Over 375,000 online stores are using Shopify to get their products on the market.
The software is sophisticated enough to please experienced retailers and established businesses – but simple enough that regular folks can use it to quickly launch a business to earn some extra income.
That’s the beauty of Shopify.
But what a lot of people have found is that we’re now at a stage where creating the store is the easy part. There’s so much competition due to the reduced barrier to entry that, often it can be hard to cut through the noise and start generating sales.
If you’re one of the many people who has faced this challenge then just know that you aren’t alone, we get hundreds of emails from frustrated store owners pulling their hair out wondering why no-one wants to buy their products.
Before we go on I want to preface this guide by saying that there is no substitute for hard work and dedication. You can’t just build the store and expect users to come flocking (unless you have a very unique product).
But we’ve written this guide to guide you in the right direct with real, practical ways to grow your Shopify store without blowing a hole in your budget or potentially risking your business. Let’s start with some tips that can literally double your traffic:
Our Shopify Tips For E-commerce Success
1. Make Your Store Mobile
It was only a few years ago that desktop computers were responsible for the majority of online traffic. This has changed, however. In North America, mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones, are responsible for 60% of all internet use, and Europe is not far behind.
So since over half of all internet usage comes from mobile devices (and 10% of people’s time on mobile devices is spent inside E-commerce apps), not having a mobile app essentially means you’re instantly losing half of your opportunities to engage and convert website visitors before you even go live.
The obvious objection to this is that for now, the world is still figuring out how to drive more mobile app sales. In 2015, they were “only” responsible for 15% of all E-commerce revenue.
But here’s why that doesn’t matter:
- Mobile E-commerce is a lot less competitive, which means getting that 15% of mobile revenue is significantly easier than selling from desktop traffic.
- We’re already spending more time on our smartphones than we are watching television. This trend is expected to continue – and as mobile retail matures, it’ll start to dominate E-commerce and do wonders for your business.
So unless you want to miss out on most of your target audience’s online time – or make sure your business stalls in the mobile-powered future – you need to consider whether the Shopify theme you’re using is responsive for mobile or not.
This will open the door for an abundance of mobile visitors to engage with your store and also provide a few extra benefits:
- Visitors are less like to bounce away on mobile devices
- You’ll start driving sales on mobile
- Improved overall experience for customers, they’ll be able to add products to the cart on mobile then buy on desktop if they wish
- Your store is more likely to rank in Google Search for mobile specific queries
- Shopify also has a responsive checkout, so users will be able to convert on their device too
- If you’re running Paid ads, you can test how well mobile users convert (instead of excluding them completely)
This is a simple step, but in a world where mobile is becoming increasingly dominant, it’s one of the more powerful things you can do to set your Shopify store up for success.
Once you’ve optimised your store for mobile, you’ll be ready to sell to just about everyone, and the choices you make about exactly what you sell can have a profound impact on your success.
2. Selling More Products
This tip might sound a little too simplistic, but it’s absolutely true. If you want to make more money, sell more products. This is an obvious strategy, and it’s anything but new. In fact, retail giant Amazon used this exact concept to beat brick-and-mortar bookstores when it was just starting out.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, most people still bought physical books from physical stores.
Unfortunately, these stores could only stock so many books, which meant that people would often have to go without the product they wanted – or wait for days, weeks or even months for it to be ordered in.
So what did Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, do?
He made an internet website that had all the books, 24/7. Many of these books sold in low volumes, but that didn’t matter. They still sold, and they made Amazon a lot of money while pulling in customers who weren’t satisfied by other stores.
This would later come to be known as the long-tail strategy. The same principles helped the Washington Post overtake the New York Times in daily traffic for the first time when Jeff Bezos bought the publication.
Now, we’re definitely not saying you should do the exact same thing. You can’t realistically sell everything – and even if you could, you’d be competing with Amazon and its $462 billion in market cap.
We’re simply saying you should offer more stuff to make more sales and engage more people.
But how can you make sure you’re doing this the right way?
For starters, you need to carefully research your options and make sure you’re flexible with what you sell. You want to make sure whatever you have on offer is highly relevant to your brand, but you don’t want to limit yourself.
