What is Shopify Audiences? A Complete Shopify Audiences Review

If you subscribe to a service from a link on this page, Reeves and Sons Limited may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

There's no denying that Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the market. In fact, the number of Shopify stores has tripled in the last two years – and with good reason. Statistics show that Shopify stores see almost three times more growth!

Not only does Shopify provide everything sellers need to launch, manage, and scale their online store, but they also provide plenty of marketing tools, including Shopify Audiences.

So, with all that in mind, this article explores how Shopify Audiences works, its features, and its pros and cons. It will also discuss the importance of creating relevant ads to target the right audience and increase sales. 

There's lots to discuss, so let's jump straight into the meat and potatoes of this blog post!

What is Shopify Audiences?

Before we go any further, I'll save you some time. Shopify Audiences is only available for Shopify Plus merchants that use Shopify’s native payment gateway, Shopify Payments

This pricing package is explicitly designed for enterprise-level organizations; it’s best suited to massive operations that can comfortably shell out at least $2,000 a month to cover the subscription fees. 

If you’re in the market for such a solution, read on! If not, you might be better off looking at alternative data exchange networks to create custom audiences. For example, StoreYa or Clever offer advertising optimization tools that can help you to track and improve your audience targeting. 

It’s also worth noting that eligibility also hinges on the country your store operates from. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, you must be based in the US or Canada to use Shopify Audiences.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, what is Shopify Audiences?

In short, Shopify Audiences is a prospecting tool developed by, yes, you guessed it, Shopify!

More specifically, it helps store owners find high-intent buyers across their preferred advertising channels. It uses an algorithm based on the past purchase behaviors of customers across all of Shopify’s stores. It then identifies a list of potential customers and creates a lookalike audience list that you can use in digital advertising campaigns launched on the following channels:

  • Facebook
  • Google ads, Shopping, and Mail
  • Pinterest
  • Youtube
  • Instagram ads

Shopify calls these prospect lists ‘audiences.’ Shopify can generate several types of audiences based on intent, reach, and where a customer sits within your sales funnel (more on this below). For the uninitiated, a sales funnel represents your customer's journey from initial product awareness to them making a purchase. The funnel typically comprises several stages, including:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

Each stage reflects the customer's progression toward making a purchase and comprises a different type of audience. So, to make the most out of your digital marketing, you’ll have to adjust your efforts depending on the audience type you’re targeting. 

To make this easier, Shopify Audiences offers predefined audience types based on – purchase intent (i.e., how likely a customer is to buy something) and reach (the pool of candidates within a generated audience). These are as follows:

  1. Higher intent, lower reach: This audience type typically comprises the lowest number of customers. However, these prospects boast the highest buying potential and are likely toward the end of your sales funnel. 
  2. Mid-intent, mid-reach: This audience type has a larger candidate pool, but they won’t be as intent to buy. These customers are likely to be in the middle of your sales funnel. In other words, these individuals do have some intent to purchase but aren’t quite at the buying stage yet. In this instance, your strategy should focus more on transforming a candidate's interest into a concrete desire to buy, potentially by showing off the benefits of buying your product.
  3. Lower intent, higher reach: This audience type comprises the highest number of candidates but the lowest buying intention. Here, prospects may be aware of your brand but don’t know what you offer or why they should take an interest in you. At this stage, your campaign will likely aim to cultivate that awareness, pushing them into your sales funnel's ‘interest’ and ‘desire’ stages.

If we look at each audience type, the higher their buying intention, the more likely they will be further along your sales funnel. As a result, you need to consider what kind of customers you’re looking to target with your campaigns. I.e., whereabouts are they in your sales funnel, and engage the right Shopify audience accordingly. 

However, it’s also worth noting that not all audience types can be used on every advertising channel. For instance, “mid intent, mid-reach” is only available for Facebook and Pinterest ads.

what is shopify audiences

How Shopify Audiences Works

With the basics out of the way, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to get Shopify Audiences up and running:

Installation and Setup

To get started with Shopify Audiences, your advertising channels must be connected to your Shopify Plus account. 

How you do this depends on the platform you want to advertise on. For instance, if you're going to run Facebook ads, you need to set up a Facebook business account and install the Facebook Pixel on your website. 

Once you’ve connected whatever sales channel you intend to use, the next step is to install the Shopify Audiences app:

  1. Log into your Shopify account and head to the App Store.
  2. Search for the Shopify Audiences app and select ‘add app.'
  3. You’ll be redirected to your Shopify dashboard's apps and sales channels section. Here, you’re prompted to install and activate the app. Alternatively, you can find Shopify Audiences manually by searching in the apps and sales channels section of your Shopify admin dashboard and clicking install, then activate.

Once you’ve installed the Shopify Audiences app, you’ll need to connect your sales channels. Just follow these steps:

  1. From your Shopify dashboard, open the Audiences app.
  2. You’ll see sections for each platform you can connect to, such as “connect to Facebook,” “connect to Google,” etc. Choose which platform you want to add, then click setup.
  3. You’ll be prompted to connect to that channel by entering your account details.
  4. Next, choose which account within the channel you want to create audiences for (for instance, if you have multiple Facebook pages, you’ll need to decide which you want to use).
  5. Accept the terms and conditions, and you’re ready to go.

