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The Ecommerce Marketing Blog

The #1 resource for small and growing ecommerce brands

100 Marketing Tactics To Grow Your Shopify Store in 2021 (with Examples)

By Lauren Hall
69 minute read

man-working-on-computer-at-desk

It’s official. Ecommerce Marketing School, our daily podcast, hit 100 episodes. 🎉

Ben has covered everything from why popups are so important, to tips for writing amazing subject lines, to the types of images you probably didn't even know you needed to help you reach Shopify success.

We’ve compiled 100 of our key learnings for Shopify marketing into this blog post. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been running your Shopify store for years, I promise you’re going to learn something from this post.

But spoiler alert: it's an absolute beast.

You don't need to digest it all in one sitting. Take a moment to bookmark and keep coming back to this post. Here's a table of contents so you can skip ahead if you'd like: 

Tell your brand story (in 3 versions)
How to think about your Shopify traffic
Shopify conversion rate benchmarks
5 ways to stand out on Shopify with 🔥 brand messaging
6 different display types for your Shopify store
How to implement Shopify popups that work
How to convert with coupons
How to save carts and maximize sales
How to increase AOV with cross-sells, upsells and bundles
How to get your Shopify email marketing basics right
How to find hidden opportunities in cart abandonment
How to segment customers to drive purchases
How to drive repeat purchases by modelling a SaaS strategy
How to create FOMO for your Shopify brand
How to get creative to improve Shopify conversion rates
How to use content to build your following
How to grow your Shopify brand with customer voices
How to build ads that convert
How to get the most from holiday sales by planning ahead
How to understand your ecommerce analytics
Amazon vs Shopify (a real take)
Two things to avoid before you are ready 

Tell your brand story (in 3 versions)

You started your store for a reason, right? And you should be telling that story any and everywhere you can because your story will connect your customers and prospects with your brand. Remember that people want to buy from people, not a faceless company with no personality.

That’s why it’s so important to nail your story from the very beginning.

...but most brands don’t take the time to do it.

To be really successful, you should have 3 versions of your story to use across different channels.

1. The long brand story

This should be the 1-page, full length version of your story. You can use this on your homepage as a letter from the founder or on your about page. It could also be included in a card that you send out to first-time customers as part of the unboxing experience.

2. The short brand story

For this one, you should take what you have for the 1-page version and condense it into 1 paragraph. You can use this in everything from your abandoned cart emails to order confirmation emails.

3. The brand headline  

The last version you need to have is the 1-sentence version of your story. It should be front and center on your homepage, in your social bios, and feed your ad creative.

Your story should fuel every piece of marketing you do. It’s going to win you customers and keep them coming back over and over.

And if you’re looking for inspiration, Ben’s favorite hummus brand, Ithaca Hummus, nails every aspect of their story.  

How to think about your Shopify traffic 

You’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about how to drive more traffic to your store.

But have you ever thought about the types of visitors you have coming to your site?

There are really 3 main buckets:

1. First-time visitors
2. Repeat visitors who haven’t purchased
3. Repeat visitors who have purchased

And depending on what your primary focus is, you should be thinking about how you impact the experience for these types of visitors.

If you want to drive more first-time sales, think about what’s going to move the needle for this group. What will get them over the hump? Is it a code for free shipping on their first order? What about a bundle?

Same goes for repeat visitors who haven’t pulled the trigger and made a purchase. They’re clearly interested in your products, but what would it take to get them to actually buy? You could try creating an FAQ doc to bust common objections.

And lastly, if you’re trying to encourage repeat purchases, maybe you can suggest products based on previous purchases.

The bottom line is, you should always be thinking about the intent for these 3 kinds of traffic and what you can do to improve their experience.

5 ways to stand out on Shopify with 🔥 brand messaging

It’s no secret that ecommerce is a competitive and saturated space. This is why crafting your brand voice is key to making an awesome first impression, building rapport with your customers, and selling more! Here’s 5 areas where you can do that.

1. Be entertaining

There’s no better brand to look to than Dude Wipes when it comes to being entertaining.

Sean Reilly has shown time and time again that he understands the power of creativity in marketing.

They react quickly when it comes to current events.

They sent Barstool’s David Portnoy a brand new product to open live because they know his audience aligns perfectly with theirs.

They entered a local chili contest and won and their post went viral.

They got millions of eyeballs on their logo during the World Series with a handmade poster that made it on camera.

If you’re scrappy and willing to try different things, you can get an idea off the ground even if you don’t think of yourself as a marketer.

2. Focus on your copy

Writing is hard. Even people who are good at it don’t always like doing it. But well-written copy can help you stand out from the crowd (and win people over).

You want to nail your headline. But remember that your tone is everything. Be conversational. If you wouldn’t use a word or phrase when you’re talking to a friend, you shouldn’t use it in emails or anywhere on your site (a 4th grade reading level is perfect, seriously).

And you should avoid big blocks of text. Short, choppy copy is your friend.

3. Build hype with exclusivity

Your customers want to feel like they’re getting access to something special. Which is why building hype and launching exclusive products work so well.

So if you’re giving your VIPs early access to new launches or deals, let them know! Explain that you’re opening it up to everyone else in 24 hours to drive urgency.

Offer an exclusive gift with purchase for a specific window.

There are so many things you can do here. So get creative and really lean into hype and exclusivity to drive sales.

4. Update your unfurl images

When you’re mindlessly scrolling through social media, think about what’s going to stop people and actually get them to click (for your homepage, product page, blog posts, etc.).

That’s where an amazing unfurl image can really shine. It’s what people see when any of your urls are shared. It can be through text, on Slack, on social, really anywhere.

So you should take the time to make your unfurl images great.

And if you’re not sure what people see, take your homepage url and either text it or Slack it to yourself. Just so you have an idea of what this might look like, here’s Privy’s:

We’re huge fans of including real people any and everywhere you possibly can – it makes your brand feel human.

And here’s an example of a brand that really nailed it:

Check to see what some of your favorite brands are doing for their unfurl images.

Just remember this isn’t a one-and-done thing. Go through and check out your product page images and make sure you include them whenever you launch something new.

And they’re really easy to update in Shopify. Go to your admin, click the online store tab, for the theme, click customize, then you’ll find theme settings and a social tab where you can edit/add new images.

5. Kick your 404 page up a notch

Think of all the times you’ve been browsing on your favorite stores and come across a broken link. Well, those broken links actually take you to what’s called a 404 page.

And you might think, “Why would an error message be a marketing opportunity?”

Well, when you design an amazing 404 page, you can actually use them to get your visitors back on track by pointing them to your most popular collections, FAQs, or blog like Hims does:

And even some of the biggest ecommerce brands in the biz don’t have great 404 pages. But if you’re looking for inspiration for your own 404 page, look no further.

Conversion rate benchmarks every ecommerce business owner should know

“What’s a good conversion rate?” We get this one a lot.

And luckily, billions of site visitors have completed 500M+ forms.

Which has helped us identify consistent benchmarks for 3 different campaign types.

1. The signup campaign: There’s no coupon involved, you’re just asking people to join your list. Something like this:

Conversion rate: Expect to convert 1% of visitors

If you’re not into welcome discounts, this might be a good place to start. Just keep in mind that the better the offer, the more signups you’re going to get.

2. The coupon campaign: The offer here can be something like 15% off or free shipping on your first order.

Conversion rate: Expect to convert 5% of visitors

3. The enter to win campaign: This can be everything from a chance to win free products to a gift card. There are SO many options here. So use it as your opportunity to be creative. And by the way, spin to win campaigns are a perfect way to create an interactive experience.

Conversion rate: Expect to convert 10% of visitors.

So do you need to offer a discount or reward to incentivize signups? No! But as you can see from the increase in conversion (we started off at 1% and worked our way up to 10%) that it definitely has an impact on the number of new subscribers you’re going to get.

Just remember: You can always start with a simple signup campaign and work your way up from there.

 

6 different display types for your Shopify store

Growing your email list needs to be a focus if you want to drive real revenue from your email program.

That’s why it’s so important to understand your options when it comes to building your list. And the fact that your offer is really what’s going to define the success of your campaign.

1. Popups

A popup is the most popular display type for email signups.

welcome-popup-example

2. Flyouts

Flyouts are perfect for mobile devices because they appear at the bottom of the screen and are a little more subtle than a popup.

flyout-example

3. Banners 

A full-width display at the top or bottom of the site that’s typically a little thicker than a bar.

banner-example4. Bars 

Another full-width display at the top or bottom of your site. A bar is the most subtle display type. And a free shipping bar is the most common use case.

