Back in August 2014 Shopify announced that mobile traffic had overtaken desktop traffic in a survey of 100,000 Ecommerce stores. This was a big deal; for the first time mobile visitors were in the majority.
The diverging preferences of mobile and desktop users present a unique and growing challenge for Shopify store owners.
In this article we’ll be considering how a mobile traffic majority affects Shopify marketing and sharing various tips for how to sell to mobile customers. There are, of course, various Shopify SEO, design and development implications, but we’ll save those for another day.
And, with Shopify now available on the Apple watch, there’s never been a better time to hone your Shopify marketing skills and work out how to sell to mobile customers.
Here are 8 ways to market your Shopify store to mobile customers.
1. Make Your Shopify Store Mobile-Friendly
The first and most important step in selling to mobile customers is to make sure that your Shopify store is mobile-friendly. If you’re going to sell to mobile customers then it’s important that you take the initiative and make your site accessible for mobile visitors.
This has been considered best practice for a couple of years. Responsive, mobile-friendly websites provide mobile and desktop visitors with a high standard of user experience.
Developing a site with fluid grids means that content can be redistributed to best suit each visitor’s device, and keeping things nice and fast means that everybody can access content quickly and easily, even if they’re relying on a mobile connection.
Here are some of the practical benefits that mobile-friendly store owners have experienced:
- Increased conversion rates leading to more sales
- Reduced bounce and exit rates leading to higher user engagement
- Increased engagement from mobile-specific features (eg phone enquiries)
When it comes to mobile-friendly websites Shopify store owners have been pretty quick on the uptake. This is evidence of the strength of Shopify’s Expert scheme (connecting store owners with proven web designers, developers & marketers). It’s also partly due to the fact that Shopify is still a relatively young player in the Ecommerce scene; Shopify has grown 10 x in the last 3 years, a time when responsive web design has been increasingly common.
On 21 April 2015 the introduction of Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm gave Shopify store owners even more motivation to make their sites mobile-friendly. This update essentially penalises outdated websites by prioritising mobile-friendly sites in the search engine results pages. It’s great news for mobile-friendly store owners, and a big blow for everybody else.
How do you make your Shopify store mobile-friendly? Essentially you need to remap your desktop site using mobile-friendly development principles. You’ll almost certainly need a professional to do this for you as it’s far from straightforward, but for most smaller Shopify stores should be a relatively quick and inexpensive job. We’d recommend that you speak to your web design agency or get in touch with a Shopify Expert developer.
2. Shopify Marketing Needs to be Visual
Any successful Ecommerce business is reliant upon high quality photography. It’s a simple fact that images sell. However, you need to make sure that this is a central part of your Shopify marketing strategy because there’s a big difference between having good photography and creating a powerful visual impact that converts into sales.
Why? The short answer is that imagery is even more important for mobile than it is for desktop. In fact, there are powerful mobile sales and marketing channels that are almost redundant on a PC.
Let’s consider social media first of all. One study has suggested that 40% of phone owners use social networks on their mobile. We actually think that this is a pretty conservative figure, although it is a 2014 study. Essentially, mobile users are incredibly active on social media.
Any conversation on Shopify marketing and social media has to begin with Facebook and Twitter. Studies have consistently shown that Facebook and Twitter posts which include engaging images get a much higher click-through rate. If you’re marketing your Shopify store through Facebook or Twitter then using images is an easy way to increase your engagement with mobile users.
The importance of visual marketing becomes even more clear when we look at other social media channels.
The first is that you have access to a free, global marketing platform where highly engaged users make decisions based entirely upon visual reasoning. Find out how to engage a tiny fraction of these users and you’re onto a winner. You can now take advantage of Buffer for Pinterest and stagger/schedule your images throughout the week.
The second is that in such a visual context you are competing with world-class photographers and household name celebrities. Your product photography might be okay, but it’s probably not going to rival National Geographic or the Kardashians for user engagement.
The third consideration is the role of lifestyle marketing. This involves blurring the lines between advertising and the end user. The goal is that users buy your products because of your lifestyle and then actively contribute to the reputation of your brand themselves, typically by sharing photos of themselves using and enjoying products. We’re also seeing growing numbers of businesses applying traditional ‘product placement’ to Instagram by paying popular users to share photos of their products.
Social media is one reason why your Shopify marketing needs to be visual. The quality of your competitors is another.
Platforms like Shopify are so brilliant because they level the playing field. 160,000 store owners are now competing with established brands and market leaders in a diverse range of retail sectors. This is very exciting and inspiring.
However, if you’re going to compete with leading retailers then your visual communication will need to be at the same level. This means that you’re going to need some seriously good product photography to show off the quality of your products. Mobile screens are obviously that much smaller than desktops, making your image quality that much more important.
