Marketing, Shopify

How to Build a Customer Base on Shopify

Making sales but not making a meaningful impact? Here’s how to reach consumers to build a solid consumer base for your Shopify store.

Customers: we love them, and we love to hate ‘em. Well, that’s not true. Most Shopify store owners don’t really hate their customers (save for the occasional Karen determined to ruin your day) but actually hate the fact that they don’t have enough — if any — customers to make their whole venture worthwhile.

Does this sound like you? You’re not alone. The lack of a solid customer base is something that plenty of small business owners and Shopify sellers experience. In fact, it’s a big reason behind the often cited statistics that roughly 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years, with 20% of start-ups failing in the first year of operation.

Don’t let the numbers scare you, though! You can turn things around by building your customer base. Unfortunately, most of the “helpful” information available about how to do this is catered to run-of-the-mill, brick and mortar small businesses, meaning that most of these tips are not so helpful to people who are looking to navigate the crazy online landscape that comes with being an ecommerce seller.

Luckily for you, that’s what we specialize in. Here’s how to build your customer base and start turning a meaningful profit on Shopify.

The first step to establishing a strong customer base is establishing who you are. No, we’re not talking about telling potential customers your life story — we’re talking about your brand! Specifically, your Shopify store’s brand identity.

You’ve likely heard how important brand identity can be, but you might not truly understand just how paramount establishing one is. In fact, modern consumers care just as much about the company they are buying things from as they do the products they are buying. For example, 66% of global consumers say that they would rather spend their money with a brand that is committed to sustainable initiatives than one that is not.

Even though you likely started your Shopify store as a way to be your own boss and make money (a perfectly valid reason) you should approach your brand in a more human manner, telling customers what you, as a brand, stand for, and demonstrating that through the way your Shopify store interacts with them and the world around you.

Brand identity is communicated through multiple ways:

  • What you believe in: your Shopify store’s values, mission, purpose, and vision.
  • The way you interact with customers: brand voice, how your corporate persona speaks, how you respond to questions, and the like.
  • Aesthetics: your brand’s colors, logo, fonts, formatting — things that make your Shopify store immediately recognizable.

Being able to establish your Shopify store’s brand identity in a way that clearly communicates its values is important not only because it helps differentiate your brand from others like it, but because it is one of the main things that can help determine and build your customer base.

Consumers who believe in the same things your business believes in will want to shop with you. As you may guess, it’s best to stay apolitical — actually, far from political, we don’t want you to get “cancelled” — in order for your Shopify store to appeal to as many potential customers as it can.

That being said, be genuine. Some marketing guides may tell you that consumers (as a whole) are not that perceptive, but this is simply not the case. If you are not authentic when creating a brand identity, customers will take notice. If you are putting on a show just to make a sale, not believing and integrating your brand’s values within every fiber of your company, consumers will know and it is very likely that you will lose their business.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but you can’t sell anything if you don’t know who your customer is. While marketing buzzwords like “target demographic” may seem overwhelming, identifying your target audience is as easy as figuring out who the ideal customer is for your Shopify store or a specific product you sell.

Think of it like a garage sale. When you set your old items in the garage (or the driveway, or the lawn…) you likely already have an idea in your head about the type of person who would buy them. If you are selling a baby onesie, you may imagine a young mother or financially savvy grandmother will purchase it. If you are selling an antique grandfather’s clock, you could guess that a collector or antique enthusiast will buy it from you.

Identifying your target audience works the same way. With your business partners, discuss questions like:

  • Who would buy the products/services my Shopify store sells?
  • Where does this person live?
  • How old are they?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What matters to this person?
  • How do they communicate?

After you are able to discern who your target audience is, you will find out how to effectively reach out to these people, which brings us to our next point…

Most brick and mortar stores have to rely on local traffic in order to turn a profit, unless they also have an online presence. As a Shopify store owner, you have the unique ability to use all of the tools available to an ecommerce seller. The internet is vast — use it to your advantage.

