into my inbox when I want to and not be like my life is run by looking at my phone every time it makes a noise, but I know the many people embrace that and love it. Even my wife likes that it’ll pay it off. She goes and does their thing. So I totally agree. In terms of hitting up the customer where they feel most comfortable, it’s very interesting. 

Stephen Carl: And there’s always like, yeah, there with messages, there’s always this in marketing when you broadcast something on two different channels, you typically perform better than one. So it’s not that that combination of the two or three you know, fits into it. But I think even on the business to business side, there’s been a lot of progress with live chat and chatbots and the way customer service has been done. Because one thing that happened with conversation marketing is, just like the both of us, we’re always looking for the next thing or new trends that we can leverage. And I remember hearing in January of this year, how customers didn’t mind chatbots. Because, everyone’s fear with automated conversations is, I’m talking to a robot. This is going to be super boring and lame. But consumers were saying, ‘Hey, if a chatbot can help me and respond in five minutes versus me waiting 12 hours for a customer service representative to get back to me or being on long hold times, I’m all for the chatbots.’ And that’s what came out at the beginning of this year. And it just shows like, you know, by being able to send messages quickly and responsively instead of the perfect non-automated message, it keeps you top of mind to your consumers. 

Phill Kay: Yeah. That technology is getting cleverer and cleverer, isn’t it in terms of the AI engines behind it. So I think, you know, over the years I’ve used it and thought what rubbish, and then a few days later I’m going to do it with talk or something. I’m like, wow.

Stephen Carl: Yeah. AI is not robots. And I think, I think it’s an important distinction that AI is, is kind of like you being, what’s the analogy, it’s like you being Iron Man and having a number of tools at your disposal so that you can do more. You know, and that it increases your productivity in a certain way. And that’s where the opportunity is that it helps us like some of the basic stuff that we don’t want to do. It’s easier to sort through it. 

Phill Kay: Yeah, really. I mean, a lot of people say that we’re really in the game of AI, but really we’re in the game of machine learning. You know, it’s a different thing where we’re taking information and we’re serving up stuff, which is super relevant, super quick. That’s not AI and we’re learning stuff really well.  Just moving on to, obviously, we talked about kind of acquisition in a way list growth, owned media, understand that completely. Have you got any tactics for different ways in which to maximise your list growth? 

Stephen Carl: So with list growth, I think the main tactic that companies have to do with list growth is to not be asleep at the wheel. I mean, that’s the thing with eCommerce, we focus all of our time on the tools, but I think the staff and the focus of an organisation, the key thing to grow a list. I mean, we’ll get into tactics, but the number one thing that can set you up for success is assigning a person, assigning a team for list growth. And looking at that, looking at your list growth, the number of new subscribers, you have new accounts, new SMS, whatever. And having that be a key performance indicator that people will have to report on and optimise on. Because I think eCommerce is not as much about rocket ships. It’s about constant optimisation because that’s how you get. If you get 10% better every month, then at the end of 12 months, you’ll be 300% up. And that’s what you can do with list growth. 

In terms of tactics, I feel like now eCommerce is like a diaspora where you have the people visiting your website, and then there are people that visit your Instagram page and then there are your email subscribers. And you want to pull from all of those places? So you’re like your Instagram followers, they could sign up to your email list. You know, so how do you get them to do that? So a lot of it is, you know, making all the people you already have who have already signed up and said, yes, I’m interested in your brand. I want to hear more, you know, but there are some cool tactics, there’s the obvious one with pop-ups. The people that come to your website are probably your best, you know, the highest quality traffic. So getting them to sign up through an incentive through nice creative is a good way, and people do it. But the cross-pollination is cool too. Like, I heard of a cool tactic. If you want to get an SMS list quickly, you could put a message on every one of your emails, the content block that says sign up for text. And then those people would be able to assign. But people are doing creative stuff, even with text messaging where their keywords and codes are. People even working with influencers will say, tech sign up to the number and then when they do that, they get sent to a targeted page. So those are some tactics that people can use, but I think a lot of it is just focus because you have to tinker with stuff. There’s no magic, day one is your worst day. 

Phill Kay: Putting dedicated resources, having a team you’ve mentioned. So obviously there’s a lot going on in the eCommerce business. So many things to have to keep control of, etc. And coming from one little slice of Segmentify. So part of the expression, everybody’s trying to get in the door, everyone’s got a fantastic reason why they should be working with the brand. And, not to grind that at all. There’s some fantastic technology in so many different areas out there, but of course, the team probably has only got so many resources and so on. And as we’ve discussed in other episodes, you know, there’s so much in each of these areas of expertise that needs to be done. Whether it’s doing the content, getting out on the channels, getting the results, accruing the rest of growing, like you say, working out the next thing to do and so on. So does Needle Movement kind of provide a service around this to sort of take some of that weight off the team? Do they assist the team? What exactly would you say, what do you bring to the table if you’re like all this? 

