What you need to know about Shopify Audiences


On May 10 2022, Shopify released a major feature exclusively for Shopify Plus merchants, Shopify Audiences. With the launch of its newest product, the e-commerce company is making a significant push into the advertising sector.

With GDPR in 2018, iOS 14 updates, and Google's recent announcement about no longer supporting third-party cookies in Chrome, it's becoming increasingly difficult to target the right user at the right time and measure campaign results from start to finish.

This means there will be a significant shift in how marketers must strategise the collection of first-party data. Without a doubt, the addition of Shopify Audiences will help to combat changes in data privacy laws and the phase-out of third-party cookies.

What is Shopify Audiences?

Shopify Audiences is a new way for advertising platforms to find and target high-intent buyers. Shopify Agency Partners can now use Shopify Audiences to help Plus merchants with one of their biggest pain points: finding new, ready-to-buy customers. This powerful prospecting tool aims to enhance top-of-funnel advertising campaigns by identifying and targeting high-intent buyers on Facebook and Instagram interested in certain products and services who are ready to buy.

How does Shopify Audiences work?

Shopify Audiences is a data exchange network that generates custom audiences from all opted-in merchants on Shopify using mass conversion data. This process allows sellers to target their audience based on past purchasing behaviour rather than generic demographics such as age or gender.

Shopify Audiences are intended to work in tandem with Facebook and Instagram by generating a list of buyers who are more likely to purchase your products. This prospecting tool improves top-of-funnel ad campaigns by targeting high-intent buyers using machine learning algorithms, leveraging data from Shopify stores to match buyer intent taken from the attributes of the products in your Shopify store, and predicting which users are most likely to purchase from you.

Where does data for Shopify Audiences come from?

To create Shopify Audiences, conversion data is exchanged and aggregated across opted-in merchants on Shopify. Data is collected from orders placed from opted-in Shopify stores over a rolling 90-day period, and those that match intent from product attributes are placed into your unique audience and added to Facebook to be used as a targeting criterion for your Facebook and Instagram ads.

The data shared is comprised of two parts:

  • Customer information (e.g. name, phone number, and email).
  • Purchase history.

Shopify Audiences demonstrates how orders are assigned to audiences using a Shopify-exclusive attribution model. When an order is processed, the email address is checked to see if it matches a customer in your audience; if it does, the order is attributed to Shopify Audiences. This attribution model will also include orders placed within seven days of any ads that have stopped running, but will exclude people who may be in the audience but have not seen the ads on Facebook or Instagram.

What are the benefits of Shopify Audiences?

Shopify Audiences will provide Shopify Plus merchants with more targeted top-of-funnel prospecting, resulting in lower media costs and a higher return on ad spend. Shopify Plus is more expensive than other Shopify packages, which is understandable with it being an excellent e-commerce tool that enables a brand to remain flexible, cost-efficient, and reliable. Providing brands autonomy and freedom through unlimited bandwidth, reliable servers, and full payment compliance. With the addition of Audiences, now might be a good time to think about upgrading packages.

How does Shopify Audiences impact data privacy?

Shopify has ensured that all data collected is kept anonymous. It is hashed securely so that the store owner cannot view any personal information or statistical data that is to be included in Audiences.

Once encrypted, the audience list is securely transmitted to the ad platform and cannot be downloaded. Once the audience data is matched to Facebook records, the data is deleted. By installing the Shopify Audiences app on your store, you agree to contribute limited data to the audience network alongside other Shopify merchants. It is critical that your privacy policy discloses the data collection and how it may be used. You must also give customers the option to opt out.

What else should you know about Shopify Audiences?

Once you have created an audience and selected what product you want to base your audience on, when exported, it may take a couple of hours to complete as audiences can vary in size. It’s important to note that the audience size specified in the Shopify admin is an estimate and may differ from the size specified in Facebook due to data matching. One reason for this variance is that the person who falls into the Shopify Audiences may not have a Facebook or Instagram account with the same details, and thus cannot be matched.

There are also some restrictions on who can be included in your Audiences:

  • They must be physically located in the United States or Canada.
  • They must consent to data sharing.
  • Audiences cannot be updated once exported; you must export a new audience on a regular basis to ensure it includes new buyers.

The number of audiences that can be created in a seven-day period is limited; this number will be displayed when you export your first audience. The seven-day period begins on the day you export your first audience and ends seven days later when you export your maximum audience.

Shopify Audiences are currently only available on Facebook and Instagram, but the company says it will expand to other digital marketing platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, Microsoft Advertising, Criteo, and other partners in the future.

What’s next?

This is a significant step toward Shopify becoming more than "just" the infrastructure that powers e-commerce businesses. Shopify is constantly maximising its efforts to assist its merchants in acquiring new and relevant customers by introducing timely platform and product updates. Shopify Audiences is no different, and it will undoubtedly be useful for digital marketers.

As companies rely more on customer data for marketing purposes, there is hope that personalised ads will begin to appear on websites all over the internet. Shopify Audiences is currently only available to Shopify Plus store owners who use Shopify Payments. If you’re looking to find new customers for your clients, check store eligibility, and more, click here to visit the complete rundown on Shopify Audiences.

We can help you. Whether you're looking for a Shopify Plus Partner for Facebook and Instagram advertising, or want to learn more about the benefits of Shopify Plus. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services and how we can assist you.

Looking to get Shopify Audiences up and running for your store? We can help you.

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