E-commerce growth has slowed to around 12% and 2023 is the year that Shopify businesses need to get creative with their marketing strategies. Each dollar spent needs to show maximum impact.
Fear not, there are many ways to make this happen — from customer referrals and user-generated content marketing, to SEO and email marketing.
Get more customers to find and purchase from your Shopify store with these 60+ tried and true marketing techniques.
The strategies below are compiled from the experiences — both learnings and successes — of Shopify store founders, serial entrepreneurs, and OpenStore’s employees who currently manage the largest number of Shopify stores in the world.
Test several channels
"A multi-channel marketing strategy is mission-critical for our Shopify brands. It enables holistic marketing communications across all aspects of a customer’s purchase journey," explains Seijin Jung, who has headed up marketing at AngelList, Udemy, and now at OpenStore.
By using a mix of marketing channels like paid social, paid search, email, SMS, and iOS push notifications, consistent and timely marketing communications can be delivered to customers as they pass through the marketing funnel.
- Reduce your dependency on the algorithms of Facebook, Instagram, Google, TikTok, Twitter, and Pinterest. Developing a strong email marketing strategy can build lasting customer relationships, lead to a higher ROI than other marketing channels, and decrease uncertainties as social media platforms change their policies and algorithms. Invest in valuable content, mobile optimization, thorough research, and data-driven improvements to create robust email marketing campaigns that drive consistent growth for your Shopify store.
- Populate your email list via your Shopify store. Start by creating quality content to attract traffic. Encourage customers to sign up for your mailing list during the checkout process with email capture modals or pop-ups. Consider adding a sign-up form in the footer or elsewhere onsite to capture more subscribers.
- Automate your email campaigns with Klaviyo. Run a welcome series for new subscribers, a first-time customer series to request reviews, and order update series to inform buyers about their order status. The cart abandonment series to encourage customers to complete their purchases is common, but OpenStore’s top tip is the browse abandonment series to encourage window-shoppers to buy.
- Segment subscribers based on their purchases and engagement to improve effectiveness of your email marketing efforts. Segment customers by their value, such as ‘VIP’, ‘at-risk’, or ‘high AOV’. For abandoned cart emails to loyal customers, consider a personalized subject line and preview text (e.g., "Sandra! Get your 🎧 by Friday if you order before 10:00 PM 🎶") to grab the recipient's attention.
- Increase your store's ROI on mobile by moving to a Shopify 2.0 theme. A considerable amount of traffic is mobile-only. The latest themes help customers browse your category pages and discover products via more effective landing pages.
- Develop a mobile app to improve customer retention marketing and to offer exclusive discounts. This provides customers with a dedicated platform to stay connected to your brand. Watch a video where OpenStore’s co-founder and CEO Keith Rabois elaborates on its effectiveness.
- Use thoughtful SMS marketing campaigns to stand out against big competitors. Take it from Seijin Jung, OpenStore’s head of marketing: "For many of the Shopify brands we own at OpenStore, we found that a thoughtful SMS marketing campaign can deliver up to 10x higher conversion rates than typical emails. SMS marketing can have open rates of up to 98%, and 54% of consumers prefer SMS marketing.” In terms of tools to use, Klaviyo stands out for its SMS and deep email integration, allowing for nuanced control, maximizing engagement and LTV.
- Ensure that your emails are also mobile-friendly. Over 40% of consumers check their email using an app, so use responsive templates and write non-verbose, skimmable copy. Optimize subject lines and preheaders to grab readers' attention. Make your emails finger-friendly by utilizing white space and highlighting CTAs.
- Zero in on your audience and create customer personas. “This will supercharge all of your existing marketing efforts. If you know the demographics, interests, and needs of your customers, then you'll do a much better job of appealing to them in your marketing."
- Interview past buyers to create customer personas, or analyze their behavior on your Shopify store’s analytics platform. Seijin adds: “Personas should also be adjusted over time as you learn more about your audience, so that your marketing consistently remains as personalized as possible.” Ensure messaging is consistent too — it helps to come up with a brand story in response to each customer persona.
