What separates the top-performing Shopify stores from those that are barely staying afloat? In some cases, it's a superior product. Other times, it's a few lucky breaks here and there. But more often than not, the biggest determining factor of ecommerce success is the sales, marketing, and customer support strategies that the store employs.
If you want to attract more new customers to your Shopify store, boost its conversion rate, and retain the customers you do attract as loyal advocates of your brand, you're in luck. Below, we'll look at nine strategies for maximizing your online store's revenue. These strategies are listed in chronological order, mapping the customer journey from discovery through purchase and then long-term loyalty so that you can optimize this journey every step of the way.
1) Drive likely buyers to your site with search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is optimizing your website so that search engines such as Google rank it higher when users search relevant search phrases. For instance, if your store is selling home decor, then you want your site to rank as high as possible for searches such as "home decor tips" and "home decor for sale" since the users making these searches are likely to be your target customers — and SEO is how you achieve this.
There are several different elements of great SEO. Populating your website and blog with high-quality, keyword-rich content is one key pillar of great SEO. Other elements of SEO include creating backlinks to your website on other high-authority sites, making sure all of your links and images are properly formatted, including metadata, and removing anything that is slowing down your website.
Benefits of SEO optimization
The biggest benefit of SEO is that it drives organic traffic, which is free. Optimizing your ecommerce store may require some upfront investment and ongoing effort. Once it is optimized and organic traffic starts flowing in, all the extra traffic it brings in won't cost you a dime. Compared to PPC ads (where you pay for every individual visitor), driving organic traffic via SEO is much more affordable and sustainable in the long run.
Elements of your site to optimize
The three main areas of an ecommerce website that need to be optimized for search engines are your homepage, product pages, and blog content. These pages and blog posts should all be optimized with relevant keywords, metadata, and high-authority links. It's also a good idea to optimize educational content, such as your FAQ page, to make this helpful content more easily discoverable.
2) Build a strong social media presence to gain and nurture followers
In 2022, there are 4.7 billion people in the world using social media, accounting for 59.3% of the total global population. Social media has become a key part of the customer journey for many, if not most online shoppers. On social media platforms, customers can learn about new products, engage with brands, and check out product reviews from other customers. This central role that social media has come to play in the customer journey makes it more important than ever to build a strong social media presence for your brand.
Building a following on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook will provide a medium for communicating directly with your customers and reaching them where they are already most comfortable — and where they already spend most of their time online. While it typically takes some advertising spend to build these followings (along with high-quality posts and a commitment to engaging with your audience), the rewards are almost always worthwhile.
Tips to engage your social media audience
The biggest key to building, retaining, and capitalizing on your social media audience is keeping them engaged with your content. Here are a few helpful tips for engaging your social media audience:
- Publish posts regularly, at least one to two posts per day.
- Post a variety of content.
- Include videos or high-quality images in your posts.
- Keep most of your posts short and to the point.
Use influencer marketing to expand your reach
Influencer marketing entails partnering with social media influencers who promote your products to their audience, and it's a digital marketing strategy that has exploded in popularity. In 2016, brands spent a total of $1.7 billion on influencer marketing. In 2022, that total is expected to climb to $16.4 billion.
Today, influencer marketing platforms such as Grin and Upfluence make it easy for brands to connect with influencers looking for promotional opportunities. If you don't yet have a large social media following, using influencer marketing can be an excellent way to get your products in front of social media users.
Best of all, influencer marketing provides your brand with powerful social proof. In fact, 61% of customers state that they trust recommendations from social influencers, compared to just 38% who trust branded social content.
Leverage social content for social proof
Speaking of social proof, leveraging user-generated content from social media is another great way to add social proof to your products and brand. User-generated content (customer reviews and social media posts praising your brand) is worth its weight in gold, and you can use this content across your website and marketing materials.
Including user reviews in your product descriptions and sharing positive posts from customers on your own social media profiles are a couple of ways to put this user-generated content to work and create social proof for your brand.