If you’re interested in photography then this will undoubtedly be easier. There are some great resources out there to help you improve your Ecommerce product photography, and there’s a good chance you’ll already enjoy using Instagram and Pinterest to grow your business.
If not, here are a few ways to source awesome images and give your Shopify marketing the visual edge it needs:
- Bite the bullet and get yourself on Instagram. Ideally you’ll need a smartphone yourself to take photos and respond to users on the go. Exposing the “behind the scenes” workings of your life and business will help you to engage customers and increase your following. Careful and creative use of filters will smooth away the rough edges from your images.
- Ask a friend to take pictures for you. Successful small business owners know the importance of learning to ask for help. Besides, your friends will often be happy to help out. If you know a talented photographer who is keen to see your business succeed (and would appreciate a few of your products in return!) then this is an easy way to source the kind of imagery that you need to engage with mobile users.
- Hire a photographer. It might be cheaper than you think and will give you the professional images that you need to compete with the big boys. A great way to source a wide range of images is to plan an event or trip where you can shoot your products in various settings and with various people.
3. Send Mobile-Friendly Email Newsletters
Email newsletters are a great way to engage customers and increase recurring sales. There’s clearly a reason why leading retailers deliver such a high volume of campaigns. Your Shopify marketing strategy should include email marketing, specifically mobile-friendly email newsletter campaigns.
Why is it so important to send mobile-friendly email newsletters? Well, the general principles about the value of mobile customers are again relevant here. Most of us check email on the go, and engaging newsletters – typically with exciting new products or attractive discounts – have a good chance of grabbing the user’s attention. Even if a mobile user doesn’t proceed with a transaction there and then, you’ve got an opportunity to engage them with your products and increase the likelihood of a subsequent sale.
Mailchimp is probably the best known email marketing software, with over 7 million users sending more than 10 billion emails a month. Mailchimp for Shopify is an awesome app which lets you integrate your Shopify customers and Mailchimp campaigns. It allows you to target customers based upon previous buying habits and provides detailed engagement and transaction reports to show how effective your email marketing has been.
Mailchimp also has a number of handy mobile-friendly features such as automatically asking you to resize large images to keep everything as fast as possible. What are some of the other steps that you can take to ensure that your email marketing is mobile-friendly?
- Keep your headlines short so that they display correctly on smaller devices
- Ensure that you’re using a single column for your text
- Try to condense your key messages and use images/graphics whenever possible
- Always link to mobile-friendly and mobile-optimised landing pages
4. Target Customers With Sponsored Social Media Posts
Just as Google developed AdWords to help monetise their search engine, social media platforms introduced sponsored posts to help increase revenues and justify their exorbitant IPO valuations.
However, sponsored posts are great news for Shopify marketers.
You’ve probably spotted sponsored posts in your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed from time to time. Essentially these allow you to ‘boost’ a post by paying for it to be displayed on a much higher number of news feeds. Instead of being limited to people who have liked or followed your profile you can reach out to a new audience of potential customers.
Social media is such fertile ground for Shopify marketing because sponsored posts can be so carefully targeted. Social networks have so much information about their users – including location, age, gender, hobbies, travel habits etc – that it’s possible to put together incredibly specific campaigns. Unlike more traditional forms of advertising, the potential to minimise wastage is amazing.
Perhaps the best thing about sponsored posts is that they are so engaging in mobile form. Much like AdWords, the screen coverage of a sponsored post is much higher for a mobile user than a desktop user.
Compare the two Facebook screenshots below to see how the two formats differ. You’ll see that a sponsored post on a mobile device fills the whole screen, whereas on a desktop it to has compete with other adverts.
How do you go about using sponsored posts as part of your Shopify marketing campaigns?
It’s really very simple. First of all, you need to publish a page or blog post in Shopify:
- Make sure that your meta description and titles are as engaging and informative as possible
- Use the best images that you have available
Next you need to publish a post on your social media platform of choice. Whenever you publish an update you should be considering the following steps:
- Is this an engaging website page or blog post that will catch users’ eye and compel them to click on it? Have I chosen the right image for my target audience?
- Have I published this at the right time of day? Are my readers actually checking their social accounts at this time?
Finally you need to “boost” the post as a sponsored post. It’s normally best to choose posts that have already created some interest among your customers. There are two reasons for this. The first is that a popular post is more likely to engage new users than a less popular one. The second is that it’s always better to boost a sponsored post that already has some likes and comments from your existing audience.