- Add a live chat support option like the founder of Shopify store EXO Drones to prioritize customer support and answer product questions.
- Keep customer service in-house to maintain quality and responsiveness. Take it from a Shopify store founder who built his brand on a key pillar: providing excellent support. He managed all customer service personally, maintaining a high 4.9/5.0 rating on Facebook. Growing your customer experience team internally also allows you to address product issues faster. As you scale, you can look to offset costs and cover more timezones with vendors or contractors.
- Always handle customer complaints in a friendly tone and focus on resolving the issue. Start with a place of empathy and stay dedicated to solving the problem. Prioritize complaints according to urgency. Address product issues immediately, and for shipping issues, take down the carrier claim number before proceeding.
- Offer fast shipping options to increase customer satisfaction. One founder recalls switching from ePacket to DHL Express for shipping to reduce user wait times from 4-6 weeks to 4-6 days. This resulted in a 20% increase in returning buyers, without needing the more expensive FedEx and UPS options.
- Leverage self-serve support. It’s perfect for moments when your live chat is unavailable. How? Consider setting up a knowledge center and FAQ section — this will also help your SEO efforts.
- Adjust your pricing as part of holistic product marketing research. Explore providing quality on par with ‘overpriced’ competitor products — get inspired by reading about how this Shopify store founder cornered the drone market. Always conduct market research to understand the needs and wants of your audience and position an offering off the back of that. When managing a Shopify store, OpenStore uses A/B testing on pricing to drive revenue by 20% almost immediately.
Leverage user-generated content (UGC)
- Encourage your brand’s customers to share content about your products. Ask for reviews, testimonials, or tutorials, but don’t be overly specific — let them be creative in their own way.
- Offer incentives, like free products or discount codes, to encourage UGC. The founder of a motorcycle lifestyle brand organically grew his Shopify store’s Instagram following to 22k without using paid influencer marketing. Instead, he sent free items to bikers he liked, who would send back UGC to repurpose.
- Use user-generated content in your Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, or TikTok videos. It is more effective in building trust than branded content. Shopify stores like Wearva use UGC from micro-influencers for their marketing efforts, including viral TikTok posts and high-ROAS Facebook ads.
- Display UGC from social media on your website. OpenStore uses FourSixty, a tool that turns Instagram feeds into website elements. Including UGC on your website provides social proof and greases the checkout process.
Avoid common UGC mistakes
- When starting with influencer marketing: begin with micro-influencers and gradually approach creators with larger and larger followings as your brand grows. If 2-3 posts in a row fail to perform, move on and find another content creator.
- Don’t outsource influencer marketing to agencies if you’re on a budget. Instead, evaluate your company’s strengths and weaknesses and use your strong in-house workflows to use influencer content in ads and on-site.
- Don’t obsess with details, growth is about testing. There is no specific formula for creating viral TikTok content. Work with different creators to produce a variety of content, not a single content style, and try to optimize posts for Friday evenings.
Starting off with social media advertising
- Run targeted ads on Instagram or wherever your target customer persona hangs out. Budget: start with a couple hundred dollars. Test, ship, and iterate ad creative quickly — take it from two serial Shopify founders that grow stores routinely.
- Spend only 15-20 minutes every day tinkering with your Facebook/Instagram ads. The founder of Shopify store Necklow shared how to optimize your ads quickly. He also makes sure to always extract learnings from poorly performing campaigns.
- Segment your Meta ad audience based on your customer personas. This allows for targeted messaging — for example, skincare ads for young girls versus older women, or home furniture ads for new homeowners with a specific age, location, and income.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself and stick to optimizing against only a few KPIs in your social media advertising such as cost per acquisition, cost per click, and hook rate.
- Retarget people who have already shown interest in your business. Use Meta’s tooling to build out a ‘custom audience’ from your spreadsheet of existing customers (email addresses), or based on your website traffic (tracked with the Meta Pixel). When running these ads with a sizeable budget, OpenStore recommends large attribution lookback windows for best performance.
