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14 minutes

Shopify marketing: 10 cost-effective strategies to drive conversions

Rudi Eihenbaums
MacBook with Shopify logo and entrepreneur in background
Table of contents:

Over 1.7 million merchants sell using the Shopify platform—getting customers to your store is the key to success. Keeping costs low is another.

tl;dr A targeted Shopify marketing strategy will enable you to get your brand in front of your target audience. The more you base your marketing strategy on customer research and data, the more successful it will be, and the cheaper it will be to acquire customers (CAC). For example, you could build an engaged community, leverage it for user-generated content (UGC) in your SEO campaigns, and use SMS marketing to re-engage leads. To lower the time you invest: leverage marketing automation.

Key reasons you need a Shopify marketing strategy

  • Connect the right customers with your product: a tailored marketing strategy enables you to target and attract customers that you know can benefit from your product.
  • Promote your products: a marketing plan enables you to share your product’s key features and capabilities with a target audience that might not even know it exists.
  • Build better customer relationships: marketing your product brings you closer to your customers and gives you space to build deeper relationships that increase retention and engagement.
  • Get actionable insights: marketing your product provides you with key feedback—both when it works and when it doesn’t. Getting closer to your customers opens the door for useful insights that shape not only your marketing plan but also your product.

One of the key advantages of a top-notch Shopify marketing strategy—and a by-product of the other benefits—is that it enables you to lower marketing costs and maximize profitability.

10 Shopify marketing tactics

There’s no single best Shopify marketing strategy—but there are online marketing tactics that you can put into action to successfully move towards your goals.

Here are our top 10, along with the tools we use at OpenStore to get the job done.

Add self-serve support options

73% of customers want the ability to solve issues on their own. Self-serve support is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. Ensuring support is there when your customers need it is key for the success of your store.

Self-serve support options include:

  • chatbots,
  • knowledge centers, and
  • FAQs.

For example, take a look at shoe brand Allbirds’ support options. They run on Shopify (pun intended), and customers can choose to get in touch with them via text or phone, but they can also choose from a variety of self-serve support options first.

What are the key benefits of self-serve support?

  1. Consumers prefer self-serve support.
  2. Your customer support team will have more time for serious issue resolution.
  3. Builds a stronger community around your product by facilitating quick problem resolution.

We spoke to OpenStore’s B2C team about the best tools to use when marketing your Shopify store:

Gorgias is best-in-class for Shopify customer support, especially their chat bot service. AirCall is also good for talking with customers over the phone.
Up to 20-25% of support tickets we typically see are related to orders—where’s my order, what’s the tracking number, how do I return an order, and similar queries. We use Loop Returns to manage this.
Your tools are only as good as your team, however. Whether that’s you as a merchant, a virtual assistant, or a support agency—a great team behind your customer support is critical.”

These tactics work best when used together: as part of a comprehensive Shopify marketing strategy.

Engage users with SMS promotions

SMS can have open rates of up to 98%, and 54% of consumers prefer SMS marketing. Despite this, only 11% of businesses send them.

SMS marketing is powerful because it’s easy—not for you, necessarily, but for your customers. It’s a way to directly reach customers with personalized marketing materials. Take a look at how the Shopify store Divi does SMS marketing:

Advantages of SMS marketing:

  1. It facilitates 1:1 communication.
  2. It reaches your customers instantly, so is ideal for time-sensitive communication.
  3. It performs better than many other marketing channels.
  4. It’s cost-effective compared to many other channels.

What does OpenStore’s team think of SMS marketing and the tools on offer?

“While there are great common tools like Attentive, Postscript, and SMS Bump, we’ve been impressed by the leaps that Klaviyo has made investing in SMS and the deep integration it has with email. 
Choosing Klaviyo for SMS has allowed us to have more nuanced control of when to text a customer and maximize engagement and therefore LTV.”

A key part of SMS marketing is ensuring you’re reaching the right people. How?

Segment your target audience into customer personas

This is a key step for any marketing strategy or tactic. The campaigns you create and deliver—via SMS, email, social media, or search engines—bring the best results if they’re designed around specific customer personas.

First, understand your target audience based on the following segments:

  • Demographics: age, income, education, job title, recent life events.
  • Psychographics: personality, hobbies, goals, values, lifestyle.
  • Geographics: country, region, post code.
  • Behavior: purchasing habits, how much they spend, browsing habits, device use, interaction with your brand, loyalty.