- Click on the relevant link to sponsor the post
- Set your budget
- Identify your target audience by considering the various factors mentioned above
- Publish your sponsored post
You should always review the performance of your sponsored posts carefully. If a sponsored post isn’t engaging users and driving clicks, likes and retweets then don’t be afraid to pull the plug. You’ll probably find that some campaigns are much more successful than others.
What are the alternatives to sponsored posts?
There are several alternatives to sponsored posts that you might wish to consider. Instead of spending money sponsoring posts you might wish to leverage the power of social media in another way.
Competitions are always a popular and effective way to increase user engagement. Encouraging users to share a photo or update to be in with a chance of winning is a good way to grow your following and reach new customers.
We’ve already mentioned product placement, and it’s always worth thinking about. Is there somebody with a significant following that you can ‘sponsor’ to use and photograph your products? They don’t need to have a massive following – 500 or 1000 followers from a tightly controlled demographic could generate a very high ROI. Equally, a celebrity or popular Instagrammer with 500,000+ followers has huge exposure.
5. Run Mobile-Specific AdWords Campaigns
AdWords and pay-per-click (“PPC”) campaigns are a great way for Shopify store owners to drive sales. When you’re competing with established businesses it can take time for your organic SEO efforts to bear fruition. PPC gives you an opportunity to get your business on page 1 of the search engine results pages and compete for customers with much larger and more established brands.
Again, AdWords and PPC have the potential to be much more effective on mobile devices than desktops. Check out the difference between these two screenshots. You’ll see that the sponsored post is much more prominent on the mobile device than the desktop.
In light of this, it’s seriously worth considering running mobile-only AdWords campaigns, particularly if you have a limited marketing budget. If you’re following the other steps in this article to hone and perfect your mobile marketing strategy then why not focus entirely on the mobile user. In terms of future-proofing your strategy it’s pretty sensible, and the fact that customers can ring you directly from the SERP is a massive win.
How do you run a mobile-only AdWords Campaign? Google have made it incredibly simple; you just need to follow these steps in your AdWords dashboard.
Google’s mobile-only AdWords campaigns are incredibly targeted, allowing you to choose (if you so desire) the following criteria for each advert:
- Operating System
- Device Model
- WiFi Network Users
With advanced reporting and the usual range of Google support services, mobile-only campaigns are a great option for Shopify marketing campaigns where you’re on a limited budget and want to connect with mobile users.
6. Improve Your Mobile Checkout Process
One of the biggest barriers that every online retailer faces is simplifying the checkout process. By reducing the number of people who add products to their cart but fail to complete the transaction you’ll dramatically increase your revenues without touching your marketing budget.
However, we know it’s not as simple as it sounds.
The first step is to make your landing pages and navigation as effective as possible. Customers on mobile devices are only going to see a very small amount of content, so you need to make sure that your words and images are set up to convert.
The next step is the most important. Shopify know how important the checkout process is for mobile customers and have introduced Responsive Checkout. With more than 50% of Ecommerce traffic coming from mobile devices it’s essential that the standard Shopify checkout process delivers a high quality transactional experience for every customer on every device.
Installing Shopify Responsive Checkout is incredibly simple and can be done in just a few clicks. You can customise it according to your store’s branding. It features bank-level security and should allow you to deliver a checkout experience that is at least as good as that of your market-leading competitors.
Here’s an example of how Shopify Responsive Checkout will look for an iPhone user:
We anticipate that Shopify will introduce further solutions in the near future. US store owners can already benefit from Google Wallet and we hope that there will be more ways of simplifying the checkout process in the near future.
7. Price Your Products to Sell
It’s not rocket science, but you can walk through all of the steps that we’ve listed above and still fail to generate sales. If this is the case, it’s more than likely that you haven’t priced your products to sell.
This is a really key issue for Shopify users. The price of your products communicates a huge amount. Generally speaking you need to significantly undercut market-leading rivals or price your products in a way which demonstrates their originality, quality and value.
An important issue to consider when targeting mobile customers is that comparing prices is a little more tricky on mobile than it would be on a desktop. It’s not as easy to run multiple tabs and compare prices on the go.
By pricing your products to sell you can help to remove doubt from the mind of your customers. Incredibly, even increasing your prices might well result in more sales.
8. Document and Learn From Your Experiences
Finally, do make sure that you’re documenting your progress throughout your Shopify marketing campaign. This will help you to establish which strategies have been most successful.
By keeping a spreadsheet or notebook of your progress you’ll be able to continue honing your approach as you work out how to sell to mobile customers. You’ll have an accurate indication of marketing budgets, ROI and timescales that will help your planning going forwards. As new technologies and mobile devices arrive on the market you’ll be ideally positioned to continue marketing your Shopify store to mobile customers.
Anything to add? Worked out how to sell to mobile customers with your Shopify store? Why not leave a comment below…