- Find new potential customers similar to your best, existing customers. Use the custom audience from the tip above as a source to generate ‘lookalike audiences’ in Meta’s tools. If you have a large budget, OpenStore also recommends leveraging ‘broad audiences’. Go one step further and combine these broad audiences with lookalikes to really push Meta’s algorithms in finding new customer segments.
Avoid common paid social mistakes
- Create a custom landing page for every ad: your goal is to minimize confusion and provide a seamless experience. The landing page copy should align with the ad. Showcase reasons why customers should choose your product over competitors — use social proof, images or videos.
- Always define a value proposition for each campaign. Highlight value props in each ad and map it to customer pain points.
- Don’t spread yourself too thin across multiple ad channels. Master one platform, establish a steady, positive ROAS; and then add on the next logical channel.
- Advertise with intention: you should have ads for specific stages of the marketing funnel. For example, when addressing the top of your funnel, build brand awareness in your vertical with creative, out-of-the-box ideas that pique curiosity. Above all, aim to be helpful and useful, then collect followers or email addresses. For customers closer to the bottom of your funnel, run Meta carousel ads to help buyers quickly browse through your products and place an order.
- Don’t only run ads for brand awareness and clicks. They will drain your budget with little to show for them, so focus on performance marketing and optimize for conversions.
- Optimize ads for different screen sizes. Look in your analytics to see what devices your visitors use and optimize your ads and landing pages for these screen sizes. Easiest way: make sure that your Shopify theme is responsive.
Advanced ad tips
- Avoid ad fatigue and be creative, fresh, and meaningful. Identify target buyers' core issues and highlight them in your ads. Test a wide variety of ad creative for your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok ads. The co-founders of Shopify store Yogaste remind us that, “All we know is that we know nothing. You have to separate the data-driven process from your ego.” When managing a store with OpenStore Drive or after acquiring a Shopify store, OpenStore's in-house creative team refreshes ads up to once a week to avoid ad fatigue and improve click-through rates.
- Leverage the popularity of in-feed videos. Highlight product features, show your product in action, narrate a compelling story, and feature your customers. Keep video ads short with high-quality visuals and clean audio — use AI tools like Opus Clip to ship faster.
- Don’t rely solely on Meta’s ad manager to track performance. Use Google Analytics or Shopify’s platform to cross-check your wins and where there’s friction in getting conversions. Ensure that Shopify and Meta are connected, and that conversion tracking is set up in Shopify, Meta, and GA4.
- Get reliable ad data in a world after the iOS 14.5 update. Start by using Meta’s Conversions API to establish a direct connection between your marketing data and Facebook/Instagram. Use a 1-day or 7-day attribution model for enhanced conversion modeling, and prioritize macro metrics like ROAS, CPA, and customer LTV for assessing performance.
- Use Meta Advantage+ catalog ads for reaching new audiences. Automatically match potential customers to your product catalog with up-to-date pricing and availability. (You can also use them to retarget users who have previously interacted with your brand.)
- Understand that content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) are tightly linked and that to ultimately drive conversions you need a solid understanding of your target customer persona.
- Set up a blog on your Shopify store and publish content regularly about your product category and industry. Include both top-of-the-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel topics. This can engage your audience to stay on your site, showcase your expertise, and improve your website's SEO.
- Write detailed product descriptions and use high-quality product images. Not only does this helps customers make informed decisions and reduce the chances of returns, it provides a solid foundation to build on your SEO efforts.
- Create video tutorials or product demonstrations to showcase your products' features and benefits. Embed them in blog articles, product pages, as well as your social media channels, YouTube or wherever your target customer persona hangs out.
- Research common keywords in your e-commerce product category to understand what people are searching for. What are the problems they’re looking to solve? Which ones are you best positioned to resolve? Use tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush or Google’s keyword planner and pay attention to the monthly search volume and search intent of each keyword group. Keyword research will serve as the foundation of your SEO strategy.