Take The 5TH as an example, they originally started out just selling watches – now they sell sunglasses and accessories.
These are complementary products which mean that someone is likely to buy both (thus increasing your average order value).
In the beginning, you’ll want to sell a product that either scratches your own itch, is unique, or something that’s selling well globally (and not saturated like fidget spinners 🤔). Then, as you start getting traction you can add more products.
YOMG is a popular frozen yoghurt store here in Australia. Originally they started out just selling frozen yoghurt but have since added burgers and fries to their stores. People drive from all over Melbourne to get their burgers, so not only is there a sense of scarcity (as they figure out the business model) but the burgers really compliment their overall product offering.
Adore Me started out as a Lingerie retailer, but have since expanded their offering to include activewear, swimwear, and even cosmetics to maximise their sales. This expansion has greatly broadened their offering while keeping their beauty-focused brand image untarnished.
Having more products allows you to group them into broader categories to drive more traffic from SEO too.
It makes sense to sit down and research how you can group products and which complimentary products you can launch to satisfy your audience.
Here are some ways to see the types of products other retailers are doing well with:
- Search on Amazon and sort by reviews, this can show you some obscure products that people love
Here’s a good example I found that would fit perfectly if you ran a men’s grooming store or a store that sells beard oils like Beardbrand.
A simple search on Amazon and I came across the BaKblade, a razor for shaving your back that has over 2100+ incredible reviews.
- Google product categories and see what comes up first in ads and the shopping tab. This is a surefire way to determine success.
- Make a dummy Facebook account, then visit stores similar to your own and see which ads you get shown in your Newsfeed. If a product is getting promoted this way, it’s likely doing pretty well for itself
- Check out the top sellers in your category on websites like Amazon, eBay or AliExpress
Now that we’ve got some basics in order, lets start jumping into the stuff that’s really going to help you increase your sales:
3. Customer Retention
On average, 65% of sales come from previous customers. This means that spending time retaining these customers (and growing their average spend) is much more cost effective than acquiring new customers.
Just think about how much more likely you are to buy from a brand you know and trust than someone entirely new.
So you know that successfully retaining customers is important for your business, but you may not realize just how dramatically powerful it can be.
A Bain & Co study found that improving customer retention by just 5% can increase profitability by 75%, and successful businesses were found to allocate far more of their resources to customer retention than unsuccessful ones.
To put it simply, retaining customers is essential to growing your Shopify store. If you’re losing existing customers, then you’ll need to be pulling in huge amounts of new customers to make up for it, and working a lot harder just to maintain your current revenue. This isn’t what you want.
To prevent this from happening you need to take active steps to ensure you’re retaining your customers.
Here are our top 10 most effective ways to improve your retention:
Regular Email Communication
Send out regular e-mails. This will keep users engaged, and make your store the first one they think of when they’re ready to make a purchase.
There’s plenty of reasons to send customers an email:
- Notifications for new product ranges in stock
- Sending them a birthday message
- Announcing sales or special offers
- Seasonal emails for Summer, Autumn, Spring & Winter
- Specific holidays (like Labour day or No Shave November)
Surprise and Delight Customers
You need to try and go above and beyond for every single customer. Sometimes a little thought can go a very long way.
One great way to do this is to send handwritten notes with each order:
Improve Your Packaging
No-one likes getting their products in bad packaging, just look at the amount of time Apple puts into making their unboxing experience feel magical.
You can do the same, but you can also use your packaging to an advantage:
- Send it to relevant YouTube channels and ask if they’d do an unboxing of your products
- Put handwritten cards in your boxes
- Put coupons or vouchers for discounts on your next order
- Put refer a friend vouchers so they can hand them out to friends
- Provide manuals that helps your user with their purchase
- Be unique, funny or quirky with your packaging to make your customers smile
Shopping Cart Abandonment Emails
We’re all busy people, sometimes we can get cold feet or get interrupted when making a purchase. Normally these sales might be lost (as the user can forget to come back) but you can send them a reminder to recover their cart with an abandonment email.
This only works when the user is logged in and you know their email address though. In a scenario where you don’t, you can use abandoned shopping cart popups like the one below.
