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/ 18 min read
Sep 12, 2023
Around 2 million business owners sell products using Shopify’s platform. Standing out and getting customers to your store is the key to success in e-commerce, and it’s equally important to maintain low costs while achieving it.
We collected insights on how to do this from OpenStore’s growth expert Seijin Jung and his DTC marketing team that owns and manages over 40 Shopify stores. To grow your small business, you need to have a clearly-defined strategy. And 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.
Use the 11 sections in our guide to build a custom marketing strategy for your Shopify store, for example:
build an engaged community,
leverage it to create user-generated content, such as reviews,
which you then feature UGC on your site to bolster your SEO efforts,
run automated SMS marketing to re-engage cart abandoners,
and have an always-on retargeting campaign on Facebook.
Avoid wasting time on random marketing channels, tactics, and tools without a cohesive strategy. Having a clear plan of attack will enable you to:
Connect to the right customers: target and attract relevant customers that can benefit from your product.
Present your value proposition: a marketing plan enables you to systematically share key features and capabilities of your product to a target audience that might not even know it exists. For example, through ads on social media.
Build better customer relationships: marketing gives you the opportunity to build deeper relationships that increase retention and engagement. For example, building a community of customers around your product.
Get actionable insights: some marketing channels provide key feedback about your brand and product — 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 itself.
One of the key advantages of a top-notch marketing strategy is that it enables you to lower marketing costs and maximize profitability, as all of the individual parts can generate compounding returns.
There’s no single best marketing strategy — but there are online marketing tactics that you can combine to successfully move towards your goals.
Here are our top 11, along with the tools and apps for Shopify stores that we use at OpenStore:
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:
knowledge centers, and
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?
Customers typically prefer it as a first port of call.
Your customer support team will have more time to focus on resolving critical issues.
Builds a stronger community around your product by facilitating quick problem resolution.
We spoke to marketing expert Seijin Jung about the best tools to use when marketing your store:
Up to 20-25% of support tickets we commonly receive are order-related, including inquiries about order status, tracking numbers, and returns. 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 tools and tactics work best when used together, as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.
SMS marketing is powerful because it offers convenience, not necessarily for you, but for your customers. It’s a way to directly reach customers with personalized marketing materials. Take a look at how the Shopify brand Divi updates their customers via text message:
Advantages of SMS marketing:
It facilitates 1:1 communication.
It reaches your customers instantly, so is ideal for time-sensitive communication.
It outperforms many other marketing channels
It’s cost-effective compared to many other channels.
What does Seijn’s team at OpenStore think of SMS marketing tools?
Choosing Klaviyo for SMS has allowed us to have more nuanced control of when to text a customer and maximize engagement and therefore lifetime value.”
A key part of SMS marketing is ensuring you’re reaching the right people. How can you achieve this?
This is a key step for any marketing strategy. It’s actually step 1. 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, postal 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.
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, bullet points, or a chart, and be very specific. For instance, an example could be “an occasional Reddit user who has trouble finding multi-purpose chinos that keep their shape”.
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’s platform targets potential customers who’ve provided their email, but haven’t yet made a purchase:
By having a specific customer in mind when creating marketing activities, you can effectively motivate them to take specific and relevant actions. For example, appealing to their desire for USA-made traditional products can encourage them to transition from browsing to making a purchase, advancing them from the consideration phase to the conversion phase of the marketing funnel.
The other four benefits of customer persona-based marketing are:
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.
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
Improve customer relationships and drive growth: remove friction from the checkout or customer support process and increase conversions and loyalty.
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 discuss the tools. Here are the tools that OpenStore's marketing team utilizes daily for managing the numerous Shopify stores in the brand’s portfolio:
“Klaviyo is 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 also has additional segmentations that can be helpful and integrates directly with Klaviyo to create Glew-driven customer lists. Using audience targeting as part of your Shopify store’s email strategy is key. Combined with marketing automation, it enables you to “engage customers at every stage of their journey and set your business growth in motion”.
Paid social allows you to run targeted ads on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter (now X), or anywhere else where your customers hang out. Create custom, engaging ads that can help to reach more customers and drive sales. Follow on from other Shopify stores and even incorporate user-generated videos or images.
For all of the details, read this comprehensive guide on Facebook and Instagram ads for Shopify. Here are the key takeaways for an effective social media advertising strategy:
Segment your customers: run targeted ads based on customer personas and always extract learnings from poorly performing campaigns. Define a clear value proposition for each campaign and mention it in your ads.
Advertise with intention: keep in mind the different stages of the marketing funnel, and optimize against key conversion metrics like customer acquisition cost (CAC) or return on ad spend (ROAS) and hook rate for video ads on social media.
Prep your website and tracking: create a custom landing page for every ad and ensure that your Shopify theme is responsive for mobile devices. Set up reliable analytics and conversion tracking, both through Shopify Analytics and from the ad platform that you’re using.