Screen Shot 2020-12-28 at 4.05.44 PM5. Spin to win

This campaign type tends to convert really well, but they might not get you the highest quality subscribers so make sure you use them sparingly (and keep reading for the best way to use them!).

spin-to-win-example


6. Embedded forms

You’re probably used to seeing these in the footer of many sites. They’re great to include, but shouldn’t be your primary form of collecting email addresses.

Screen Shot 2020-12-28 at 3.37.06 PM

There’s absolutely a time and place for each format. But if you’re just getting started, a popup is the way to go. Just make sure it works on mobile (350 pixels wide x 400 pixels tall will do the trick for both desktop and mobile).

And aside from a bar and embedded forms, which are really subtle and don’t convert that well, you really can’t go wrong with any of the options. And by the way, you can use Privy to  build each of these display types.

How to implement Shopify popups that work

Popups can help you convert more first-time visitors, recover more carts, and drive more repeat purchases.

Let’s be honest, though. They kind of get a bad rap…

Historically, they didn’t have great design and the experience was terrible.

But if you don’t have a strong approach to growing your email list, you have a huge hole in your business.

That’s why popups are so important. They really are the best way to turn traffic into subscribers you can reach out to again and again.

Which is why you need to get over your own perceptions and give them a try.

You can use tabs if you want your visitors to have the power to trigger the popup. And targeting is a great way to ease in. It really just means you control who sees your popup when.

When they’re well-designed and show at the right time, they feel like a native part of your site rather than a nuisance. Like this one:

Screen Shot 2020-12-29 at 8.46.44 AM

 

Launch a welcome popup

You probably already know how important it is to build relationships with your customers. And email is an unbelievably effective way to do that.

When you do it right, you can use email to create a bond with your subscribers and drive them back to your site to (hopefully) make a purchase.

Not to mention you should strive to get to a point where 30%+ of your revenue comes from email.

So how can popups help you get there?

Well, more emails = more $$.

And the easiest way to turn visitors into subscribers is with a welcome popup. That’s why you’ve probably seen so many popups like this one:

welcome-popup-example-2

If you don’t already have a welcome popup on your store, my biggest piece of advice would be to set one up ASAP (you can use Privy to set you your welcome popup today).

You don’t have to include a discount, but we definitely suggest including some sort of offer to incentivize a signup. It could be a free gift, free shipping on a first order, or anything else you can dream up, just remember: the better the offer, the more people are going to subscribe.

2 must-have popups to drive conversions for your Shopify store

Now that you know why popups can be so powerful, let’s take a look at a couple campaigns you can’t live without.

Because we’ve heard the same thing time and time again. “My biggest mistake was not collecting emails earlier.”

1. A Welcome Offer popup 

Your welcome offer is what shows up for new visitors to your store. You’ve probably seen welcome offers hundreds of times.

And with the right offer, your welcome popup can help you grow your email list quickly and inexpensively.

You should target first-time visitors and make sure your popup doesn’t show up too soon. We recommend a 5-second timer or 75% scroll. Which means it’ll show after 5 seconds or if someone scrolls 75% of the way down your page.

And make sure your thank you page that visitors see after submitting their email  includes the discount code (if you’re offering one) rather than making them leave to check their email. Because if they leave your site to find it, it’s very possible they might not make it back.  

welcome-popup-example-3

2. A Cart Saver popup

Cart abandonment is something every brand has to deal with. But a cart saver can help you reduce the number of abandoned carts you see dramatically.

If you target visitors who haven’t made a purchase yet, you can use a cart saver to give a little extra incentive to complete their purchase.

If you’re going the discount route, you should plan to have it be a little higher than your welcome popup to seal the deal. But you can also offer free shipping, a free gift with purchase, etc.

Cart savers don’t need to be overly complex to drive $$.

cart-saver-example-1

*Keep reading to learn more about the benchmarks you need to know about to create a killer popup and get more deets on both these types of popups.

Effective popup examples 

Theory aside, let's look at some popup examples that work and more importantly, why they work. 

Slate Milk drove conversions with pop up offers

Slate started using Privy in February 2020. And in just 10 months, they drove more than $76k in sales with just 2 campaigns: a welcome popup and a cart saver.

Here’s their welcome offer:

And this is their cart saver:

This baby has a 30% conversion rate, by the way. Proving that you don’t need to do anything crazy to get serious results if you have the right offers in place.

Drive sales with targeted popups

Once you’re comfortable with popups (and have a welcome popup and cart saver), there are tons of ways to use targeted popups.

Here are a few ideas from our customers:

Outer Aisle used a popup to build hype for an upcoming launch.

This campaign had a 20% conversion rate and led to their biggest sales day ever.

A beauty brand increases AOV by asking shoppers if they want to double the size of a specific product in their cart. And it has a 25% conversion rate.

A wine brand has a featured reds of the week popup that visitors only see if they scroll halfway down the red wine page (showing real intent and interest).

There are add-to-cart buttons for each product that make it a seamless experience. Even better, it has a 10% add-to-cart rate.

So once you have the basics down, get creative with your popups. Just make sure they enhance the experience rather than detracting from it.

Gamify pop ups with spin to win campaigns

Love them or hate them, spin to win campaigns can be incredibly effective if you’re intentional about when they’re used.

And if you’re not sure what they are, they’re basically a gamified form that adds a lottery-type element to your campaigns.

And these 2 brands do an amazing job with spin to win.

Death Wish Coffee targets their spin to win campaign to a certain audience, which means not all new visitors see it.

But they’ve been able to turn thousands of visitors into subscribers.

By the way, it has a 25% conversion rate. That’s insane...

So if you’re on the fence about it, you can always test it out with a small segment (ex: certain paid audiences, specific pages, etc.) and let the results speak for themselves.

Zutano also does a great job with spin to win. But their strategy is completely different.

They never target new customers with spin to win campaigns. Instead, they use them to drive repeat purchases with customers.

They send a newsletter to their most loyal customers and have driven 1000+ repeat purchases with this strategy.

The bottom line? Don’t knock spin to win til you try it. They can convert like crazy and feel like a native part of your site if take the time to do it right.

Confirm new subscribers with welcome popups

You landed a new subscriber with your welcome popup. Yay! So what happens next?

You need to make sure you deliver on your promise (or whatever your offer was). So if you promised 10% off their first order, did you give them a code?

That’s where your thank you page matters. Don’t make subscribers check their email to get their code (please, please don’t make this mistake - we see it all the time and it might mean you don’t get them back). You should include the code right after they’ve given you their email. Here’s what that might look like:

You should also make sure an autoresponder email is going out immediately after signup.

It can be simple, but it’s an opportunity to tell your story and set expectations. It also warms up the inbox to you as a sender and brand.

Use a tab with your popups

When you’re building out any sort of form (popup, fly out, banner) there are a number of triggers that determine when the popup will load. Think: timers, scroll, exit intent, etc.

And these are all automatic triggers, which means it’s not something your visitors are controlling. But tabs are triggered by your visitors. Here’s what a tab might look like:

Helpful hint: on mobile, you might want to put your tabs on the right side of the screen because most people are right-handed.

This strategy works really well because your visitors are showing intent. Because of this, tabs are by far the best-converting trigger we see.

Traditionally, if your visitors don’t sign up for your email list right away, there’s no straightforward way to access it again. But tabs allow your visitors to come back to your popup if they weren’t quite ready to give you access to their inbox the first time around.

Find out how tabs helped one brand generate an extra 1k subscribers in just 30 days.

How to convert with coupons

Coupons are a useful tactic to help customers feel like they are getting a special deal because they are subscribed to your brand. 

Give out unique coupon codes

Ever wonder why some brands use something like ‘WELCOME10’ while others use something crazy like, ‘TB7-8JI-JK89?’

Welcome10 is an example of a master coupon code, while TB7-8JI-JK89 is a unique coupon code.

If you’re using a master code, everyone will see the same code (and it can be shared easily). But master codes are unique for each subscriber.

So why should you be using a unique coupon code?

Outside of the fact that they can’t be shared with coupon aggregators, you can also use them to drive urgency because you can set the code to expire after a certain length of time.

So if you’ve only used a master coupon code til now, try out a unique coupon code.

