How to convert shoppers with Shopify Audiences

Recently Shopify has released a major new feature exclusively for Shopify Plus Merchants – Shopify Audiences. This brilliant feature is a substantial move in Shopify’s efforts to combat rising CPMs. Shopify’s remarkable growth has been driven by relatively low CPMs, largely on Facebook Ads; despite the continuous soaring of CPMs, Shopify has continued to grow, especially over the past few years, as the pandemic pushed more brands online. Realising the need for a brand’s paid advertising to deliver better ROIs, Shopify stepped up and created Shopify Audiences for Shopify Plus merchants.

What is Shopify Audiences?

Shopify Audiences is a data exchange network in which brands participate by sharing their first-party data in return for accessing a pool of other brands’ first-party data across all opted-in merchants on Shopify Plus to generate a custom audience of high-intent buyers for a given merchant’s product.

The audience created is basically a group of consumers Shopify believes are likely to be interested in your product based on the data collected around all transactions that have taken place across opted-in merchants on Shopify.

Merchants can then use these audiences when advertising on Facebook and Instagram as well as other ad platforms either as custom audiences or lookalike audiences which should result in higher-performing ads and lower cost per conversion to gain more customers and sales. According to Shopify, you can easily “find your next best customer”.

How Shopify Audiences Work

If we use an example of you’re a merchant selling “Football T-shirts” and look at the flow, it gives some idea of exactly how Shopify Audiences works.

  1. You opt-in to Shopify Audiences which means you share your data of which people purchase your football t-shirts
  2. Shopify generates a custom audience of people interested in the specific product you sell based on the data of all opted-in merchants. Shopify can use data shared by other merchants around who purchased football t-shirts, or things which are often bought with these, or even things related to football, or things related to t-shirts to generate a custom audience.
  3. You can then use that audience to optimise your ad campaigns as a targeting audience.
  4. You should then start to see ads performing much better which will give you more sales at a lower cost per conversion.
Why has Shopify introduced Shopify Audiences?

In a nutshell, Shopify has created Audiences to help Shopify Plus merchants achieve better top-of-funnel acquisitions. Shopify has always aimed to provide the benefits of scale and sophistication to smaller merchants. And Shopify Audiences is just another way to do that. They realise that targeting new customers via digital marketing is increasingly difficult and expensive. Shopify Audiences helps merchants to find high-intent buyers and therefore increase the likelihood of conversions. The algorithm improves over time to give you fresh audiences, which you can then use to create look-a-like campaigns. They also promise transparent performance reporting based on the specific audience. Essentially, Shopify Audiences will help to decrease your conversion costs and increase your sales.

Shopify has made Shopify Audiences really easy to navigate as it runs straight from your admin dashboard. You can quickly see your reporting and dashboards that let you know how your audiences are affecting your business. It only takes a few clicks to create an audience for your product; simply select which product you’d like an audience for.

How can Shopify Audiences be used to improve paid ad campaigns?

As a merchant, you can use Shopify Audiences in many ways, but there are two key ways to use it to improve your ROI.

Prospecting Audiences

Rather than targeting broad audiences based on demographics or interests, you can use Shopify Audiences to target high-intent audiences in a selected niche. These are ideally used in top-of-funnel campaigns.


Lookalike Audiences

Working with platforms like Facebook, you can extend to new audiences by sharing with the platform who your top audiences are. These are typically made up of customers with the highest Lifetime Value (LTV) or Average Order Value (AOV); however, once these audiences are drained, you’ll want to expand further. Shopify Audiences allows you to create a high-quality seed to generate an accurate lookalike audience to target.

Is sharing first-party data just helping my competitors? 

A concern that has been raised by merchants is that their hard-earned customer data will now fuel their competitors’ campaigns.

Of course, while this concern is well founded, this practice of sharing data already happens, just in a different way. If you have ever visited a particular ecommerce store, to perhaps browse for a baseball cap, you’re sure to notice that all of a sudden all your Facebook and Instagram feeds are showing ads for baseball caps. Sound familiar?


This mechanism, which has been around for years now, is based on the ad platform’s pixels placed on the sites. If you’ve visited one ecommerce store that sells tableware, you’re likely to be in the market for buying tableware in the coming days. This insight will have the ad platform change the ads shown to you to this particular interest until it records a conversion, which might happen on an entirely different store than the one you engaged with originally. This mechanism essentially fuels your competitors’ campaigns with your own pixel data. Shopify Audiences is no different, but with the end of third-party cookies in sight, first-party data is going to be essential.

Shopify Audiences is an innovative new product which is a move for Shopify to become more than just infrastructure to power ecommerce businesses. Shopify merchants can advertise across other platforms to acquire more customers at less cost. Perhaps more importantly, it creates a platform where consumers are constantly bombarded by ads that aren’t relevant to them, making it mutually beneficial to merchants and their valued customers.

If you want the very latest technologies like Shopify Plus working to improve your e-commerce website, why not book a discovery call with us? We can discuss your requirements and how Quickfire Digital can elevate your site, ensure you’re attracting more customers and offer them an unrivalled user experience.

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