In ecommerce, like life, trying to please everyone will delight no one. Rather than aiming to reach as many people as possible, connecting with a select group of ideal prospects will drive higher conversions, repeat buyers and bigger profits. The Suspect Lever is all about proven methods to reach the right audience and drive quality traffic.
The 7 Levers Framework for Ecommerce, created by best-selling author and entrepreneur Pete Williams, is a focused process of rapid experimentation, data-driven testing and iteration across 7 key metrics to measure and optimise across your ecommerce business to achieve long term growth.
The first step, The Suspect Lever, is all about how to drive quality traffic to your Shopify store. By quality traffic, we mean people who are willing to purchase rather than just random visitors.
As more businesses move online and privacy restrictions tighten, digital marketing is becoming less effective and more expensive. That’s why it’s crucial to diversify your marketing, advertising and sales channels. It is also important to collect your own data and build direct customer relationships that are less reliant on paid advertising.
9 proven marketing methods to increase quality traffic
With limited time and budget, Shopify store owners need to prioritise channels – online and off – that deliver the greatest return on investment. Here we look at 9 strategies to prioritise in your business.
1. Invest in organic search engine optimisation (SEO)
2. Create a content marketing strategy
3. Social media commerce
4. Drive quality traffic with influencer marketing
5. Experiment with live shopping
6. Paid online advertising
7. Build an email marketing list
8. SMS marketing: Start sending text message campaigns
9. Integrate real-life and online experiences
SEO is the process of working on your website so that your pages, products and blogs rank higher on relevant keyword searches on Google and other search engines. Unlike paid advertising (which we will cover later), organic SEO is where your pages show up in the organic (or free) listing results, so you don’t have to pay for clicks.
While achieving high rankings for relevant search terms is possible even for small businesses, it takes an ongoing commitment of time and effort. It is well worth it though, because studies suggest that organic SEO can drive around 50% of website traffic.
There are three main components of organic SEO for Shopify stores:
a) Technical SEO - how your site is built
It is important to develop your Shopify store in a way that search engines can easily understand what it is about and index your pages.
Design your store in a logical structured way in terms of navigation and internal links between related pages and organise products in related collections. This makes it easy for search engines – and people – to understand exactly what you offer.
Shoppers on phones now account for over 67% of all ecommerce, so you need to make sure you offer a fast and easy mobile experience as search engines now also take this into account.
Up to 40% of people abandon websites that take more than 3 seconds to load, and search engines will penalise slow pages in their rankings.
- Related reading: Shopify Speed Optimisation: 8 tips to rev up your store
b) On-Page SEO – relevant website content
This component is about optimising your site content to target relevant keywords to increase rankings. The first step is to discover what keywords people are using to find products. To research keywords, you can use tools such as Google Search Suggestions, Google Trends, Ubersuggest or Keyword Sheeter.
As well as using relevant keywords in the headlines, subheads and words that you can see on content pages, product pages and blogs, it is important to write specific meta descriptions and page titles with strong calls to action (CTAs). These are essentially what users see after they Google a search terms (or use other search engines). This should be one of the first tasks on your SEO list.
As we cover in our article Shopify SEO in 6 easy steps, there are over 200 search engine ranking signals to consider when improving and modifying your site. Getting an expert's opinion and guidance on what you should be focusing can give you an edge.
c) Off-Page SEO – build up quality backlinks
Search engines will rank websites higher on results if they are seen to have more trust and authority than other sites. A key part of how the algorithm determines this is by looking at how many quality links you have from other reputable websites relevant to yours – these are called backlinks.
While some sites will link to you because they love your business, you can accelerate this process by adding backlinks from social media accounts and business directories such as Google My Business. Reaching out to relevant industry publications or gift guides can also be a way to generate PR to get articles published with links back to your site.
Content marketing is all about creating relevant and valuable content like case studies, videos, podcasts, social posts and blogs that move prospects down the ecommerce conversion funnel from awareness to consideration to transaction.
It is not only an important part of your organic SEO strategy, but it is effective for reaching relevant customers and helps build authority and credibility around your brand.
To create helpful content, you need to review your keywords strategy and revisit your target audience. What problems are they having? What solutions are they searching for? What content could you create to help them? For example, if you're running a gardening store that sells pots, you could create articles on ‘When to re-pot indoor plants?’ or ‘What size pot should I use for citrus?’
