Setting up a Shopify store is easier than ever, but that also means there is a lot more competition. In fact, Shopify stated that they now have over a million merchants, and that number is constantly growing.
In addition to the rise in competition, the new iOS change makes it more difficult to laser target customers, so driving ROI from Facebook ads will become even harder.
On top of all this, retail giants like Walmart significantly increased their ecommerce budget during the pandemic, which has caused paid advertising costs to skyrocket.
Here’s a look at the average ad cost in 2020.😩
However, there are still more ecommerce shoppers than ever before, which is encouraging news for merchants. In fact, during quarter 1 of 2020, the ecommerce market experienced 10 years of growth in just three months.
So, on one hand you’ve got rising ad costs and a more complicated acquisition funnel. On the other, you’ve got a lot more online shoppers to sell to.
Given that context, let’s talk about the key strategies every Shopify store can use to boost sales across the top, middle, and bottom of your marketing funnel.
Top-of-Funnel: Generating Awareness
Traditionally, Shopify stores relied on Facebook or Google ads to drive the bulk of their traffic.
However, if you’re using this strategy, you may have noticed a few issues:
- The new iOS update could make your Facebook ads much less effective
- Ad costs have increased due to retail giants expanding their ecommerce divisions
- You rely heavily on social media algorithms that can change in an instant – and cause uncertainty with your customer acquisition strategies.
(rising ad costs💰💰💰 + poorer targeting 🎯 = less ROI 😞 )
So how can you generate targeted traffic to your website and improve your top of the funnel audience?
First, focus on building a sustainable brand. A brand is a defensible moat that will help your business survive any algorithm update or economic downturn and lower your customer acquisition cost while improving the customer lifetime value.
When we talk about building a brand, we’re not talking about your logo or colors.
Today’s best e-commerce brands are built on exceptional customer service.
An easy place to start is by surveying your customers and asking them how you could improve.
Even better, get on the phone with a group of your customers to learn more about their specific pain points and why they purchase your products. This will help you understand exactly who you are targeting and improve your messaging to improve customer service and help new customers overcome objections.
Another great way to improve your top-of-funnel marketing strategy is to invest in SEO. While SEO also relies on search engine algorithms, it is more sustainable as your efforts compound over time with little additional effort.
Therefore, ensure that all the pages on your Shopify store are indexed, your product images are optimized, and your products all have unique descriptions. Just as your high school teacher was unamused by plagiarizing, Google agrees that copying is not cool🙅 , and you’ll find yourself hit with a major penalty.
Once your product descriptions are updated, perform keyword research to optimize your title tags and meta descriptions and then create content on your blog to rank for non-product keywords. For example, if you sell women’s dresses, you might have a style guide to pairing summer dresses and shoes.
Building a community is also an excellent way to increase top of the funnel awareness and improve customer loyalty.
Sephora is a great example of an e-commerce brand that understands the importance of building a community, as they have an online community forum of over 4.5 million members.
They frequently discuss topics like new makeup products, skin care products, and more.
Answering customer questions makes your brand a valuable resource which makes it easier to sell products.
Glossier is another brand that is excellent at creating a strong community, though theirs mainly exist on social media.
However, building a community takes time, and while it’s well worth it, you won’t see immediate results. Therefore, if you need immediate results, consider partnering with someone that already has a community.
In other words, influencer marketing.
Partnering with influencers who already like and use your products is a great way to tap into their audience and turn it into your audience.
Plus, new platforms like Lumanu make it easy for you to onboard large quantities of influencers, get them to share their audiences, and let you target them directly.
Once you have traffic on your website (whether it’s from social media, SEO, or another channel), you can use opt-in forms or pop-ups to capture emails and phone numbers.
You can use Tone’s LiveText tool to have a text message conversation directly with a customer who is on your website.
This helps you convert ToF top of funnel traffic into owned audiences that you can tap into over time, helping you drive down customer acquisition costs.
Middle Of The Funnel: Driving Consideration
After you drive traffic to your store, there are some key strategies you can use in the middle of your funnel to increase your sales.
- Email Marketing
- SMS Campaigns
- Review Optimization
- Influencer Reviews
Retargeting ads will always be a cost-effective approach. People who have already viewed your products and are familiar with your brand are much more likely to convert than cold traffic.
It’s sort of like dating. If you ask someone to marry you and you only met them that day, chances are they will probably turn you down… However, if you’ve been dating them for a few years, they are much more likely to say yes💍.
So set aside a big portion of your budget to retarget the people who hit your website.
Here’s an example of a solid Facebook retargeting ad from Apolis, a Tone brand that sells customized market bags. After visiting this website, the products viewed were displayed here on the visitor’s Facebook feed.
If you’re not sure what your retargeting ad strategy should look like, that’s ok. Start small and then iterate off of that based on what you see works for you.
To get some initial ideas you can also plug brands into Facebook’s Ad Library to find out what any company is currently running.
Another great way to drive consideration with shoppers is through your email marketing.
For example, this Shopify store grew its revenue by 22% just through email marketing💰💰💰.
In this particular case study, the level of segmentation is largely what helped grow their revenue. Rather than just offering a discount to people that refused to purchase for full price, they went one step further with segmentation.
The CEO of the company, Kewl, explains:
“We segment out customers who purchase with a discount (‘discount customers’) and those who do not (‘full price customers’) so that we never offer “full price customers” a discount again.”