Another sneaky way to retain customers is by using retargeting. This places a cookie in their browser with information about the products they were looking at – which then allows you to show them ads via Adwords or Facebook to entice them back.
Everyone loves a surprise on their birthday and so will your customers. Delight them with a coupon code or a nice message to brighten up their day (and give them somewhere to spend all that birthday money! 🎁)
We’ve written at length about how running giveaways can both engage existing customers and also raise awareness of your store.
Remember, your users love your products – so give them a way to win what they love (and reap the social rewards and sales).
Repeat Buyer Discount
The absolute best way to grow lifetime order values across clients is to incentivize them to come back and shop with you again!
You can do this easily with additional discounts after a user buys from you. Give them 10% off their next order, or give them 10% and a friend 10% – there are lots of potential ways to drive these sorts of repeat sales.
Create a Loyalty Program
Just like being a frequent flyer customers love to be rewarded for their loyalty. So consider setting up a loyalty program that allows them to earn points from their purchases – this will increase the stickiness of your store and improve customer value and retention.
Curate Product Reviews
Reviews help sell products, they can also help users decide which products to buy (based on the experience of other users).
How often do you use reviews on Steam or Amazon to decide on which games or products to buy? I do it all the time.
With this in mind, you absolutely should consider a way to let users give feedback on your products.
The example we’re using here is Free and made by Shopify themselves:
Taking this a step further you can also use purchase behaviour to determine which products are most likely to be purchased with others – and then provide this data in the form of recommendations to customers.
This is a proven way to increase your average order value with only a few minutes of setup time.
This example is using a Shopify feature called Personalized Recommendations:
Be Responsive on Social Media
Replying to comments on your posts is a great way to boost engagement and create a sense of community.
It also shows your customers that you’re listening 👂
Don’t Take Complaints Personally
Customers don’t like to be ignored and sometimes they will take to social media to vent their frustrations.
There’s nothing I like more than seeing how businesses handle these frustrations (and criticism), sometimes it’s much better to continue to give the customer a fantastic experience for the sake of a small portion of revenue.
You never know, they might tell 10 friends and continue shopping with you!
We’ve gone over some fantastic ways you can improve the profitability of your store, but any tweaks or additions you make to your store may be for nothing if you don’t properly communicate them with your market. One of the best ways you can do this is by beginning to…
4. Build an E-Mail List
The great thing about having a strong email list is that once you’ve got one, you can message people anytime you want. Your traffic won’t be reliant on Facebook, Google, or anyone else and you’ll be able to drive traffic with the push of a button.
This is why e-mail marketing is one of the most profitable marketing channels available, especially for e-commerce stores.
Having a sizeable email list is undeniably beneficial for any business, but how exactly can you build an email list in the first place?
Well, Gleam once again makes this easy with Capture. You can use this powerful app you to make customized landing page pop-ups which will get people signing up from inside your store.
With Gleam Capture, you’ll be able to build targetted opt-in forms that will engage your audience and help you convert the traffic you generate into a sizeable mailing list.
Once you’ve set yourself up with a way of collecting email addresses, and some quality email marketing content, you’ll be in control of the customer-retailer relationship, and able to provide your audience with valuable updates and marketing material whenever you see fit.
As undeniably effective as email marketing is, it is reliant on people giving you their email address, which is reliant on people visiting your website. This means that you need to attract people to your website, and to do this you need to produce compelling content.
5. Optimize Your Content for E-commerce
Content Marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material. Content Marketing doesn’t explicitly promote a brand, but rather stimulates interest in a brands products or services.
It’s important that you know this because the ROI of content marketing has been found to be 8 times higher than that of traditional marketing.
Content is king, but as an e-commerce business, there are a few core types you should focus on. Specifically…
64% of all users are more likely to buy a from you after watching a relevant online video and 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions. Add this to the fact that videos make up an increasingly significant portion of web traffic and it becomes quite clear that you need to be using videos as a part of your marketing mix.
If you can clue people into exactly what your product is and how it can help them in an engaging manner then you’re likely to see not only your conversion rate improve but also your page shares and SEO.
Remember: Google’s algorithm promotes high quality content, and a well thought out and compelling product description absolutely counts as high quality content.
