Here’s a staggering fact: by 2025, mobile e-commerce shopping (called mcommerce) will account for 44.2% of retail e-commerce in the US. Mobile apps are powerful because you own the content and branding completely. So if you’re an e-commerce retailer, now’s the time to take control of your owned marketing channels like your mobile app.
In this episode, Ramin Ramhormozi and Sina Mobasser talk about owned media which are digital marketing channels that a company exercises complete control over, such as a branded website, social media channels, and mobile apps. They discuss e-commerce strategies and how to increase sales using owned marketing channels.
Sina Mobasser is the founder and COO of Tapcart, a mobile app builder for Shopify merchants. Mobile apps are increasingly important for retailers of all kinds, including retail e-commerce merchants, and should be part of all forward-thinking e-commerce strategies.
Business Lessons from an Early Entrepreneur
Ramin: You started your entrepreneurial journey at age 13. What valuable lessons have you learned along the way that you’d like to share?
Sina: The most valuable lesson to me is something that Steven Pressfield said in the War of Art on what he calls resistance. The more scared you are of something and the more fearful you are, the more it makes you get butterflies, and you’re just scared and afraid and not sure of the outcome – the more you have to go do that.
That’s what the book says. You should treat what you do as a profession. He’s a writer.
There are days when he doesn’t feel inspired. He just treats it as his profession. And he goes in, and he makes sure he just puts in the work, puts in the time, gets the output going.
And he knows that if he puts in that time and has that mindset and isn’t afraid and dives into it, whether it’s one page, one day that’s written, or a hundred pages one day, he’ll be successful. He failed at a bunch of things before, just like every entrepreneur has.
I think the big lesson is that you’re going to be scared of stuff. That’s a good sign.
Why Owned Media Channels Are Golden Opportunities
Ramin: So, let’s jump into Tapcart and the world of owned marketing. We mentioned owned media at the top of the show. Explain to the merchants out there why they need it.
Sina: I think a lot of merchants think it’s faster. It’s going to convert better. It’s seamless with all those animations and trends.
It’s a better shopping experience, and yeah, there’s some truth to that. It helps you create a seamless flow. It will convert better, but that’s not the biggest benefit. The biggest benefit is that it lets you grow and own a marketing channel of push notifications and subscribers.
That’s the biggest benefit. Everything else to me is a distant second because that’s the one thing that every brand needs is a community. Ultimately, it’s a way to connect with your customers and engage them in the most optimal way possible. And we strongly encourage every brand to grow their owned media channels and subscriber base as much as possible.
Owned marketing or owned media means any channel where you have subscribers, but not necessarily followers.
So you think – where do I have followers? I have followers on Instagram. What does that mean? Who owns that audience? Well, on Instagram, Facebook monetizes the audience. So they own the audience. You and I are all subscribers.
It’s funny because people create content that they put on Instagram exclusively, and they generate some ancillary benefits from that. It gets seen by 1% of their organic reach. But you’re actually creating content that Facebook directly monetizes.
You want to take as much ownership as possible of your sales and marketing channel and not rely on these tech giants that ultimately are for-profit companies.
They’ve got a duty to their shareholders to maximize their profits. Their profits are just going to continue to maximize and grow astronomically, whether you’re an ad buyer. Ad prices have gone up two X in the last 12 months. What’s to say that it’s not going to continue to do so?
So with the mobile app, you can provide a great experience. It’s more on-brand. It creates a lot of trust, but more importantly, you’re going to get your best customers to download the app.
But there are a lot of ways to capture shoppers that we’re going to be introducing this year, such as creating a QR code that pops up on your website. Then you can then just scan the QR code, and it can pop up a streaming native app, a full app that you can actually use immediately without having to go to the app store to install the app.
Or having to install it permanently on your phone just to use it once. That’s a crazy concept.
If you think about it, there’s so much friction because initially, they didn’t think that people would go through the adoption of the app. They thought it would be an app for special use cases, not an app to pay for your parking meter or something.
And it’s great for discovery. It’s a great way to connect with your customers and grow that owned marketing channel of push notifications and subscribers, right alongside email and SMS. To be part of your stack. They all may have their limitations, but email and push are really the best way to scale.
Getting Buyers to Download Your E-Commerce Mobile App
Ramin: We had a conversation, and you were sharing the details of Tapcart. What I found fascinating were the brands that were doing it well. So they spun up an app, and then they were pushing specific products out to the app and making them exclusively available on the app.
And I thought that was a simple but genius way to get people to start adopting and using their app instead of buying it through desktop. Is that still a thing?
Sina: I see it month after month. It’s increasing. We’re seeing it now more than ever because it’s a great way to get people to download your app in the first place. Because of the friction, we often encourage you to offer a specific reason to download the app, whether it’s download our app and save 20% on your first order: very simple but very effective.
It works for email. It works for SMS. That’s all standard. Or you can offer app-exclusive content and products. We’ll start with the content. YourSuper did this really well. They sell superfood powders. They’re this amazing couple who recovered from a health scare and built this out of necessity for themselves.
Most of the revenue comes from a recurring subscription box. They send you a monthly box of products, pretty standard stuff, powered by Recharge. So you might ask, why would they want an app if people aren’t transacting all that often?
