The Shopify Success Checklist

September 23, 2019 Nicholas Bennett

Many direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands have leveraged the e-commerce platform, Shopify, to create their very own online store. With their intuitive technology, they've made it incredibly simple for businesses with limited time and resources to sell products online. 

Whether you're taking the first step and creating a Shopify store, have some experience with running one, or you're a full-fledged Shopify expert, it's important to understand the fundamentals in what makes any marketing strategy successful. Below, we’ve put together a few tips to help you grow your Shopify store and to continue your e-commerce journey.

Creating an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Who is your ideal customer? An ICP is a perfect customer to buy your product. This is critical to establish before you invest your money in any marketing. This will provide you the foundation to focus your investments, such as crafting content, your brand, and improve your products for your customers.

Before you create any marketing strategy, it's essential to know who your ideal customers are. So, what’s a customer profile? It’s a broad description of your ideal customer that consists of characteristics that make them a perfect fit for your brand and offerings. 
Customer profiles may include both specific or broad information, such as age, gender, preferred digital channels, and location. Developing customer profiles helps you mold your marketing and business to not only meet your audience's needs but to truly connect with them.
For example, if you launch a skateboard clothing company, you wouldn’t want to market to consumers who are 50 to 70 years old.  Your ICP might fall into the realm of teens between the age of 10 and 18 years old, who actively play sports, and have some interest in skateboarding. This may seem obvious, but even some of the biggest brands go out of business because they lose sight of their ICP.

Steps to defining your ICP

1. View a strong ICP as freeing, not limiting. ​You shouldn't be afraid to focus your resources (i.e., people, time, and money) on your ICP, to the exclusion of others. Remind your stakeholders it's freeing to have this level of focus, which helps to save them from being pulled in different directions and keeps them from having to make the same decisions over and over again.

2. Favor data, not anecdotes​. Anyone who works closely with customers, products, or revenue has biases from the work they do day in and day out. Instead of “anecdata” that supports confirmation bias, rally the team around hard numbers and facts.

3. Get a holistic, 360-degree view.​ Developing a strong ICP or evaluating the strength of your current ICP requires data and analysis in three key areas:

  • Demographic research​ establishes characteristics defining WHO customers, churned customers, and missed opportunities are.
  • Behavioral research​ helps illuminate HOW customers churned, missed opportunities to interact with them, and how to optimize future messaging.
  • Psychographic research​ looks at WHY customers churned customers. It examines their motivations, personality, attitudes, beliefs, values, emotions, and opinions.

4. Keep your ICP fresh.​ Once you have that picture, test your beliefs — and your ICP — regularly, against updated data and new inputs. Your ICP should be refreshed as often as quarterly and in advance of other milestones that require it, such as a new product launch or pivot in company direction. A stale ICP is the fastest way to ensuring people will abandon using it.

5. Use your ICP to drive your operations​, not the other way around. Established processes and sales comp plans and incentives may need to be realigned to ensure you are set up to sell to and serve your ideal customer. Be flexible, and create ways for your teams to win, with the new ICP.

Note: It takes time to develop an ICP and there are no wrong answers!

How you can use this with Shopify

This will be used for your Shopify store to build your brand. After you develop your ICP, revisit your current branding, analyze any gaps, and start making adjustments. This is everything from content, product, and colors. Afterward, you want to shift your focus on getting your name out there.

Building brand awareness

Do your customers know your brand's story? 59% of consumers in a recent survey said they prefer to buy a new product from brands they are already familiar with. The major shift from a transactional relationship to a value-based relationship means you shouldn’t overlook the critical moment when a potential customer becomes aware of your brand. You now have the opportunity to have a loyal online customer base with increased lifetime value (LTV) and lower overall customer acquisition costs (CAC).

What you can do to build brand awareness

1. Blogging lays the foundation for your company’s story

  • Try not to sell your product, but the idea of your brand. You could talk about how to use your product or general trends in your industry. The point is your goal is to establish for thought leadership. Consumers will eat up content that they relate to, and that provides real value.
  • People want to align themselves with a brand that has similar values to them.
  • Conduct SEO key research to incorporate keywords in your blog.

2. Go Social

  • Find which social platforms your ICP likes to use.
  • Again, don’t focus on selling, but on building your brand. The majority of your sales will come from social channels. This is a great place to show off your awesome blog content.
  • Social is all about consistency. Get your posts out there.

3. Reach out to influencers 

  • Offer free products in return for exposure. Make sure that the influencer you choose aligns with your company values and audience. 
  • Take the time to learn how they talk to their audience. This can give you ideas about what your audience expects from the content.

4. Launch digital marketing campaigns to find new visitors

  • It's an easy way to reach your audience on a budget.
  • Don’t focus on instant conversions, but use metrics like reach and new visitors to determine the success of your campaigns. You'll defeat the purpose of it if you're set on instant conversions.
  • It's important to have a defined ICP. This will help you set up different types of campaign targeting.