Bonus: Let customers talk to you through social media
Today, more and more brands are starting to leverage social media as a customer support channel, allowing customers to communicate with their support teams via social media messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger.
The obvious benefit to this is that it makes the customer support process more convenient for your customers by allowing them to use the websites and tools they're already familiar with.
If you would like to let your customers start contacting you through social media, Gorgias can help! With Gorgias' centralized customer support platform, agents can view and respond to customer messages across numerous support channels, including email, SMS, and social media.
Using Shopify Inbox? Discover one of the top Shopify Inbox Alternatives: Gorgias.
3) Nail email marketing campaigns to bring shoppers to your site
With all of the digital marketing tactics available today, email marketing may seem like a somewhat outdated strategy. Would it change your mind to know that 37% of brands actually increased their email marketing budget in 2022 compared to just 1.3% of brands making cuts?
Even today, email marketing remains a highly lucrative marketing avenue for ecommerce stores to explore. Once you can attract leads and grow a healthy subscriber list, email marketing is a strategy that requires minimal investment, making it easy to achieve a positive ROI. This is one key reason why the average ROI of email marketing is $36 for every $1 spent.
With the right automation tools and email marketing platform, email marketing requires minimal manual effort, enabling you to create automated email marketing campaigns that can be launched based on a preset schedule or triggered via a wide variety of customer actions.
Tips to grow your email list
Email marketing success starts with building a subscriber list, which is by far the most challenging aspect of email marketing. If you want to populate your subscriber list with more potential customers, here are seven effective list-building tips:
- Use a pop-up form on your website to attract leads.
- Attach an offering or lead magnet to your email signup forms (such as a discount code or e-book).
- Run PPC ads that direct to a landing page with an email signup form.
- Collect customer email addresses at checkout and provide the option for them to subscribe to your mailing list.
- Include social sharing or "forward to a friend" buttons on your marketing emails.
- Add an opt-in link to your support agents' email signatures.
- Promote gated content via social media that requires an email address to access.
5 examples of promotional emails to send
Once you've built and segmented your email list, the next objective is to create effective email marketing campaigns. To help you get an idea of what this looks like, here are five examples of great promotional emails that we found inspiring:
1) This welcome email from McIntosh:
2) This abandoned cart recovery email from Perch and Parrow:
3) This time-limited promotional email from Doordash
4) This product recommendation email from La Rochere North America:
5) This upsell email from Grammarly:
Automate your email marketing for more sales
More than just reducing the number of hours required to launch your email marketing campaigns, creating automated campaigns enables you to generate more sales via email campaigns that are timely and targeted.
An automated abandoned cart recovery series sent to customers who have left a product in their cart for a specific period is one example of how automated email campaigns can directly lead to more sales. Targeting customers who have purchased specific products with an automated upsell and cross-sell email series is another great example.
To learn more about ecommerce email automation and how it can be leveraged to generate more sales, check out our resource on ecommerce email automation series for online stores.
4) Improve your on-site conversion rate with a smooth customer experience
Your ecommerce website's conversion rate is the rate at which visitors to your website convert into paying customers — and offering a smooth and pleasant customer experience is key to optimizing this conversion rate.
A smooth customer experience starts by ensuring that your website is responsive and easy to navigate. From there, you will want to map out the customer journey from discovery to research to placing a purchase and ensure that you are providing the resources your customers need and creating a path of least resistance for them every step.
4 top tips for conversion rate optimization
- Use A/B testing to optimize your product pages and landing pages.
- Write clear, detailed, and compelling product descriptions complete with high-quality photos.
- Provide your customers with search functionality.
- Nudge active shoppers toward a purchase using live chat to offer proactive support.
For more helpful tips on optimizing your ecommerce business's conversion rate, check out our explainer on CRO.
Reach out to active shoppers using chat campaigns
Live chat is an advantageous customer support channel, giving customers another swift, convenient option for getting in touch with your support team. But one of the biggest benefits of live chat support is that it allows for proactive customer support.
