We should feel as much as a community internally as we are trying to create externally. And that’s where SMS came in for us.Toby Cumpstay, founder of Simply for Strings
Around 2004, ecommerce looked like it was on the up and up. Realising most in-store music shop consumables could also be sold online, gifted music student Toby Cumpstay convinced his then-boss to partner with him on a string-focused instrument shop with an ecommerce arm.
And, Simply for Strings was born.
Fast forward 15 years, Simply for Strings is now a booming ecommerce and retail music shop in Queensland, Australia servicing around 30K customers around Australia and even worldwide. Their ecommerce shopfront uses the Shopify platform as it offers the most flexible and functional features while remaining global and innovative.
Simply for Strings now has over 20 members of staff, all of whom are musicians, music teachers and educators with extensive experience in string instruments. Simply for Strings have also branched out claiming substantive contracts with government and organisations across Australia. For Toby, it’s been a long but worthwhile journey building a multifaceted retail and service business.
We don’t just offer a product – we offer experience and expertise. If you’re picking up a $150 bow, we want you to have the confidence that it’s been picked out by the experts.Toby Cumpstay, Simply for Strings
On the face, Simply for Strings may look like a product business who simply sells string instruments. They are far more than that. Offering substantial post-purchase customer care and support in the form of workshops, maintenance check-ins, care packages and much more, they pride themselves on building a formalised service offering that caters to fostering long term customer relationships.
Many customers who buy string instruments, including parents with musically curious children, have a lot of questions before purchasing. Is this size right for my child? What bow do I start on? How do we care for the instrument? According to Toby, it can be daunting to make expensive instrument purchases. Having knowledgeable and experienced staff easily accessible means consumers can make confident and informed purchase decisions.
One challenge for Simply for Strings lies in improving how they recover abandoned carts. Many customers often abandon checkout before completing an order, a common problem across ecommerce causing many lost sales. While automated communication solutions such as email reminders may solve this problem, they also feel generic and lose a true end-to-end personalised brand experience.
A solution to improve recovery rates soon presented itself – SMS.
When an abandoned cart text reminder was sent to Toby, he’d been looking to buy a new iPhone case. The immediate cut-through of the text plus the added incentive of a discount code and free shipping tempted him back.
I was like, yeah, I’m going to click on that link and buy that! We should be doing this because it got my attention.Toby Cumpstay, Simply for Strings
In an over cluttered marketplace with a million channels to reach customers, it was easy to see that when you send SMS, it continues to stand out and convert.
SMS works as it cuts through the inbox and gets to the point.Toby Cumpstay, Simply for Strings
Bringing in an SMS solution to Simply for Strings’ Shopify store was easy with MessageMedia: SMS Marketing integration. The addition of SMS abandoned cart reminders solved purchase issues – but Toby was looking to provide greater customer support and personalisation.
That’s where Toby brought in two further solutions: Michael and a dedicated number.
Michael is Simply for String’s Customer Success Manager – a real person, cellist and former music teacher of over 30 years. Michael is Simply for String’s online support agent and is always ready to help answer any customer’s questions.
The addition of a dedicated number allowed Simply for Strings to include 2-way messaging and further personalisation. Customers are now able to simply text Michael any questions they have from their abandoned cart reminder before pursuing a purchase.
Here’s how it works:
Customers demand immediacy when getting answers to important questions. The interrelation between multiple channels is easy too. If customers have more questions, Michael can offer to give customers a call or ask for their email addresses, if the answer requires a lot more written detail.
We understand that if you’ve got any questions, if you’ve had a bad experience, that if we don’t listen to you now, we will miss that opportunity forever. You’re probably going to delete the SMS or not reply to it and think, ‘Oh they wanted my business, but they suck. Bye!‘Toby Cumpstay, Simply for Strings
While most abandoned cart reminders focus on the fastest path to re-purchase, that doesn’t work for string instruments or a product of this nature where the cultivation of community is instead more powerful and profitable in the long-term.
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Other uses cases
Marketing and promotions
Simply for Strings uses texting for other purposes such as post-workshop follow-ups, but perhaps more advantageously within their marketing strategy to achieve high impact sales drives. For example, Simply for Strings put out a mass marketing text last year to push their Black Friday Cyber Monday sale.
