Attentive vs. Postscript: The unbiased truth from agency experts that have used both

Attentive vs. Postscript: The unbiased truth from agency experts that have used both

Read an unbiased comparison of Attentive vs. Postscript based on features, usability, and pricing from experts who have used both platforms.

Posted Oct 08, 2022

Statistically, Americans check their phones nearly 100 times per day. So, it should come as no surprise that SMS marketing is one of the most talked about (or texted about) marketing channels for ecommerce brands today.

As a Shopify merchant, having an SMS marketing program for your brand is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have. But how do you decide which SMS marketing app to use?

Two major players have emerged in the competition for best SMS marketing app for Shopify: Attentive and Postscript. 

We installed and tested both Attentive and Postscript across more than 20 different brands running on Shopify to determine which was the clear number one.

But before diving into how to choose between Attentive and Postscript as the go-to SMS marketing app for Shopify, let’s start with the basics.

What is SMS (and MMS)?

SMS stands for Short Message Service. In other words, text messaging. In the ecommerce marketing world, the terms “SMS marketing” and “text or text message” are used interchangeably.

In SMS marketing, messages composed entirely of text are sent as SMS. However, sometimes brands will incorporate an image or a GIF into their marketing messages. In these cases, the message is sent as an MMS. MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service.

The main difference between SMS and MMS messages in regards to SMS marketing is the cost. Typically, MMS messages cost between 5-10 times more than an SMS message to send (more information on pricing can be found later in the article).

What is SMS Marketing?

At its core, SMS marketing is the one-to-one communication between a brand and its customers via text messages.

Example from Texts We Love

Some of the most common use cases for brands texting their customers include:

  • Sales and promotions
  • New product releases
  • Product restocks
  • Holidays
  • Shipping notifications

Depending on the industry that a brand operates in, there may also be some more specific use cases for SMS marketing. For example, CPG brands often use SMS marketing to notify their customers when it’s time to replenish a given product before they run out.

In order to run a comprehensive SMS marketing program, ecommerce brands need a full suite of tools that help grow their sms list, send messages at the right time to the right person, and integrate with other key marketing tools such as email marketing app Klaviyo and customer service app Gorgias.

The best Shopify SMS marketing apps offer several key functions and features:

  1. List Growth
  2. Campaigns
  3. Automations
  4. Segmentation
  5. Integrations

We’ll use these functions and features as our basis for comparing Attentive and Postscript to determine the best SMS marketing app for Shopify. Before we get into the comparison, let’s start with some definitions.

List Growth for SMS Marketing

Without anyone for a brand to text, there cannot be a return on investment from an SMS marketing program. List Growth refers to the tools and techniques used to build a list of SMS subscribers.

In most cases, the first opportunity a new user has to sign up for an SMS list on a brand’s website is the popup:

While popups have been used to gather email addresses from new site visitors for decades at this point, today many popups also ask for a user’s phone number as well.

The best SMS marketing apps offer the ability to customize the appearance of these popups (also known as “opt-in units”), as well as the display behavior – when the popups appear, who sees the popups, etc.

List Growth tools for SMS marketing also include integrations with social media applications (sign up for SMS in a story), links to include in emails, and dedicated sms sign up landing pages.

SMS Marketing Campaigns

Campaigns are the one-time, one-to-many messages that brands send to their subscribers (or segments of their subscribers). Ecommerce brands with active SMS marketing programs typically send at least 1-2 SMS campaigns per week.

Campaign messages can cover a wide range of subjects, but some of the most popular reasons for ecommerce brands to send SMS campaigns include:

  • Sales and Promotions
  • New Product Announcement or Product Back in Stock
  • Holidays

SMS Marketing Automations

While SMS campaigns are one-time, one-to-many messages, SMS automations are one-to-one, behavior-based messages that typically send on an ongoing basis.

SMS automations are based on triggers that coincide with a user taking a specific action on an ecommerce brand’s website. Some of the most common examples of these triggers are:

  • Product added to cart (cart abandoned)
  • Abandoned checkout
  • Product viewed (browse abandoned)
  • Product out of stock viewed
  • Order placed

With each specific action, merchants can configure a single message or a series of messages that are sent at given intervals following a user taking said action.

SMS Marketing Segmentation

Segmentation is the process of creating subsets of the total SMS subscriber list based on a set criteria of shared traits. Common examples of segmentation criteria include:

  • User demographics (age, location, gender, etc.)
  • Purchase history (never purchased, one purchase, multiple purchases)
  • Products purchased
  • Time since last purchase
  • Engagement with text messages (clicks, purchases from messages)
  • Sign up source (popup, giveaway, etc.)