Proactive customer support entails contacting the customer first to assist them with the buying process rather than waiting on them to contact you. With live chat widgets installed on your ecommerce site and visitor tracking tools, you'll be able to reach out to active shoppers to walk them through the final steps and nudge them across the finish line.
For example, you can create a chat campaign asking customers if they need advice or help picking the right product. Another example of leveraging live chat proactively is targeting your campaigns to customers browsing high-value products. You can also utilize automation and canned responses to trigger and execute these live chat campaigns automatically.
5) Reduce cart abandonment to get ~70% more sales
Did you know that about 70% of all ecommerce shopping carts are abandoned? This means that reducing your cart abandonment rate could help you generate as much as 70% more sales. There are several reasons why so many ecommerce shoppers add products to their cart only to never actually checkout, and understanding these reasons is the first step to reducing your store's cart abandonment rate.
Top reasons for cart abandonment
Here are the five top reasons why ecommerce customers abandon their carts:
- Extra costs too high (shipping, tax, fees): 48%
- An account is required: 24%
- Delivery too slow: 22%
- Don't trust the site: 18%
- The checkout process is too long or complicated: 17%
Offer free, fast shipping
Notice that the number one reason why customers leave items in their cart is unexpected extra expenses, with slow delivery speeds trailing not far behind. This means that your brand could eliminate most of its abandoned carts by offering free, fast shipping.
Provide a quick, easy checkout experience
The second most common reason why customers don't complete the checkout process is that they don't want to go to the trouble of creating an account. This is also related to the fifth most common cart abandonment reason - a checkout process that is too long or complicated.
You can give customers the option to create an account with your brand at checkout, but you should also offer a guest checkout option so that it isn't a requirement. You should also avoid collecting too much information on your checkout forms.
While you'll have to collect the customer's billing information and shipping address, asking for too much information runs the risk of making your checkout process too long and complicated. To learn more about providing a quick and easy checkout experience, here's our post on nine post-purchase experience strategies.
Nudge customers who haven't checked out
Along with optimizing your checkout process, sending out abandoned cart emails or SMS messages to customers who have left items in their cart can be an effective way to reduce your cart abandonment rate further.
Some brands offer discounts in these messages to encourage customers to complete their purchases. Others just use these messages as gentle reminders. Either way, these automated messages are a simple way to reduce your cart abandonment rate and generate more sales.
6) Offer customer self-service to provide efficient, convenient customer support
Customer self-service options such as FAQ pages, knowledge bases, and chatbots provide customers with the convenience of finding the answers they need without contacting your support team.
Along with reducing your ticket volume and freeing up time in your support team's schedule, these self-service options can also directly boost your sales. Many customers aren't willing to contact a brand's support team to find an answer to their question — and if they don't find the info they need, they might never buy. Providing these customers with self-service options ensures that they have all the information they need to be confident in making a purchase.
FAQ pages (or a full-blown knowledge base)
FAQ pages are pages that include the answers to questions that your customers ask most frequently. A knowledge base is an even more comprehensive version of an FAQ page, covering all pertinent information regarding your brand and its products.
FAQ pages and knowledge bases offer the same noteworthy benefits: They increase customer trust in your brand, save customers valuable time, reduce your support team's workload, and can even help improve your website's SEO.
Chatbots or quick answer flows
Chatbots are typically powered via artificial intelligence and are designed to emulate a live chat representative. Quick answer flows are somewhat similar but are designed to provide canned responses to pre-determined questions. You can add either of these self-service options into your live chat window, enabling customers to quickly find the answers they need without tying up one of your live chat agents.
Self-service order management
Self-service order management flows enable customers to manage their orders following a purchase. Here is an example of what this looks like from a Gorgias customer who created a self-service order management flow:
Notice that this flow allows customers to track, cancel, or return their orders and gives them the option to report an issue. Providing self-service order management options to your customers will improve their post-purchase experience, boosting customer satisfaction and helping encourage more repeat purchases.