If your Shopify store already has customers—or if you have established a hypothetical product-market fit based on solid research—then you can dive deeper and create customer personas.

How to create customer personas

Start by gathering data on your target customers. This can include:

  • conducting live interviews and surveys, 
  • analyzing existing customer demographics and behavior, 
  • and performing market analysis about how competitors address the jobs-to-be-done of their customers.

Use this information to identify common characteristics and needs among your target customers, and use these characteristics to create detailed profiles of your ideal customers. 

Write this down in paragraph form, in bullets, or on a chart, and be very specific, for example, “occasional Reddit user who has trouble finding multi-purpose chinos that keep their shape”.

5 benefits to your Shopify store

Audience segmentation enables you to target specific customer pain points and provide buyers with messages for a specific stage of their journey (along your marketing funnel). Look at how another brand running on Shopify, targets potential customers who’ve provided their email, but haven’t yet made a purchase:​​

Having a specific customer in mind when crafting a marketing activity enables you to encourage specific and relevant actions, like—in this case—making the leap from browser to shopper by appealing to the desire of USA-made, traditional products. Enticing them to move from the consideration to the conversion phase of the marketing funnel.

The other four benefits of customer persona-based marketing are:

  1. Tailor marketing and product development efforts to meet customer needs: appeal to customers from different demographics that are having the same problems and desires—improving personalization beyond the basics.
  2. Improve alignment within your company: visualize and humanize your customers: helps you understand your customers better as you interview them to build business intelligence that you can use for product, sales, and other departments
  3. Improve customer relationships and drive growth: remove friction from the checkout or customer support process and increase conversions and loyalty.
  4. Identify gaps in your customer base: areas where you may not be reaching all of your potential customers. This could be because you are not offering products/services that meet their needs, or because you are not effectively promoting your offerings to these segments.

Now, let’s talk tools. Here’s what OpenStore use day-in-day-out when marketing for the many Shopify stores in the brand’s portfolio:

“Klaviyo is, again, our go-to tool for segment-specific communications. It has built-in capabilities which are quite powerful and sufficient until the business is really scaling.
Glew.io also has additional segmentations that can be helpful and integrates directly with Klaviyo to create Glew-drive customer lists.”
Using audience targeting as part of your Shopify email marketing strategy is key. Combined with Shopify marketing automation, it enables you to ‘engage customers at every stage of their journey and set your business growth in motion’.

Create a referral programme

A referral programme incentivizes your customers to share their experience with your Shopify store and your products with their network. It helps both retain existing customers with customer rewards for referring, and acquire new customers through word-of-mouth marketing.

Here’s how a Shopify store encourages customers to refer to their network:

They sum up the key concept behind referral programs nicely—you give, you get. The benefits include:

  1. Valuable feedback and insights about your customers and their networks, for example, you can understand which products are most popular among your customers and their networks to help product development and other marketing efforts.
  2. Help create a sense of community around your brand and foster loyalty among your customers. Customers acquired through referral programmes have a 37% higher retention rate
  3. Drive more quality traffic, increase brand visibility, and generate more sales. Referrals come with a vote of confidence from existing customers.

The benefits are clear—referrals breed customer loyalty. Here’s what OpenStore uses to harness the power of referrals in Shopify-run marketing campaigns:

Yotpo is the 800 pound gorilla in the space. Smile and Loyalty Lion are also powerful solutions in the customer loyalty space.”

Social proof is essential in e-commerce and referrals are a great way to prove you’re trustworthy—as are product reviews.

Add product reviews to your pages

Product reviews are a signal for potential customers from existing customers that they can trust your store and products. Including customer reviews on your product pages reassures customers that you’re a reputable vendor that they can trust to swiftly deliver on promises.

Take a look at how another Shopify store gives a quick overview of product reviews before listing individual reviews for customers to browse:

Product reviews benefit both new and existing customers:

  1. Reviews can help improve trust and credibility: they act as a vote of confidence in your store and product(s).
  2. Engage existing customers by giving them space to share their thoughts on your products and brand.
  3. Reviews help your SEO performance: your rankings on Google and other search engines. The more reviews on a product page, the more relevant content there is for search engines to index and associate with you.
  4. Provide valuable information for customers to make informed decisions and feel more confident in their purchases.

