Looking for more budget-friendly ideas to promote your Shopify store?

Advertising is definitely a great strategy, but the cost can skyrocket pretty quickly. That’s why considering all the alternatives for Shopify store promotion is a good idea. Besides, there’s a lot to choose from.

Let’s get you started with these eight great alternatives:

  • SMS marketing
  • Subscription products
  • Launch Upselling & Cross-selling Campaigns
  • Email marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Referral program
  • Website Instafeed
  • Shopify blogging
  • Social media marketing

1. Send Promotional SMS Campaigns

Yes, SMS won’t generate thousands of orders for your Shopify store right away. But this marketing method has a few major advantages over ads.

SMS marketing:

  • Simpler and automated. There’s much more work that goes into creating advertising campaigns compared to text messages. Shopify SMS marketing apps have campaign templates, so you just need to customize and send them to subscribers.
  • Helps with customer retention. The subscribers in your SMS list will likely be your most engaged and profitable customers. By nurturing them with fresh deals on a regular basis, you’ll be able to retain them. Ads are different in the sense that they’re better suited for getting new customers
  • Is more sustainable and less expensive in the long term. Paying for ads is way too expensive, but with SMS, you can build a large list of subscribers to market your products to. Unlike ads, SMS are less expensive and provide great opportunities to reach thousands of potential customers

On top of these advantages, SMS messages allow you to use almost any marketing tactic there is. Be it a sale promotion, a special deal, a loyalty program announcement, or a birthday discount—you can add any message to SMS along with website links.

To start with SMS marketing, find an app for your ecommerce platform. This way, you’ll automate the process of collecting subscribers and sharing campaigns. If your Shopify store already has some traffic, the app can start building a list of subscribers as soon as today.

2. Sell Subscription Products

Many brands choose to sell products in packs. This tactic allows to promote repeat business and reduces the total order price for customers. If your Shopify store sells food or other products you can potentially deliver on a regular basis, it’s a must-strategy to try.

Here’s an example.

Partake Foods, a seller of cookies, offers customers to sign up for deliveries according to a regular schedule. To encourage shoppers to opt for this option, the brand provides a 10% discount.

Author’s screenshot

If you’d like to try promoting your store with this method:

  • Let customers choose the schedule of product delivery
  • Allow changing or modifying the subscription at any time
  • Leave a one-time purchase option to let shoppers try products before subscribing

Pro tip: consider giving a discount to customers buying subscription orders worth a certain value. For example, you can give free shipping or 10% off to orders over $70, which can encourage customers to buy more.

3. Launch Upselling & Cross-selling Campaigns

Product recommendations are a time-proven marketing technique that helps merchants effortlessly generate extra revenue. Relevant products or services offered to store visitors during their customer journey are a surefire path to increasing your AOV.

Although both cross-selling and upselling aim to suggest suitable products to store visitors during their customer journey, they still differ. Cross-selling offers related or complementary items, while upselling is about higher class or premium products. Thus, by combining these techniques, one can achieve really fantastic results. 

To automate the process, Shopify store owners can use either in-house solutions or 3-d party extensions. For instance, the Recom.ai upsell app lets users effortlessly launch and manage multiple upselling and cross-selling campaigns, show offers on any store page, and track campaign performance with built-in analytics. In addition, it’s equipped with an Amazon-like Scout feature for instant product recommendations and the Post Purchase Upsell option to help you sell more even after order completion.

4. Send Regular Email Campaigns

This one’s a no-brainer. Get yourself a Shopify email marketing app, create campaigns, and start collecting subscribers as soon as possible. 

Ecommerce research suggests that 49% of online shoppers prefer emails to receive marketing offers from brands, which should apply to many of your customers, too.

Relevant email marketing content is the most important thing for successful Shopify store promotion. Consider these essential email campaigns to ensure that your content is relevant and useful for customers:

  • Welcome emails. These are the first messages that customers receive after subscribing to your email newsletter. Welcome emails should greet new customers and provide them with an incentive to engage (free shipping, discount, etc.)
  • Win-back emails. You send these campaigns to passive email list subscribers (those who don’t open your emails for months).
  • Newsletters. These are regular emails that can be both promotional and non-promotional. Their purpose is to keep your brand on top of customers’ minds by sharing content, deals, updates, and news.
  • Promotional emails. You use promotional email campaigns to share awareness of your products, sales, special deals, and other marketing offers.
  • Sales announcement emails. These let shoppers know that your store has launched or is about to launch a sale they don’t want to miss.

There are other email marketing campaign types, too, but these five should be enough to promote your store. If you ensure that your emails contain deals and information customers want, your campaigns should drive traffic to your store and help drive conversions continuously.

5. Try Affiliate Marketing

Affiliates are partners who work as advocates for your business. They can promote your products to their networks and drive traffic and sales. In exchange for sales, you reward them with a flat dollar amount, which is a small percentage from each sale.

Many businesses are driving sales with affiliate marketing. For example, up to 25% of monthly sales at Fandomaniax, a clothing store, come from affiliate partners. 