Optimize, don’t just abandon: don’t change strategies like socks. Avoid spreading yourself too thin across multiple ad channels. Avoid ad fatigue by testing new creatives and content.
Benefits of social media advertising:
Tap into a massive audience with personalized ads across multiple formats to increase the likelihood of conversions.
Granular micro-targeting based on detailed parameters like behaviors, traits, interests, life updates, locations, age, and languages. Helps you engage with interested customers at different stages of the marketing funnel.
Real-time analytics eliminates guesswork to help you make performance-based advertising decisions. It provides crucial insights like conversions, reach, and engagement.
If you’re very limited for time, then there’s one campaign you should definitely consider running on Meta’s social media platforms: retargeting. Show custom ads to people who have already shown interest in your business — either based on your existing customer list or through the Meta Pixel tracking on your website.
This is a powerful tool that can enhance all of the other channels in your Shopify marketing strategy. You could say it refers customers back to your product.
A true referral program 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 another 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:
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.
Help create a sense of community around your brand and foster loyalty among your customers. Customers acquired through referral programs have a 37% higher retention rate.
Drive more quality traffic, increase brand visibility, and generate more sales. Referrals come with a vote of confidence from existing customers.
In addition, Yotpo is an 800 pound gorilla in the space. Social proof is essential in e-commerce and referrals are a great way to prove you’re trustworthy — as are product reviews.
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 this 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:
Reviews can help improve trust and credibility: they act as a vote of confidence in your store and product(s).
Engage existing customers by giving them space to share their thoughts on your products and brand.
Reviews help your SEO performance and rankings on search engines like Google. The more reviews on a product page, the more relevant content there is for search engines to index and associate with you.
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:
Product reviews are product-specific — for a more comprehensive vote of confidence you want to also turn to 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:
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.
Creates content for you to use in the rest of your marketing efforts.
Helps attract new customers by getting people talking about your brand.
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 Seijin’s marketing team approaches UGC:
“We use a tool called Archive — 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.”
Another tool you can try is FourSixty. Like reviews, UGC can be great for creating content on your site — ideally, SEO-informed content.
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.
Many Shopify-powered 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:
detailed keyword research and targeting,
a solid technical foundation of your website,
satisfying ranking factors that search engines like Google consider, and
Benefits of a good SEO and content marketing strategy:
Increase conversions, as well as your brand awareness as you appear in more searches relating to your niche.
Generate industry authority by regularly publishing high-quality, relevant, and valuable content.
Build trust and retain customers.
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.
Improve the user experience (UX) on your Shopify store: help customers find what they are looking for.
Seijin expands on OpenStore’s SEO best practices:
“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 and SEMRush are great tools to establish an SEO strategy through keyword and competitor research. You’ll also be able to identify SEO competitors that you didn’t know were your competitors in the first place, such as other websites ranking for keywords in the same industry as you, but selling different products. While your products may be different, you’ll be up against one another in the search engine results pages.
Once you see what you are already ranking for, what your competitors are doing, and what keyword opportunities are available to you — you can then use this information to create more content, improve your existing content, or if necessary improve your website’s technical foundation or backlink profile.”
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 DTC brand’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:
Increased ability to reach customers.
Reduce friction from browsing to purchasing.
Deliver a better experience to your customers.
What does Seijin 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.”
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:
More resources to invest in the campaign.
A new audience that have the potential to love your product.
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 with your overarching Shopify marketing strategy to get your brand in front of your target customer persona(s).
To enable your customers to act on brand partnerships and native cross-selling across brands, try Carro.
Collaboration with other brands connects you to new audiences and — more importantly — new communities.
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 e-commerce communities around, we turn to Gymshark (running Shopify, pun intended, again).
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:
It boosts brand awareness.
It turns your customers into your advocates, and creates something other want to be a a part of.
It fosters brand loyalty.
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 DTC 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.”
Your marketing plan should guide you in deciding which customers you are trying to reach, what it is that you want to say, and how you’ll reach them.
Here’s how Seijin Jung approaches the marketing process for OpenStore’s 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 automated where possible:
“We are deeply committed to using technology and 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 Shopify Flow, Alloy, and Revealbot.”
OpenStore’s team links different strategies and tools day-in, day-out to drive performance marketing for over 40+ Shopify stores.
If you’re looking to leave marketing to the professionals, consider OpenStore Drive: a managed service that turns your Shopify store into guaranteed passive income. Keith Rabois' team of specialists ensure your business is in safe hands, so that you can take a break from marketing and absolutely everything else that it takes to run your store.
Take a paid sabbatical from your Shopify store
OpenStore will analyze your store’s performance, and calculate your monthly payments for a full year. Then our experts will run it for you — and that includes everything from email marketing to social media advertising, as well as logistics, fulfillment, and customer support. Start by calculating your potential monthly income:
Get out of the spam folder: be mobile-friendly, provide true value, and segment your email lists to drive better ROI.
Before selling his DTC brand to OpenStore, Manny shares how he scaled an impressive influencer engine from scratch.