Building an SMS Marketing Platform for Scale, Empathy, and Revenue – a Conversation with Postscript's CEO

November 01, 2022
Written by
Adam Turner
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

Postscript Blog

Just a few years ago, it was rare to receive SMS marketing from brands. Today, Black Friday and Cyber Monday is one of the highest messaging volume periods for SMS marketers, led by marketing platforms like Postscript, the SMS marketing powerhouse partnering with over 9,000 Shopify brands. Postscript is the platform built for brands looking to deliver messages in real time, build genuine connections with customers, and grow revenue.

Through that growth, they’ve relied on Twilio’s Messaging APIs to support the scale, deliverability, and evolving needs of customers. We were able to sit down with Adam Turner, CEO & co-founder of Postscript, to learn about how they have adapted their platform to emphasize throughput and delivery for SMS to prepare for Cyber Week and scale for the future.

Questions for Adam

Adam, tell us about Postscript’s mission

Our mission is making SMS the #1 revenue channel for ecommerce merchants. The focus of our company and our efforts is about SMS and its impact on our customer’s businesses. To ensure our merchants are successful with the channel, we focus exclusively on the text message channels of SMS and MMS. It enables us to be best in class with strategy, team, and product.

Through SMS, great customer experience does not stand in opposition to maximizing revenue growth. In fact, the opposite is true. Brands that purposefully engage in conversations and relationships with their customers, generate significantly more revenue on SMS than merchants who simply use the channel for discounts and one way blasts. We believe that customer centricity is the unlock for revenue.

There is a lot of pressure in building a reliable SMS platform, how does throughput and queuing play a part in how you have architected your SMS product?

We had to start with the basics, like strong deliverability and throughput. If a text gets sent but it doesn’t get delivered, why even bother sending a text? As SMS marketing has evolved, Black Friday & Cyber Monday have become the Super Bowl of ecommerce. In order for us to make SMS the #1 revenue channel, consumers need to receive that text and any time sensitive offers in a timely fashion.

To serve our customers at the scale and reliability they need, we utilized our partnership with Twilio to architect for high throughput and deliverability for each of our global markets with Twilio’s Sender Type Market Throughput product. Sending messages globally at scale put a strain on our ability to manage our customers messaging throughput, however with Sender Type Market Throughput we are now able to configure and manage our customers US and Canadian traffic independently from traffic in other countries, rather than managing at only the phone number level, giving us more granular control of our global throughput and saving us hours of engineering work.

As a result we’ve seen a meaningful improvement in latency, with peak periods seeing up to 90% latency reduction, while gaining best-in-class, enterprise-grade scale.

Trust and compliance is always a hot topic when it comes to SMS. How has your customer base impacted your decisions on product developments through this lens?

SMS allows brands to reach consumers in their most personal inbox: their text messages. It gives brands access to a channel previously reserved for an individual’s innermost circle of friends, family members, and acquaintances.

Instead of texting subscribers with a segmented, conversational approach, many companies resorted to sending blast after blast, which worked for a while… However, consumers’ attention span and tolerance for such pushy, one-directional messaging (think BUY NOW and FLASH SALE) led to high unsubscribe rates, wasted marketing dollars, and bad brand reputations.

We believe in the new, empathy-driven approach to SMS communication that focuses on treating subscribers and customers like people in order to build lasting, long-term relationships.

Our customers take a finer-tuned approach to SMS—with an emphasis on mindfulness, customer delight, and mutual respect. That means using the data they have gathered from subscribers to create more targeted, personalized messaging. By leveraging the full power of automations, filters, and segments, brands can drastically improve messaging relevancy and build better relationships with their SMS audience.

From a product & engineering perspective, how does your team prepare for a successful Black Friday & Cyber Monday?

We expect that every customer on Postscript will reach out to their most engaged SMS subscribers 2-3 times each day over Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, and to continue engaging and driving demand through shipping cutoffs. We expect to deliver over a billion messages during this peak period!

In preparation for the expected 1+ billion messages, our engineers focus on making sure that everything runs smoothly. This means doubling down on analyzing our customers’ sending patterns (peak messages per second ingress & egress, forecasting volumes, registering A2P traffic, etc), focusing on our network security, and constantly monitoring traffic. In addition, we spend each January reflecting on the successes and learnings of the prior year, and prepare to meet the increasing demands for the upcoming Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

What types of metrics are you looking at the most during a high sending period like Cyber Week?

As part of our commitment to SMS, we’ve developed a proprietary channel-specific measurement focused on long-term customer value—what we are calling Subscriber Lifetime Value (Subscriber LTV).

Subscriber LTV measures the total revenue potential of each individual who subscribes to your SMS marketing—customers as well as non-customers. You can learn more about that here:

In addition to Subscriber LTV, we track these key system wide metrics to take a holistic view to delivering value via the SMS channel for our ecommerce brands:

  • Latency - how long does it take for a message to be sent and delivered?
  • Throughput - how many messages can be sent in a given second, minute and hour?
  • Deliverability - how many messages that we expect to be delivered reach the end customer?
  • Engagement - how do those messages drive engagement, like Click Through Rates or Responses? And a balancing metric like unsubscribe rate?
  • Attribution - how do those messages drive orders, sales, and revenue for our eCommerce merchants?

What do you see as the next step to scaling your SMS platform?

Leaning deeper into conversational interactions between our customers and their customers. We look forward to increasing personalization through first party data in the text thread, increased conversion with Text-To-Buy, and driving conversational commerce at scale.

And of course plan to 3X our messaging scale capabilities over the next year so we grow with our customers for Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2023. We’re excited about our deeper partnership with Twilio to provide best-in-class throughput, reliability, and deliverability.

Adam Turner is the co-founder and CEO at Postscript, an SMS marketing platform for growing Shopify businesses. Forbes named his company a Next Billion Dollar Startup in 2021. He was previously a product manager at StackCommerce. He received his Bachelor of Science in physics from the University of Southern California.