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The What, Why, and How of Shopify Audiences

Updates like cookie opt-ins, iOS14, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are creating smaller audiences for advertisers to work with. As a result, eCommerce businesses and retailers with an online presence have to find newer, more effective ways to reach their target customers.

Smaller returns, audience pools, and ad budgets continued on popular advertising sites, with platforms like Facebook seeing a drop in average daily uses for the first time in 18 years.

Enter Shopify Audiences.

With its growing data pool and next-level targeting, Shopify Audiences is the saving grace brands have been searching for to reach new buyers.

In this post, we’ll dive into Shopify Audiences and reveal how it can help your business craft higher-converting ad campaigns. We’ll also offer practical guidance to make the most of a Shopify Audiences integration.

What is Shopify Audiences?

Shopify Audiences is an insights exchange network that gathers conversion-related insights from merchants on Shopify who have opted into the program.

From this data, Shopify employs machine learning to craft audience lists of U.S. and Canada-based customers for use on digital advertising platforms, like Facebook and Instagram (and more to come). You can also select items from your product catalogs to showcase in ads and gain an edge over pure-play Facebook and Instagram ad targeting.

Tapping into insights from the millions of opted-in Shopify merchants, allows brands to optimize their marketing campaigns’ targeting in ways that weren’t previously available on ad platforms. Plus, Shopify Audiences operates with trust and transparency at its core, boasting features like an opt-in/opt-out setup and a fair order attribution model (more on that later).

How Shopify Audiences Work?

How Shopify Audiences works

It’s easy to implement Shopify Audiences as the next step in your marketing strategy: Create an audience list, then export it to your chosen ad platform (currently, Facebook or Instagram). You can then launch ads based on the list.

For instance, say you sell outdoor equipment like lawnmowers. Once you opt into the solution, Shopify Audiences can gather data on your shoppers. It’ll then create a custom audience of people interested in lawnmowers and related tools, like sprayers and shovels. If shoppers from the custom audience engage and purchase, Shopify will attribute that sale to the campaign.

You first need to check your eligibility to use and install the Shopify Audiences app. You must be:

  1. A Shopify Plus user
  2. Located in the U.S. or Canada
  3. Use Shopify Payments

Once you meet these requirements, sign up for the app to opt into the network through the following steps:

  1. Head to your Shopify admin and click Apps.
  2. Go to the Installed apps section and select the Shopify Audiences app.
  3. Click Set up audiences.    
  4. Choose to turn on the data contribution and consent to Shopify Audiences’ terms and conditions.
  5. Link the Facebook account you want to use for advertising by clicking Set up.

Once you’ve linked your store to Shopify Audiences, you’ll start contributing data to the Shopify Audience data pool and can craft custom audiences.

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The Perks Of Shopify Audiences

The perks of Shopify Audiences

Shopify Audiences has opened a world of revenue-generating opportunities to online retailers. Below are some of the advantages you can gain from this innovative tool:

1) Improve top-of-funnel marketing campaigns

While you can’t add existing customers to your lists, Shopify Audiences makes up for this by helping you find high-intent buyers. The custom audiences sharpen your targeting and drive more brand awareness.

2) Gain the upper hand in targeting U.S. and Canadian markets

Shopify Audiences is currently a location-specific tool serving the U.S. and Canada, which gives sellers in these countries a competitive advantage over businesses covering other territories, like Europe.

3) Access secure and privacy-compliant data sharing

Data sent to Facebook is used for data matching and then deleted. Also, audiences sent from Shopify to Facebook go through a secure method that you can’t download, which keeps your customer data top secret.

4) Attract and retain more customers for less

Refined targeting and growth-powering reports obtained through Shopify Audiences lead to faster research and higher return on investment (ROI) on ad budgets.

Each custom audience is based on previous buying behavior, so you’ll have the knowledge necessary to craft ads that resonate with your target customer to increase conversions. You’ll also receive live, accurate data on shoppers’ current wants and needs to keep them coming back for more.

5) Fair order attributions for reporting accuracy

Unlike other marketing tools, Shopify Audience isn’t quick to take credit for an order simply because you use the platform. The program’s attribution model accredits an order to an exported audience when a buyer purchases while your ads are live and up to a week after the campaign ends.