Send a coupon reminder email

You’re probably familiar with this scenario. Someone signed up for your list but didn’t ever follow through and use their coupon code to make a purchase.

Luckily, there’s a feature in Privy that allows you to follow up with these people.

You can send an email (or series of emails) to the people who signed up for your list but didn’t use their code. And don’t worry - if you have a series of emails and someone makes a purchase, they won’t receive any others in the series.

I know. It sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it really is that simple.

Think about your own life. It’s so easy to get distracted and forget about a list you signed up for. So sometimes a little nudge is all it takes!

Create an on-site coupon reminder

Audience targeting is your friend when it comes to creating a relevant experience for your visitors.

And you can actually create a reminder for people who have signed up for your email list, but haven’t used their coupon code.

A popup or bar campaign are both perfect ways to do it. And you can include their code right in there.

You can also show it on exit intent as a reminder.

How to save carts and maximize sales

If you’re only sending abandoned cart emails, you’re off to an awesome start.

But you actually don’t have to wait til your visitors have left the site to try to get them to buy.

That’s where cart savers come in.

A cart saver is a special kind of popup. As someone who has products in their cart is about to leave, you can hit them with an offer to try to get them to stick around. Here’s a great example:

Even if they don’t purchase then and there, you have their email so you’re able to nurture them and hopefully turn them into a customer.

The best part? We’ve consistently seen that cart savers can help you reduce cart abandonment by 10%.

It really is one of the most important things you can do to drive sales for your store.

Get a little more advanced with your cart savers

If you’ve already seen the magic of cart savers in action and you want to take it to the next level, this is for you.

With advanced cart savers, you segment your visitors based on things like the amount of $ or specific product they have in their cart. You can also segment based on location, which means you can have different offers for international traffic.

Here’s an example of an amazing advanced cart saver campaign. This brand keeps their designs dead simple:

But they target different audiences with different offers, using the formula, “Purchase now and receive X.” And the code is only valid for 1 hour to drive urgency.

They use cart value and location:

  • For domestic traffic between $20-30, they offer a code for free shipping
  • For domestic traffic between $30-50, they offer 20% off
  • And for international traffic, they offer $5 off

This strategy has helped them recover 200+ orders. Seriously this will help you turn 30 minutes into constant revenue for your brand.

Capture emails with your cart savers

So you’re familiar with cart savers now. But what if you don’t want to offer a discount?

Well, you’re in luck. Because you don’t need to have a discount in order to grow your email list.

You can do something as simple as this:

Just keep in mind that your conversion will be higher with a discount code.

How to increase AOV with cross-sells, upsells and bundles

If you’re not trying to increase your average order value, are you even in ecommerce?

Cross-sells and upsells are magical when it comes to your AOV. But first, you have to know the difference between the two.

What's the difference between cross-selling and upselling?

McDonald's is the age old example. They’re famous for asking “Do you want fries with that?” and “Do you want to supersize that?”

And when you think about it, it’s pretty simple to tell which is which.

The fries aren’t a replacement, they’re in addition to the main meal you’re already getting, likely a burger. They’re a complementary product, which means this is a classic cross-sell example.

The supersize option, though, is a replacement. You’re getting the bigger version, right? That’s an upsell.

And you can easily apply both of these tactics for your brand. They’re incredibly powerful because you’re squeezing more out of the traffic you already have.

Here’s a great example of a cross-sell (and by the way, you can use Privy to power your cross-sells):

Encourage purchases with free gift bundles

Let’s face it. Everyone loves free stuff.

So why not use that to your advantage and leverage a free gift to incentivize more purchases and get shoppers over the hump if they’re thinking about ditching?

The opportunities are endless here. You can use smaller items you already sell or create special, limited edition products just to use as free gifts. Here’s an example to inspire you:

And don’t forget you can use targeting rules in Privy to make sure people above a certain cart threshold are seeing the offer (if you don’t want everyone to see it). Here’s an example:

The more creative the offer is, the more attention it’s going to get. But you can always start small and get more involved as you go.

How to get your Shopify email marketing right

Email is the lifeblood of a healthy ecommerce store. It’s an audience YOU own. Not Facebook. Not Google. You.

Email is not the shiniest, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving. And we’ve found that every email you collect is worth $15.

Luckily, automated emails can legitimately make you money while you sleep. So you’ll want to start there.

Then you can get into a regular cadence with your broadcast emails.

Master these 4 email marketing principles

When it comes to nailing your email strategy, there are really 4 principles you should master.

1. Grow your email reach

Your reach is the number of subscribers you have. When it comes to your email list, you need to constantly be growing your audience. And your welcome offer is going to have a big impact on that growth.

2. Establish your brand with frequent email sends

How often are you reaching out to your subscribers? Remember that more often than not, it takes more than 1 interaction for people to feel comfortable making a purchase. So you should get in a regular cadence with your emails. You want your subscribers to be excited to hear from you.

3. Build customer habits with consistent email sends

You don’t want to send 0 emails 1 month and 6 another. That’s why consistency matters. Because when your subscribers expect to hear from you, they’re more likely to engage with your emails. And you want to make sure the messages you’re sending have consistent information. If you’re always sharing different information, it’s going to confuse people.

4. Get creative to stand out

The content you share in your emails is obviously incredibly important. So make sure you ask yourself if your emails would make you want to click and go to the site. If you’re not excited about what you’re sharing, there’s no way your subscribers will be.

When you’re thinking about your email strategy, keep these 4 principles in mind and you’ll be off to a solid start.

Write winning subject lines for your emails

When it comes to email, the goal of the subject line and preview text is to get your subscribers to open. And there are a few things that go into that:

  • Sender name (Hint: You should really lean into the personal aspect here. Rather than just using your brand name as the sender, use something like [Your Name] from [Company Name])
  • Subject line
  • Preview text

For starters, the average email open rate is 20%. Which is an awesome place to start. But you really need to understand your own email metrics to be able to pinpoint what works really well and what doesn’t.

And your open rate is the most important metric when it comes to understanding your subject line performance. So resist the urge to throw it together at the very end before you click ‘Send.’

Because your subject line is your hook. So if you’re getting a high open rate, you did a great job getting your subscribers interested in whatever it is you wanted to share with them.

Just make sure it’s not too long. Especially because so many people are likely viewing your email on mobile, so you don’t have a ton of space to work with.

Lean into urgency whenever it makes sense. Use deadlines to inspire action.

And casual text like numbers and emojis will likely boost your email performance and help you stand out in a crowded inbox.

The same goes with questions! And timely content.

If email is already a strong revenue-generator for you, better open rates (and subject lines!) will help you make more $ for your business.

Make sure you can do these things with your ESP

Your email service provider (ESP) should make your life easier. Yes, you want to be able to send broadcast emails, but the magic is really in the automated emails.

So you need to make sure you’re able to:

1. Send abandoned cart emails (NOT checkout abandonment emails)

What’s the difference between cart and checkout abandonment? Keep reading to find out why the difference between the two is so important to recognize.

But the important thing to understand now is that abandonment emails work really well because they give you another chance to close the sale once shoppers are off your site.

2. Purchase follow up emails


If your ESP doesn’t integrate with Shopify, it won’t know when to trigger order follow up.

Which is problematic if you want to build anticipation and get your customers excited about their order.

Or support-focused emails just checking in after a customer placed an order.

And remember how important relevant messages are to the customer experience. These small touches can have a huge impact if you take the time to set them up.

3. VIP emails

It’s SO important to have a list of VIP customers you can reach out to every now and then just to thank them (or reward them with early access to new products, sales, etc.).

Just think about the VIP emails you’ve seen from some of your favorite brands.

They’re really powerful because they make you feel special!

But your ESP has to be able to know what your order history is in order to send VIP emails. Because you probably define VIPs by the amount they’ve spent with your brand. And if that information isn’t passed from Shopify to your ESP, that’s not possible.

Set up these 3 automated emails

When you’re first getting started with email, it’s easy to focus on broadcast emails (new product announcements, sales, etc.) rather than automated emails. But your automated emails literally make you money while you sleep and the ROI only grows over time.

I promise getting your automated emails up and running is one of the most powerful things you can do for your business. So where do you start? These are the 3 automated emails you need.

1. After signup email
2. Abandoned cart email series
3. Purchase follow up series

Keep reading to learn more about each of these emails.

And remember that this is the foundation. Once these are up and running, you can keep building up from there.

Send these 3 purchase follow up emails

After an order is placed, you want to make sure you’re keeping your customers engaged.

