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Shopify Ad Strategies

Shopify launched its first-ever branding campaign titled “Let’s Make You A Business” in April 2019. The campaign aimed to bring in new users into the platform. No other case studies or promotional advertisements could be found. This can be attributed to the fact that Shopify uses its marketing and advertising to promote their merchants than to promote the brand. The company also uses its free trial service to bring in new users into the platform.

Shopify’s First Branding Campaign: “Let’s Make You A Business”

Other Information

  • Shopify’s sales continue to grow in the mobile space, accounting for 64% overall sales, with a growth rate of 10% year-over-year.
  • Shopify uses its Instagram and Facebook pages to promote their merchants. Shopify has 3.5 million followers on Facebook and 424,000 followers on Instagram.
  • As per Forbes, Shopify had increased its IPO by ten-fold by primarily directing its efforts towards the optimization of the merchant experience such as better shipment and payment choices.
  • Additionally, because of these efforts, the company has received an annual growth rate of 60% during the last four years. The company’s subscription revenue stream also had an annual growth rate of 40%.
  • As per Shopify’s annual report 2018, the brand has expanded its marketing and advertising efforts towards the promotion of merchants.
  • Furthermore, the company also uses free trials to attract new users into the platform.

Research Strategy

The research team started the search by looking for case studies related to advertisement strategies that Shopify uses to draw in new users and increase subscriptions or purchases from their services. The team specificly searched for case studies that analyzed the ad strategy, that had the overall goal of the strategy, and success metrics. The search proved unsuccessful as we only found guides for users on how to advertise.

The team decided to take a more focused approach and began a search through the company’s website. The team hypothesized that the Shopify would store their advertisements, promotional, and marketing campaigns on their website. By leveraging this information, we thought we might be able to derive a case study on the promotional and advertisement strategies that the company uses to gain new users on the platform or to increase sales and services on the platform.

We visited the company website and looked into their press releases, product news, and company news. The team concentrated on information about marketing campaigns and advertisements. We were able to find information about Shopify’s first brand campaign titled “Let’s Make You A Business,” but details regarding this campaign were lacking, and the information from the site did not state if it was concentrated on gaining new users to the platform or increasing subscriptions or sales of services within the platform. However, the team concluded that it was valuable information. Aside from this given information, we were able to find various programs related to Shopify using social media integration for the promotion of the company. We also found information regarding the height and span of the company’s mobile space, which has more sales than desktop sales. Additionally, we were able to discover the release of the company’s Shopify Plus Partner Program.

Although the information we found did not explicitly provide information necessary to the given topic, the team was able to use the information to direct our efforts into triangulating information about the research. We then decided to look into the newly-released brand campaign, and then to also look into social media integration, and how Shopify leverages these platforms to attract new consumers or increase sales for services or subscriptions. We would then delve into mobile advertisements, and look into the promotional and advertisement strategies that the company uses in the mobile space in hopes of finding information related to the research. The team would also look into how the company promotes its Shopify Plus Partner Program, and see if we can use any information from the search for the research. To look into these strategies, we decided to leverage market research and business media sites such as IBIS World, Forbes, PR Newswire, and others.

The research team was able to find more information regarding the newly-released branding campaign of the company. We were able to find information that stated that the branding campaign “Let’s Make you A Business,” is an “overarching campaign” that aims to establish Shopify as a household brand. It also aims to attract the “next wave of independent business owners” into the company. Additionally, we also found the strategy behind the marketing campaign. However, detailed information regarding the success of this campaign could not be found. This can be attributed to the fact that the campaign only recently ended, and no reports from the company have been published regarding the success of the advertisement. The team then looked into Shopify’s integration with various social media sites like Instagram and Facebook to promote its product. During the search, we found that the company does not necessarily use social media sites to promote company-related products. Instead, Shopify uses its Instagram and Facebook integration services to help promote its users to market their products. However, we decided to peruse the company’s social media sites to see its reach and engagement with its user base.

We then decided to look into Shopify’s promotion and strategy in the mobile space, as the team found that the company’s mobile space has more sales than desktop. We hypothesized that the company promotes its products and services in the mobile space more than desktop, and we could derive more information regarding the topic by looking into the given space. We looked for mobile advertisements and promotions made by the company that help draw in new users or help increase service sales or increase subscriptions. Once again, we found that its user-base primarily promotes Shopify’s presence in the mobile space and that the company does not use the space to promote its brand in the space to gain new users, and increase service sales and subscriptions. However, it is possible that Shopify users indirectly promote Shopify through the mobile space, as Shopify users have to promote the company’s mobile app to their customers for the users to promote their products.

Lastly, we decided to look into the company’s Shopify Plus product and how it promotes this specific product. The team hypothesized that by looking into promotions and advertisements regarding this product from the company, we could use information from this search to derive a case study on how Shopify promotes its products to gain new users and increase sales and subscriptions into the company. We were not able to find direct information regarding how the company promotes the product. What we found were case studies done by Shopify from the users of the program and reviews, but nothing about the promotion, advertising, and marketing strategies of the program.

The team then decided to look into the marketers, promoters, and advertisers of Shopify, to see if these individual companies or service providers of the company have case studies or information on the topic. We were able to find MailChimp as one of the email automaton marketers for Shopify, but once again, the service is tailored for the users of the company, and not directly used by the company to promote its services and products or to help attract new users into the brand. Additionally, the team found that two companies no longer work together.

