Shopify provides sellers with an excellent framework for marketing their products and improving your sales pipeline, but only if they take advantage of its full bevy of features. While nearly any online seller can make Shopify work for their ecommerce store, there are several optimization tricks you can use to take your store to the next level. From interpreting the platform’s analytics data, to learning how to incorporate third party tools and features, we’ll break down all the Shopify hacks you need to bump up that conversion rate and ROI.

But first, what is Shopify? Just in case you needed a quick refresher course about ecommerce’s breakthrough star.

Intro to Shopify

Shopify is a name we hear more and more about each year, mostly in conversations regarding the top ecommerce platforms around. Indeed, it’s ascent has been explosive. As of early 2017, Shopify has well over 300,000 merchants operating on its platform, and their total gross merchandise volume exceeds $15 billion. But what’s truly amazing is how quickly Shopify has snowballed in popularity. From 2014-2015, Shopify increased their revenue by 95%, and their total amount of sales processed hit $10 billion! That’s nearing Amazon territory, sort of. [yes, it seemed funny at the time. Now it makes no sense]

Optimization Tips

For the best Shopify sales results you’ll need to harness the power of certain third party tools, many of which you probably use on a daily basis anyway. Combining these tools with the native features already found in Shopify will result in an optimized experience for both you and the consumer.

  1. Using Google Analytics

Let’s get through the most exhaustive of our tips right off the bat, eh? Most marketers use Google Analytics to track campaigns, perform keyword research, and analyze user behavior across multiple channels. The robust, and still free, data platform can also help you improve your Shopify site. The process for setting it up is simple.

Go into your existing Google Analytics account and “create new account.” On the next screen, select “website” and complete the page. Click “get tracking ID” at the bottom for your Shopify tracking code.

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Next you’ll jump into the Shopify interface and type in your unique Google Analytics tracking ID. It’s a lot easier to just copy and paste it. Go to Settings>Online Store>Preferences and paste it under “Google Analytics account.”

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Before the data starts being collected, go back into Google Analytics and be sure to switch on the ecommerce tracking feature. Click “save” at the bottom of the screen.

In about 24 hours or less, you’ll start receiving actionable data for your Shopify site. As you know, Google Analytics contains boatloads of reporting options, so you’ll be able to parse your ecommerce data any way you see fit.

For starters it’s good to get a sense of how consumers are navigating your site, using the Behavior report. What pages are they visiting most frequently? How are they moving through your sales funnel? Where are they bailing from the site? These questions can be answered fairly quickly and turned into actionable solutions that can be made by changing various page elements through Shopify.

Another great tool is the Acquisition report. This shows you how visitors are finding your site, and is especially helpful in showing the effectiveness of your sales funnels. There are 10 reporting sections within the Acquisition area breaking down which channels sent visitors to the site as well as their behavior and conversion rate by channel.

To maximize Google Analytics’ potency with your Shopify site, remember to set up Goals. These are your intended objectives you’ll be looking to capture within your reporting. For example, you might set up a goal that’s geared towards a certain amount of completed transactions per day or per week.

Real-time reports are important for providing you the most up to the minute, current site data. With real-time, you can keep tabs on customer transactions and other site interactions as they happen, giving you the opportunity to react to events as they unfold.

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Real-time reporting is essential for ecommerce marketers who have just launched a new product line and are trying to gauge the consumers’ response. It will tell you whether consumers are interested in the product, and ultimately are buying it. While a normal Google Analytics section is 30 minutes in length, real-time reports are triggered when the consumer records a pageview or event within the past 5 minutes. You can also see which locations around the world are viewing your website at a given moment, and which are converting.

Within Real-time reports, the Events section is an invaluable tool. This allows you to create custom events based on specific interactions on your website. It’s a great way of telling Google Analytics which consumer interactions are important to you—anything from video plays to ad clicks, and even button clicks can all be specified as events. Since you’re in real-time, you can see custom events as they’re being triggered and even go back up to 30 minutes to see what has previously been activated.