That’s why we recommend sending 3 emails once an order has been placed.

Email #1: The order confirmation

You can still send this from Shopify to make sure it includes the full order summary your customers are expecting right after they’ve placed their order. But rather than keeping the generic messaging, make it specific to your store.

The standard messaging says something like, “Hi [first name], we're getting your order ready to be shipped. We will notify you when it has been sent.” But why not take it a step further and say something like, “Hey [first name]! You just did a great thing. By shopping with [business name], you supported a small, woman-owned business. And we make everything by hand. Which means you’ll get a one-of-a-kind piece you’ll treasure for a lifetime. We’ll let you know when your order’s on the way!”

It doesn’t need to be anything crazy, but just adding in a couple sentences makes a huge difference.

Email #2: The anticipation builder

This email should go out 24 hours after an order has been placed. This is the time to get your customers extra excited about the fact that they made the decision to buy from you.

You can include information like:

  • FAQs
  • Your founding story
  • How you source fabrics, etc.

Again, this doesn’t need to be anything over the top. It’s just something to keep them excited about their order so that when it lands on their doorstep, they can’t wait to open it.

Email #3: The support-focused email

This 3rd and final email should go out after the order has been delivered. This is where you can ask for a review (just make sure the timing makes sense for your product! If your customers need a couple weeks to see the value, make sure you give them time before asking for a review).

But you can also ask if they have any questions or suggestions. This is something that might not work forever, but when you’re still small, it shows that you really care about your customers. So try it out! If it gets too time consuming to respond to every email you get, that’s a good problem to have!

Learn more about the 3-email purchase follow up sequence.

Improve your email marketing by building out your campaigns

It’s one thing to understand the power of email, but another to actually go and execute on a real strategy.

Especially when you always have a million things to do.

But I promise there are ways you can improve your email strategy. If you only have one welcome email, make it a series.

If you don’t have an abandoned cart email in place, set that up. Then make it a series.

There is always something you can do to make your emails better. And when you finally feel like they’re in a good place, take a look again. You might find something you don’t love anymore...that happens to me all the time.

Maintain a clean email list

If you maintain a clean email list, your chances of deliverability are much higher. And there are 3 main things you can do to maintain a healthy list:

1. Have the right permissions in place: We’ve all received those emails we didn’t sign up for.

It’s helpful to remember that just because a customer placed an order, doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to get your marketing emails.

Uncheck the automatic opt in box in Shopify - let them decide if they want your emails.

2. Make sure your list is up to date: If you started your email list years ago and haven’t done anything to clean it up, it’s probably time to start.

Chances are, you have some emails on your list that aren’t active anymore. So you’ll want to do some serious cleaning.

3. Check the types of addresses you have: If you have email addresses like @marketplace.amazon.com or sales@, you’ll want to get rid of them. They’re transactional addresses and distribution lists that will hurt deliverability.

Your goal should be to start with a clean list every time you send an email. So if you haven’t spent time keeping your email list clean, you need to make it part of your regular routine starting today.

Make sure you have this integration set up correctly

Privy and Klaviyo is one of the most common marketing stacks out there. So if you’re using Privy and Klaviyo together, make sure your integration is set up correctly to ensure you’re getting the most out of both platforms.

The most common use case is to use Privy to collect email addresses and Klaviyo to send emails.

But you can actually make sure that whenever someone submits a Privy form,  that information is passed to Klaviyo. This allows you to send cart abandonment emails through Klaviyo (pssst most people don’t know this!).

Make sure your integration is set up correctly.

How to find hidden opportunities in cart abandonment 

You probably already know that there’s a huge dropoff between the number of people who add something to the cart and number of people who actually complete the purchase.

But what you might not know, is that there’s a difference between cart abandonment and checkout abandonment.

Checkout abandonment means people are getting far enough in the checkout process that they’ve entered their email.

But a much larger percentage of shoppers never make it to that stage.

That’s why you want to make sure you’re sending abandoned cart emails. Which means you can reach out to people who’ve added items to their cart and for whatever reason, decided to bounce.

And because we know about 70% of carts are abandoned, you're missing out on a huge opportunity if you’re only sending checkout abandonment emails.

Not to mention the fact that pairing a welcome popup with cart abandonment emails helps you identify and recover 5x more than traditional checkout abandonment emails.

Understand the revenue opportunity from abandoned carts

Now that you know the difference between cart and checkout abandonment, it’s time to find out how to calculate your revenue opportunity just from abandoned carts.

And you can do all this with Shopify analytics.

 In your dashboard, you should see a section for your store’s conversion rate. It’ll look something like this:

You’ll see exactly how many people added something to their cart, reached checkout, and ended up converting. (And by the way, if you’re only sending checkout abandonment emails, you’d only be reaching about half of the people in this example – 278 out of 539.)

For some quick math, take total sessions with an order and divide by total sessions where something was added to the cart. In this case, 207/539 = 38% cart completion rate.

Then take the total sessions where someone added to cart and subtract total sessions with an order. 539 – 207= 332. Which means 332 orders were abandoned.

Now, if we take that number and multiply by your AOV, you’ll get the revenue opportunity just from abandoned carts.

Which, in this example means, 332 x $84.41 = $28,024.12.

So if you only focus on improving that number, you have the power to have a significant impact on your abandoned cart revenue.

Most brands just focus on a single abandoned cart email. But if you add in a cart saver and 3-email abandoned cart series, you’ll see a big lift in your revenue (more on both in this post).

How Lori Wall Beds recovered $250k in abandoned cart sales

Speaking of the difference between cart and checkout abandonment, this real-life example will really put the difference into perspective for you.

Gary from Core Nomad, a top ecommerce marketing agency, worked with Lori Wall Beds to recover $250k in sales. 😱

They had been using the standard Shopify checkout abandonment email and were recovering about 2% of abandoned carts.

During the same time period, they were able to identify 760 people who had abandoned with Shopify and 2,600 with Privy. That’s almost a 4x increase.

With Privy, they’re still only sending a single cart abandonment email, but their recovery rate jumped from 2-8% and because their AOV is really high ($1k), that’s driven an extra $250k in sales for their brand.

And no, they don’t include a discount code! They lean into their happy customers (by using reviews) and the fact that you can try their product risk-free. If you’re not happy, they have a 60-day money-back guarantee.

So even if you don’t want to offer a discount code or have an entire series, an abandoned cart email can have a serious impact on your sales.

Send these 3 emails to recover abandoned carts

Now if you’re not sending abandoned cart emails, here’s what you need to do.

Send 3 emails.

Email #1 should go out 1 hour after the cart is abandoned (you want it to be timely!). And it’s 100% support driven. No coupon, just a note from you, the founder, checking in and letting them know you’re there to answer any questions or point them in the right direction.

Then, 24 hours after the cart was abandoned, the 2nd email should go out. This is when you can introduce something like a discount code to incentivize the purchase. Just make sure it includes an expiration (we recommend 24 hours to drive urgency).

The last email should be sent 48 hours after abandonment. And it’s really just a reminder to use the discount code that’s expiring.

This super simple series can help you save an insane amount of sales.

Just ask Suzy Cohen. This exact series helped her save 20% of abandoned carts, which translated into more than $100k in revenue. WILD.

Try switching up your abandoned cart subject lines

I know, it sounds simple. And that’s because it is. But if your abandoned cart emails aren’t getting the results you’d like to see (or you just want to run a simple test), it might be as easy as changing your subject lines.

That’s what one of our CS wizards, Lisa Shea did for one brand she works with…

And they saw insane improvements.

They had a 3-email series, and the subject line was the same for each email: “Complete your purchase.”

The 1st email has a 10% discount code, the 2nd a 15% code, and the 3rd a 20% code.

This series was running for 9 months and generated $41k in that timeframe. Pretty amazing, right?

But when they changed the subject lines for the 3 emails to:

SL #1: Here’s your 10% off

SL #2: 15% off, just for you

SL #3: 20% off your cart. Last chance

They recovered $29k...in just 30 days. That number was up from ($4500/month on average). That’s almost a 6x increase! So if you want to get more out of your abandoned cart emails, try this simple test.

Promote other places to buy your product in your abandoned cart emails

This one’s from ecommerce expert, Lucas Walker. If you sell your products anywhere other than your Shopify store, your abandoned cart email series is the perfect place to share that.