Segmentation is a crucial part of effective SMS marketing as it allows merchants to better target their messages to a specific audience. Personalization is a key factor in driving higher engagement and better ROI for a SMS marketing program.

SMS Marketing Integrations

Every ecommerce marketer has their “stack” – the collection of Shopify apps and software they use to make the marketing magic happen. In order to make the most of each individual piece of the stack (and ensure the highest ROI), the collective group of apps must work together in harmony.

Integrations are the bridges between the different Shopify apps (and Shopify itself) that allow them to communicate with one another. Based on where SMS marketing apps typically fall in the overall ecommerce marketing stack, it’s of the utmost importance that they integrate with Shopify, as well as other essential marketing apps like email marketing app Klaviyo, customer support apps like Gorgias and Zendesk, and reviews apps like Okendo.

SMS Marketing for Shopify: Attentive or Postscript?

Now that we’ve defined the foundational pieces that make up an SMS marketing program, let’s dive in to who does SMS marketing for Shopify better: Attentive or Postscript?

Attentive vs. Postscript: Headcount and Funding

Let’s start by looking at the two companies at a high level.

Of the two, Attentive is the larger company in terms of both headcount and funding. According to Crunchbase, Attentive has between 501-1000 employees and has raised a total of $863M. In comparison, Postscript has between 51-100 employees and has raised a total of $41.2M.

Headcount and funding are certainly not predictors of a better service or better platform. That being said, more headcount and funding likely indicates more engineers working on the platform and more client success and customer support staff ensuring that merchants get the most from a given app.

In our experience working with both Attentive and Postscript, that appears to be the case. Gauging from the number of employees who are included in communication, assigned to specific accounts, and providing updates on platform changes, Attentive clearly has more human resources than Postscript on the client-facing side of the business.

Attentive vs. Postscript: List Growth Tools

Both Attentive and Postscript offer a complete suite of list growth tools for building a SMS list. In fact, when it comes to comparing Attentive and Postscript to the number of other SMS marketing apps for Shopify, list growth tools are one of the areas in particular where the two platforms far outperform their competitors.

Opt-In Unit/Popup Builder

Attentive and Postscript both provide merchants with the ability to easily design and deploy popups on their Shopify sites via their opt-in unit builders. Merchants can customize the design, copy, and display behavior, as well as configure different units for mobile and desktop.

Of the two, the builder in Attentive seems to have more features and a deeper level of customization. For most merchants, this may actually be more of a detriment than a benefit, as Postscript’s builder feels much more intuitive and easier to use.

In terms of the end product, we tend to think that the units coming from Attentive look more on-brand and fit more seamlessly into the overall site aesthetic than the units coming from Postscript.

Postscript Popup
Attentive Popup

Other List Growth Tools

With regards to the other list building tool for SMS, Attentive and Postscript share most of the same capabilities:

  • Shopify Checkout Collection
  • QR Codes
  • Keywords
  • Landing Pages

SMS List Growth Tools Winner: Attentive

Overall, we give Attentive the edge over Postscript when it comes to the tools available for merchants to grow their SMS list. The opt-in units from Attentive tend to look better than those from Postscript, plus Attentive’s White Glove service is pretty quick to turnaround new unit designs for merchants that don’t want to build the popups themselves.

Attentive vs. Postscript: SMS Campaigns

Between Attentive and Postscript, there isn’t much difference between the two platforms in terms of campaigns.

Both Attentive and Postscript give brands the ability to send campaigns immediately or at a scheduled date and time and the campaign messages can include emojis, images, and GIFs.

In regards to the respective user interfaces for sending campaigns in Attentive and Postscript, it comes down to personal preference. One small point in Postscript’s favor is that the campaign UI automatically converts any link into trackable short links. In the Attentive campaign UI, users must first copy and paste links into a short link generator that then adds the short link to the message:

This one extra step does offer a potential benefit in the form of more granular customization for UTM parameters. Postscript UTM parameters are configured at the Account Settings level, while Attentive allows merchants to customize UTM parameters at the campaign level. For the vast majority of merchants this doesn’t really make a difference.

SMS Campaigns Winner: Draw

Attentive vs. Postscript: SMS Automations

Attentive SMS Automations

In Attentive, SMS automations are referred to as “Journeys.” The Attentive journey UI was clearly inspired by the flow builder in Klaviyo:

The drag-and-drop builder makes it easy to add time delays, branches, and messages, while the layout makes it easy to visualize each step in the journey.