Basically, the better your on-page copy, the more likely you are to make sales.
Like product descriptions, images are a central component of your store’s marketing. The better the images you provide are, the better your product will look. And the better your product looks, the more sales you’re going to make.
High quality images that show your product in use are always a good idea, as are ones which clearly illustrate exactly what it is you’re selling.
Here’s a good example from our friends at Beardbrand:
Product Reviews and Recommendations
In 2013, Amazon made 35% of their revenue (about $25 billion) by recommending products to past customers. This product recommendation strategy is one that you can easily implement.
There are a few ways you can go about doing this:
- Firstly, you can recommend products to existing customers based on their previous purchases (email is the best platform for this technique).
- Secondly, you can take positive reviews you’ve accumulated and share them across social media or your blog to earn trust and highlight popular products.
These aren’t the only types of content you should be using in your marketing, but they’re certainly the most effective ones that you should be looking to implement right away.
Having said that, there are some more specific content strategies that are absolutely worth your while.
6. Effective Marketing via Storytelling
Do you think your shop’s success depends entirely on the quality of your wares and the store itself? Think again:
- A recent Nielsen study found that consumers seek personal connections with the brands they buy from.
- We have a tendency to buy from organizations we like, rather than relying on pure logic.
- Many studies have shown that the human brain is a lot more engaged by storytelling than by facts and numbers.
In other words, emotions and stories are critical to the continual growth of your brand. This is why 71% of B2B marketers, and over 65% of B2C marketers, are using content to generate leads.
Content is how you get your story out there.
For an example of a Shopify merchant that really knows how to tell a story, check out SkinnyMe Tea.
SkinnyMe Tea sells a tea-based detox program which helps their customers reach health and wellness goals, and they put the success stories of their customers at the heart of their marketing. This is on full display on their website.
In addition to the customer success stories, SkinnyMe Tea also maintain a consistently strong brand story which is one of blissful summer, healthy lifestyles, and fun.
The reason this kind of storytelling is so effective is that people want to buy from someone they know and trust – and telling a story is the single best way to create this level of familiarity and affection. Whether it’s through blogging, vlogging or simply making unique product descriptions, finding ways to tell your story is a major growth contributor.
Another type of content which helps people feel more involved with your brand is interactive content, which doesn’t have to be nearly as complicated as it sounds.
7. Do Interactive Content the Easy Way With Quizzes
Interactive content sounds fancy – and sometimes, it is.
Just take a look at this interactive infographic from Inception Explained:
Obviously, this kind of big-budget project is beyond what you want (or need). We’re not suggesting you produce this kind of interactive content; far from it.
Instead, we want to share one specific case study in which the simplest kind of interactive content –the quiz – helped a company generate over a million dollars in revenue.
The quiz in question was made by Zenni Optical, a glasses manufacturer and retailer using Qzzr. It consists of just a few questions that take a few minutes to complete, and it is mostly entertaining in nature.
Despite all of this simplicity, the basic piece of interactive content generated 29,140 conversions and made the company a literal fortune – and this isn’t even an exceptional case. Quizzes work like gangbusters, and you don’t have to just take our word for it, the stats back us up.
For example, did you know that the average quiz is shared nearly 2,000 times? Or that when started, BuzzFeed’s quizzes are completed an astonishing 96% of the time? Well, it’s true, and there are plenty more equally impressive stats about quizzes that will get you itching to make one.
Put all of this together and it becomes clear that quizzes are a highly effective way to drive organic traffic (and sales) towards your store, so try making a quiz, embedding it on your web page and sharing it across social media. The key is making quizzes that you can follow up with smooth calls-to-action that guide people towards buying from you.
For some more inspiration take a look at another glasses selection quiz, courtesy of Warby Parker…
Which leads you right to some suggested products…
Or this quiz from Adore Me which helps users find an appropriate size for their next Bra…
In each of these tests, you’ll see a tight fit between the product sold and the quiz – as well as multiple calls to action. This is what you want to replicate, as it’s all well and good to make a quiz, but if you aren’t using it to convert leads then you’re missing out on the full potential of interactive content.