Social mediahas quickly become one of the most powerful ways for businesses to reach their customers and should absolutely not be ignored. To start, you should launch social media pages for your Shopify store. You can have a presence on every social media platform imaginable — Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok, Reddit, you name it — but this should also be informed by your target demographic. Not every group of people, specifically those of different ages or nationality, use the same social media platforms. For example, older individuals are more likely to use Facebook and not TikTok, while younger generations are more likely to use TikTok but not Facebook.

When you have created social media pages for your Shopify store, these platforms make it pretty easy for businesses to build a buzz. In addition to regularly updating your business’ pages with relevant information and media (like photos or videos) about your company and its products, you can host events, create groups — this is great for cultivating a sense of community between your customers, great for companies that offer time-sensitive merchandise like Rae Dunn — and engage with the online community. Better yet, social media platforms allow your Shopify store to create paid advertisement campaigns within their platform that can be customized to target your intended audience — even if these people haven’t heard about your shop before.

Keep in mind that your target demographic should not only inform what social media platforms your business has a presence on, but how you interact with your customers. With your target audience in mind, ask yourself these questions to determine your Shopify store’s brand voice:

  • How does my target demographic like to be talked to?
  • Do they speak casually, formally, etc.?
  • What would these people never do or say?
  • What kind of media does my target demographic share/what are they interested in?
  • How do they respond to pop culture or national/global events?

Of course, you can go deeper. Learning how to have your brand communicate like its customers is a valuable skill that will pay off in the long run.

Email marketing is a great way to reach consumers that have already had a chance to interact with your Shopify store. Whether these people have purchased a product or not, they should be prompted to sign up for your store’s email newsletter. In your newsletter, your Shopify store can send updates about the store, new product releases, information about your customer community, and any upcoming events. Additionally, you can offer exclusive deals and discounts to the customers who have opted in to your newsletter. This is a wonderful method to build loyalty with pre-existing customers (or people who have visited your Shopify store but have yet to make a purchase) as they feel like they are part of a larger, yet exclusive community.

Your Shopify store can also try out SMS marketing to achieve similar (often better!) results. SMS marketing uses text messages to relay similar information that would be in a company newsletter, but in a shorter, more personal format. Even better, SMS marketing is usually text only and does not require the tedious details, such as templates, coding, and graphic design, all of which email marketing typically entails.

It may seem counterintuitive to focus on the clients your Shopify store already has (that is, if you have any — we hope you do!) when you are looking to build your client base, but in all reality, your repeat customers should be the one that you value most.

By supporting your existing customers, the benefit is twofold: one, your repeat customers will feel valued, and as a result, will be loyal to your business and spend more at your Shopify store; and two, loyal customers bring in new customers.

People like to feel important, so when you show your Shopify store’s existing customers that you value them and appreciate their business, they will want to shop with you again. In the same vein, loyal repeat customers who feel like they are heard and respected are more likely to talk about your Shopify store to their friends or leave your store great reviews online (either on your store’s rating system or on other websites) which can draw new customers to your site.

Showing your customers that you care is easy — but you have to mean it. This can be done through a number of ways:

  • Genuinely helpful customer service responses if the customer has an issue with a product/service. Research shows that 98% of consumers are more likely to shop again with companies that have great customer service.
  • Social media shoutouts, like “Pack an Order with Me” videos.
  • Discounts or deals specifically offered to repeat customers.
  • Implement a loyalty program, like Shopify’s, to entice your customers to buy and buy again.

Expanding your customer base starts with keeping the customers your Shopify store already has. If you reward your loyal customers, they remain loyal, and bring new customers with them.

Stop waiting for sales and start building your customer base.

Shopify sellers aren’t bound to brick and mortar stores and local sales. Instead, you have the ability to harness the power of the internet to build your customer base. With some help from social media, email and SMS marketing campaigns, and giving your existing customers a little love, your Shopify store will be fostering a genuine community and turning a healthy profit in no time!

Posted by
John From Jotting

Shopify developer, SEO expert, and Social Media marketer who has been in ecommerce game for over 4 years. I've worked on 100's of Shopify ecommcerce stores, understanding each store owners SEO, product, and marketing needs.

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