Shopify is a versatile platform that can be the springboard to success for any company looking to do business online. It’s easy to set up and begin selling products with Shopify but to make people aware of what you sell will require significant marketing effort. You might have the best products around waiting to take the world by storm, but if few people are aware of them then your business will struggle to grow.
Though every business is different, a few digital marketing techniques tend to be applicable to most businesses. Search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, Google remarketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and multichannel digital marketing are all important buzzwords that you may have already heard of. Let’s break these down to their core and come up with a brief action plan of how to start marketing your Shopify store online.
Analytics and Measurement
To improve your Shopify store and its marketing your first going to need to measure important metrics such as how much traffic you are getting, what percentage of visitors turn into customers, where your traffic is coming from, and how often people visit only to bounce away again.
The most commonly used website measurement tool in use today is Google Analytics, a free tool from the search engine giant. With Shopify as your platform, it’s easy to get Google Analytics up and running on your store. Create an analytics account, enter your tracking code into the Shopify administration panel, and set Google analytics to ‘e-commerce.’ You’ll quickly be able to see a wealth of information regarding how your website is performing.
As you try out different marketing techniques, marketing channels, new product ideas, and website redesigns, use Google Analytics to measure what’s working and what isn’t.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Most of your store’s visitors will come to your site for the first time by clicking on your site in the list of results returned from a search engine query. Search engine Google accounts for over 9/10 of these searches, so it is clearly a priority.
Getting your Shopify store to rank highly for important search terms on Google is an important goal. However, be advised that this takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you are selling in a niche marketplace that already has established stores.
Though there are many tactics you can take to improve your search engine optimization, ultimately the most important thing is to ensure that the content on is machine-readable by search engine bots while remaining accurate, compelling, and informative for your human readers.
Titles, Meta Descriptions, and URLs
Consider carefully the words in your pages’ titles, meta descriptions, and URLs. These are not only important for letting search engines know what is on each of your pages, but they also control the text users will see about your website in search engine results.
Keeping your URLs short and informative means that when people are sent the link on social media or through email, they already have an idea of what to expect.
Even the links on your pages should be optimized. Instead of linking using ‘click here’, use a descriptive name that clearly defines what the user is to expect by clicking on the link.
Image ALT Tags
All images on websites have an optional ‘ALT’ tag. This is a text alternative to the image that describes what the image is depicting. It’s good to include descriptive ALT tags for all your product images as this helps them to appear in image searches.
Google will read a sitemap.xml file located in your website’s directory if it exists and uses the information within to map out the hundreds or thousands of pages on your store. Shopify automatically generates this file and updates it dynamically, but you should go to both Google and Bing to register your new site map.
Search engines dislike duplicate content. If you have multiple products on different pages with very similar text descriptions, you will find that Google will typically only list one of them. To avoid this, ensure all of your pages have original content and have little crossover.
Google likes new content. Running a blog alongside your store allows you to keep updating your website with new content to show the search engines that your site is alive and kicking. It has a host of other benefits too — you can add important keywords naturally to content, you can add value to your products by discussing ways to use them, you can build your reputation as an authority in your area of expertise, you can use it for content marketing, and you can use it to engage with current and potential customers.
Pay-Per-Click Marketing (PPC)
Search engine marketing is extremely valuable but it is usually a slow and steady process. It may take many months to begin seeing significant results from your efforts. What if you want to get visitors to your website now? Pay-Per-Click Marketing (PPC) is the answer.
With PPC, you will pay to have your website’s link appear at the top of search engine results in the form of an ad. It’s like jumping the queue and you can get valuable traffic to your website within minutes.
However, you’re not the only one using this trick. All of your competitors are too. PPC system works somewhat like an auction — you decide how much it's worth to you per click-through on an ad and your competitors do the same. Whoever bids highest appears highest in the list of ads.
Ads appearing for high-value searches can therefore be hotly contested and expensive. Searches that suggest the user is currently motivated to make a purchase command a higher price. You will be paying for every person who clicks through on your ad, so serious thought must first be put into how much that click is worth to you.
Pay-Per-Click Marketing is very versatile and you are given full control over how and where your ads are displayed.
Some Tips for Good PPC Ads
- Keep monitoring your campaign. If something really isn’t working even after you’ve given it enough time, pause the campaign.
