Shopify recently came up with a solution to help marketers maintain and grow their brand, and drive efficient acquisition in today’s slow market. Using the mountain of data they receive from merchants, Shopify released access to an audience building tool, Shopify Audiences, that connects directly to Meta Ads Manager. Could this be every retail marketer’s dream? In this blog we explore what you should consider – both the good and the bad – when it comes to Shopify Audiences.
Launched in May 2022, Shopify Audiences provides marketers who are enrolled in the Shopify Plus and Shopify Payments plans access to high-intent lookalike audiences built from shopping data. Currently, this feature is only available to shops based in the United States and Canada, and is compatible with Meta Ad Accounts alone. Although no explicit timelines are available at the moment, we anticipate this to roll out to additional social platforms including Snapchat, Pinterest and TikTok.
Shopify claims to ‘supercharge top-of-funnel acquisition’ by finding ‘high-intent buyers’ – every marketer’s dream! But before diving straight in, there are several factors to consider when leveraging Shopify Audiences for marketing, including prospecting via high-intent lookalikes audiences, data-sharing and measurement.
High-intent, data-driven audiences
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First of all, it’s important to note that high-intent lookalike audiences are not remarketing audiences. Instead, they allow merchants to leverage Shopify’s data to create high-intent lookalike audiences to drive mid-funnel acquisition tactics.
Using Shopify data, marketers are able to create strong lookalike audiences outside of those created from first-party data, offering merchants an opportunity for data-backed audiences aimed towards growth.
A potential barrier to consider is that audience creation is limited to a single product, and audiences cannot be merged within Shopify. While this isn’t a reason not to opt-in, it could be a limiting factor for some merchants. For example, if products are hyper-segmented, it may be difficult to source enough data for a valuable audience.
What does this mean? Marketers will need to be creative with the product selection for each audience as data-sourced audiences within Shopify will be focused on a single product, with consolidation only possible within Meta Ads Managers.
Another factor to consider is scalability of audiences. Lookalike audiences within Shopify are currently one-size-fits-all without the option for marketers to decide how far to expand the audience (think Meta’s 1%-10% scale of similarity). This bundled with the need to rely on a high match-rate when connecting the audience to Meta may lead to limitations in valuable scale.
By opting-in to this program, marketers are able to access an incredible and previously untapped volume of data. For marketers used to the walled-gardens of social platforms, this is an opportunity to leverage clearly defined audiences from shopping data, as opposed to arbitrary interests, audience signals, etc., to push prospecting tactics.
The bad (…sort of)
‘Bad’ might be a bit harsh here, but audience accessibility could be a concerning factor for some marketers. The accessibility for these audiences requires data-sharing in the form of a co-op. When opting in, merchants must allow other merchants access to their data which may be a concern for some brands. However, all data is shared anonymously to encourage usage and maintain diligent privacy measures.
Within the Shopify Plus Audience tool, merchants can see estimated sales performance for each audience segment. Insights include total new customer acquisition, sales, orders and average order value.
Interestingly enough, merchants can even see the top products sold across each audience, which could then inform additional audience development and cross-sell opportunities with previous purchasers.
Since Shopify Audiences is currently only compatible with Meta Ads, it brings back the age old question of identifying a single source of truth for monitoring performance. Advertisers can lean into estimated audience performance provided by Shopify to inform optimization decisions, but until further adoption, overall measurement may be limited.
There’s an extra twist to this one. This audience opportunity is still very new, so the ‘right’ way of measurement may not be understood yet. Should merchants take Shopify estimated performance as the truth or Meta reported performance? Or should it be a blend of both?
As more marketers opt-in and Shopify Audiences becomes platform agnostic, brands should consider developing an action plan for audience creation. Although Shopify is providing this access, it does come with its limitations. Currently, merchants can only create and export seven audiences per week and we can anticipate additional restrictions as the program expands.
For merchants already leveraging Shopify as their ecommerce platform and who have enrolled in the program, an added bonus of the tool expanding is the prospect of new merchants joining the platform and growing their audiences.
If you’d like to learn more about Shopify’s new tool or how to implement it into your digital strategy, get in touch with our team.