Here are the top tools OpenStore uses to add customer reviews to e-commerce product pages:

Okendo offers a great service at an approachable price point, as does Stamped. For the best experience, Yotpo is a got-to. That being said, it comes at a price premium.”

Product reviews are product-specific—for a more comprehensive vote of confidence you want to also turn to UGC.

Include UGC in your campaigns and website

UGC—user-generated content—is any form of content created by your audience—whether it’s Instagram trends or TikTok trends. Similarly to customer reviews, UGC is a great way to get consumers to trust in your brand and product—93% of marketers agree it’s more effective in doing so than branded content.

A Shopify-running brand that’s always known the importance of UGC is Wearva.

Wearva’s founder invites micro-influencers to share their stories, enabling the brand to collect ample content for future marketing efforts—such as viral TikTok posts and high-ROAS Facebook ads

Here’s how UGC benefits your overall marketing strategy:

  1. Involves and engages customers: when customers see that their feedback is valued, they are more likely to feel a sense of connection and loyalty—increasing retention and repeat purchases.
  2. Creates content for you to use in the rest of your marketing efforts.
  3. Helps attract new customers by getting people talking about your brand.
  4. Decreases your marketing spend as it can be part of a low-budget marketing strategy.

You can encourage your customers to create UGC with promotions and rewards, but the UGC jackpot is when customers create UGC without needing to be incentivized—they do it because they love your brand.

Here’s how OpenStore approaches UGC:

“We use a tool called FourSixty—it turns your instagram feed into an element on your website. This enables us to include built-in UGC that continuously updates as new content comes in.
It’s great to include UGC directly on your website—this enables prospective customers to get that social proof without having to head elsewhere. It limits friction and ultimately enables customers to complete their purchase faster.”

Like reviews, UGC can be great for creating content on your site—ideally, SEO-informed content.

Leverage SEO-informed content marketing

Building quality content around your brand is a key marketing tactic for your Shopify store. It enables you to engage your customer personas with useful resources relating to your industry, and positions you as a thought-leader within your field.

Most importantly, good content is key to driving conversions from organic search—people searching on Google for keywords relating to your products, resources, opinions, and solutions. The way you get yourself ranking is through search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO and content marketing allow you to guide users through the marketing funnel, from the very top—where they know little about your brand and product—to the very bottom—-where they’re ready to make a purchase.

For example, several Shopify stores use their blog as a key content marketing and SEO channel:

When done right, your strategy could include unbiased blog articles that include non-pushy product promotion. 

Your marketing and copywriting efforts don’t need to always focus on pushing your products—content marketing enables you to educate and support your audience.

But content alone won’t get you to outrank your competitors in Google or Bing, SEO performance requires:

Benefits of a good SEO and content marketing strategy:

  1. Increase conversions, as well as your brand awareness as you appear in more searches relating to your niche.
  2. Generate industry authority by regularly publishing high-quality, relevant, and valuable content.
  3. Build trust and retain customers.

Side effects:

  1. Get insights into your store's website performance, customer behavior, and other information that you can use to make data-driven decisions about your business.
  2. Improve the user experience (UX) on your Shopify store: help customers find what they are looking for.

Shopify’s website highlights some Shopify features that are a good starting point for your SEO efforts. If you want to take it a step further:

“If you’re looking to build long-term growth, SEO and content marketing should be a key part of your Shopify store’s overall marketing plan. Building out content around the interests of your customers into blog categories, or expanding your product pages are great ways to start off in SEO.
Ahrefs is a great tool to establish an SEO strategy through keyword and competitor research. You’ll be able to identify opportunities and SEO-specific competitors that you didn’t know were your competitors: other websites ranking for keywords that are relevant to your customers. 
Once you see what you are already ranking for. You can then use this information to create more content, improve your existing content, or improve your website’s technical foundation.”

Make your social feed shoppable

87% of online shoppers use social media when making a purchasing decision—why not meet them where they are?

Making your social feed shoppable removes a lot of the friction that customers could encounter during the purchasing journey. It makes the seeing-liking-buying process that much easier for your audience.

Here’s a Shopify store’s shoppable Instagram profile:

Shoppers can go from browsing your Instagram to buying your products in as little as three clicks. All you need to do is set up your business account on Instagram, add relevant details, and link to your Shopify store. 