We’ve gone over a lot of great tips, but we’re yet to go over what could very well be the most effective strategy for growing your Shopify store. We’re talking about…
8. Contest Marketing
Contest Marketing is something we’ve talked about a lot on this blog. Whether it be our guides to running contests on Facebook and Instagram, or tips for avoiding mistakes, when it comes to contests we’ve pretty much got you covered.
This is for good reason.
Firstly, contest’s are sort of our area of expertise. And secondly, contests are potentially the best thing you can do to generate leads, spread your brand message, and grow your audience.
In fact, when it comes to contests the potential is practically limitless. You can run contest’s that are specifically designed to grow your audience, spread a particular message, draw leads to your store, collect user-generated content and much, much more. A contest is essentially a highly effective (yet surprising cost-effective) way to motivate people to do what you’re asking of them, and this is exactly why you should put this incredible tool to work for your Shopify store.
For a bit of inspiration just take a look at this contest from Adore Me which generated close to 90,000 impressions and 54,000 actions off of a $1000 prize.
Or this contest by Janet Jackson to giveaway tickets to her upcoming #SOTW series of shows, which saw over 100k entries within the first 24 hours alone:
Have a play below or enter some live contests:
Contests are clearly a terrific tool that can’t be left out of your marketing repertoire. But don’t forget about one of the more traditional e-commerce promotional tools, that when used properly, can be well and truly worth the cost.
9. Using Paid Ads Effectively
For a few years in the early 2010s, organic traffic seemed like the future of marketing. But due to platforms like Facebook and YouTube taking drastic measures to minimize organic reach this has begun to change.
In 2016 alone, Facebook’s organic reach plummeted by 52%, and this trend is continuing into 2017.
This has lead many to buy traffic from platforms like Facebook and Google by investing in SEO, paid ads and social media marketing, as with the decline of organic reach many digital marketers have come to realize that paid traffic is still a top way to drive business, especially in the e-commerce space.
Just consider that the top ad on Google Search gets clicked on 19.3% (desktop) to 27.7% (mobile) of the time. That’s outstanding, especially because these users are inherently interested enough in a product to search for it and click the ad, which means that they have enough interest to at least strongly consider making a purchase. This just goes to show that using Google AdWords can be well and truly worth the investment.
Facebook is another platform that is well worth some advertising spend, as the average cost per thousand impressions is only $7.29, and with so many businesses flocking to Facebook’s paid ads and never looking back, the effectiveness of paid advertising is becoming clearer and clearer.
Running ads offers a number of business benefits:
- They can help you understand how consumers react to certain types of marketing messages
- You can test ideas before you commit to them
- You can test conversion rates before you start optimising for SEO
- Once you find something that works you can throw money at it to scale
This is something you can’t do with organic strategies like list-building and organic social media marketing, which can often take months to produce substantial results.
There’s a number of factors you’ll also need to consider before promoting products via paid ads (in order to see success):
- What are your top selling products?
- Are your prices competitive?
- Can you send users to branded products? (they typically convert higher)
- What’s your conversion rate? (the higher it is, the higher your ROI will be from paid ads – if it’s low you might consider fixing that first)
- Are you capturing emails from bouncing users?
- Are you able to target existing customers by uploading a Lookalike audience in Facebook?
- Is your store mobile optimised? You’ll need to filter in or filter out mobile traffic based on this
Getting these points nailed down will help you drive more and more ROI from your paid ads spend.
It should be pretty clear by now that paid ads can play a valuable role in your marketing strategy, and if you want to turn your ads into a bona fide traffic, lead, and sales generation machine then combine it with content marketing using the tips we’ve discussed.
With these 9 tips in mind growing your Shopify store should be a walk in the park. You’ve got no reason to wait, so get out there, put these strategies to work at watch your store take it to the next level!
More E-Commerce Tips
- 14 Tips on Marketing a New Business
- How to Promote an E-Commerce Business With Gleam
- Using Shopify Discounts to Drive Actions and Incentivise Sales
- How to Use Content Pillars in Your Content Strategy
- 15 Pre-launch Strategies For Your Business
- Master These 15+ Early Stage Growth Strategies
- Where to Find Your First Customers
- How to Grow Your E-Commerce Sales With Gleam