Why? Because price isn’t always the reason people don’t buy. Maybe they want to purchase from a familiar place (like Amazon) or pair it with an order they’re already placing.

So if your products are available anywhere else, like Amazon, Etsy, retail locations or popups, let your shoppers know!

It might be exactly what they were looking for and will encourage them to make the purchase. Then, down the road, hopefully they buy directly from you.

How to segment customers to drive purchases

Grouping subscribers into groups is something many brands never do because it feels so daunting. But it doesn’t need to be.

If you’re in the $0 – $1M/year in revenue range, you really only need 2 groups.

People who have purchased. And people who haven’t.

It’s that simple. Seriously.

So if segmentation feels overwhelming, start here. It’ll make your messages so much more relevant to both groups and feel much more personal.

Send these 4 segmented email types

Once your automated emails are good to go, it’s time to start thinking about segmentation. Which really just means you’re sending emails to specific groups of people rather than blasting the same message to everyone.

Why does this matter? Because the more relevant and specific your messages are, the more they’ll resonate with your subscribers.

1. Winback Emails

Encourage repeat purchases from customers who haven’t purchased in the last 3 months. Think about all the “We’ve missed you!” emails you’ve seen in your own inbox.

2. Complete The Look Emails

This is why knowing your customers’ purchase history is so important. Let’s say you sell leather goods and you have customers who have only purchased a wallet, but not a larger item, like a handbag or backpack. That’s when you can send emails to that segment of customers and encourage them to check out other items that go well with what they already have.

3. VIP Emails

First you need to decide what your threshold for VIPs is going to be - $500 in a year? $1000? But then you should be reaching out to that segment of customers and making them feel special as often as you can. Reward them by telling them about new products and sales before anyone else. But also just mix in a “Hey thank you so much for all the support” without any ask sometimes too.

Again, this is just a start. You can always get more advanced with segmentation over time.

4. Low stock emails

If you’re anything like me, low stock notifications work every time.

So if you have an item that’s running low, that’s the perfect excuse to send an email to your subscribers!

If you’re not sure if or when you’re going to get more, explain that in your email. Get really specific about it.

And if you do sell out, make sure you have a place for visitors to sign up for a waitlist.

Then you’ll have a sense of whether or not you should bring that item back and exactly who to reach out to if you do.

How to unlock the power of repeat customers

There are a couple ways to grow your business: you could spend all your efforts generating awareness and acquiring first-time customers, or you could spend some time acquiring new customers and focus on turning those buyers into repeat customers.

Don’t get me wrong: acquiring new customers is hard – you write content, pay for ads, and still, only a small percentage of visitors will ever buy.

So when you unlock repeat customers, that’s where the magic really happens. But it can feel like a total afterthought.

So this data will help you understand why repeat customers are so important: repeat customers are 9x more likely to buy and have an AOV that’s 3x higher than first-time buyers.

80% of a store’s future profits come from buyers they’ve already sold to. So if you’re not focused on building awareness AND driving repeat customers, you’re missing out on a critical opportunity.

And by the way, subscriptions are a great way to do this.

Encourage repeat purchases with this email

So now that you understand the value of repeat purchases, you can use this email type to hopefully lock them in.

After you’ve landed a sale, you can email your customer with a discount code to use on their next order.

Just make sure you include an expiration date. It’s a great way to drive urgency and encourage another purchase.

The messaging can be really simple. Let them know you want to thank them for their purchase, so you’re sharing a discount code to show your appreciation.

And it’s a great place to reinforce your story and the fact that you’re a small brand.

How to drive repeat purchases by modelling SaaS companies (yes, you read that right!) 

If you’re a single-product brand, it can be tricky to drive repeat purchases.

This is where thinking out of the box can come in handy. Taking a page out of SaaS business could be a useful strategy for direct to consumer brands. Let’s dive a little deeper.

Offer new versions of your product

But NUGGS is in the same boat. And they came up with an amazing way to encourage repeat purchases (even if you didn’t necessarily love the last version of the product).

They explain, “NUGGS are constantly being improved by our team of food scientists and engineers in NYC. NUGGS operates like a software company. We take user feedback as we develop new versions of the product, and we keep our users updated.”

So whether you have a single or multi-product brand, you can steal this play any time you make a change or improvement to your products. Tell your subscribers what you’re doing differently and why! Who knows, maybe that’s the reason they didn’t buy the first time. Or they’ll be so excited they’ll buy from you again.

Encourage a subscription (if you have one)

NUGGS strikes again.

So because they have a subscription offering, they reach out to anyone who’s made a one-off purchase to try to encourage them to subscribe.

Just make sure you’re explaining what’s in it for the customer. Why is a subscription better for them?

And if you already have a subscription model in place but aren’t reaching out to people who make a one-time purchase, what are you waiting for?

Examples of subscription consumer brands

By 2023, 75% of all DTC brands will be offering some type of membership or subscription. That is staggering. And it’s a stat that Bold Commerce co-founder, Jay Myers shared on one episode.

Subscriptions have grown 100% YoY since 2011. And subscription companies get sold for 8-10x their non-subscription counterparts.

And while that probably isn’t your primary objective, if you’re not offering a subscription, you should think about how you might be able to make it work.

Start by asking yourself, “Does this make sense for my brand?”

And if you’re thinking to yourself, “I sell sunglasses, it won’t work,” you’re probably not getting creative enough.

Because at the end of the day, what your customers really value is your taste. So can you create a membership or community to build a recurring revenue stream around?

When you think about your customers as members, it transforms the way you think about them. They automatically become more valuable. Think about it: a membership is a relationship, but a customer is a transaction.

KONG Box and Kencko do a great job with their subscription models. So check them out and start thinking about ways to get recurring revenue ASAP.

How to create FOMO for your Shopify brand 

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a very useful marketing tactic when done right. It enhances the relationship between customers and brands because it creates a sense of appreciation and priority. Who doesn’t like to feel like they are in the know? Here are a couple of ways to use FOMO for your Shopify store. 

Build a waitlist for new products

If you’re thinking about launching a new product, there’s something really intriguing about waitlists.

People are literally raising their hands to tell you they’re interested in your product. How amazing is that?

But depending on how long you expect the wait to be, you need to make sure you’re building momentum and hype along the way.

You can’t just ask people to sign up and expect them to purchase the second it’s available.

Share behind the scenes and sneak peaks. Get them so excited about what’s coming that they can’t help but buy the second it’s available.

Set your free shipping threshold

Let’s face it: no one loves to pay for shipping. This is why free shipping can create the feeling of FOMO. The #1 question we’re getting about free shipping is, “how should you choose a free shipping threshold for your store?”

Well, we like to keep things as simple as possible. So while there are definitely more complex calculations you can run, we like to set it 15% higher than your average order value.

When customers see that they are close to getting free shipping, they are incentivized to purchase that extra item to qualify for your sweet free shipping deal.

First, go into your Shopify dashboard and pull your AOV over the last 12 months. Then multiply by 1.15 and use that as your free shipping threshold to start.

If you see a boost in your AOV, you might want to try bumping it up a bit. But if it doesn’t move the needle, try 10% instead. Just don’t overcomplicate it.

Use a free shipping bar to improve conversion rate

You’ll see your conversion rate in your Shopify analytics dashboard. But it’s helpful to know that the average conversion rate is somewhere between 2-3%. 

Which is why improving conversion is such a big deal for ecommerce brands. And because shipping cost is such a big reason for abandonment, a dynamic free shipping bar can work wonders when it comes to conversion. Here’s an example:

Screen Shot 2020-12-28 at 12.17.05 PMBut then when you add anything to your cart, a dynamic bar (like you can create with Privy) automatically updates to reflect the amount you need to spend to qualify for free shipping.

Screen Shot 2020-12-28 at 12.16.42 PM

And ecommerce experts have seen big results from free shipping messages.

When Sean McGinnis, Head of Marketing at Kuru Footwear, launched a static free shipping bar that said, “Free Shipping. Free Exchanges. Free Returns.” they saw a 23% increase in the overall store conversion.

The Good’s Jon MacDonald has found that free shipping messaging is the only thing that has moved the needle on conversion rate.

Kelly Vaughn from The Taproom recommends a free shipping bar to all her merchants. Because the right threshold can get visitors over the hump and boost AOV.

And Kurt Elster, Host of The Unofficial Shopify Podcast, has found that the lower the threshold, the higher the conversion rate (with free shipping on all orders out-performing the rest by far).