Here are the benefits:

  1. Increased ability to reach customers.
  2. Reduce friction from browsing to purchasing.
  3. Deliver a better experience to your customers.

What does OpenStore think?

“Instagram Shopping is a great marketing tool. And don’t forget to set up a product data feed tool so you can build catalog ads in Meta (Facebook) and show up on Google Shopping ads too. A few great tools here are: DataFeedWatch and GoDataFeed.”

Collaborate with other brands

Not every other Shopify store is your competition—you can find brands that offer complimentary items that customers could love. For example, if you sell sportswear you could collaborate with a brand that sells sports equipment.

Take a look at the collaboration between the Shopify-running fine jewelry brand Shalha Karimi, and fashion brand, Kenneth Cole (also on Shopify). The two paired up to create a “fine capsule jewelry collection”.

The benefits of brand collaborations are:

  1. More resources to invest in the campaign.
  2. A new audience that have the potential to love your product.
  3. Can be used to generate UGC.
  4. Grow your community and followers.

Brand collabs can be giveaways, competitions, social media takeovers, guest blogging, and more. The opportunities are endless—and they can all work together your overarching Shopify marketing strategy to get your brand in front of your target customer persona(s).

OpenStore has a go-to tool when it comes to enabling your customers to act on brand partnerships:

Carro has a compelling value proposition and is investing aggressively to become the best place for brand collaborations and native cross selling across brands.”

Collaboration with other brands connects you to new audiences and—more importantly—new communities.

Build a community around your brand

One of your Shopify store’s key marketing goals should be to create a community that people want to be a part of. This gives you a space to communicate with customers and share important updates. 

For one of the best Shopify store communities around, we turn to Gymshark (running Shopify):

From the get-go, Gymshark has prioritized their community and championed their own athletes. Through a comprehensive influencer and community marketing strategy, the brand has cultivated a community that creates positive influence in the fitness community.

Here’s why community is key for success, and why you should strive to build your own:

  1. It boosts brand awareness.
  2. It turns your customers into your advocates, and creates something other want to be a a part of.
  3. It fosters brand loyalty.
  4. It gives your customers somewhere to connect and grow.

Many of your other Shopify marketing strategies will help cultivate a community and build better customer relationships—including your UGC efforts, brand collabs, and more. Take it from OpenStore’s B2C team:

“There are lots of ways to build a community around your brand. How you do this should stem from your resourcing, brand commitment to customers, and what makes sense.
For example, social media is often a great place to build a community, such as with groups or live events. You can use these spaces to share engaging content you know will interest your customers—like behind-the-scenes content.”

Shopify marketing strategy: the OpenStore way

Our top ten digital marketing tactics for e-commerce lay the foundations for a strong Shopify marketing plan:

“You might use several tactics to attract and keep customers. Your marketing plan helps you make decisions about who you are trying to reach, what you want to say, and how to get the word out.”

To close out, here’s how OpenStore approaches the marketing process for our brands:

“The first step we take following an acquisition is to understand the business and its customers. We do this by looking over founder interviews, analyzing what drives the business’s revenues and profits, and auditing the website. 
From there, we start implementing our data-driven best practices and assessing channel expansion opportunities. For example, if a business is doing really well with email but has no SMS capabilities, we’ll plan to test launching SMS.”

A key aspect of OpenStore’s approach to e-commerce is that it’s consistently data-driven and—where possible—automated:

“We are deeply committed to using technology tools, establishing best practices in a data-driven way, and building our own proprietary automation tools. A big part of our culture and ethos is a testing mindset so we can continuously level-up our own game.
For one of our first acquisitions, before buying the brand it was posting 12% of revenue attributed to email. After we implemented flows and customer segmentations with Klaviyo campaigns, we’ve seen that figure skyrocket to 20%. What’s even better is that now roughly half that retention revenue is coming from automated emails called flows.
To do this, we use the likes of Shopify Flows, Runalloy, and Revealbot.”

So, there you have it—the Shopify marketing tips and tools from the team that does it day-in, day-out.

If you’re looking to leave marketing to the professionals, why not get a free Shopify store valuation? OpenStore’s scientific approach to valuing your business gets qualified owners a no-obligation offer within 24 hours. OpenStore’s team of professionals ensure your business is in safe hands following acquisition.

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