Also, if your customer is in more than one audience when they buy, Shopify Audiences will split the order and its total amount equally between the audiences responsible for generating it.

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Best practices for producing profitable ads with Shopify Audiences 

Best practices for producing profitable ads with Shopify Audiences 

To succeed with Shopify Audiences in the long term, it’s vital you adopt a winning strategy and maintain an inquisitive mindset. We’ll help you get started with some top practices that’ll see huge wins with Shopify Audiences.

1) Keep your data fresh and accurate

The quality of your data pools relies on the information you put into them (remember, you can’t update or download an audience once you’ve exported it to Shopify Audiences).

So, ensure the data you feed into your audience list is current and correct. To obtain the best insights on quality and performance, be sure to:

  • Schedule time to check your order and customer data regularly (including removing anomalies, duplicates, and errors)
  • Use robust tools to manage your inventory and organize store-related information on a clear dashboard
  • Create and launch your ads on the same day you send the data to Shopify Audiences

2) A/B test with intent

A/B testing has become a buzzword in the marketing world, with some brands randomly split testing in hopes of finding their golden ticket. But to gain better results from Shopify Audiences, you must approach A/B testing strategically and with a clear purpose. Here are a few testing tips to remember:

  • Keep your ad budgets in line with each ad’s audience size.
  • Only A/B test audiences on Facebook.
  • Consider audiences with U.S. and Canada-based buyers only.
  • Exclude your current customers from the campaign you’re comparing it against. 

3) Let insights guide you

Use Shopify Audiences’ reporting tools to understand campaign effectiveness and gain relevant, actionable insights from your results. You can then make data-backed adjustments to your ads to improve conversions. Shopify Audiences generates two types of reports:

1) Overview reports provide a bird’s-eye view of how Shopify Audiences campaigns impact your store. You’ll see information like:

  • Total orders Combines all orders from your audiences, including those you’ve archived
  • Total sales — Aggregates the number of purchases from all buyers in your audience lists 

2) Detailed reports zoom in on more granular metrics like:

  • Average order value The typical amount buyers spend in your store per order, calculated as Total revenue generated / Total number of orders
  • Top products sold The items shoppers in the audience list bought the most
  • Orders The approximate items customers in an audience list purchased
  • Sales The estimated cash earned on orders from an audience list, calculated as Gross Sales (excluding gift card transactions) – Discounts – Financial Refunds + Taxes + Shipping Costs
  • New customers The approximate number of people in your audience list that have become buyers

Tip: Analyze reports on ad campaign spend impressions and clicks on Facebook to gain a more well-rounded view of your campaign’s performance. This will reveal where to double down your marketing efforts to skyrocket leads and sales.

4) Optimize your ads 

Although Shopify Audiences is an ad network, it’s not an ad platform. This means you need to nail the essentials of a winning ad for your targeting to succeed. Here are some ways you can upgrade your ads: 

  • Create eye-catching images and videos (avoid stock photos and videos).
  • Use engaging storylines and tone of voice.
  • Build sales funnels with optimized landing pages and offers for every stage of the buyer’s journey.

If optimizing Facebook and Instagram ads isn’t your expertise, don’t sweat it. Get help from a Shopify expert for faster results.

5) Remember your other marketing channels

No matter how well your campaigns perform with Shopify Audiences, you also need to nurture your other marketing avenues. Leverage the Shopify Audiences tool to strengthen your Facebook and Instagram ads and diversify your marketing. Once you’ve mastered your Shopify Audiences targeting, some other channels to focus on include:

Wrapping up – The path to success through Shopify Audiences

If the numbers are falling short in your current ad campaigns, there’s still hope. Shopify Audiences has cleared the path to sharper targeting and higher conversions for eCommerce businesses, both large and small. While it’s still a young tool, you can use Shopify Audiences to gain a competitive advantage, build your customer base, and grow your revenue. 

Ensure the data you feed Shopify’s algorithms is current and accurate and split test purposefully and often. Finally, optimize every element of your ads and combine your existing marketing strategies with Shopify Audiences’ powerful network of information. With these tips and best practices, your marketing efforts will soon drive your store towards huge paydays and supercharged growth.

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