The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started with Shopify Audiences

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Shopify has released a major feature exclusively for Shopify Plus merchants called Shopify Audiences. The launch of this latest product signals the ecommerce company is making significant advances in the advertising sector.

Due to more stringent GDPR rules, the iOS 14 update and most recently Google’s announcement that they will no longer support third-party cookies, it’s become increasingly difficult for ecommerce businesses to target the right user at the time and measure results from advertising campaigns.

For ecommerce companies, this means finding new ways and creating good strategies to collect first-party data. Thankfully, Shopify Audiences will help to combat the data privacy changes and the phasing out of third-party cookies.

What is Shopify Audiences?

According to Shopify in their latest editions round-up, “Shopify Audiences is a new app from Shopify that helps you find your next best customer. Shopify’s unique view on purchase intent and our merchant network helps identify buyers who are looking for your products. Create and export high-interest audiences to ad platforms like Facebook.” They promise high conversion rates, smart audience creation and integrated ad platforms.

In simple terms, Shopify Audiences is a new way for companies to find and target new, ready-to-buy customers. It aims to enhance advertising campaigns by identifying high-intent shoppers on social media platforms who are interested in the products you’re selling and are ready to make a purchase.

How does Shopify Audiences work?

Shopify Audiences generates custom audiences via a data exchange from all merchants who are opted-in on Shopify. This will allow sellers to target audiences based on their purchasing behaviour rather than generalised demographics, for example, age or gender.

It’s intended that Shopify Audiences will work in conjunction with Facebook and Instagram by gathering a list of potential customers who would be most likely to purchase the products or services you sell. Using machine learning algorithms, this promising tool will improve top-funnel ad campaigns by leveraging data from stores on Shopify and matching them to the right audiences.

How does Shopify Audiences collect data?

In order to create Shopify Audiences, conversion data is exchanged and gathered from merchants who are opted-in on Shopify. Data is then collected from any orders placed from these businesses over a 90-day period. Those that correspond with product attributes are placed into your unique audience along and linked to Facebook so that these can be used in your target criteria for social media adverts.

The data shared consists of two parts: customer information, for example, name, phone number, and email, as well as their purchase history. Shopify Audiences illustrates how orders are assigned to audiences by using an exclusive attribution model. Once an order is placed, the email address is reviewed to see whether it matches a buyer in your unique audience.

If an email address does match, the order will be attributed to Shopify Audiences. This will include any orders placed within seven days of an advertising campaign ending; however, it won’t include customers who, although they may be in your audience, haven’t seen the ad on social media.

What are the benefits of Shopify Audiences for an ecommerce business?

Shopify Audiences will provide Shopify Plus merchants with much more targeted data, meaning it will be easier to find top-of-funnel prospects, which will mean lower advertising costs and an increased return on your ad spend.

Although Shopify Plus is more expensive than Shopify’s other packages, it is an excellent ecommerce platform that supports businesses with reliable and cost-effective service. With the launch of Shopify Audiences making Shopify Plus even better, now is a great time to upgrade your Shopify Package if you’re on the fence.

How does data privacy work with Shopify Audiences?

Shopify ensures that all of the data it collects is kept totally anonymous; the shop owner will never be able to see any personal information that is collected by Audiences. The data is encrypted so that the audience list is securely communicated to the ad platforms; once that data is matched to the Facebook record, it is deleted.

When you install the Shopify Audiences app to your store, you will need to agree to contribute limited data. You must make sure that you update your privacy policy to disclose the collection of data and state how it may be used. You must allow your customers to opt out if they wish to.

Points to note about Shopify Audiences

When you have created an audience, you’ll need to select a product you’d like to base your audience on. The size of your audience shown in your Shopify admin area is purely an estimate and might vary from the size in Facebook due to how the data matches. This could be down to the customer that fits into the Shopify Audience may not have a Facebook or Instagram account or don’t have the same details registered.

There is a limit on the number of audiences that you can create over a 7-day period which will be displayed once you export your first audience.

Shopify Audiences is only available on Facebook and Instagram at the moment; however, Shopify does say they will expand this to other platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest and others in the future.

What’s next for Shopify and ecommerce businesses?

When you have created an audience, you’ll need to select a product you’d like to base your audience on. The size of your audience shown in your Shopify admin area is purely an estimate and might vary from the size in Facebook due to how the data matches. This could be down to the customer that fits into the Shopify Audience may not have a Facebook or Instagram account or don’t have the same details registered.

There is a limit on the number of audiences that you can create over a 7-day period which will be displayed once you export your first audience.

Shopify Audiences is only available on Facebook and Instagram at the moment; however, Shopify does say they will expand this to other platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest and others in the future.

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