Getting started with affiliate marketing means:

  • Join an affiliate platform to build and manage your team of affiliates
  • Create an affiliate program and invite potential partners to join
  • Reward partners for sales and continue building your network to get more sales opportunities

Choosing a good affiliate marketing app that integrates with Shopify is important here. The application should give you a single dashboard to monitor all affiliates and sales in one place (which gets complicated as the network of partners grows).

If you’d like to see how other successful businesses generate sales with affiliate programs, check out Angelic Luxe Fashion.

Here’s a super simple description of the brand’s affiliate program.

Author’s screenshot

Angelic Luxe Fashion’s program follows a common strategy of rewarding partners: a commission rate. The brand offers a 15% rate from each referral sale, which is a nice reward.

6. Start a Referral Program

Referral programs are another affordable organic Shopify marketing method. You can encourage buying by providing benefits for referring other customers, which can encourage your website visitors to convert.

Since 93% of customers trust product and brand recommendations from family and friends, a referral program could be a great way to get customers.

Tips for successful referral programs:

  • Choose valuable incentives to encourage conversions. Those benefits could be percentage discounts, dollar value discounts, free products, etc.
  • Create a dedicated web page for your program. The page should provide all the information customers need to sign up.
  • Decide how to share rewards. Emails, direct links, etc.—the type of reward defines how to give them to customers.

Example of a referral program from an ecommerce store:

Art of Tea rewards customers with a $10 store credit if their friends or family spend $20 using referral links. The program is 100% free to join, which is also a good practice to attract sign up. The program’s page also offers a simple explanation for customers, so take a quick look for a good description example.

Author’s screenshot

Starting a referral program on Shopify is easy with dedicated apps. 

7. Showcase Products in Action with an Instagram Feed

This Shopify marketing technique works especially well for clothing businesses because customers like to show off their new styles on social media. You can install a Shopify app that’ll show a feed (also called “Instafeed”) with customer-generated content displaying products “in action.”

You can add the Instagram feed to your store’s homepage or product pages to show customers how others are enjoying your products. Since 81% of Instagram users research products on the platform regularly, the feed could help engage more visitors by giving them a familiar space to do that.

Let’s see how Instafeed looks on websites.

Wylera Hair, a seller of hair care products, showcases customer-generated content in its feed on the store’s homepage. Visitors can see how others are enjoying the brand’s products, which increases motivation to buy by boosting trust.

Author’s screenshot

To add Instafeed to your Shopify store, you just need to install a Shopify app. There’s a bunch of good ones out there, but you can easily find yours by searching for “Instafeed” in the Shopify App Store. From there, a safe way of choosing a good app would be picking one that has the best reviews.

8. Write Great Content on Your Blog

Content can help drive organic traffic, which means more exposure for your products and brand. The best way to share content is through the blog. Thankfully, Shopify has a built-in blog feature, which you can turn on easily.

Consider developing a blogging strategy to attract traffic. You can write articles about problems or issues that your customers are having, and drive high-quality traffic consisting of those looking for solutions.

Here’s an example of a great blog. Pipcorn publishes articles about topics related to its products: BBQ ideas, launch ideas, etc.

Author’s screenshot

If you’d like to promote your Shopify store with a blog, there are two major things to take care of: customer value and optimization. 

In terms of value, every piece of content should have something useful for your customers to keep Google showing it in search results. As for the optimization, content should have keywords your customers use to search for your products in Google.

Don’t know how to find keywords?

That’s easy. Let’s take the example of Pipcorn and its article about nutritious lunch ideas. You can start typing “nutritious lunch” in Google and the system will generate keywords in seconds in the dropdown menu like here.

Author’s screenshot

Follow the same strategy to find keywords: start with an idea and give Google search bar a go. It should give you a few nice ideas to consider.

9. Use Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is necessary for a Shopify store because of several reasons:

  • 54% of customers research products on social media
  • Social media content gives an opportunity to use Instafeed
  • You can drive traffic to your store from social media

The strategy is simple: create social media accounts for your business and share content with your products. This content might include sales promotions, customer generated-content, behind-the-scenes content about how your brand works, etc.

Here’s an example:

Highway Robery, a seller of unique robes, shared this post from one of the customers. It’s a really creative post that’s also a nice example of customer-generated content. Such content shows that a customer had a positive experience with the brand, which increases trust in others.

Author’s screenshot: source

If you need inspiration for social media, feel free to check out how your competitors do it. There’s nothing wrong with checking competitors’ practices as long as there’s no copying.

Promoting a Shopify Store Without Ads: Final Thoughts

As you can see, there’s a bunch of ways to market a Shopify store without having to invest in ads. Every strategy here is less expensive and proven to generate sales and traffic for online stores, so consider trying some.

After all, digital marketing is all about finding out what works, so be open to experimenting with different methods.


Author: Karolis Civinskas

Karolis is a partnerships manager at Firepush. He’s responsible for building relationships with online communities and creating content that helps Shopify store owners advance their businesses. In addition to managing content relationships, Karolis enjoys photography, books and music.

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