Audience reports tell you who has been visiting your site based on demographics, behavior, devices, interests, and custom characteristics. It looks something like this:

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The Behavior category compares new and returning visitors to your site. It also shows their session duration and on which page they left your site. These are labeled as Frequency & Recency, New vs. Returning Visitors, and Engagement. Each one reveals important information about audience behavioral patterns, clueing you in on what marketing strategies are working on your site and where you need improvements.

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Knowing on which visit consumers are most likely to convert gives you a better understanding of how to market to them. If it’s taking them multiple visits to your site before finally converting, there might be something wrong with your landing page. If there’s also a high bounce rate then it’s definitely your landing page.

The Interests section within Audience reports will show you what your visitors are interested in, but it also helps you reach potential customers who may be unaware of your product or store. The Affinity category shows you this potential customer data, helping with your ad targeting efforts. For customers who are further along the sales funnel (basically ready to buy), the In-Market Segment confirms which specific products they want to purchase.

Here’s a look at an In-Market Segment with a conversion goal set for “sale”:

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Your conversion rate can also be affected by the type of device your consumers are using. Many ecommerce stores will suffer when users visit their mobile site because either the pages aren’t optimized or users aren’t ready to purchase in that moment. A quick scan of the Mobile Devices category report will provide you with insightful data about iPhone, Android, and Samsung Galaxy users (among others). Then start to consider mobile optimization strategies to decrease bounce rates while increasing page views and overall session duration.

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Last but not least, Users Flow is a great way to identify the path each visitor takes through your website, and ultimately towards a conversion. The data is laid out in a nice graph which makes it easy to extrapolate necessary information quickly.

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You’ll come to appreciate this visual layout for its ability to show you each interaction along the way and allow you to make changes to your customer’s journey as you see fit.

Believe it or not, we’re still barely scratching the surface in discussing Google Analytics’ role for Shopify stores. It’s an ally for any marketer but it truly shines in the ecommerce sphere. Its ability to produce countless reports and segmentations of your data makes it easy for you to find actionable solutions without wasting time.

2. Facebook Ads

Facebook’s ad platform is one of a kind. It’s something that’s really taken the social media platform to the next level in recent years for marketers, especially those in the ecommerce business. While Facebook is becoming increasingly competitive since ad space is limited and advertisers are ample, there’s still a chance you can garner high CTRs if you present your product in a compelling way and you target the right people.

Facebook’s targeting capabilities are what sets its ad platform apart from others, in that you can target ads by gender, interests, and ages. Other platforms, including Google AdWords, won’t let you target based on this specific criteria. And considering how 3 billion people are using Facebook, it’s a no-brainer why you would market to them.

Several successful Shopify stores have used Facebook ads to SHOW prospective consumers what they’re selling. Notice we didn’t say TELL? This is because video ads are becoming the best way for brands to stand out on the crowded ad platform. It works especially well if your product is visual in nature, such a cosmetics or beauty product. Combine this with an effective call-to-action and you have an ad that’s likely to convert.

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Another useful tool within Facebook ads are carousel ads. This places multiple images within a single ad, allowing users to scroll through one-by-one. You can use up to 10 images or videos, each with its own link. You can write your own text underneath each of them, allowing you to present a wide breadth of product offers and item descriptions.

3. Instagram Ads

Instagram has merely a fraction of the total users on Facebook, but it’s still one of the most popular social media apps around. It now has more than 600 million active users, and what’s more, it’s now owned by Facebook, which means there’s going to be a heightened emphasis on ads.

The main difference is in the nature of those ads. On Facebook, the visual component isn’t everything. On Instagram, it is. You have to draw consumers into your content with high quality videos and images, compelling them to click on a link to your website.

Another thing to remember is that your Instagram ads will be seen exclusively by mobile viewers. The links in your ad need to direct consumers to a mobile responsive landing page, or else they will be quick to bounce.

