Ecommerce is big business right now, and nowhere is the digital marketplace busier than Shopify, the web’s leading ecommerce selling platform. If you’re new to the Shopify game, getting started can be a bit intimidating — with so many other brands competing for consumers’ attention, trust, and dollars, how is a new brand supposed to stand out from the crowd and start building an audience? The answer: a strategic Shopify marketing plan.
Though there’s a lot to consider when designing an effective Shopify marketing strategy, getting started with Shopify itself is easy. With hundreds of plugins and add-ons at your disposal, Shopify is known for its simple setup process and overall ease of use. Those tools make it easy to build a store that reflects your brand’s identity while providing an intuitive customer experience.
The trick is getting the customers to your store in the first place. Let’s run through the basic steps for creating a solid marketing plan for your Shopify store.
For a complete checklist on making sure your Shopify store is a success:
Step 1: Define Your Brand
It may seem self-evident, but every brand needs a strong identity that distinguishes it from competitors. There’s no shortage of options in the world of ecommerce, and your brand needs a clear voice and distinct messaging that reflects its values and demonstrates why it’s worthy of a customer’s trust.
First, start by describing your brand — what it does, what value it provides, and what makes it unique. For example, let’s consider a handcrafted furniture brand that’s just getting started on Shopify. We’ve already answered the first question: the company makes furniture. But that’s not enough. There are thousands of furniture builders online, from IKEA to small sellers on sites like Etsy. What is it about this brand that should make customers want to buy from it? What are the brand’s values, and why do they matter to the customer?
The answers to these questions can transform a company from “a brand that sells furniture” to “artisans who hand-build each piece of premium furniture from reclaimed materials, offering products that are beautiful, sustainable, and last a lifetime.”
Now, you’ve captured the customer’s interest.
Step 2: Research Your Audience
No matter how broad your product or service’s appeal, it’s crucial to research your target consumers and understand what motivates their buying decisions. Ultimately, a marketing strategy aims to create a positive shopping experience throughout your brand’s ecosystem —every place your brand operates and connects with consumers. You can’t do that without knowing your customers.
At a minimum, you should be able to develop 2-3 personas for your ideal customers, defined by factors like:
- Marital status
- Income level
- Geographical location
- Education level
- Device preference
As you begin marketing your Shopify store, you’ll create campaigns directed at each of these audience groups. The characteristics of each group should define the creative elements and strategies.
For more information on leveraging the Shopify community:
Step 3: Set Your Goals
Again, this means digging deeper and being more specific than “get more sales.” At this point, you should be thinking in terms of revenue but also engagement and website behavior. Define some concrete goals in these categories to start:
- Increase in revenue per period: Choose a start date for your marketing and plan to review how revenue changes from that day forward.
- Basic engagement figures: Set targets for likes, follows and comments on social media, as well as email signups and website registrations.
- Website activity: Pageviews and shopping behavior will tell you a great deal about how your customers find your website and what they look for when they arrive.
Step 4: Map Out Your Marketing Mix
Once you have a strong understanding of your brand, your customers, and your goals, you’re ready to start selecting marketing channels. Every brand tailors its spending and attention to various channels according to their product and customers’ preferred communication methods. Most ecommerce brands on Shopify use some combination of these primary channels:
- Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn — the list goes on. Where you allocate budget and resources depends on which platforms your customers use. Note that many customers use different social media sites for various purposes. One may primarily use Facebook to keep up with family and find local events to attend but use Instagram to shop and discover new trends. Likewise, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of energy on a platform that doesn’t generate value. For instance, a brand that primarily targets consumers over 50 likely does not need an account on Tik Tok, which has a very young user base.
- Email marketing: Research shows that email is still the most effective — and preferred—means of communicating with customers.
- Display ads: This category covers everything from text-only links on search engine results pages to fully animated GIF banners or video ads placed around the web. Conveniently, Shopify itself offers some online advertising tools that you can add to your mix with popular services like Google Ads or AdRoll’s growth marketing platform.
- Content marketing: This is the practice of creating content for your website, social media, etc., that informs and educates your target audience while establishing your brand as a subject matter authority. Often, this means maintaining a blog on your website, which provides opportunities to reinforce your message to an interested audience and boost their brand loyalty. It can also mean writing informative content to place on other blogs or websites. These are often called “advertorials.”
For Shopify resources to help inspire your marketing strategy:
Step 5: Test and Analyze Your Shopify Marketing Plan
Once you’ve laid out your marketing channels, created content, and set your campaigns in motion, it’s time to start reviewing the results. Shopify’s built-in data tools will help you manage data that comes in through any third-party apps or plugins you use, which can complement what you learn through Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, or any other source. Review campaigns at every level for success. Did the ads generate clicks and engagements? What types of content performed best on each channel? Which channels performed best? From here, you can begin developing long-term metrics such as customer lifetime value (CLV), customer acquisition cost (CAC), and other figures that will help you gauge the overall effectiveness of your Shopify marketing plan.
With a good grip on your data, you can start testing new tactics for each channel to refine your campaigns. Try different combinations of headlines, copy, CTAs, imagery, and video. You can also alter your email cadence and send days and times. There are many options for Shopify marketing, and everything you learn will help improve your overall strategy down the road.
Thrive in a Competitive Arena
Thanks to its ease of use and robust third-party integrations, building a Shopify brand is a simple way to launch an ecommerce business. Paired with the right marketing plan, your brand should have everything it needs to thrive in a competitive arena, no matter your niche.
Wilson is the Sr. SEO Marketing Manager at AdRoll.