What’s the single biggest expense when it comes to your ecommerce marketing?
If you look at your accounts, you’ll see it’s the money you’re spending on getting your products noticed.
If you add up SEO, inbound marketing, paid ads, and whatever else you’re using, you’ll see that getting those eyes in front of your product is a real financial drain.
And unfortunately, for most platforms there’s no guarantee that any of the traffic generated from this spend will convert into sales.
That’s why having a retargeting strategy as part of your marketing mix is essential.
What is retargeting? It simply means sending follow up messages or ads to potential customers who have visited your Shopify store, added an item to a cart, or even made a purchase. And it’s the key to converting more of your traffic into revenue.
Retargeting costs only a fraction of what marketers spend acquiring traffic and leads, and will deliver a substantive boost to your bottom line.
With all this in mind, it might come as quite a shock to discover that a lot of Shopify stores still only operate basic retargeting strategies (like generic email campaigns that are not omnichannel in scope), if any at all.
This blog will introduce you to the benefits of having an omnichannel strategy and show you how to build one for yourself. Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- The importance of retargeting for Shopify store owners
- The basics of retargeting
- How omnichannel retargeting works
- Why brands need omnichannel - a case study
- Omnichannel strategy step 1 - traffic
- Omnichannel strategy step 2 - abandoned carts
- Omnichannel strategy step 3 - promo messages
- Omnichannel strategy step 4 - other message types
- Further retargeting
- Key takeaways
The importance of retargeting for Shopify store owners
Firepush has gathered data from over 3,000 Shopify stores and found one trend seen across the board. Looking at the chart below, you’ll see that first-time visitors account for around 50% of sales, whereas another half of the sales are made at least a day after the first visit. In fact, a third of all sales take place 12 days or more after the initial visit.
It would be naive to think that these later sales happen by themselves. What helps to attract sales further down the line is usually a mix of email marketing, SMS and web push notifications - in other words, retargeting. The importance of these retargeting tools cannot be underestimated, and can make the difference between a store that thrives and one that lags behind competitors. This becomes especially true in areas with higher price points, as customers are even more reluctant to purchase a high-value item during their first visit.
The basics of retargeting
The sales funnel for most ecommerce stores is pretty straightforward. You drive traffic through a series of ads, bring your customers to your website, where they hopefully add an item or two to their cart. If you’re lucky enough, they’ll convert instantly. Unfortunately, the data above shows, more than half of first-time visitors will leave without having made a purchase.
A typical sales funnel for a Shopify store
For many, the default way of retaining a connection with customers who haven’t made a purchase is retargeting via email alone. While email should be a part of any functioning marketing mix, it has its drawbacks that need to be considered. As email open rates are dwindling and currently hover at around 14% for the Retail sector, more and more marketers are turning to more efficient solutions, including web push notifications and SMS, creating an effective blend of all 3.
How omnichannel retargeting works
Relying on a single channel limits your reach. So an omnichannel approach is what any successful ecommerce store should be aiming for. So first up, let’s take a look at what an omnichannel approach actually entails.
The principles of omnichannel retargeting
Contrary to what many might think, an omnichannel approach does not just mean using more than one channel for marketing. This is what’s known as multi-channel marketing. The key to implementing a truly omnichannel approach is using multiple channels in a coordinated and integrated fashion. In other words, it’s when all your channels work together. If this sounds complicated, don’t worry. You can simply add an omnichannel marketing app for your Shopify store and the app will handle all the coordination.
If you have any experience in marketing or ecommerce, chances are you have already seen omnichannel in action. The vast majority of merchants use multiple channels to drive users to their stores. Common channels include social networks like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Instagram. The role of each channel in the mix depends on the store’s audience profiles and a slew of other factors.
Combining multiple channels for retargeting efforts is no different from using them to attract new users. Relying on a single channel makes your scope too narrow and decreases the number of sales you can close.
Now, let’s look at the ways you could implement an omnichannel strategy in your store.
The foundations of an omnichannel strategy
In the classical sales funnel, a store would rely on email to retarget both first-time and repeat customers. But, as practice shows us, email comes with a set of disadvantages, including deliverability issues and not-so-stellar open rates.
These disadvantages can be offset by an omnichannel strategy that incorporates such channels as Facebook Messenger, SMS and web push notifications. Don’t forget that if you use them all at once without coordination, you will end up spamming the same users with the same message all at once on multiple channels. Imagine your phone pinging with SMS, push notifications, and emails all at the same time - that is going to lead to customer annoyance rather than sales.
Omnichannel allows the merchant to combine different channels into one. Coordinated channels support each other rather than serving as redundant streams of messages.
In the example above, the cart is abandoned, and the web push notification and/or email to retarget the customer are triggered with a 30 minutes delay. As both channels are cheap, messages through them should be fired first. In another 50 minutes, the store automatically sends an SMS that supports the message you've already sent.