Stephen Carl: Yes. It all comes back to the team and I know the situation that brands are in. Cause I was on the client-side for 15 years and we both know how hard it is to be in the in-house team where, you know, especially just the amount of initiatives that the number of channels that people have to put together. I think with brands, the number one thing is you can reverse engineer your results and, I guess with conversation marketing and things like email, for example, you can sit back and say, what if we wanted to double our revenue in email? What’s holding us back? Why can’t we do this? And then, probably one of the team members who’s wearing 15 hats will have a very emotional response, but they’re going to say. What do they need, do they need more creativity? 

They need someone to manage the automation. Do they need a strategy? Like, is there no one technology that can help them? So the art director is doing the coding, is the chief of marketing sending emails out when they should be doing 10 other things? Like there’s a lot of bottlenecks that happen. You know, and I think with email, the biggest thing that’s happening is it is not a do it yourself channel anymore because there’s just tons of money left on the table, you know? So have a lot of empathy for eCommerce teams where they’re wearing all the hats, we’re Needle Movement comes in. It can be a full service relationship where you do everything, it can also be a supportive relationship where we’re filling in a room. You know, and, and we’ve covered both areas actually. Because I think companies have different frameworks. So sometimes they have the creative part down, they make beautiful creatives, but they don’t know they’re missing a lot of opportunities on which audiences to send it to. But like, you know, some of this stuff, like the email team is not a one or two-person job, or it’s not something. One person can be doing in addition to other things, it’s, you know, there are their specific needs. So I think that’s so  with our clients, that’s what we get into at the beginning, which is what’s holding you back right now and how can you know, and where will having additional resources do that? Be put into it. 

Phill Kay: Yeah, absolutely. I know we come across this time again, but it does seem to be the trend for one, that word that this whole idea of extending the team out and that various areas of expertise outside the eCommerce team are now available. For the team to be spread in a number of directions in a cost effective way. Obviously, talking about what you’re doing is one area, that’s where we come in with the same thing as you just said, you shouldn’t really have  this area of your expertise. Sort of just piecemeal can’t afford to do that anymore. It has to be dedicated, which needs the resources put on it. And therefore using an expert outside of your team as an extension of that team seems like a logical thing to do. So if you want the best out of your content and the conversation marketing that you’re talking about, or you want the very best and marginal gains out of your personalisation or anything else for that matter, technologically that you need as a brand. It stands to reason that you need to work with suppliers that have the expertise and have the resources to optimise that area for you and with you. Sounds like that’s where you’re differentiating one of the ways and certainly how Segmentify differentiates, by being able to offer that kind of service where the expertise is being deployed for them. And best practice is actually being recommended to them as opposed to being reactive. It’s productive. 

Stephen Carl: Yeah. I think with all the new technology that’s out there and channels, in many cases, it’s just hard to have the time to do the research. Like, we have certain channels like search engine optimisation and search engine marketing where brands recognise that they’re not going to do it all themselves. They’re going to hire an agency for that expertise in it. I think fortunately for everybody involved, it is much easier to outsource than it ever has been. People can do it at comfortable price points, prioritise, you know? Cause, I just think with companies now, like, why struggle if you don’t have to? I think especially if you can. Everyone looks better once you’re getting the results that you have. I think a lot of times it’s just fitting it into budgets and now it’s possible to find resources at different price points and just get problems solved. 

Phill Kay: Definitely, So just finishing off this topic, before we round up, I’m interested in your thoughts on the future of this particular space conversation commerce or where’s your marketing? What does the future hold for it? In your opinion as a bit of a trend spotter, what are the platforms? What are the things that are going on in that space? 

Stephen Carl: The future is bright in this area. There they already like SMS, to quantify it, there are already thousands of brands, this was a big transition year for SMS, that more brands got onto it. The flow of conversation marketing is similar, despite it being on different channels. So that is the good news for brands that for the audience, you don’t have to, it’s going to be a similar flow. That’s going to happen where the future goes on. Like one reason why Facebook messenger is an important platform is because it’s really the first platform that fully embraced all the interactivity and is really a bonafide messaging app. 

Where we get this from actually is from Asia, you know, it’s coming from China where people do everything on their phones and we’re just bringing in, but Facebook Messenger is the first one. And I think the difference is that email and SMS are still not totally interactive based on just the age of those platforms where we’re making it more, and innovations like 5G are going to speed that up. But Messenger is really made for that interactive. And, things like being able to complete a transaction within a chat itself, like not even having to go to the website, things like that, or in the future. Because it’s in the best interest of all the platforms to every platform wants to close transactions because then can get a cut. So right now, you know, we have a messenger. It’s going to go to other Facebook properties like Instagram and WhatsApp. Looking at things like display advertising. If you’re a Google and you have a display ad, wouldn’t you want to have a conversation with someone that’s clicking on it? So there is an incorporation of conversation marketing features into different platforms. That’s already Google and Apple are doing betas on how much more performance they could get on like Google’s situation, ask a question or where someone can interact directly through it. And that would be an automated chat bot attached to the ad. So in my sense in two years, this is going to be much more mainstream than it is right now. 