So if you haven’t tested out a free shipping bar, it can be an amazing lever to boost your conversion rate and average order value.

Use a free shipping bar as an upsell method

For Lucas Walker, free shipping is the single greatest upsell mechanism that he’s used for his store (outside of bundling).

For his brand, it wasn’t profitable for customers to buy 1 product, so they really had to push bundles. And a free shipping threshold had a significant impact in supporting that initiative.

So he recommends taking your AOV and adding $10 to it as a starting point for your free shipping threshold (Ben’s formula is slightly different, so test out both and see what works best for your brand!).

And engineer your pricing specifically for the products you want people to buy. So if you really don’t want someone to order just one item, make them a way better offer to incentivize a different behavior.

A great way to do that is to promote free shipping just under your best-selling bundle. Which means purchasing that bundle would mean they get free shipping.

Think outside the box with your free shipping bar messaging

Yes, the primary use case is to show your free shipping threshold and encourage visitors to meet that.

But you can get pretty creative with your messaging, too. Try out these unconventional ways to use your free shipping bar:

  • Launches: If you’re launching a crowdfunding campaign, new product, podcast, or anything new, you can use your bar to announce it.
  • Back in stock notifications: If a product is back in stock, it’s a great way to run a promo without running a discount.
  • Milestones: Use it as a way to celebrate wins! If you hit 500 reviews, broke a milestone number of orders shipped or anything else worth noting, call it out.
  • Create scarcity and drive urgency: If you know you’re going to be running out of a specific product (you have less than 50 units available, for example) or have a shipping cutoff date shoppers should know about (these are big around the holidays), a bar is a great way to share the message.
  • Manage customer support expectations: If you’re experiencing shipping delays, this is the perfect place to call it out.
  • Out of office: If you’re going to be off the grid for any amount of time and you don’t have someone covering for you, let your customers know! If you had a baby or are getting married, share that! People want to celebrate with you.

How to get creative to improve conversion rates 

The Good’s Jon MacDonald eats, sleeps and breathes conversion rate optimization. And for him, it’s a practice, not a checklist. There’s no quick fix or secret sauce. And you’re never really done.

Because your customers need change over time, so you’re never truly optimized, but always optimizing.

The best place to start is with the customer experience. And if you wouldn’t do something in a retail store, you shouldn’t be doing it on your website. Things like false timers don’t build trust, they do the exact opposite.

And if you’re only paying attention to your competitors, it’s a dangerous game. Because you don’t really know if what they’re doing is working – there’s a reason race horses wear blinders.

Invest in amazing product photos

In the ecommerce world, your visitors are judging a book by the cover – because it’s all they have to work with at the very beginning.

Which means that brands that invest in great photos have a total leg up. You can definitely take photos on your iPhone, but if you’re looking for some outside help, Soona is hands down the way to go.  

They take professional photos and videos while you tune in from the couch. All you have to do is send them your products and any notes about the types of shots you need, and they do the rest!

And I mean, just take a peek at a couple shots they took of The Ecommerce Marketing Handbook.

Your photos fuel everything. So they’re definitely worth the time (even if it’s not your own!) and investment.

Test out GIFs

Everyone loves a good GIF. Whether they’re in emails or social, they always catch your eye. That’s because the motion stands out and make viewers want to click.

Whether you sell drinks, or handbags or clothing, there’s no question that there’s a way for you to test out a GIF.

They’re engaging and will definitely get attention. And you can easily use Canva to create one. I promise you don’t need to be an expert.

But if that’s really not your thing, Soona has you covered.

Test out a direct mail campaign

Jeremy Roberts is the co-owner and CMO of Tradlands, a women's clothing brand.

They have email and SMS programs, write content, run paid ads, leverage influencers and social media…

But they also use automated postcards to generate about 6% of their revenue every month.

They use Postpilot to offer a discount to first-time buyers to try to incentivize them to come back and buy again.

And they measure success by keeping track of the number of discount codes that are used (this is key - otherwise it’s tough to measure the success of your campaign).

Another direct mail trick they use is a small postcard that looks like a handwritten piece of personal stationary. It goes out to everyone who purchased twice – because their data showed that after that 3rd order, customers stick around for the long haul.

The options are endless if you’re open to testing out direct mail for your brand.

How to use content to build your following

So many people in ecommerce think the only way to make money is to pour $ into ads (we'll get to that in a bit). But content is an investment in organic growth. So it shouldn’t be an afterthought.

But it does take time and consistency. Which is why it’s so important to figure out what you’re good at and like doing. Is it writing? Video?

Then you should come up with a list of topics. Here are 6 places to get you started on the right foot:

  • The story: Why’d you start the company?
  • Think about important keywords for your brand
  • Answer common support questions
  • What about common sales objections?
  • Instructions/guides for when people get your product
  • Scan your reviews to get ideas

I promise that getting started is the hardest part. Once you get in a rhythm, content will be second nature. And by then, your efforts will hopefully be starting to pay off.

How to build ads that convert

When it comes to your ads, it’s important to know that people often don’t know how to interact with the ones that look perfect.

Which is why user-generated content is so powerful. But what happens if you don’t have enough customers to ask for UGC?

Ad expert, Savannah Sanchez, suggests actor-generated content.

Think about it. When you see commercials, they’re actors, not real customers. So why not try the same technique for your own ads?

Ask a friend to help you out and shoot them on an iPhone with very little editing and boom. You’ll have the perfect actor-generated content for killer ad campaigns.

Use the Facebook Ad Library

If you’re in desperate need of ideas for ads, look no further than the Facebook Ad Library.

It’s an absolute secret weapon because it allows you to see the exact ads your favorite brands (and competitors are running).

So you can get inspiration for your next campaign from any industry imaginable. Because sometimes the best ideas actually come from brands that are totally different than yours.

You don’t want to be doing everything exactly like your competitors.

How to grow your Shopify brand with customer voices

Word of mouth marketing has a profound impact on brand perception, which ultimately affects how much people will buy. The best promotion comes from your customers, so why not create channels to empower and amplify what they think?

Focus on amazing support

Amazing support can scale for your brand. But it starts with you, the founder.

And it means being responsive, turning haters into advocates, wowing customers, and building trust.

Early on, it’ll teach you exactly what your customers are thinking about. If you keep getting the same questions over and over, create a guide or add it to your FAQs! If you’re getting the same feedback on products, you’ll know what to do differently next time.

So while it can be really time consuming, it will help you immensely.

And if you need inspiration, 2 of Ben’s favorite books for building an awesome support engine are Hug Your Haters and Delivering Happiness.

Collect reviews for your store

Social proof is critical for your business. Because your customers don’t have the opportunity to walk down an aisle, touch your products, and make a decision.

So outside of making the product look amazing with photos and great copy, reviews are the best way to boost your brand and build trust with potential customers.

Just keep in mind that when and how you ask for reviews is unique for your brand, but there are some tactics that work well pretty much across the board when it comes to getting reviews.

Stuart, the founder of Junip, lives and breathes reviews for ecommerce stores, and he shed some light on best practices.

Your review request should really come from you, the founder. You want it to resonate on a personal level, so you should include messaging like, “Thank you so much for the support. It means the world that you bought from us…”

You want to hit them with an email as close to unboxing as possible (except for products that take a lot of time to appreciate). So make sure you take the time to understand what makes the most sense for your business. An A/B can be hugely beneficial here.

You should aim to be in the 10% range in terms of responses. And if you’re getting less than 5% of people to respond, you need to rethink your strategy.

Your reviews have to live on your product page, but a dedicated reviews page can also help on the SEO side (ex: yoururl.com/reviews). The social proof on your product page will help drive more conversions. But you want to be careful not to just include the 5-star reviews. Detailed feedback is what gets people to make the purchase.

The beauty of reviews is that you can repurpose them across all your marketing channels. Use them in emails, on social, in ads, the sky’s the limit when it comes to how and where you use reviews.

Get social on Instagram

When it comes to social media, it can be tempting to chase followers. But if you have thousands of followers and no engagement, your number of followers doesn’t matter.

Which is why there’s no magic number when it comes to the number of followers you should have.

Start by figuring out how easy it is to find your brand’s profile in search. Does your profile photo make it immediately recognizable? How do your most recent photos look in the feed? Do you post your content at the right times? Do you have a good mix of videos, images, behind the scenes? Are you leaning into the personal side of your brand? What about UGC? Do you have screenshots of reviews?