From the outside, it looks simple, and most of the magic is done automatically. One thing you don’t want happening is a person receiving an SMS after they already completed the purchase thanks to the abandoned cart push notification - an integrated omnichannel platform will prevent this.
These platforms keep track of every stage of the funnel and know which messages have been sent, received and acted upon. Once a message triggers a response, retargeting stops. Using a platform like this will save you money, and you also avoid accidentally annoying customers with messages that are no longer relevant to them.
Why brands need omnichannel - a case study
“We have multiple parallel audiences. There’s one that you’re trying to keep excited about the brand, then there’s one that you’re actually trying to get to pull their credit card out. And often they are not aligned.” Rachel, Buckland Co, Growth Strategy Partner for Ivory Ella.
Ivory Ella, an ethical apparel brand, needs to communicate with two target audiences - the Gen Z females who are predominantly the wearers of their clothing, and the parents who are commonly the ones making the purchase.
Using omnichannel retargeting for these audiences, Ivory Ella has earned $1,000,000 in extra revenue as a result. Running a retargeting email or SMS campaign might not have delivered the same growth potential as an integrated omnichannel retargeting campaign for the simple fact that its scope is not comprehensive. By adding extra retargeting channels, Ivory Ella has been able to drive up revenue. More importantly for Ivory Ella, this strategy also means they can connect with more users on a regular basis, and by so doing, consolidate brand awareness which is an essential part of their growth strategy. So, this gives you an idea of just how crucial it is to have an omnichannel strategy for your Shopify store.
Omnichannel Retargeting step 1 - driving quality traffic
Now let’s turn our attention to the four steps you should follow when building your omnichannel retargeting strategy.
- Driving quality traffic
- Setting up abandoned carts
- Adding promotional messages
- Adding more automations
It might sound like common sense, but it’s surprising how many stores fail to ensure that they are driving the right kind of traffic before they start adding retargeting campaigns. The essence here is simple: you need to make sure the people you are retargeting are really interested in your products.
If you fail to properly target the right kind of audience, and instead end up driving random people to your store, the effectiveness of a retargeting tool will be wasted.
So, how do you ensure that you are driving the right people to your store in the first place? To begin with, you need to do your homework to ensure you are targeting the audience you want. It’s good to first have a niche, and then, once you’ve identified your niche, you can set up ads using a layering system.
What’s a layering system? Imagine your store sells bodybuilding supplements. Here’s how you’d build that layered approach:
- You target people who follow Dwayne Johnson because he’s a bodybuilder. But this is “The Rock” and not everyone following him is interested in bodybuilding.
- So you need to add more bodybuilders who are famous exclusively for bodybuilding, then target people who follow both “The Rock” and these other bodybuilders.
- You can then layer and layer until you have further honed your niche.
Of course you’ll get lower numbers. But what’s the use of a traffic volume of 1,000,000 if the majority of the individuals coming to your site have zero interest in your product. Surely a clearly targeted niche of 100,000, even 10,000, is far more valuable. And once you’ve got that traffic, the results from your omnichannel retargeting will also be much higher.
You also need to think about the platforms you are getting that traffic from.
This data gathered by BigCommerce from over 60,000 ecommerce stores is quite an eye-opener.
With an almost 2% conversion rate, Facebook unpaid yields the best result, and has the most traffic. So instead of throwing too much at paid ads, you can concentrate on building up good content on your Facebook page that drives traffic to your stores. And again we see that Instagram unpaid is also a really valuable channel, generating 1.17% with an audience that makes up almost 25% of all social traffic.
But the real takeaway from this data is this: you need to utilise multiple sources to drive traffic to your store. And it’s also crucial that you consider where your audience is most active and where you need to build your social proof - it might be Facebook, but it could also be Twitter or TikTok.
Outside of social, you’ll find you also have to factor in other sources of high quality traffic.
This data collected by BigCommerce clearly illustrates the kinds of conversion rates that different channels can deliver. Email is a great performer when it comes to conversions, as is owned content and direct traffic. This highlights the importance of creating your own high quality content. It’s also an idea to find yourself a good affiliate where you can post guest content. And, of course, don’t forget SEO and SEM.
It’s also important that you don’t fall into the trap of becoming too reliant on paid ads from social media as they deliver the lowest conversion of any of the sources.
Once you’ve got high quality traffic flowing to your store, you are ready to start setting up your omnichannel retargeting.
Omnichannel Retargeting step 2 - abandoned cart messages
After you’ve installed a retargeting tool your priority should be to set up omnichannel abandoned cart messages. Why is this so important? Well, before you can start promotional campaigns you need a subscriber base. But you can start retargeting abandoned customer carts from day one. Not only that, abandoned cart messages offer high return on investment (ROI) and average order value (AOV).