Finally, the team decided to look into general promotions and marketing campaigns done by Shopify in reliable business media sites such as Forbes, Bloomberg, and others. The team hypothesized that by looking into general promotions and marketing campaigns done by the company, we might be able to derive a second case study from it. However, after the extensive search, we were not able to find an article regarding the given topic, but we were able to find an article from Forbes that explained the reasons why Shopify’s IPO has increased ten-fold during the past year. We found that Shopify’s company growth is not primarily driven by marketing or promotions, but rather by optimizing user experience through various means such as providing better shipment and payment choices for the platform’s merchants.

After an exhaustive search, the team was only able to derive one case study about promotional or advertisement strategies implemented by Shopify to either draw new users to the platform or increase subscriptions or purchase of services. We attributed the shortage of information towards the fact that Shopify might be leveraging positive merchant experience to promote their services and brand, more than intentional advertising strategies or marketing campaign. As per the Shopify’s 2018 annual report, the company expanded its efforts on marketing and advertising to give more power to its merchants.
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Shopify Differentiation from Competitors

Some of Shopify's characteristics that make the platform stand out from its competitors include the ease of use, its extensive app store, excellent customer support, a unique multi-currency feature, its point-of-sale system, and its revolutionary Exchange Market.

Ease of Use

  • Shopify differentiates from competitors, such as Squarespace, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Volusion, in its ease of use. According to Websitebuildexpert, the company beats its competitors when it comes to user-friendliness.
  • The platform offers "simple design features and complex business tools."
  • As Shopify is a hosted platform, it looks after the technical side of a store. Also, users don’t have to install, manage, or update any software.
  • The platform stands out as the one that users are most likely to recommend, due to its ease of use.
  • Although some other platforms like Wix are also user-friendly, Shopify offers more backend control and it lets users build a more advanced online store.

App Store

  • Shopify has an extensive app store that allows users to add whatever they want to their ecommerce site, without limiting them to in-house features. This customization is extremely valuable for online stores.
  • Some of Shopify's competitors, like Squarespace and Volusion, don't have an app store.
  • Some platform's competitors, like WooCommerce, also have an app store, but these apps are not as reliable. Shopify has over 2,200 apps available, all of which are guaranteed they’re compatible with users' sites and safe to install.
  • Shopify’s app store gives users a greater scope to grow their store, as they can "add a customer wishlist, set up dropshipping, add product reviews," among other features.

Customer Support

  • Shopify offers 24/7 customer support via phone, email, and live chat. With their Plus Level price plans, users get a dedicated support agent, and, as their business grows, they can hire a Shopify expert to help them code or design their sites.
  • Although some of its competitors, like BigCommerce, also offer 24/7 support, their help center is less clear and do not offer support through social media, as Shopify does.
  • Unlike competitors like WooCommerce or Volusion, Shopify users are never left on their own as someone is always available to help them.

Multi-currency Feature

  • Shopify's multi-currency unique feature lets customers pay with their local currency. It is a feature that some competitors, like BigCommerce, do not yet have.
  • This feature lets users choose the currencies they want to offer, including Australian dollar (AUD), Canadian dollar, Denmark Krone, Euro, Hong Kong dollar, and Japanese yen.
  • Customers in other countries can shop in their local currency and can either choose their preferred currency or automatically choose the right currency based on their location.
  • For online shoppers, Shopify will do the currency conversion for them before payout.
  • One of its competitors, WooCommerce, also offers multi-currency payments. However, it is not included in their platform, as it is offered as an extension or plugin.


  • A feature offered by Shopify that makes it stand out from its competitors is its point-of-sale (POS). POS hardware lets user use the platform for both selling online and on physical locations (with an iOS or Android device).
  • Many applications for Shopify's point-of-sale tools are available that allow users to sell in places like a pop-up shop, a market stall, at an event, or even in a permanently located retail outlet. These also keep users' inventory and stock count automatically synced.
  • Other POS tools include gift cards, professional reports, lower credit card rates, among others, which competitors like BigCommerce do not have.
  • In addition to this, users can acquire Shopify Point of Sale alone or as an add-on to their retail website.

Exchange Marketplace

  • Shopify's ‘Exchange Marketplace’ feature contains listings of Shopify stores that can be purchased. This is an advantage for buyers, as they can purchase an already profitable store and reduce the risk of investment.
  • Customers can buy a Shopify store from the Exchange Marketplace "in relative confidence", as stores are vetted before they are listed and an escrow method is used to handle the buying process.
  • Exchange displays stores' revenue and traffic information automatically. When a user shows interest in buying a store, the platform automates the brokerage process, providing documentation "to ensure everyone gets the best deal possible."

Research Strategy

In order to provide an analysis of how Shopify stands out and differentiates themselves from key competitors, we synthesized expert reports and data from sources like Websitebuilderexpert (delivers information from an expert team made up of developers, designers, software engineers, UX experts, SEO gurus, marketers, and researchers), Steve Benjamins (developer, designer, and writer behind Site Builder Report), WeMakeWebsites (developer specialized in e-commerce websites), among others.


From Part 01