Well, what if you make the app a hub or a community for your followers to see all your latest recipes, your Spotify playlist, your YouTube playlist, whatever. And instead of offering all your content, you know, essentially giving it to Facebook to monetize, you need to launch a community and release all of your content into the app.
It could be in the app exclusively or in the app first for a limited period of time, and then send a push notification to all your customers and say, Hey, new content in the app. Now you’re providing value beyond just salesy stuff. If you can provide value more often than you try to sell stuff, I think that could be a winning formula.
MCommerce Mobile Apps Build Content-Driven Community
Ramin: That’s brilliant. And that’s a great example of not relying on the product side but the content, which so many e-commerce businesses are doing: generating content constantly.
Sina: Tell me about it. The content gets consumed on Instagram. Okay, it’s great. You get some free marketing from your organic reach.
Hopefully, it’s better than 1%, but probably not. So people consume the content. It could be great. It could be. Regardless, they’re going to keep scrolling cause it’s an infinite feed. And two seconds later, they’re going to completely forget about you no matter how good it is. Cause there are another million other people vying for their attention.
So that’s just the reality of it. It’s like if you have a store and you’re just sending all this traffic into the mall. If there are a hundred other stores in the mall, too, what’s the point of driving traffic to the mall? You have to get traffic to your store.
In this case, the analogy is with the mobile app, you own the entire mall, and now you own all the content. So when they scroll down two seconds later, they’re not going to forget about you because guess what – there’s more content from you.
You are providing content, staying top of mind, staying relevant, and doing it all in your app, which is a little piece of real estate on somebody’s phone, and more likely than not, they are going to opt into push notifications.
We have over a 50% push notification opt-in rate. And they have the app installed. It’s a free marketing channel, and it’s a very powerful one. I don’t know if it’s going to be free forever, the push notifications, but they’re free now. And I’m sure everyone will get grandfathered into them, but don’t look at it as like that’s going to happen forever because they are incredibly powerful. Merchants want a button to push, to be able to create revenue for them, whether it costs $700 or $7 or it’s SMS or email or whatever they want.
And the limitations with emails are that it’s all going into somebody’s promotions tab. It could get read one day later or one week later or not read at all. So it’s really hard to generate a sense of urgency and a sense of scarcity with your message. So the two emails that this would apply to the most are back-in-stock notifications and abandoned cart notifications.
Modern merchants think, okay, I set up my Klaviyo, I got an agency to set up these flows for I’m on. Well, yeah, maybe for email, but are you doing it for SMS? No. Okay. Let’s include SMS in that. It’s real-time, but there are some limitations: it’s not on brand. It’s a six-digit code. It’s like a green text message bubble app.
Users don’t love those bubbles. Ultimately it’s a six-digit code representing a brand. And in the end, it leads you back to the website, which doesn’t convert as well either. It does have some limitations. Facebook messenger is another owned marketing channel. Even though Facebook owns it, you have Facebook messenger subscribers.
They opt into it. They don’t just follow; they’re opting in to receive actual messaging from you on a consistent basis. So it’s a little bit of a different way of looking at it, but the ownership of the audience is the key. That’s the number one thing that brands have to think about is how do I continue to grow this audience?
It’s like a piece of property that you continue to grow and nurture. A lot of brands think that they’re too small for an app. No brand is ever too small for an email list. To start your email list, hopefully, you started to grow that before you even launched your website or your brand.
Everyone knows the value in that. And now people should start thinking about push notifications that way, too. Now it’s not as easy to email it as a property to manage, but it does seem like the Shopify store in real-time. We have account managers to make it easy.
So if there’s no brand that is too small for an email list, there’s no brand that is too small for a push.
MCommerce Apps Are Easy to Develop with Tapcart
Ramin: Let’s say I’m a merchant and I come to a Tapcart, and I’ve got a Shopify website. How long would it take to get everything installed and launch my mobile app?
Sina: You can design the app and get up and running with an initial design of it, tested out in the web-based preview, and all of that in a matter of hours; it all syncs with your Shopify store. So when you first start moving blocks around and creating the content, you can upload images from your mobile website.
Or you can pull products or collections. It’ll show you all of them with all the images and everything. It’s so easy to get up and running, but you can choose to either make it emulate your website or what I recommend, as you mentioned earlier, is to offer a more curated experience in the app.
Some brands have just hundreds of menu items and insist on the mobile app or even the mobile website being a carbon copy of the desktop website. Your phone is five times smaller in screen size than the laptop volume. So maybe you shouldn’t offer the same experience.
It’s not one size fits all. So you can view it in the web-based preview, get it up and running, and in the app store on average, in about two weeks. It’s a white-label app. You own the app listing. There’s no Tapcart branding. You own the developer account, too.
So if in the future you decide to go with a different provider or build a custom app, you can just submit an app update to the one that we have submitted, and you won’t lose any of your push subscribers or your app or anything.
Connect with Tapcart and Sina
Tapcart makes building a mobile app simple and streamlined for e-commerce retailers, even small ones. If your e-commerce business is on Shopify, you should be considering a mobile app with Tapcart. Check them out at Tapcart.com. Sina’s also a DJ and flamenco musician. You can hear his work at soundcloud.com/mobass.
If you want advice on e-commerce, mcommerce, and growing your revenue streams through innovative online marketing strategy, look no further than SKU Agency! Get in touch, and we’ll schedule a call to talk about your email and SMS goals.