Abandoned cart SMS conversion rates, sales and ROI
Abandoned cart messages on different channels
As you’ll see, these messages offer great results, but before you rush into setting them up it's important that you understand how abandoned cart messages work on different channels.
How customers subscribe to abandoned cart messages and how those messages are triggered differs substantially between push notifications, SMS and email.
When it comes to web push notifications, your customers even need to visit your checkout page for an abandoned cart message to be triggered. Once that person has subscribed to receive your store pushes, your retargeting tool will begin tracking them. This means that as soon as that customer puts something into their cart and leaves, a message will be triggered, irrespective of whether they have gone all the way to checkout.
With SMS messages, it’s essential that your store is TCPA compliant. Simply including one line reading “I agree to receive promotional messages” is not enough.
TCPA guidance requires you to include other information:
- You need to explain very clearly to the customer that they will now begin receiving messages from you
- You have to clearly show them how to subscribe and unsubscribe
- You have to show them how they can get help if they need it
So, you need to make sure that the retargeting provider you choose is TCPA compliant.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember to set these steps up before you send a single SMS message. Otherwise, you could find yourself on the painful end of a fine of up to $1,500 per message.
Small “cheats” like pre-selecting checkboxes on your check out page might seem like a good way to drum up more subscribers. But beware, using this tactic will most likely also land you subscribers who might not want your messages. And then there’s the chance that these individuals might also be the ones who are most likely to sue you. Even if it doesn’t go this far, you’ll still find that you're paying for messages that go ignored because the person wasn’t remotely interested in receiving them in the first place.
It’s important that you make all the small changes needed to be TCPA and that you choose a retargeting app that is TCPA compliant as well.
The right timing for your omnichannel abandoned cart messages
The next step to consider after you’ve organised your channels and set everything up is how to time your abandoned cart messages. To optimize results, abandoned cart messages are usually sent out in flows of 2 or 3 at intervals timed apart from each other. And getting these timings right will have a massive impact on how successful they are.
The omnichannel retargeting app Firepush has conducted a study of 3,000 Shopify stores to gauge the best timing for sending abandoned cart messages via SMS messages and other message types.
The findings show that messages sent 30 minutes and 50 minutes after a cart has been abandoned are the ones that deliver the best ROI. Put simply, for the best results you should set your messages to these timings.
From this we can build a smart strategy where you have your emails and web pushes set to send at 30 minutes, and if they don’t buy after these messages, you can then time an SMS message to be sent on top.
Omnichannel retargeting step 3 - promotional messages
Once you set up abandoned cart messages and users opt-ins, you can start thinking about promotional messages and ways to use them. As you can see from the figures below, the ROI and conversion rates for this type of messages is on the lower side. But don’t let that mislead you, as promotional messages account for 67% of all sales and should form the backbone of any successful retargeting strategy.
You are probably wondering why there is such a difference. Sure, abandoned cart messages are hyper-targeted and are focused on selling items that the user was actually considering buying. But don’t forget that the volume for such messages will be much lower, as they will be going out to a small subset of your subscribers. Win-back and welcome messages also have quite a limited impact, as they are delivered only once.
Promotional messages, on the other hand, don’t have that limitation and can be sent on a variety of occasions - from season sales to Black Friday.
So, there is little doubt that promotional messages are a must for anyone who wants their retargeting effort to yield results. But we still need to address one important question. Discounts. Should a promotional message always include one? And if so, how much should we optimally lower the price?
Promotional messages and discounts
Firepush has analysed the results of millions of promos messages and found that conversion rates between messages with a discount and those without don’t differ much at all.
What’s even more surprising is that click-through rates are a whole percent higher for messages without a discount. Besides, a discount code will most likely drive your average order value down, so you’ve got to keep that in mind as well.
This doesn’t mean that discount codes don’t work, they absolutely do. But they are definitely not the only option to consider, and sometimes campaigns without discounts might be more effective.
The effective way to use discounts
Calculating the optimal discount and presenting it in the right way is an art form in and of itself. The first thing to consider is the size of the discount. Let’s look through some examples of actual SMS campaigns below.
The campaigns above were all run by the same store, with each going to over 50,000 subscribers.
The main takeaway from these numbers is the fact that if you offer a great deal then any kind of message will work quite well. As you can see, the message promising a 30% discount converted to 450 orders, whereas the one promising a 20% discount converted to 291.
Another thing to bear mind is instilling curiosity in the copy. You don’t have to reveal all your cards at once and show how big the discount you are offering is. In the example above the copy with no concrete example given outperforms the next best one almost twofold. Instead of spewing numbers, it creatively uses bold copy to attract users wishing to learn what is in fact included in the “Biggest ever warehouse clearance.”