Phill Kay: Very interesting.  I’ve learned a lot today. There’s a lot of areas I haven’t really thought about, particularly in terms of marketing and then these channels that are out there that certainly don’t seem like they are utilised as well as they could be. And there’s going to be future development in that space, which completely makes sense. Logically. What if the viewers and the guys listening want to get in touch with you? You know, spin a yarn about this stuff. Talk to you about what Needle Movement does and get in touch just in general, what’s the best way for the guys to contact you?

Stephen Carl: I appreciate that. The best way to contact me is to just send me an email at I open up every email, I respond to it. The Needle Movement is also active on social media channels. You can find us there. And I guess another way to stay in touch is I’m a fellow podcaster with Segmentify. So the Needle Movement in podcasts, you know, we’re over 30 episodes in. We like to chat about digital marketing, entrepreneurship in eCommerce. Also, I like to talk about good music as well. So other stuff as well besides that. But yeah, I’m happy if anyone wants to reach out, I’m happy to offer a free, quick audit or share any revenue potential for these initiatives. And I know everyone’s got to do their research and figure out what’s going to work for them. 

Phill Kay: That’s great. And that stuff works so well. Being able to give some free expert advice and start to build a relationship with people. It’s a great way of doing it. And that’s great. You’ve got a podcast, I don’t mind you plug in your own podcast on my channel. It’s absolutely fine.

Stephen Carl: But that’s how the podcast, you learned so much through podcasts. And I recommend it to people. Like you want to learn something. Just listen to a few podcasts and you’re going to get some really good dirt.

Phill Kay: Absolutely. Yeah. I’d love to get more out onto your channel for sure. Just to the entrepreneurial show for sure. Well, thank you so much for your time, Stephen Carl. It was great to hear all that great stuff that I love to do this as a sort of a, just a final thing, not to put you on the spot or anything obviously, but just if that’s not a jacket one. One thing maybe from your experience in life or you know, as a vegetarian or in business or in the Needle Movement, just one thing that would be something that you feel that would be really cool for our watch, our listeners or viewers to take away. What would that be? 

Stephen Carl: I’d like to, I guess the final note would be the importance of being an early adopter. I think there was a time seeing the waves of eCommerce over the years. I think there was a time where you could sit back and wait and let someone do the bleeding edge early work, and you could reap the benefits on it, you know, but now what we’re seeing is brands that fall behind like, this is what happens like it’s 2020. If your marketing playbook comes from 2018, there will be a huge impact on your results. The early adopter wave, it’s not about being the first, but it’s about really, like this podcast is great because you get to hear early on what people are talking about and just listening in and getting into that first wave, because that’s how you do well. I mean, an example of this, like what’s happening with conversation marketing, like I’m getting deja vu flashbacks on it because it just reminds me of what happened in 2014, when Facebook started doing paid social and started doing lookalikes and I was on the ground floor at that time. And you would be surprised. Sometimes there are some people that, it’s possible to be scared by a change to say, this new market, this new technology is not for us, we should wait. And what’s funny is in 2014, a lot of the scaredy cats, they’re all doing it now because everybody else is doing it. But the problem is they’re paying full price on it. 2014, like there were companies that killed it because they were paying pennies on the dollar. This new technology looks like audiences that other people were too scared to do. So I think it’s good on your team also to encourage early adopters, because that’s gonna, that’s gonna keep you ahead financially as well.

Phill Kay: I absolutely love that. And it takes a bit of courage, it takes a bit of boldness and it’s a cultural thing. And I talk to the guys on some of these other shows, particularly entrepreneurs and so on, and nobody did it, you know? Being ahead of the curve, to be honest and, you know, testing and measuring. So rather than kind of burning everything on the chance that you got it wrong, you don’t have to go in full hog. You can go in a little bit and test the water and make sure you are right. But I completely love that and totally agree with you. Thank you so much for that wisdom, Stephen Carl, that was great. And Germany across the whole chart. I thought it was really great. So thank you so much. And I hope that the guys that were listening and watching that you’ve  found something useful there and, you know, please do get in contact with Stephen Carland if you’ve got questions or want to connect with him, he’s a great guy. So aren’t you? I didn’t know. I didn’t say what, where are you actually calling from? Because you were in the U.S. 

Stephen Carl: I am calling from Brooklyn, New York. 

Phill Kay: Ah, right in the heart of it. Beautiful. Well, there we go. Brooklyn. So just remains for me to say that if you guys haven’t registered already, please head over to or now given us podcasts and blogs, but anything you haven’t caught up with will be there. Anything that we put out will be put there and you can obviously subscribe as well to all the shows that come out. And also if you want to be on the show or you have any particular questions about topics that you want me to find out about or interview people about, then send me an email anytime at Thanks so much for listening to everybody. Thanks again, Stephen Carl, for some great discussion. 

Stephen Carl: Thank you so much for all, for being on the show. It’s been a real blast. 

Phill Kay: Absolutely. And I look forward to welcoming you on it again and at the time. Awesome. All right. Take care. Thanks. Thanks a lot, everyone.

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