4. Images and Videos

If you haven’t gotten the hint, visual content is king. Shopify sites that feature strong photos or videos have a much better shot at selling their products. There are so many sellers who use low-quality, stock photos to promote their items. Don’t be one of them. Go the professional route by using real-life photos that are high in pixels. You can use an iPhone camera to take the picture, but make sure to run it through a program like Photoshop to add necessary touchups. If you’re using someone else’s images, make sure you have their permission first. With videos, be very careful. Don’t be overly ambitious and try to direct a Martin Scorsese movie in your ad. Just focus on the product at hand.

Danielle Taylor, owner of successful Shopify store Danie Lyn The Brand, urges people to spend extra time crafting visually appealing product photos. In her words, “A mistake I often see is when some pictures are lower resolution or different sizes than others.” Consistency matters, and to get consistent you have to optimize.

Let’s examine a Shopify site that is currently rocking it with optimized visual content. Forty Ninth Parallel is a coffee brand based in Vancouver that used to be solely a brick-and-mortar store. Thanks to Shopify, and the power of images, they’ve been able to establish a brand that transcends their local community.

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They are now able to sell their coffee to customers around the world. Isn’t their homepage breathtaking? The image of their espresso beans juxtaposed to the Vancouver backdrop is an excellent touch.

But what if you’re dropshipping products and you don’t have the products in your possession to take pictures? You can do one of two things, a) contact your manufacturer and ask them to email you photos of the products, or b) order a sample of your products so that you can take your own photos.

Speaking from a technical standpoint, when taking product photos you should make sure the flash is set to off so there’s zero glare. Then, as far as staging your products, oftentimes a white sheet of paper underneath and behind the product will suffice. You can also perform minor image touch-ups once they’re loaded on your computer.

Although Shopify provides basic image enhancement options, you’ll be better off using a third party utility. If you don’t want to shell out the cash for Adobe Photoshop, you can use a free tool called GIMP, which will prove sufficient for most of your photo editing needs.

5. Emails

Building an email list is as easy as offering the right incentives for joining. To do this you need to provide strategically placed opt-ins, and begin guiding your consumers through the sales funnel with individualized emails.

Programs like MailChimp and Constant Contact can be utilized in tandem with your Shopify website to help you build effective email chains that convert and retain customers.

6. SEO

Generating organic traffic to your product pages is much easier when your ranking is high in organic searches. With best SEO practices you can optimize product pages so that they will show up on the first page of SERPs when people type in specific search queries. Of course it’s still vital that you focus on optimizing your main site pages, but so many marketers neglect to improve their individual product pages. How can you do this?

Start with product descriptions. Make sure they are originally written (not from the supplier or manufacturer’s website) and they include your targeted keywords. Per Shopify’s website, they recommend including your product name and possibly model number for better search visibility.

Tailor your meta descriptions, page titles, and URLs to include product names and keywords (both short and long tail keywords). Your product name should appear at the beginning of your title tag for improved search placement.

7. Take Advantage of Shopify Setup Experts

For those who don’t feel like setting up their store alone, Shopify offers a great resource called Shopify Setup Experts. They connect you with highly qualified developers, web designers, marketers, and photographers who can craft your entire store into a selling behemoth.

Who are these “experts” anyway? Well, they are other Shopify users like you. Only they had to have launched a minimum of five stores and have a proven track record of success on the platform. Shopify presents these individuals to you based on their skill set and location.

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Experts tend to range pretty drastically in price. For a developer, you should expect anywhere between $500 and $5,000. It’s probably not the best option for a brand new site, especially if haven’t 100% solidified your niche and product offerings. But once you start making some initial sales, Shopify Experts can help you take your store to the next level.

Optimization Requires Repetition

Upgrading your Shopify website from a mundane ecommerce store into a stellar conversion weapon isn’t done overnight. You have to monitor your progress and tweak each step regularly, especially when adding new products to the mix. Be sure to check out Shopify’s selection of great plugins for more help and support in optimizing your ecommerce website.