Content marketing ideas for your ecommerce store:
- Step by step tutorials
- Top 10 lists
- How-to guides
- How-to videos
- Infographics – visual content
- Success stories
- Product overviews
While everyone will agree that creating content is important and effective, it often falls into the too-hard-basket for busy business owners. To make sure it happens regularly, we recommend creating a content calendar for regular blogs and social media posts.
TIP:Remember, rather than always go for the sale, the more your content can genuinely help people, the better.
These days, social media is often the first touch point for users of all ages. Sales through social media channels around the world are expected to nearly triple by 2025. Younger generations (16-24) now research brands on social media more than search engines, with Gen Z using social networks and search engines equally.
Quality engagement is key. Rather than trying to be on all platforms, focus on posting consistently on the top two or three that your core customers use most. For many brands, Instagram or Facebook will be important channels, but don’t forget the newer ones too!
Don’t underestimate TikTok
While relatively new, TikTok is a serious player – and it’s not just for teenagers. Done well, TikTok can be a big opportunity for your ecommerce brand by helping you:
- Reach a huge audience:Making a splash in a new and rapidly growing market can be easier than on an established platform.
- Grow other channels:TikTok allows you to link your other social media profiles, like Instagram, so you can use it to grow other channels.
- Quick and easy production: On TikTok people expect content that is raw, unpolished and not overproduced so it can be simpler to create.
- Integrate TikTok and Shopify: As a Shopify store owner you can easily sync your product catalogue to TikTok and feature a shopping tab on your TikTok profile.
Pinterest can really perform
While it’s been around for a long time, Pinterest continues to grow in ecommerce by enabling you to visually share and promote your Shopify products directly to buyers. An eMarketer survey found that 48% of people used Pinterest for shopping, which is much higher than other platforms.
5 tips for creating effective pins:
- Use text over images:As users often skim over descriptions and only see the pictures, it’s effective to overlay text on the images like a descriptive title and short description (avoid promotional language like ‘20% off’ or ‘Two for $9.99!’)
- Promote blog posts: Transform your blogs into visual guides using text describing the article.
- How-to-guides: Use multi-image mosaics to show the different steps of your guide.
- Create a gift guide: Feature a mix of your products and other complementary products.
- Educational Infographics:Summarise a blog post, highlight a process, or add a timeline, use comparisons or create common customer’s FAQ’s.
Influencer marketing involves partnering with social media accounts on any social media platform that are followed by your target audience and promoting your products to that audience through the influencers reach.
You can reach out directly to influential people in your niche or approach an influencer marketing agency. You could partner with an influencer in your same niche or other ecommerce brands that align with yours. For example, if you sell dog beds you could connect with a popular local dog trainer for a promotion.
Each will have different rates for promoting your products. Some will be happy with free products, others might want a flat fee upfront or an ongoing commission, and some may be willing to collaborate or cross promote if you have a following of your own.
Partnering directly with smaller influencers can be very cost effective, as their audiences tend to be more engaged than larger followings. For example,Mention reports that engagement rates on Instagram are 7.2% for those with less than 1k followers but drop to 2.0% for those with 100k.
Need help creating your Shopify multi sales channel strategy? Let's talk
Combining live entertainment with real-time audience participation and purchasing, live shopping is shaping to be a huge trend in ecommerce for retailers, brands and social media platforms.
In their article It’s showtime! How live commerce is transforming the shopping experience McKinsey says it could account for as much as 10-20% of all e-commerce by 2026.
A good way to think about live shopping is as your very own mini TV shopping show!
Keep it fun, casual and authentic – like a friendly chat with your audience. An easy way to test this is using the live video streaming tools on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok.
So how can smaller businesses start experimenting with live shopping?
- Run a live product demonstration of a best-selling product or new range
- Go behind the scenes to show how your products are created
- Share your brand story and the inspiration behind the business
- Partner with relevant influencers or like-minded brands to share audiences
- Offer a limited-time discount code to encourage live purchases
- Keep it interactive with questions, games, quizzes or giveaways during the session
From search engines to social media, most platforms will offer you a simple way to run paid advertising across their network to reach a highly targeted audience based on demographics, location, preferences, behaviour and more.
Depending on the channel, you either pay for how often your ad is displayed (pay by impressions) or only when someone clicks on your ad (pay per click); enabling you to set and control your ad spend, specifications and target audience.
Whether you spend $20 a day or much more, you will typically be able to see reports showing impressions, clicks and conversions to determine your return on investment. According to Optimising, if your ecommerce does AUD$1m a year net revenue, a reasonable ad spend would be between $80k and $120k, which is between $219 and $328 a day.