7) Upsell or cross-sell customers to raise average order value (AOV)
Average order value (AOV) measures how much your customers spend on average on a single order, and increasing your brand's AOV helps you generate more revenue from the customers you attract.
Engaging in upselling or cross-selling is a great way to raise your brand's AOV. Upselling is when you convince customers to purchase an upgraded or premium version of the product they are considering. Cross-selling is when you promote products related to one the customer has already bought. Utilizing these strategies can go a long way toward generating as much value as possible from your customers and offsetting high customer acquisition costs.
5 top tips for upselling and cross-selling customers (without diminishing CX)
Here are five great ways to upsell and cross-sell customers without harming the customer experience:
- Use proactive live chat to suggest products at key points in the customer journey.
- Optimize the post-purchase experience to cross-sell, announce new products, and plug other promotions.
- Use tools specifically built for ecommerce upselling such as One Click Upsell and Aftersell Post Purchase Upsell.
- Instruct and incentivize your customer support agents to recommend products when appropriate.
- Offer discounts and specials when upselling or cross-selling.
8) Improve customer loyalty and repeat purchase rate with a strong post-purchase experience
The customer journey doesn't end at checkout. Providing a strong post-purchase experience can pay big dividends in improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.
A strong post-purchase experience includes convenient real-time order tracking, a seamless return and exchange process, and high-quality customer support. You can further boost customer loyalty and improve your post-purchase experience with loyalty programs and other benefits designed to reward repeat purchases.
Keep customers up to date with real-time order tracking
Ninety percent of online shopping customers actively track their packages, while 31% track their packages at least once per day. Keeping customers updated via real-time order tracking has become a requirement for meeting customers' post-purchase expectations. Thankfully, plenty of great order tracking tools are available on the Shopify App Store, making it easier than ever to provide customers with this capability.
Offer a seamless return and exchange process
Returns and exchanges can certainly eat into an online store's profits, but making the process as easy and seamless as possible is still important. It's also good to be upfront about your return and exchange policy to increase customer trust and confidence.
One great way to offer a seamless return and exchange process is to use a tool such as Loop Returns. Loop Returns allows you to create a branded returns portal for your customers, and its integration with Gorgias ensures that you can provide high-quality support to your customers throughout this process.
Invite customers to communities, loyalty programs, and other benefits
Loyalty programs help boost average customer lifetime value (CLV) by encouraging more loyal customers and providing incentives for repeat purchases. Today, store owners can easily create and manage these loyalty programs using tools such as LoyaltyLion.
By integrating Gorgias with LoyaltyLion, you'll be able to create a branded loyalty program, automatically reward points for desired actions, and manage every aspect of your program.
Along with loyalty programs, inviting customers to join communities such as social media pages and community forums or offering other benefits such as discounts and free products can also improve customer loyalty.
Offer a wide range of customer support channels to quickly resolve issues
High-quality customer support is one vital element of a strong post-purchase experience. While a lot goes into offering the kind of support needed to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty, offering a range of customer support channels is an important place to start.
Also known as omnichannel customer support, providing multiple support channels such as live chat, social media, SMS, and phone makes the process more convenient for your customers. It also allows them to quickly resolve issues that might otherwise negatively impact their post-purchase experience. Providing personalized customer service is another key to great customer support that boosts customer satisfaction.
9) Remember: Customer experience is the new battleground for Shopify sales
Too often, customer experience is viewed as some abstract ideal that is discussed but never implemented. But the companies best positioned for success treat customer experience as a concrete and measurable metric that directly impacts the company's revenue.
Measuring, tracking, and improving your customer experience via concrete and actionable CX strategies can boost revenue by improving customer loyalty and encouraging customer referrals. To learn more about creating a customer experience optimized for revenue generation, be sure to check out Gorgias' CX-Driven Growth Playbook.