After pushing 18,000 texts to their entire database; within 20-30 minutes, customers were coming into the store and enquiring about the sale. In fact, customers in the store at the time were checking their messages as soon as they received the text
We had people coming into the store with their phones and asking ‘Is this offer still available? I just got it.’Toby Cumpstay, Simply for Strings
While the sale was really profitable and attained the results Simply for Strings wanted, it was not personal – a problem they’re hoping to rectify this year by segmenting their database at a really granular level. For example, if a buyer has spent less than $250 in the last 12 months, they’re likely not to have purchased an instrument but may be tagged with interest in a specific instrument.
Based on these learnings, they personalised their Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales message to: ‘Hey Mel, come and get all your viola accessories for the biggest discount this Black Friday Cyber Monday!”
If a customer has spent over the $250 threshold and are tagged with a specific instrument, that messaging may change to: “Hey Mel, it might be time to upgrade your sound!” For these buyers, it’s likely they’ve previously spent on a budget range instrument and may want to level up. From their data and experience from years before, Toby is also very aware that buyers will likely wait all year for the Black Friday Cyber Monday sales to upgrade, hence the specific targeting.
While conversion, promotion and customer support are areas texting can certainly help, SMS has also been effective in helping Simply Stings carry out post-purchase relationship maintenance. Sales, as Toby rightly pointed out, can achieve greater profit for your business in the short-term, but create a negative relationship or disappointment over the long-term. You might feel compelled to buy now as something is on sale, but this can initiate buyer’s remorse. Did I really need it? Or, it may force customers to question if they only spent more because it was on sale?
Simply for Strings runs 10-day long sales to counteract this effect and encourages customers to ‘shop slowly.’ Toby wants customers to ask lots of questions first, feel like you’re making the right decision and then make the purchase. There’s even a free trial period on instruments. On top of that, Simply for Strings follows up buyers with texts to check-in 3 months after a purchase, and to let them know that it’s time for a service on their instrument. Customers can bring it into the shop or they can teach how to do it over a video call.
Your purchase is not just a sale to us, It’s more about you. Welcome to the family.Toby Cumpstay, Simply for Strings
Customers can opt-in and out of this process but at the end of the day, it’s about turning that initial product buy into a longer service-oriented relationship that will keep customers coming back. Texting can be used effectively from beginning to end in implementing that.
Using SMS in parallel to text support has dramatically improved customers converting to confident purchases. As with most businesses who use SMS, ROI was exponential. When one text can cost just a few pence, many small businesses or ecommerce sellers can make incredible returns despite marketing’s usual high expense. In one ecommerce abandoned cart reminder campaign, Simply for Strings sent around 500 reminders which cost them less than $100. Because most instruments they sell cost above $250, their return was well over 1000x.
With only 4 days left of their 10-day BFCM sale, Simply for Strings sent out a mass send of over 6,000 texts, according to Toby, in order to maximise ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out). Knowing their customers had likely been exposed to their marketing collateral on other channels (eDM, Facebook, Google, WOM or the website), they held back from ‘bombarding’ them with text messaging. The late SMS would hopefully cement their intent and give them the emotive catalyst to finalise a purchase they may have been considering earlier.
Our results driven by SMS were excellent! The sale was the best we’ve ever had.Toby Cumpstay, Simply for Strings
Toby’s more personalised BFCM marketing campaign generated a 13% click-through. From those click-throughs alone, Simply for Strings achieved almost 20% orders fulfilled, with an ROI of 1102X ROI. Compared to last year’s marketing campaign, SMS has contributed to an upswing of 60% on last year’s sales where they are 37% above their initial targets.
In its many use cases, SMS delivered short-term but also cultivated Simply for String’s long-term goal: trust.
Cultivating loyal relationships through service offerings requires a high degree of trust especially with high-value items. From fronting their business with music experts to ensuring easy access to support, Simply for Strings has created a customer journey that delights and resolves numerous online customer pain points.
I think it makes sense for all businesses. I know when people connect, they’re more likely to trust.Toby Cumpstay, Simply for Strings
At Simply for Strings, Toby does see more use cases but only through continued personalisation. Ensuring that they dig deep into the data, and go after the right segment with the right messaging, is better than throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks. He says he is likely to use it for:
- Personalised campaigns
- Win-backs and re-engagement campaigns
- Personalised promotions
- Even longer post-customer care support
- And much more!
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