From a marketing perspective, Shopify is the best platform to host your ecommerce store. That being said, having a store on Shopify does not automatically guarantee your business will be successful. Every day, hundreds of Shopify store owners give up on their business because they are pumping too much money into it and not getting enough out. Unfortunately, many of these business owners do not come into their business with an effective Shopify marketing strategy.
I have worked with a lot of Shopify store owners that think Facebook Ads are a magic tool that leads to automatic profitability. This has worked in the past, but every year ads are getting more expensive and more competitive. Ads aren’t enough to cut it by themselves anymore — especially when you are trying to compete with Amazon. If you want to compete with the big dogs, you need to get more creative with your Shopify marketing strategy. Below are my top five suggestions on how to profitably market your online store.
1. Focus On The Back End
By back end, we mean the back end of the customer journey. Customers rarely buy from a website the first time they visit, but once they buy once, it’s easy to get them to buy again. There are three sides to the back end of your customer journey that you need to take care of to profitably scale your online store.
The first is getting people who have never purchased before to visit your website multiple times. The more often you can get them to visit, the higher chance that they will end up buying.
The second is getting people who have already purchased from your site to keep visiting the site and encourage them to keep purchasing.
The third is encouraging people to buy just a little bit more each time they do purchase.
The key to the first two sides is to get them to visit your site several times for as cheap as possible. I’ll talk about how to do that in my second suggestion. The key to the third side will be covered more in my fourth suggestion.
Optimizing for the back end of the customer journey is what profitable stores do. Stores that focus on seeing a positive ROI from every ad usually have a tough time breaking even. The reason for this is that usually, the first click is the toughest and most expensive click to get. So if you are spending all of your time and money on just getting first impressions, you are spending all of your money on the least profitable impressions. Granted, first impressions are important and most of your marketing dollars will go towards first impressions, but most of your time should be allocated to the following few impressions.
2. Use Emails To Close
As I mentioned in the previous section, every impression after the first impression gets cheaper and more profitable. This is only the case if you set up a proper marketing system for the back end of the customer journey. Here is an example customer journey funnel to use:
For the first impression, you need to be willing to pay a little bit more in order to get the highest quality traffic at the top of the funnel. If you dump low-quality traffic into the top of the funnel, then you are not going to see results from the back end. You can use ad platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google Search Ads to find high-quality traffic for your top-funnel. Most Shopify stores will see the best results from Facebook Ads.
The key to making these top-funnel ads: optimize the ads to collect emails rather than purchases (Pro Tip: if you set up conversion tracking in a slightly unorthodox way, you can set up a lead conversion as both a purchase and an email. This will help you get more conversion data faster and when someone purchases, you will get their email as well). Once someone clicks on your ad, they will still be sent to a product page where they can purchase your product if they want to. Once the page loads, there will be a popup that offers a 15% discount in exchange for their email. The reason we want to collect emails is that it is a lot cheaper to focus on collecting emails than getting purchases on most ad platforms and the ads will optimize a lot faster. So in a relatively short time, you can get a steady stream of new emails coming in. And once you have an email list, you will be able to retarget them for next to nothing.
Now that you have collected emails and sent plenty of high-quality traffic to your site, you need to focus on setting up the back end. The focus here should be to send people who visited your site in the past back to your site for as cheap as possible — including past purchasers. We can go as cheap as possible here because we already know that the traffic is quality and they have already expressed some sort of interest in your product.
You should spend most of your time setting up an email funnel as well as managing a newsletter. Email marketing is super important here for two reasons: 1) it’s the cheapest way to retarget someone and 2) if you have someone’s email address, they either purchased from you in the past or signed up for your newsletter in exchange for a discount code which means they have a legitimate interest in buying your product. For everyone that just visited your website but you don’t have their email address, I would recommend setting up a Google Display campaign to retarget them and optimize for collecting emails.
The key to all of this is to collect as many emails as you can for as cheap as you can because email marketing is the way to make your backend profitable. If you set this up correctly, you can sleep soundly losing money on the front end because your email marketing is going to make it all worth it on the back end.
