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Introducing Shopify Audiences: A New Way To Find High-Intent Buyers


Say the phrase “digital marketing” and you're likely to get a range of reactions. It's easy to love, since it's a critical tool for finding new customers. However, digital marketing is also becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to do, especially for independent brands.

That's why we are excited to announce the launch of Shopify Audiences, a powerful prospecting tool that works to enhance top of funnel advertising campaigns by targeting high-intent buyers. Shopify Agency Partners can now use Shopify Audiences to help Plus merchants with one of their biggest pain points: finding new customers who are ready to buy.

With the growing difficulty of finding new customers, Shopify Audiences has been key to getting our campaign performance back to where we need it to be. We have loved connecting with high-intent audiences and have really seen our targeting and performance improve, with return on ad spend as high as 6x. It’s now a key part of our advertising strategy.

What is Shopify Audiences?

Shopify Audiences is a new way to find and target high-intent buyers on advertising platforms. Shopify Audiences uses the collective power of Shopify merchants that band together to unlock the power of their data. Buyers who purchase from our merchants are some of the highest quality customers on the internet.

When you're running ads for your client, simply select the product you want Shopify to help you sell more of, and we'll take care of the heavy lifting underneath using machine learning algorithms to find people most likely to purchase.

select product
Simply tell Shopify which product you want to sell more of and we'll do the rest.

The algorithm matches buyer intent with unique attributes of store products and orders data to predict who is most likely to purchase from a shop. Audiences are created using lists of authorized email addresses from recent buyers. Currently, we support Meta (Facebook and Instagram Ads), and we have plans to support all major ad platforms in the coming year. To protect buyer privacy, merchants cannot download a list of the hashed emails exported from Shopify to target a competitor's list of customers.

A unique view into order attribution that only Shopify can provide

When you’re running ads using Shopify Audiences, we make it easy to understand the value they bring to your clients’ businesses. To do this, we use a unique attribution model exclusively available in Shopify to help you understand how orders are attributed to Audiences.

Shopify sees the emails inside audiences as well as emails at checkout, so you can get a unique perspective to better understand the effectiveness of ads you’re running for your clients. This model is resilient to changes in user-tracking regulations due to privacy laws. We have high confidence in its accuracy and believe this will help your agency demonstrate value add.

When an order is processed, Shopify checks if the email on the order matches any customer in your audience. If so, the order will be attributed to Shopify Audiences. Orders are counted while you’re actively running ads using an audience. Shopify also counts orders received within seven days after ads have stopped running to account for people who saw your ads and decided to buy later.

When we developed Shopify Audiences, transparency and trust were the top priority. As such, the tool will only “take credit” for an order when Shopify Audiences has very high confidence that it was responsible for the order. We'd rather take less credit than more.

We use statistical modeling to exclude orders from people who may not have seen your ads but were in your audience. These are called unrelated orders, and occur when a customer purchases a product due to other paid or organic marketing unrelated to Shopify Audiences.

Shopify models unrelated orders by observing how many orders an audience receives while no ads using that audience were running. Once unrelated orders are modeled, they’re excluded from that store’s audience order totals. What remains is a conservative estimate of how many orders should be attributed to Shopify Audiences.

A single order can be attributed to multiple audiences. This happens when a customer belongs to more than one audience. Shopify resolves audience overlap by equally splitting orders between audiences in an effort to ensure your reports are free of duplicate data. You can check how much overlap gets removed between audiences under the “Resolved overlap” section in audience reports.

Shopify audiences transparency
Shopify Audiences prioritizes transparency.

Audience reporting data will vary compared to ad platforms. This happens due to differences in attribution models used, as well as ad platforms not having access to order data the way that Shopify does. To understand your advertising effectiveness, you should use reports in Shopify Audiences for sales and order data and rely on third-party reports for spend, impressions, and clicks.

Improvements to the algorithm will continue to roll out over time. We recommend making Shopify Audiences a part of your continuous, top-of-funnel customer prospecting strategy.

Shopify Audiences has helped us regain confidence with top-of-funnel advertising and reach qualified buyers with return on ad spend as high as 3x. The ability to leverage Shopify’s understanding of intent and create audiences focused on our products significantly enhances our acquisition efforts.

For now, Shopify Audiences is available to Shopify Plus store owners who use Shopify Payments. If you're excited to find new customers for your clients, check store eligibility, and more, click here to visit our complete rundown on Shopify Audiences.

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This article originally appeared on the Shopify Web Design and Development blog and is made available here to educate and cast a wider net of discovery.
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