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Sunday Email: 22 apps & software I use when launching brands

This email was sent out to my email list on December 27, 2020.

ArticlesNik Sharma

Happy Sunday & Merry Christmas!! 🎄

I've been in California this week, and it's an understatement to say that I miss my Eight Sleep bed when I go to sleep at night. Speaking of Eight Sleep, this is the last weekend that most of the Gift Guide discount codes are active.

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Today, I figured I would keep it simple since everyone is in holiday mode and list what software we use when launching a brand and why.

SMS:

If you're looking for a best-in-class SMS platform to handle commerce, notifications (order confirmation, order delivered, etc.), one-off campaigns, and more, you want to use PostScript.

If you're ONLY looking to communicate 1:many or 1:1 but have no intention of using this SMS platform for commerce, I would recommend using Community.com. If you want to skip the line on Community, text SHARMA20 to (323) 310-2202 (or just click here), and you'll be led to set up your account.

If you’re looking for personalized cart recovery, I can’t stress enough that you NEED to have LiveRecover installed. They recover about 20-25% of abandoned carts on average, and for some brands, it means an extra $100k in revenue. Try it here.

Lastly, if you're a food/beverage with a subscription product or one where you don't want to over-deliver (because it leads to churn), like Olipop, you'll want to use Electric SMS.

Email:

This one is pretty straight forward; use Klaviyo.

Reviews:

Yotpo is the way to go with reviews. They are the largest company that handles reviews. Therefore, like Shopify, they have a massive team of engineers and product people who add new features, making the platform better. They acquire like-minded B2B companies that allow you to use one platform for many things.

If you are a brand looking to get on Yotpo, let me know, and I can connect you directly. They'll roll out the red carpet for you.

UGC:

I haven't found tons of companies that help here, but the one that I've used for a few years is Pixlee. They work with DTC brands but also companies like Airbnb and Cole Haan.

Loyalty/Rewards/Referral:

Same as reviews, go with Yotpo. One of the companies they acquired was Swell Rewards, and now it's Yotpo Loyalty. It's effortless to use, easy to set up, and again if you want an intro, they will roll out the red carpet and help with a lot of the heavy lifting. We probably get a loyalty/rewards program live each quarter and see incredible jumps in customer repeat purchases and higher AOV from the cohort in the loyalty program.

Post-Purchase Survey & Up-Sell:

Co-Op Commerce. While they are best known for their ability to drive revenue from the Order Confirmation pages of Sharma brands, like Haus, Brightland, Caraway, Black Wolf Nation, and JUDY, they also have a tremendous post-purchase survey and a module to up-sell your products.

So if you check out at JUDY and buy a Mover Max or a Safe, you'll be presented with The Starter at checkout.

Finance:

I'm sure there are tons here, but the main one I love to on-board is called Settle. If you're a brand, you can float your payments for 30 days (at 1%) or 60 days (at 2%). And if you're a vendor/service provider, you can do the opposite. You can get paid instantly and let Settle deal with collecting the payment from whoever needs to pay.

So whether it's a Facebook bill you need to pay or a purchase order you'd like to finance from CVS, Settle has you covered.

Automation:

Think Zapier for commerce, aka Alloy Automation. You can automate tasks around marketing, fulfillment, operations, rewards, and more. You can view their marketplace of automation here.

Sweepstakes:

If you're looking for an easy, on-brand, and follower-boosting sweepstakes program, go with ViralSweep. They're super easy to setup and result in a plethora of emails to then re-engage.

Charity:

It's never too early to take a percentage of net revenues and use it to help others. Shopping Gives allows you to set this up easily, and it takes less than 30 minutes. You can choose what charities you want to donate to, or keep it open and let your customer desire, and they take care of all the back-end paperwork for you.

On-Site Quizzes:

Octane AI is my go-to for this one. You no longer need a custom developer to build on-site personalization quizzes for your customers. Octane AI plugs right into Shopify and pulls your branding, so you just have to add the content and drive traffic.

FB Messenger:

I highly recommend Paloma for FB Messenger. Several tools can do it, but Paloma is not only the easiest to use, but they help you with flows, A/B testing different styles of flows, and push you to find new arbitrages on Messenger.

Not to mention, as people engage with you in Messenger, those users become addressable for one year. If you don't have the budget for SMS, I highly recommend starting with Paloma.

Analytics:

The new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is pretty incredible and genuinely built for robust analytics views. You will need to set this up via Google Tag Manager, but it's free and worth it.

For heat maps, scroll depth charts, and user recordings, I recommend Microsoft Clarity. This program is also free, unlike Hotjar, which can get expensive, and gives you more data than you can get on an open Hotjar plan. It's run by Microsoft, which is why it's free.

Quantcast Measure is the last analytics tool. It's not really for website analytics, but more for user analytics. You can look at demographic data of who's visiting your website, all the way down to what TV shows they enjoy watching, cars they drive, and publications they read.

Pixel/Tag Management:

The holy grail: Google Tag Manager (GTM). Once you install the GTM container pixel on your site, you'll be able to manage all your pixels from the GTM interface, which also makes sure you have a much less chance of accidentally breaking your site trying to add pixels.

Order Tracking:

While I usually would recommend AfterShip here, a new company has recently come out this year and has blown me away. It's called Malomo. I've gotten Caraway, JUDY, Maude, and a few others on it, and it's been a game-changer. Not only do you get opportunities for up-selling, but the customer experience/interface is 10x more superior than any competitor on the market. Malomo is also cheaper than its competitors.

Customer Service:

Gorgias, hands down. I haven't met a single person who's upset with Gorgias, and everyone who's switched from Zendesk to Gorgias is so mad they didn't change sooner.

You can get two months FREE to see if you like it by clicking here.

Landing Pages:

I advocate using landing pages to create custom experiences for lower-funnel acquisition or test new pages, new value propositions, or build a new page without using a developer.

You can use Unbounce or Instapage to create these in a drag & drop environment.

SEO:

SEO is the one thing that many brands don't focus on in their early days. There's no software for this, as it's more lengthy work. An outstanding SEO agency will handle your content creation, backlink creation, manage your website blog, and help you rank for questions where your brand is the answer, not just your brand name.

A premium SEO agency can run anywhere from $5-15k per month and pays for itself within three months. If you would like an intro to the SEO team I work with, let me know!

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That's all for today. Short and sweet! I hope you have an incredible New Year celebration. Don't forget that this is the last week the Gift Guide codes are active until next holiday season.

I appreciate you reading this, and I appreciate everyone who tweets about the newsletter or tweets me that they love this newsletter. We're almost at 6k weekly readers. If you have any ideas on what else I should do (new topics, new newsletters, etc.), please reach out! If you reply here, I see everything!

Have an incredible week, and get those 9 hours of sleep!