Okay, now you’ve set up your Shopify Audience account, let’s talk about how to use it to increase the efficiency of your ads:

what is shopify audiences

Shopify Audience’s Main Features

Once you’ve connected your ad platforms, it’s time to create and advertise to your audiences:

Create an Audience

Within your Shopify dashboard, navigate to the Audience app. Then, select create an audience. Within this section, you’ll want to define the title of the audience you wish Shopify to make. Next, you’ll see two buttons: 

  1. One is the name of the audience you want to create. 
  2. The second is a button called “choose a product.” This is the product you want to create an audience for to target in your ad campaign. 

You’ll also see two sections on the right-hand side – one shows the size of your potential audience. The other allows you to export your audience to your connected ad channels.

Once you’ve done all the above, Shopify examines all the shops on its platform to see which customers have brought a product(s) similar to yours. Shopify doesn’t have access to the specific identities of these buyers or the audience it creates; instead, it makes a lookalike audience based on buying behavior across platforms. You can then export this lookalike audience to your sales platform to target them within your campaign.

To better illustrate how this works, let’s look at an example:

  • Let’s say you want to find an audience for a pair of shoes you’re selling on your Shopify store.
  • First, Shopify looks at every merchant on its network selling similar products. For ease, we’ll say 1,000 merchants sell the same or a similar product.
  • Now Shopify looks at customers who have bought from these merchants. For the purposes of this example, we’ll say that Shopify identified 50,000 buyers (who consented to share their customer data with Shopify when purchasing from one of these merchants).
  • Shopify makes this information exportable.
  • Now, when you export this pool, Shopify Audiences cross references your pool of 50,000 users to similar audience segments within your ad platform. This creates an audience of, say, 2000 users out of the 50,000 who are most likely to buy your product when they see your ad on your given platform.

Creating a Campaign

Each platform has its own ad manager. Here you can find the audience Shopify has created. For instance, within Facebook’s ad manager, you can run a targeted ad by:

  1. Creating a new campaign by selecting ‘new campaign’ from your ad manager's dashboard.
  2. This will bring up the option to refine your campaign settings. In the editing panel, you’ll see that a Shopify lookalike audience has automatically been created, which you can select as the target audience for your campaign.
  3. After editing your settings, click publish to run your ads.

Reporting and Analytics

You can monitor your audience's performance by opening the Shopify Audience app and selecting Overview. 

It will tell you how the audience has impacted your:

  • Orders
  • Sales
  • Average order value
  • New customers
  • Top products sold

This data is based on the estimated sales and orders, etc., that your Shopify lookalike audience has generated through your ad platform’s campaign. It does this using the order attribution model. Order attribution tracks the customer journey from an ad impression to an eventual purchase. It works by matching the customer's email address from orders placed on your store to the email addresses of buyers in exported audiences. 

Needless to say, this information goes a long way to providing store owners with the insights they need to better understand their ad campaign performance and, accordingly, make better decisions about their ad spending to maximize their ROI.

The Cost of Shopify Audiences

The app is free for Shopify Plus users.

Costs for using Shopify Audiences are based on the advertising platform you’re using (and any other fees related to the campaign – for example, the cost of running a Shopify Plus store, paid advertising, etc.). 

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Shopify Audiences

The primary benefit of using Shopify Audiences is the ability to create targeted ads that are explicitly tailored to prospects with higher purchasing intent. As a result, entrepreneurs are better positioned to reach the right people with the right message, resulting in higher conversion rates and better ROI. 

However, there are some drawbacks to using Shopify Audiences, such as:

  • The limited data available (it only checks Shopify store buyers who consented to give their emails to Shopify)
  • A lack of integration with third-party tools – for instance, you currently can’t generate a Shopify Audience for TikTok users.
  • The potential for inaccurate results if a customer doesn’t use the same email address across platforms.
  • Geographic restrictions, I.e., you have to be a Shopify Plus user based in the US or Canada to be able to utilize Shopify Audiences. 

Shopify Audiences: Our Final thoughts

Overall, Shopify Audiences is a powerful tool for Shopify Plus users looking to boost their marketing efforts. By making it easy for merchants to target specific audience groups with personalized marketing campaigns, Shopify Audiences goes a long way to helping increase engagement with your online ads and, ultimately, your sales. 

Of course, there are a few drawbacks to consider. Still, Shopify Audiences provides a streamlined and effective way for Shopify Plus users to connect with customers and grow their online sales. 

But what do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Rosie Greaves

Rosie Greaves is a professional content strategist who specializes in all things digital marketing, B2B, and lifestyle. She has over three years of experience crafting high-quality content. Check out her website Blog with Rosie for more information.

Comments 0 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rating *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Try Shopify for 3 months with $1/month!