- Optimize your Shopify store for search engines by using relevant keywords in page titles, headings, meta descriptions, and in the anchor text of the internal links to other pages on your site.
- Improve your product URLs and category URLs to align with relevant and popular queries on search engines. If you’re changing your URLs, make sure to set up permanent redirects for any URLs you change so that people who have bookmarked them and search engines like Google and Bing don’t return a 404 “not found” page.
- Follow recommendations to improve your Shopify store’s speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This will not only benefit SEO, but also your conversion rate optimization efforts from every marketing channel. A faster site is guaranteed to perform better.
- Improve your rankings in Google Images by adding keywords to your images. The founder of a motorcycle lifestyle brand found that by naturally adding relevant keywords to the image alt attribute in Shopify significantly improved rankings in image searches.
- Include UGC that is hosted externally onto your site. For example, pull in a feed of product reviews onto your product pages, or embed videos from YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok. Google and other search engines value a variety of relevant content. Follow OpenStore’s example when managing Shopify stores: use customer reviews to generate new copy — consider using AI tools to create content off the back of UGC at scale, but also follow Google’s guidelines.
- Run a referral program that rewards your customers for spreading the word. Offer them discounts or rewards: it’s generally a low-cost marketing strategy. Use automation tools like Yotpo, Smile, and Loyalty Lion to track referrals and maintain engagement.
- Implement a loyalty program to reward repeat customers. Encourage them to make additional purchases and build a long-term relationship with your Shopify brand.
- Leverage social proof about your products: solicit and display reviews on product landing pages to gain the trust of new customers.
- Focus on building a brand that your most loyal customers genuinely love. Embrace customer feedback to increase retention and repeat purchases.
- Build a community around your brand that people can join in without purchasing your product(s). For example, participate in Facebook groups in your industry or where your target audience hangs out. Engage with potential customers by sharing valuable content, answering questions, and offering support. Don’t spam sales content.
- Partner with complementary businesses for cross-promotion. Expand your reach and tap into new audiences. Consider collaborating with your content marketing efforts: blogging or otherwise. Cross-promotion can drive brand awareness and growth.
- Do a social media takeover of a nonprofit, NGO, or an otherwise social-minded organization which your target customer persona is interested in. This can help you reach new audiences, increasing brand awareness.
- Host webinars or live events showcasing your products. Use the opportunity to answer customer questions, and build trust with your audience. Drive attendance on social media and through email marketing campaigns.
- Plan for seasonal and promotional periods well in advance. OpenStore’s recommendation is to start aligning your cross-channel messaging months before your promo period so that you can already start gathering performance insights. Where are you seeing the most site visits, and how is that converting? Where are people dropping off?
- Offer free shipping for Shopify orders over a specific amount to incentivize conversions and larger purchases.
- Use the checkout process to upsell and cross-sell to encourage customers to purchase related products which will enhance their experience with the main product that they are purchasing. Even when doing his personal shopping, a Shopify founder explains how he benefited from this as a customer.
Combine strategies for success
Pick and choose the marketing strategies above to create a well-rounded, multi-channel marketing strategy for your Shopify store. Each channel serves a distinct purpose: understand and articulate it across each stage of your consumer journey.
For example, consider the success story of Jack Archer, OpenStore's fast-growing, popular men's fashion brand:
"Since we implemented a holistic multi-channel marketing campaign in 2022, our brand Jack Archer, saw its sales more than double in 6 months. This was enabled by our strategic implementation of paid social and search campaigns to drive new customer acquisition as well as new email, SMS, and mobile push campaigns to augment customer retention."
By leveraging the potential of various channels, such as Facebook remarketing campaigns, email, and SMS offers, store owners can maximize growth.
Invest your time
After exploring these 60+ marketing strategies and tips, it's clear that running a Shopify store can be time-consuming and, at times, overwhelming. As a store owner, you may find it challenging to keep up with the day-to-day tasks while also focusing on growing your business.
If you're tired of managing your store and want to reclaim your time, consider OpenStore Drive: a managed service that turns your Shopify store into passive income.