Comments are a signal of strength and if your followers are tagging friends, that’s an amazing sign you’re onto something. Just make sure you’re engaging with the comments. Yes, it will turn into a support channel sometimes, but you need to respond to everything.

And try using the search bar to find people talking about your industry, types of products, then comment on their posts. Be fun, add value and bring joy to your audience.

Last thing: don’t sleep on stories. And turn a few of them into highlights.

And remember to mix in asks to follow you on social every now and then. Just don’t harp on the number of followers you have. It’s definitely not the secret sauce to finding success on Instagram.

Build a community

Bella Dona has more than 350k followers on Instagram. And even with such a large following, they’re focused on building a real community.

They understand exactly who their customers are, which makes it really easy for them to share content that resonates.

And they treat their followers like friends. If you need inspiration for your own Instagram, Bella Dona is a great account to follow. They’re definitely doing it right.

Be where your customers are

If you really want to build a community, you need to know your customers inside and out.

If you do, you’ll know exactly where they’re spending their time. Which makes it really easy to figure out where you should be spending your time so you’re not wasting it on channels that don’t matter to your audience.

Take Vivian Kaye. She built an audience and got to $1M in revenue without ads or email. All because she built a community by understanding her customers and being hyperfocused on building real relationships with them. Whether it meant responding to DMs or having insanely good customer service, she was always there when her customers needed her.

And that’s taken her a long, long way.

Reward VIPs with new product samples

Imagine if one of your favorite brands sent you a gift out of the blue. It would make your day, wouldn’t it?

Well, that’s exactly what skincare company, Journ, did earlier this year. They were testing out a new product and wanted their VIPs to get a sample before anyone else.

So they sent Ben a small package with a handwritten note, small insert with the description and ingredients, and the product itself.

This is a textbook play to make your most valuable customers feel special. Think about how you might be able to apply this to your brand. What can you send VIPs to thank them for their support and make them feel truly valued by your business?

Test the influencer waters

Finding influencers is often the hardest part of the process. So #paid’s VP of Marketing, Roger Figueiredo shared his secrets for success when it comes to influencer marketing.

Start with your customer base. If you’re committed to this strategy, it might be worth asking for your customers’ handles somewhere in the process. Because the best partnerships happen with people who already love your brand since they’re more likely to create more engaging and authentic content.

You just need to consider the fact that influencers are brands in and of themselves. They have their own set of values and beliefs, so make sure your brand aligns with theirs and you have an overlapping audience.

When it comes to reaching out to influencers, be personal. Use one of their posts to create a timely message. And make sure the experience stands out for them.

And for payment, money gets you predictability, whereas gifting your product is better on your budget. Roger’s philosophy is that you should pay the influencers you work with. They’re creators and will make your brand look good. Invest in them and they’ll invest in you.

Build an FAQ page

It might not be immediately obvious right away what questions your customers are going to have about your products.

That’s why it’s so important to document the most common questions you get and build out an FAQ page.

It’s not always going to save you from getting repeat questions, but it will definitely save you (and your customers) a ton of time.

There’s a reason so many ecommerce brands have an FAQ page.

And if you’re feeling stuck, take a peek at some brands you love and find out what questions they answer on their pages. Then you can make it your own from there!

How to get the most out of holiday buying events

Throughout the year, there are so many key selling holidays:

Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, April Fools, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Prime Day, BFCM, and the holidays.

Seriously. Most months have a holiday you can create offers around. But there are probably also holidays that are specific to your brand…

For example, if you have a food brand, are there holidays like National Pizza Day or National Ice Cream Day that align perfectly with your products?

Or if you sell scrubs, can you do something for National Nurses Day?

There might even be significant dates for your brand that you can build offers for. Think the date you launched. Or if your brand is named after a specific person, can you use dates in their life to spark ideas?

When you put thought into your offers, it shows. So take the time to write down the holidays you want to focus on and go from there.

Then if you want to run a promo but can’t think of a reason, there’s probably some holiday you can work with.

Create an unboxing experience they’ll remember

Your unboxing experience is the only time you’ll get a 100% open rate. Which is why it’s super important to make it count.

But you don’t have to spend a fortune to take your unboxing experience to the next level.

A handwritten note can go a long way. And it doesn’t cost you anything (except time and a card).

Custom packaging is another way to boost your customers’ experience, but that route is a little more expensive.

Just think about the kind of experiences you remember as a consumer and try to replicate those. But seriously. You can never go wrong with a handwritten note.

Prepare for BFCM all year

As a small brand, you’re probably used to throwing together last-minute campaigns all the time. And that’s amazing.

But when it comes to BFCM, you need to be prepping all year. That means building your email list, sending regular emails to build a relationship with your subscribers, testing offers to find out what resonates, and so much more.

Especially because many ecommerce brands do a majority of their revenue for the year during BFCM, so it needs to be front and center no matter what time of year it is.

Especially if you’re planning to launch an exclusive product. Because that’s probably something that’ll take months to plan.

In the meantime, test bundles, keep getting subscribers, and please please don’t be the brand that only sends emails during BFCM.

And if your learnings from this past BFCM are still fresh, make sure you write them down so you don’t repeat something that didn’t work when it comes back around.

Nail your BFCM offer: it fuels everything

Outside of your customer list, which is the anchor for a strong BFCM, your offer is the most important aspect of your BFCM campaign.

Which is why everything you do during this time of year needs to be focused on a single, consistent offer.

Your offer is your hook. And it should fuel everything you do – your ads, emails, hero section of your website, everything needs to tie back to that.

And if you really nail the offer, it’s going to make the rest of your campaign planning really easy. These are 3 offer ideas to you started:

1. An exclusive product launch: It doesn’t need to be an entirely new product to work well, you could do an exclusive color of a product you already have and still see insane results.

2. Bundles: Take products that go really well together and offer an exclusive holiday bundle at a special price.

3. A sitewide discount: This is still an amazing option. And it’s the least time intensive offer to run. Just make sure you’re offering enough off. 30% or more is probably a safe bet. But you need to do what makes sense for your margins.

Because your offer is the lifeblood of your entire BFCM campaign, it’s so important to be testing all year to figure out what works best with your audience. If you know sitewide discounts don’t really move the needle, get creative!

Try the non-discount discount

We all know the brands that claim to never discount their products. And while they might not run traditional discounts, there’s always a workaround.

Take Apple, for example. Whenever you see them offer gift cards with purchases, that’s just a fancy way of discounting. They’re just clever about the way they present it.

Allbirds had a similar method when Ben was having an issue with his order. They extended a gift card for him to use on his next purchase.

So if you’re against discounting, remember there’s always a way to come up with an offer that’s enticing for your customers and a win for your brand.

Start with these 6 BFCM emails

Once you have your hook, it’s time to start thinking about your emails. This 2 segment, 6 email playbook is a great place to start.

Email #1: Build hype with your VIPs

1-2 weeks before you share your offer with the rest of your list, get your VIPs excited and tease your offer so when the time comes, they’re ready to jump on it.

Make it clear you’re notifying them first because they’re a VIP (just make sure they really are...if I’ve never purchased from your store before, I’m going to know you’re sending the same email to everyone).

Email #2: Build hype with the rest of your list

Copy your first email and tweak it to make it work for a larger, broader audience. Send it to anyone not on your VIP list.

Email #3: Give your VIPs early access

Remember that you’re competing for wallet share, right? You want your audience to spend their hard earned money with you, not Amazon, not your competitors.

So whenever you’re ready to launch your offer, give your VIPs early access. Again, make sure they know you’re giving them early access. You want them to have first dibs before your inventory runs out.

Email #4: Give everyone else access

Now it’s time to let everyone else in on the deals (probably later in the day on Thanksgiving or early Friday).

Email #5: Reminder email for everyone

Later that same day, send a reminder email. I promise it’s not too much. Inboxes are absolutely insane this time of year, so you can’t assume they’re going to catch your email the first time around.

This isn’t something you should do regularly, by the way, but during BFCM, 2 emails in a day is totally cool.

Email #6: Last chance reminder for everyone

Depending on how long your sales are running, make sure you send a reminder to everyone on the final day. Just as one final push to get them across the finish line.

This series is something you can easily run any time of year. And if you do, you’ll be more than ready for BFCM.

Don’t overdo BFCM emails with customers who have purchased during the holiday

If you’re sending a bunch of emails over BFCM, you want to consider the fact that certain people on your list have probably already purchased.