Add scarcity to your discounts
A website that offers everything at a discount to everyone ends up not offering any discount at all. Think about it for a moment. When the user is bombarded with discounts for every single action then take, they get the feeling that the discounts are not going anywhere. What’s the point of purchasing right away if you can get the same deal anytime you visit?
In order to maximize the impact of discount codes, use them sparingly. That way, when your store does have a 30% OFF EVERYTHING sale, it’s going to have the proper impact.
Another thing to have in mind is urgency. Look at the copy below and you will find all examples are about an offer that expires… pretty soon.
- “FINAL HOURS!”
Combining strong discounts with high urgency is extremely effective. So in summary, here’s the best approach to use for your discount codes.
Combine a higher value discount code (let’s say 25%) with an offer to subscribe, but limit the discount code validity to 20 minutes.
When a countdown timer is added to a discount push notification, shoppers immediately see on the product page how long they have left to use the discount code
You will get lots of subscribers, and many of them will go on to make a purchase straight away.
Omnichannel retargeting step 4 - adding more automations
So, you’ve set up abandoned carts, and their incredible ROI and ability to recover potentially lost sales has boosted your revenue. Then, as you’ve built up your subscriber base, you have started to launch high volume promotional campaigns which really drive your revenue growth.
The next step (the final one in our strategy) is to add 2 more automations - Reward New Customer messages and Win Back Customers messages. These will help to bring in further incremental revenue, and also nurture the relationship with your subscribers.
Automations that drive sales on autopilot
Reward New Customer messages and Win Back Customer messages are both highly message types - just look at the data on SMS messages again.
As the table shows, promotional messages and abandoned cart messages account for 96% of all sales. That’s why we have started our strategy with them. But, although they only account for 4% of total sales, Win Back Customer and Reward New Customers messages have some big advantages:
- They’re automated. Once you set them up, they will just run themselves. In the case of Reward New Customer messages, these are triggered automatically when someone subscribes to one of your channels. Meanwhile, Win Back Customer messages are sent to subscribers after they have been inactive (eg. not visited your store or made a purchase) for a set period of time (you can choose the time period - it’s typically around 6 months).
- They boost profitability. Both of these message types achieve very high Average Order Value (AOV). AOV refers to the average amount a customer spends in a single shopping session. And increasing your AOV is a great way to improve your overall profitability. Here’s why. Imagine it costs you $3 in ad spend to bring a customer to your store. If that customer then spends $30, that means 10% of the revenue you generate has gone on ads. But if you can encourage that customer to spend $60 instead, you have now only spent 5% of your revenue on ads. And that additional 5% you now have can go towards your profits. The good news is that both Win Back Customer and Reward New Customers messages generate impressive AOV. Firepush data shows that, on average, Win Back Customer messages achieve $54 AOV, while Reward New Customer messages score a huge $72 AOV per customer.
- They give excellent return on investment (ROI). Because they’re automated, these messages are highly cost effective. ROI on Win Back Customer SMSs stands at x11 - which means $11 dollars generated per $1 spent. Even more impressive are Reward New Customer SMSs, which achieve an astonishing x39 ROI. That’s $39 for every $1 dollar you spend. For comparison, paid ads average x2 ROI.
You can’t rely just on these automations for your Omnichannel marketing because for each subscriber these messages will only be sent one time. So abandoned cart automations and promotional messages are essential. But Win Back Customer and Reward New Customer messages are the icing on the cake! And, with such impressive AOV and ROI, they make a very tasty icing indeed.
Beyond owned channels
So we’ve gone through a full strategy for omnichannel retargeting using your owned channels. But of course, you can also make use of other types of retargeting once you have your strategy set up. This is particularly important over the longer term.
Omnichannel retargeting through channels like email, push notification and SMS is perfect for handling your interaction with clients in the first 4 days after they land on your site. And this will cover more than 50% of all sales.
But it’s not realistic to send out pushes or SMSs every day for 20 or 30 days - they will unsubscribe and it won’t be cost effective. So for the longer term, setting up retargeting ads on platforms like Facebook makes sense. Plus, this is a much more effective way to run ads on these platforms than targeting new customers.
Industry wisdom is that a customer needs to see your Facebook ads at least 10 times before they remember you. This number might be fewer if you have already connected with them via SMS or push notification. But the fact remains, this is something you will have to persist with in order to succeed.
Whatever you’re doing, do it omnichannel
Hopefully, this article has given your plenty of ideas, tips and inspiration when it comes to retargeting. And it’s important to remember that there is a step by step strategy that you can follow to get started with retargeting. If all you do in the next 6 months is set up abandoned cart emails and push notifications, that’s already going to have a significant impact on your bottom line.
But what won’t be effective is relying on one channel, especially just email. The hard truth is that emails just don’t get opened or read enough to be effective on their own. Combine them with SMS and push notifications, however, and you’re going to start connecting with more of your audience on more of the channels they use. And that means more results.