Let’s take a quick look at a few of the major players:
Google Ads allows you to reach people who are actively searching for products and services like yours. Unlike social advertising which tends to charge per views/impressions, Google runs on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, which means you only pay to advertise to people who show intent; resulting in more valuable consumer data on your target market, enhanced campaign performance and ultimately, stronger leads and sales.
According to Google, 70% of all consumer purchasing journeys will involve Google at some point such as search, YouTube or maps, so there’s no shortage of prospects!
There is a wide range of formats including:
- Google Search Ads: Appear on search results pages and are generally text based.
- Google Display Ads: Appear on specific websites or apps customers visit and are general image-based – these are great for retargeting people who have visited your store in the past.
- Google Shopping Ads: Appear to users searching for products like yours and show your product photo, title, price, shop name and more.
- Local Inventory Ads: Display your products and shop information to nearby shoppers searching with Google. Shoppers can view in-store inventory, and opening hours, and get directions to your store.
- Google Smart Shopping Ads: Use machine learning to optimise a mix of retargeting, display, and Shopping ads on your behalf. The system selects which products to advertise, how much to bid, who to target, and which creative to show.
Examples of Google Ads:
TIP: Check out the Shopify Google Channel to learn how you can sync, automate and manage your Google Ads campaigns directly from Shopify.
TikTok is a new kid on the block, but with over a billion users and growing it is not to be ignored. With only a fraction of the amount of advertisers compared to Facebook or Instagram, TikTok claims it has higher engagement than the big players. It’s not just for teens, with over half of users above the age of 30.
It offers a growing range of ad options:
- In-feed Video Ad: 15-60 second video ads almost indistinguishable from organic content, are inserted into users’ “For You” page to appear with organic content.
- Branded Hashtag Challenge: This encourages user-generated content through trending hashtags and fun video challenges, like a popular dance or creative filter.
- Brand Takeovers: Your ad will be displayed as soon as a user opens the app.
TIP: To collaborate with influential TikTokers, check out TikTok Creator Marketplace to search for creators based on your industry, budget and business goals.
Pinterest has grown slowly and steadily over the years to almost half a billion users, of which over 44% are women between 25-44. The interesting thing about Pinterest for advertisers is that it is like a visual search engine where people come to search for and save inspirational images. And as we mentioned earlier they often want to buy the products they find.
Pinterest is well suited to visually beautiful products such as fashion, home decor and beauty. Pinterest claims that their ads earn a 2x higher return on ad spend with a 2.3x cheaper cost per conversion, compared to other social media platforms.
Pinterest’s advertising options include:
- Story Pins: Short videos or up to 20 graphics, typically used for educational content, how-to videos or demonstrations.
- Collection Ads: One large featured video or image and 3 supporting images – if a user taps your ad you can show up to 24 supporting images on the ad detail page.
- Shopping Ads: Automatically feature one image or video pulled from your Shopify product catalogue. This is the “set it and forget it” friendly ad type on Pinterest.
TIP: Use group boards to share inspiring ideas with micro-influencers on Pinterest.
Facebook and Instagram Ads
Both owned by Meta, Facebook and Instagram advertising has been at the core of most online advertising campaigns for many years (along with Google). Both offer similarly comprehensive audience targeting features and campaign management tools.
Both Facebook and Instagram boast audiences of over 2 billion monthly active users, however some stats suggest Instagram has a 58% higher engagement rate than Facebook.
44% of people use Instagram weekly to shop using features like shopping tags and the Shop tag. Sponsored posts to highly targeted audiences are a popular option, with video ads typically performing well with two of the most engaging formats being Instagram Stories and Instagram Reels.
An interesting feature worth a look is the Facebook Ad Library where you can search all ads that are running across the platform, including those of your competitors!
TIP: Costs vary widely across platforms and can also fluctuate at peak competitive periods such as the festive season or Black Friday. Here is an indicative guide to ad costs.
While it may be considered old school, building your own email database is still the best long-term channel todrive quality traffic and grow your ecommerce business, especially given tightening privacy rules around third party data and targeted advertising.
A massive advantage of building an email list is that it is first party data owned by you – you have control over the content and distribution, and aren’t reliant on the whims or rule changes of third party platforms. The risk of only building a following on social media is that you don’t own your audience and the rules can change overnight. It’s like building a house on rented land.
Effective for both customer acquisition and retention, a good email strategy can drive more than 30% of your store’s revenue.