Attentive provides a number of journey templates that cover the essentials (and beyond) for most ecommerce brands:

Some unique journey templates in Attentive include Low Inventory, Price Drop, and Klaviyo Engagement journeys.

Postscript SMS Automations

Postscript’s automation builder has come a long way. Before they introduced their “Flow Builder” the process of building SMS automations in Postscript was pretty unintuitive. Now, the Postscript UI is quite similar to Attentive:

In the past, Attentive was the clear winner between the two on the automation front if for no other reason besides the fact that its editor was so much cleaner. Now however, Attentive and Postscript are at parity with each other when it comes to the ease of making new SMS automations.

Postscript also includes a number of canned automation templates and they offer multiple variations for high-value flows with built-in filters:

For example, in Postscript there are four different Post Purchase templates, each targeting a different customer or customer behavior, where Attentive just lists a single Post Purchase template.

On Postscript’s website they indicate that they have 65+ event triggers for automations. Not to mention, they’ve also built out a dedicated SMS template library.

As far as we can tell, Attentive and Postscript are pretty close to parity in terms of automation features within the two platforms. That being said, Postscript does provide quite a bit more in resources surrounding SMS automations compared to Attentive, so we’re giving them the nod on this one.

SMS Automations Winner: Postscript

Attentive vs. Postscript: Segmentation

Segmentation in SMS marketing is particularly important for a number of reasons.

First, as we noted earlier, data shows that more personalized messages lead to better performance. Second (and a related point), whereas the cost of regularly sending emails to 10,000 or more subscribers is relatively negligible, the cost of sending SMS (and even more so MMS) can add up quickly.

Segmentation helps merchants get the most from every SMS sent by removing unengaged users from receiving messages, targeting specific users with specific offers based on past behavior, etc. In doing so, merchants give themselves the best shot at driving conversions from every SMS that they send, leading to a higher ROI.

Attentive SMS Segmentation

Attentive gives merchants the ability to segment by three different categories: subscriber activity, subscriber characteristics, and other segments a subscriber is in:

Within each category, there are a number of actions and characteristics that can be used to build a segment.

The segment can also include AND or OR logic to combine multiple actions or characteristics into a single segment definition, as well as filter each action or characteristic by other factors (like price in the below example):

The Attentive segments UI also makes it easy to see which properties are coming from other apps via integrations:

As you can see in the image above, there are several activities that come from the Shopify integration.

Postscript SMS Segmentation

Unlike Attentive, Postscript does not organize segmentable properties into categories. Instead, there is a single list that includes all of the different properties:

The list of properties exceeds that of Attentive, however, Postscript does not include action or property-level filters. Instead, the merchant would use AND or OR logic to combine multiple actions or properties to create the same functionality that a filter would in Attentive.

For this reason, the segment UI in Postscript feels less intuitive than the one in Attentive, dispite the fact that the final functionality is about the same.

SMS Segmentation Winner: Attentive

Attentive vs. Postscript: SMS Integrations

As the larger and longer tenured company of the two, it is not surprising that Attentive has about double the number of integrations listed in its platform compared to Postscript.

One area where Attentive has a particular advantage over Postscript is in its integrations with email marketing providers. Postscript just lists Klaviyo as its only email marketing integration, while Attentive includes more than 20. While Klaviyo is certainly one of the most popular, Postscript is missing other popular email service providers like Mailchimp and Hubspot that Attentive covers.

We expect both platforms to consistently introduce new integrations, however, with a larger engineering staff Attentive likely has the upper hand in the volume of new integrations added over Postscript.

SMS Integration Winner: Attentive

Attentive vs. Postscript: Pricing

Typically, Postscript is a more cost-effective platform for small brands and merchants as they have a free tier available (not including the cost per SMS and MMS sent), while Attentive does not.

That being said, pricing can vary significantly from brand to brand as it depends largely on the size of the list and the number of SMS and MMS messages being sent. We’d encourage merchants and brands to speak with representatives from both Attentive and Postscript to determine which platform would be the best fit on the pricing side of things.

The final say

We think Attentive has advantages over Postscript when it comes to List Growth, Segmentation, and Integrations while Postscript offers better features for Automations. Both platforms offer similar capabilities for Campaigns.

Evaluating the two platforms based on their current offering of features, Attentive appears to be the more comprehensive platform. However, that does not mean that we recommend all brands use Attentive for their ecommerce SMS marketing. Due to the fact that every brand and merchant has varying needs in terms of both features and pricing, we recommend speaking with both Attentive and Postscript to determine the best fit.

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