- Target keywords your competitors may have overlooked or considered too small. ‘Long-tail’ keywords are longer and more specific search phrases that can also be cheaper because fewer people are searching for them and fewer competitors are targeting them. For example, ‘window installers’ is a generic search that may be contested by hundreds of companies. ‘Conservatory window installers in South Bend’ will have lower search volume but will be more likely to send motivated buyers in your area to your Shopify store and at a lower ad price.
- Ads should link directly to a landing page with a clear call to action. Avoid linking ads to your home page.
- Perform continual A-B testing. Essentially this means running two ads at the same time with only one small difference between them. Perhaps you use a different call to action, different keywords, or different special offer. Note which of the ads perform the best and dump the poorer performing ad. Repeat.
People often visit a store to compare products and prices and leave to check out other websites or simply think about the purchase before making it. Remarketing is marketing towards these people who have been to your site but who have not made a purchase.
With remarketing, you can display ads on other websites or on social media that subtly remind the visitor about your value proposition or offering a discount, compelling them to return.
Marketing through email to your customers is very powerful and not to be overlooked. Most people consider their email inbox their most precious and trusted line of communication online, so smart marketing campaigns and regular useful newsletters keep your brand present in people’s minds and builds loyalty.
Shopify has a number of tools that help you manage your email campaigns with your customers. As with most things e-commerce, personalization leads to better success. Segment your customers based on their interests and behaviors, and only send them emails that you can be sure they’ll be interested in.
Though you can and should include promotions in your emails, ensure that the content is useful and avoid overly sales-ey language. Send out consistent newsletters that show your expertise in your area. Consider sending emails automatically after users make a purchase with hints and tips on how to use the products they have purchased and mention potential complementary products that you sell.
Shopify makes it easy to include a blog alongside your store. Here you can include engaging, marketable content that’s useful to your specific target audience or speaks to their interests.
Some new e-commerce stores struggle for ideas for content marketing. Begin by answering frequently asked questions about your company and its products, talk about yourself and your team and what you’re trying to achieve, discuss your products with enthusiasm, discuss important news within your industry — all of these things are easy to do and will give your store a personality.
As discussed above, good content has myriad benefits and has positive effects on search engine optimization, social media marketing, and customer engagement.
With an e-commerce site, your most immediate form of social proof comes in the form of reviews. Allowing buyers to leave user reviews boosts user engagement and allows you to get a good idea of what your customer base wants. Shopify includes this functionality.
If there are any problems, allowing buyer reviews helps you to solve the issues promptly and show that you are a company that cares. Every business has problems and customers understand that. How you welcome constructive criticism and resolve issues quickly are what will impress potential customers.
Reviews offer a huge amount of social proof and credibility to your site, your products, and your company. People trust reviews from previous customers, with 77% percent of people stating they read product reviews before making a big purchase. Search engines love reviews too.
Reviews even fill up your website valuable natural key phrases that you may not have come up with on your own. It’s free content that can help your website rise the ranks on Google for long-tail searches.
Social Media Marketing
Social media offers you yet another channel to engage with your buyers and potential customers. Facebook and Twitter accounts are mandatory, but you should also consider which other social media networks your target audience uses and become active on those too.
For example, Instagram is image- and video-focused and can be a good tool for showing off pictures of your products. An active LinkedIn presence makes sense if you’re looking to reach people in professional and management positions. YouTube should also be strongly considered for showing video demonstrations and sharing knowledge on your particular niche.
Each social media network requires a different approach. They may seem very similar, but they are used in very different ways by different groups of people. Facebook allows for long-form content, photos, videos, and communication with people via your business Facebook page, but is relatively passive. Twitter, on the other hand, is fast-paced with rapid public two-way conversations in a limited number of characters.
Putting It All Together
All of these various forms of digital marketing (and others) were best when they are combined in a single overarching marketing strategy. Rushing out to post exciting tweets on Twitter is entirely wasted if your website is not ready for visitors, you have poor content, no email marketing, or no way to measure your successes and failures.
On the other hand, the strides you make in one form of digital marketing will have positive benefits for all others. Improve your content marketing, for example, and your search engine rankings will improve, the cost of PPC advertising will lower, your email newsletters will have more useful content, and you’ll have more to share and discuss on social media.
Shopify offers you all the tools to improve your digital marketing. Create a plan, take it one step at a time, and see your Shopify store grow and grow.