As you can see, it’s a simple way to generate more revenue without increasing costs.
While email marketing is effective, it still has a relatively low open rate, with great open rates ranging from 15% to 25%. Because of this, many Shopify stores are boosting sales even more with SMS marketing.
For example, you can use a tool like Tone to tell customers when you have exclusive deals. Your customers can also respond to each text campaign and receive a reply from a real human in minutes. According to Forrester, customers spend 10-15% more when they engage in conversations with brands.
Review optimization is another great way to increase Shopify sales.
Did you know that 97% of shoppers consult reviews before making a purchase? Authentic customer reviews are one of the easiest ways to add credibility and social proof to your brand. They assist in eliminating objections and help the prospective customer see what their own experience may be like if they purchase your product or service.
How can you start collecting more reviews?
A great example is to send customers an email after their purchase with a link to write a review.
You can also optimize your reviews by positioning them clearly on each product page and enabling customers to upload photos or videos of the product. The Shopify app Loox is an excellent tool to enable customers to leave a review.
You can also ask influencers to review your products. For example, if you have a product that performs particularly well, you can ask an influencer to review it and position that review squarely on the product page.
Bottom Of The Funnel: Driving Conversions
For customers that already know about your brand and are interested in your product, these bottom of the funnel tactics can help you turn visitors into happy customers and increase sales on Shopify.
The first thing to think about is conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Here are a few key CRO boxes you should check off ✅:
- Does each product have quality images from multiple angles?
- Do complex products have videos?
- Are key product features, dimensions, and benefits clearly displayed in a visible manner?
- Are customer reviews clearly visible?
- Optimize for mobile above the fold.
- Key action areas, like CTA’s, should be in opportune positions for hand placement on a mobile device.
- Can you add a countdown timer?
When in doubt, look at Amazon’s top product pages. Here’s a great example:
In addition to optimizing your product pages, you should also optimize any landing pages created for retargeting campaigns or upsells.
For example, Verb Energy bars has an excellent landing page from a Google ads campaign. You can tell that conversions are top of mind as they have:
- A discount code
- Social proof (Forbes, Business Insider CNBC)
- Key selling point
- Glowing customer reviews
To better optimize your product pages and landing pages, use heatmaps such as Hotjar to track customer actions and understand where you’re losing customers.
It’s sort of like standing next to your customers and watching them shop 🛍 … but in a less creepy way.
Another way to increase sales on Shopify is to use Tone’s LiveText tool. Essentially, your customers land on your product or landing page, and then a phone number appears that they can text to ask any questions.
You can also use Tone to save sales by sending abandoned cart 🛒 SMS messages. For example, if someone comes to your website and leaves, you can text them with a discount 30 minutes later to save the sale.
According to Forrester, site visitors who chat with a brand are 2.8x more likely to convert than those who don’t.
Post-Purchase Sales: Optimizing Customer Lifetime Value
A key difference between ecommerce and service businesses is that ecommerce businesses typically have a much lower customer retention rate due to the nature of the business.
The average yearly retention rate for e-commerce stores is 30%. That means that only 30% of customers will come back to a brand in a given year.
That’s why e-commerce companies are constantly searching for new customers.
One of the most valuable ways to scale your business vertically is through increasing what is called customer lifetime value (CLTV). This means extending the customer lifecycle to come back and make several purchases with your brand.
There are plenty of ways to turn one-off purchases into loyal and lifelong customers.
First, offer an outstanding customer experience and high-quality products. If your product does what people expect it to do and the purchase process is quick and easy, it won’t be difficult to convince them to return again.
Read your reviews and talk to your customers directly to understand what they think about your customer experience.
You can also go through this quick customer support checklist:
- Do you answer customer support emails in less than 12 hours?
- Do you answer SMS messages in less than 5 minutes?
- Are your products shipped on time 90% of the time?
- Do you offer easy order tracking?
- How many product errors are made monthly (shipping wrong size, item, etc.)?
- Do you follow up with customers to ensure they are happy?
SMS support, in particular, is becoming increasingly popular, though if your response is slow or unhelpful, it could leave a negative impression on your customer. Use a platform like Tone to ensure you have human responses in less than five minutes.
Another way to improve customer lifetime value is by starting a loyalty or rewards program. Smile.io is an excellent tool for Shopify owners to use as you can automatically reward customers for purchases and referrals.
You can also offer one-click upsells and downsells on the post-purchase page. For example, if you have a pair of shoes, you can offer to sell them shoe polish after the sale.
You can also bundle together items and offer discounts on bundles. Gerardo, a modern men’s fashion brand (and Tone customer) has an excellent example of this:
Drive More Revenue At Every Stage Of Your Funnel
Despite the competitive landscape Shopify owners face, there are more tools and help available for your business than ever before, and the market cap is also growing at a stunning rate.
The pandemic has also pushed millennials and gen Z to shop online, but older generations provide a broader customer base for Shopify owners.
Increased competition should be viewed as a sign that the market is strong rather than saturated. The key to staying in the top tier of e-commerce companies is to use innovative tech and rapid iteration to meet customers where they are in the buying process and always measure your ROI.
Remember, optimizing at every stage of your buyer lifecycle will help you drive sales throughout the funnel.
If you want to learn how Tone can help skyrocket your revenue and customer service through personalized SMS, start a free trial today.