Which means you don’t need to send them 2 emails a day every day to get their attention. That’s not going to build a connection, it’s going to make them mad (and potentially unsubscribe!).

So while it’s definitely reasonable to email your list more than once in a day during BFCM, know when enough is enough.

After someone has placed an order, they probably don’t need 8 more emails from you.

Lean into the gift giving angle during BFCM

If you sell a single product that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to repeat purchases, you might not think it’s worth reaching out to your customers who have purchased in the past.

But last year, Connor on our marketing team had a record sales day. And many of the sales came from repeat customers. All because he leaned into the idea that past customers might want to give the same item they had already purchased as a gift.

So no matter what you sell, don’t rule out repeat purchases. Especially during the holiday season.

Create a bundle for the holidays

Another great way to encourage gift-giving is to have special holiday bundles or packaging. Take this example from Haus:

The packaging on products they sell anyway is the perfect way to gift their product.

It’s also a great excuse to send an email.

Just remember to plan ahead with this one. If you want to have special holiday packaging, you’ll need a little more time to make it happen.

 

Remember it takes time to turn visitors into customers

On average, a consumer needs to see your product 7 times before they buy. Which is why it’s so important to try to capture email addresses (especially when you’re running ads).

Just because they landed on your site, definitely does not mean they’re going to buy. So you need to work at building trust and credibility (your welcome series is the perfect place to do this).

That’s why building your email list today is so critical. Because if you wait til BFCM, chances are visitors won’t be ready to take the plunge. But if you’re engaging with them all year, they know exactly who you are and what your brand is.

How to understand your ecommerce analytics 

Just like benchmarking, having a solid understanding of analytics is key to tracking your Shopify growth and understanding what your top performers are relative to products that you might want to consider bundling or discontinuing. 

This part of the business can definitely be overwhelming at first but here’s a quick breakdown of how to understand your analytics and identify quick wins for your Shopify store! 

Know what to look for in Google Analytics

You should have a high level understanding of Google Analytics so you have an unbiased view into your marketing.

The first thing you should do is adjust the date range you’re looking at. You’ll want to look at the long term data to figure out what your monthly traffic looks like. Is it growing? Flat? Ideally, you want to see a steady climb.

Then you want to look at the engagement of your visitors. How many pages does a visitor view in a single session? How long on average, do they stay on your site? What’s the bounce rate? A high bounce rate and low pages per session probably indicates something is off.

Then you’ll want to check out:

  • Demographics: Age range
  • Traffic by device: Mobile vs. desktop - you probably need to be mobile-first
  • Acquisition: Organic, social, email, etc.
  • Geography: What % of your traffic is international vs. domestic?

If you do this every few months, you’ll see a ton of opportunities for your business

Know what to look for in Shopify Analytics

Just like Google Analytics, you should have a basic understanding of what to look for in your Shopify account.

Again, adjust the dates you’re looking at to reflect the last 12 months. You’ll want to pay special attention to:

Conversion rate: Anything above 2% is amazing. Below that, and you have some work to do.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on your conversion rate by desktop vs. mobile. Which converts better?

Drop off: You’ll see your cart abandonment opportunity in the same section as your conversion rate. The bigger the drop off, the more time you should spend here.

You can use things like cart savers, live chat, a free shipping bar, and abandoned cart emails to improve this.

Average order value: Remember that your AOV doesn’t have to be super high to have a successful brand. Just pay attention to the amount you spend on ads monthly and calculate how many sales it would take to pay that back.

You can increase AOV by testing out flyouts to cross-sell products that go well together, test out bundles, a free shipping bar, and so much more.

New visitors vs. repeat visitors: Ideally, you want as many repeat visitors as possible. And if 30% or more of visitors are repeats, you’re in a good spot.

A strong email program and list growth strategy will help you here. And remember that the conversion rate for repeat visitors will likely be much higher than it is for first-time visitors.

And keep an eye on your return customer rate – it’s a measure of retention.

If you always have a pulse on where these numbers are, you’ll know which levers to pull to have the biggest impact.

Find quick wins for your store

Your website is the absolute most important asset you have. So it needs to be something you’re constantly reevaluating and improving. Here are some of the things that are non negotiable:

A digestible headline. Does your audience know exactly what your brand does based on your headline? And make sure it’s paired with an image that reinforces the message.

You should also have social proof and UGC somewhere (probably on your homepage) to gain credibility from your audience.

Weave in your founding story everywhere you can. Remember that people want to buy from people, not a brand. So make it really clear that there’s a real person behind the business: you.

Product pages that convince your visitors to buy. That means you need a description that’s easy to understand, clear sizing info, crisp images from every angle, reviews (remember that they shouldn’t just be 5-stars!) and clear shipping and return information (a free shipping bar is a great method).

Make sure the checkout process reinforces expectations around shipping. If you offer free shipping on orders over $50, does that actually happen when visitors make it to checkout? Don’t ask for more information than you need! The more friction there is, the more likely people are to bounce – that’s why Shop Pay is so magical.

Use the space on the confirmation page after an order is placed to point your customers to follow you on social, FAQs, and of course, the usual information people expect.

If you don’t have a blog, this is a huge opportunity. It’s so easy to repurpose the content across different channels. And you can start small. You don’t need to post every single day, commit to writing one post a month if that feels doable at first. Just make sure you have reasonable expectations. A blog is a long term investment in your brand.

And of course, make sure you have a welcome popup and cart savers!

Send paid traffic to a landing page

If you’re using paid ads to drive traffic to a specific product or set of products, a landing page is the perfect way to handle objections and answer any questions. Make it a seamless experience from start to finish.

The only goal of this page is to get your customer to checkout.

So they should know exactly why they need your product and what’s in it for them by the time they’re at the bottom of the page.

If you’re a paid expert, this is an awesome way to kick things up a notch.

Amazon vs Shopify (a real take)

Before you dive into Amazon, you should know exactly what you’re signing up for. Connor Gross on our marketing team has sold on both Amazon and Shopify.

Here’s why he has a love/hate relationship with Amazon.

What he loves:

  • Low upfront cost, costs $40/month for storefront, fulfillment, customers
  • Free traffic (he didn’t run a single ad for the first 3 years)
  • Discounted shipping rates on everything
  • Logistics (returns, fulfillment)
  • Great for non-technical people (he had no idea how to make a website when he started)
  • They have the ability to take everything from you
  • You don’t have access to customer data (he sold 250k+ phone accessories and didn’t have a single email address)
  • Competitors don’t always play by the rules (and Amazon basics versions of the product will probably rank higher)
  • Lack of customization
  • Launching new products

What he doesn’t love:

If you’re just trying to sell products, Amazon is a great place to start. But if you want to build a real brand, you need to sell on Shopify.

Two things to avoid until you are ready

We’ve covered a lot of information on things to try and tactics to improve your Shopify game. Here are two things to avoid to keep things simple while you are getting the ball rolling. 

Don’t chase too many channels

As a founder, there’s always a temptation to jump on the newest trends. But before you test out different channels, you need to ask yourself if that’s really what your business needs.

Depending on where you are, it might make the most sense to focus on 1, maybe 2 channels, at least until you’re in major optimization mode (then you can expand).

Because when you rush to expand, you never really nail any channel. And it’s amazing how far a single channel can take you when you do it really well.

Here’s a really simple framework to help you. If you don’t have these things set up, you shouldn’t be trying to get started with anything new:

  • Targeted popups
  • Automated emails
  • A regular cadence for broadcast emails

If you have each of these dialed in, then you can test out things like text or messenger. Just make sure you nail the basics first.

Don’t prioritize A/B testing... yet

An A/B test allows you to create 2 variations of a campaign and run them simultaneously. Which means half your traffic sees A, the other half sees B and you can figure out whether or not there’s a clear winner.

But you shouldn’t prioritize this step until you have steady traffic (somewhere between 1-10k visits/month). If you’re not there yet, you need to spend more time actually getting visitors to your store: build the foundation first, then you can run tests.

If you’re ready to run A/B tests, you can test things like:

  • Your welcome and exit intent offers
  • When your welcome popup shows (time on page vs. scroll)
  • The number of fields in your form (in general, the more information you ask for, the less likely people will fill it out)
  • Your copy

A/B tests can be powerful when you have enough traffic to work with. Just don’t get too far ahead of yourself if your traffic isn’t there yet. Because chances are, there are more important things you can focus on first (like getting traffic to your store).

 

Topics: Ecommerce Marketing

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