3. Give People A Reason To Follow You On Social Media
Organic reach on social media is dropping each year while prices of social ads are going up. If there weren’t so many potential customers on social media, I may just tell you to give up on social media altogether. But that’s not the case and having a social media following full of people that actually like your product is super valuable and will make running your business, in the long run, a lot easier. Plus it’s free to post on social media (just like it’s free to send an email).
So I’ll give you my best tip on how to build an awesome audience on any social channel for your Shopify store. Here it is: Only do things that no one else is doing. It’s going to feel weird and it’s not going to work for a while. But if you put out really unique content, eventually people will start noticing you. When that happens, Facebook (and every other social media platform) will be forced into showing your stuff to larger audiences.
The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing. Since people are scrolling on Instagram to be entertained, they don’t want to see your BOGO post. So Instagram isn’t going to show it to them. Once you get a few posts to blow up, you’ll start to understand who your audience is and will better understand how to post amazing content specifically for them.
4. Optimize Your Shopify Store
This is one step that Shopify store owners rarely do correctly. Since all of the steps above are ways to get people to your site as many times as possible for as cheap as possible, you will want to make sure people are actually buying from your site and that they are buying as much as they are willing to buy on your site. Below is my brief rundown on how to increase your site’s conversion rate using conversion rate optimization (CRO) tools.
For starters, you will want to set up Google Optimize. This is a free tool offered by Google that allows you to A/B test portions of your site. It can be kind of technical to set up and run tests, so if that sounds too stressful for you, Set Fire Creative does offer a CRO service specifically for Shopify store owners. Reach out to a member of our team to learn more about that.
Once you have Google Optimize setup, you can use my secret weapon that CRO professionals use to see huge improvements in overall conversion rate. That is when you run a test, you want to test to learn instead of test to win. This means that instead of going in saying, “I think people will buy more if the reviews are higher on the page” you should go in saying “I wonder if the reviews actually help the conversion rate at all.”
The reason you want to do this is that if you are testing to win and your test performs worse then you just wasted all of that time. But if you test to learn and your test performs worse, you now have a much better understanding of your audience that you can use to apply to your next test.
Another note before I move on to my final suggestion is that you should also be looking for ways to improve your store’s average order value (AOV). This is the third side of the backend that I talked about in my first suggestion. The best way that we’ve found to do this is to use Zipify’s One-Click Upsell App. This makes it easy to run pre- and post-purchase upsells and, on average, will increase your site’s AOV by 10 percent. It does have a tiered pricing model based on how much it makes for you, but I would highly recommend it to any Shopify store owner. Honestly, the best way to learn how to make the most of this app is to download it and test it out. If you want to read more about best practices and tests with the app check out Zipify’s blog.
5. Hop On Trends Before They’re Trendy
To consumers, it feels like many businesses are behind the times and only hop on trends after they have started to die down. No one likes those businesses. Instead, I suggest you do the opposite. Go find a handful of marketing tools or social media platforms that no one has heard of and test them out. Once your backend is set up properly, you should easily be able to afford to test out unknowns. Honestly, you’ll probably fail more times than you win, but imagine being the first company in your industry to hop on Twitter. That would be a huge deal. So take those risks regularly because they don’t cost you much and they could pay off a ton! Don’t be afraid to try new platforms even if they don’t match your brand or audience because they are likely to change. Instagram today looks nothing like the Instagram of 2011, so it’s always worth a test. The name of the game is content. Once you have a functional front end and profitable back end, you can let your machine run and then start growing your audiences through intriguing content.
At the end of the day scaling a Shopify store takes a lot of work if you want to build something that lasts in the long run. And a solid Shopify marketing strategy is an integral part of making that happen. If you want help managing any part of your marketing strategy for your Shopify store, reach out to us and mention this blog post. Many Shopify store owners only want to focus on the front end, so letting us know that you are here for the long run and want to build a profitable back end will help us find the right services for you. Reach out today!
Dale is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Set Fire Creative. When he isn’t making the most out of clients’ ad spend, he is recording podcasts with his friends, working on his own eCommerce brand, or hiking in the mountains with his wife and border collie puppy.