To grow your list, be sure to offer an obvious call to action and a valuable incentive for all website visitors to join your email and SMS lists. This incentive could be a discount code, bonus content, free shipping, buy one get one, early access to sales, exclusive access to products or free gift with purchase. Be sure to include this offer in your other marketing materials and social media too.
Once you have built up an email list, you can create a regular email newsletter to share valuable content and product information.
And be sure to send a warm ‘welcome’ email to new subscribers. Welcome emails can have open rates over 80% so it’s a brilliant opportunity to make a good impression and encourage the first purchase.
In Facebook, you can upload your list and create lookalike audiences to reach similar audiences. You can also segment your email list to create personalised campaigns based on past purchases, browsing history and location.
Here are 5 of the best email marketing Shopify Apps:
- Klaviyo: Rated 4.2 stars by 1500+ reviewers
- Shopify Email: Rated 4.3 stars by 900+ reviewers
- Omnisend: Rated 4.8 stars by 3,500+ reviewers
- Privy: Rated 4.6 stars by 24,000+ reviewers
- Campaign Monitor: Rated 4.6 starts by 950+ reviewers
Often overlooked, text messaging can be a highly effective marketing and communications tool and opens up two-way communication. The immediacy of SMS is perfect to promote live shopping, flash sales or sale ending soon alerts.
With the mobile phone a constant companion, research shows that 95% of text messages are read and even promotional messages have an average click through rate (CTR) of 36%, which is 8 times the average for email of 4.5%.
Remember to make messages valuable and relevant, as SMS is a more intimate channel you need to avoid overwhelming your customers with too many messages.
Just like email, promotional SMS messages must be compliant with Australian Consumer Law and the spam regulations. Broadly, you can only send messages to customers who have opted in, you must identify your brand as the sender and offer an unsubscribe/opt-out option.
If you use a Shopify integration like Klaviyo, you can collect SMS consent on checkout to help turn first-time buyers into loyal customers.
You can also offer an extra incentive to opt in to SMS over email. For example, Pura Vida offers 20% off for SMS subscribers and only 10% for email subscribers.
Need help maximising SMS and Email marketing to Grow Your Ecommerce Business?Let's talk
Whether or not you have a retail store, don’toverlook the benefits of creating a physical presence for your products like markets, pop-up shops, industry events and/or considering a wholesale channel to get your products stocked in existing retail outlets.
While the global pandemic accelerated online sales, consumers are again craving an in-store experience with Shopify’s Future of Commerce Trend Report 2022 predicting over 50% of consumers are likely to look online and buy in-store.
Google research underlines the large crossover between digital and physical channels. They estimate that 9 in 10 people will search online before buying in person with many using search to compare retailers, find store information like opening hours and locations.
As we mentioned earlier, live shopping is set to be a major trend and we expect stores adding dedicated areas to run live shopping events in-store to showcase new product collections to both bring people into the store and engage online shoppers with instant links to buy.
It’s time to pull The Suspect Lever!
The most successful Shopify stores have a defined niche, understand their target market and know where they like to spend time online. Without thisvery clear picture of your ideal prospects, you risk creating marketing that doesn’t cut through the clutter and investing in channels that don’t convert.
Simple yet powerful, The 7 Levers Framework of Ecommerce helps increase Shopify sales by lifting key metrics in your business by just 10% to create a compounding effect that will double your profit.
We use this process in our Growth Program to advise on suitable traffic driving strategies that lead to consistent and sustainable growth for your store.
After six months on the growth program, 89% of our clients have seen increased site traffic, some as high as 70%. Over a period of 13 years, we’ve built 340+ stores on Shopify and Shopify Plus, collecting over 180+ verified reviews.
Need help creating your Shopify marketing strategy? Speak to a Shopify Growth Expert
What are the best performing channels to attract traffic to the Shopify store?
- Organic search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Content marketing strategy
- Social media commerce
- Influencer marketing
- Live shopping
- Paid online advertising
- Email marketing
- Text message / SMS marketing
- Integrate real-life and online experiences
Why should you prioritise SMS and email marketing?
Privacy rules have changed and continue to tighten, including the disappearance of third party cookies that are used to track internet browsers. This means it is harder and more expensive to get an ROI on paid digital advertising campaigns. By building your own SMS and email marketing lists you own the data and control the content and frequency of contact. Rather than building an audience on someone else's property – like Facebook or Instagram – you can build a valuable long term asset.