5. Reviews build credibility

  • Incorporate a process to solicit reviews. For example, you identify repeat shoppers and send them an email asking them to leave you a review. 
  • Be sure to highlight these reviews in your store. Building authority will be a deciding factor for your customers to choose you over your competitors.
  • There are platforms, such as Yotpo and TargetBay, that allow you to create ads featuring customer reviews. This is a great way to engender trust with new audiences.

How you can use this with Shopify

The tempting part of digital marketing is to think about measuring success solely based on conversions. However, this is problematic because it disregards your ICP. Everyone in your ICP is your customer, so start thinking of measuring success with metrics, such as reach, new visitors, and non-bounced visitors. This will help you think about your entre customers' journey, so you can create the best customer experience possible.

Stay ahead of the holiday season

Have you ever wondered why in October you see a Christmas tree in the mall? The holiday season feels like it's getting earlier and earlier every year. Did you know that over 40% of US consumers plan to begin their holiday shopping before November? If you aren't in holiday mode — get on it! We have put together a few holiday tips to help you out.

Tips for your holiday campaigns

1. Develop a holiday calendar. This will be the cornerstone of your marketing activities — lining up with every part of your business from social strategy to paid advertisement. A holiday seasonality calendar keeps you organized through the busy fall and winter months and on pace to hit your end-of-the-year sales goals.

2. Invest in video content. According to a survey by Animoto, 93% of businesses say they’ve gotten a new customer thanks to a video on social media.

How you can use this with Shopify

There are plenty of ways to leverage Shopify for the upcoming holiday season. With the bevy of integrations at your disposal, creating and incorporating different ad types (e.g., dynamic and carousel ads) into your marketing mix is a breeze. Additionally, these ads reflect how your target audiences engage with your Shopify store. This allows for personalization at scale, with customers being served with ads that automatically feature previously-viewed products, complementary products, and new product recommendations.

Utilizing a marketing toolset

The customer journey is not linear, and many channels operate in silos. This adds to the challenge of finding your customers where they are without spending extra time replicating your work across platforms and piecing together how your customers converted because of inaccurate cross-channel attribution.
As with any online-first business, deciding on which marketing tools to use can be challenging. The Shopify App Marketplace makes easy by offering an abundance of options to choose from, showcasing reviews, and highlighting user ratings. You can easily play with many different tools at a low cost. However, an important question to ask is how do you find a partner that will grow with you in the long run?
Technology should be something to support your online store. The tools you choose will decide how well you can piece together your customer’s journey. If done correctly, you should be able to retarget email lists and avoid using any developer resources.

Tips on finding the right tools

1. A typical marketing tech stack include apps for:

  • Social Media Marketing, CMS, SEO, Online Advertising, Landing Pages, CRM, Customer Support, Analytics, and Project Management, Automation.

2. According to Forbes, MarTech stack should have:

  • Integrations - Look for solutions that build off of your core tools like your CRM. 
  • Single Source of data - Integrating your tools will help you avoid data silos. Create a holistic view of your customers.
  • Real-time information - Data-driven decisions require you to be in the loop all the time.
  • Data for Attribution - Assigning success to every part of your marketing initiatives will help you figure out what is and isn’t working.

3. Leverage Zapier!

  • If you have a MarTech stack and some tools do not integrate, head over to Zapier, and most likely you will be able to connect your tools. It is also free to create an account and to use basic functions.

How you can use this with Shopify

If you're already using Shopify apps, it's a good idea to a bit of research into other potential apps. This will help you rethink your current strategies and create a visual map of your integrations. To help you find gaps in your tech stack, we've devised a little exercise for you.
Start with your Shopify store at the center, and list out all your tools in individual bubbles. If your tools connect to your Shopify store or any other apps, connect it with a solid line. Make sure to list out what the integrations do. If any of your integrations don't connect and you would like them to, connect them with a dashed line and list out what you hope they can help you accomplish. Once this is complete, analyze what you are missing, and make the necessary changes. Remember, Zapier can be used to connect missing tools for free!

Key Takeaways

  • Your ICP is the foundation of your marketing strategy and will provide focus in areas to invest time and resources.
  • Building brand awareness will result in future sales.
    Start early with the holiday season, your shoppers are already planning what they need to buy.
  • Leverage data across tools whenever possible. Use programs like Zapier to connect any missing integrations. It is free!

Use these tips as a checklist for your Shopify store and to see if you have the right marketing strategy in place. The landscape continues to become more competitive, but that just means there are more and greater opportunities to create revenue.

Are you interested in learning how to launch your very own holiday marketing campaign? Check out some of our other pieces of holiday-related content.

About the Author

Nicholas Bennett


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