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How Shopify uses one key insight from a million brands

To optimize their own marketing campaigns
Brett Friedman

The Company

Shopify is the e-commerce platform that nearly every online store uses to list and sell products. Shopify has more than a million businesses constituting over $200 billion dollars in transactions.

The Experiment

Shopify has tested just about every trick in the book, following suit from the clever brands that launch on their platform. In fact, they have quite a few native A/B testing apps in their internal marketplace.

That being said, the one consistent strategy used by all the best brands is to find an ad that works and gradually iterate and optimize it for as long as it lasts.

To start, Shopify did what all great marketers do: they found where their customers hung out and placed ads there - sites like t-shirtforums.com & others. The below ads started running in 2013 (first two), then were updated in 2014 (third), then optimized in 2016 - still used today (far right).


The Experiment (Pt. 2)

But the optimization didn't stop there!

Shopify follows the ABT rule: ALWAYS BE TESTING!

They iterated on the messaging and background images, searching for the perfect niche to target, the perfect button text, font, positioning.


The Experiment (Pt. 3)

Today, Shopify focuses their tests with the very same multivariate testing methodology we automate at Marpipe! On Facebook alone, they're running 230+ ads, each with a tiny change or two from the last. In just six of those ads, they're isolating their most effective variants whether it's a color, a number, a product, a model, or a copy variant.    


The Results

Clear. Shopify is the first household name of e-commerce. Almost every new online brand launches on their platform, not to mention their $3.5 billion in assets and deca-billionaire founder Tobias Lutke. In just 14 years Shopify went from 0 to 5000 employees, 1,000,000+ brands, in 175 countries (basically all of them). More importantly, their marketing campaigns get better and better each year.

The Application

There are three major applications of Shopify's strategy.

  1. Look at other brands' ad libraries (even outside your industry).
  2. Find your users hangouts and optimize for their niche.
  3. Test, iterate on, and optimize every ad for as long as you can. One good ad can last the lifetime of your company.

And if your team is a bit smaller than Shopify's, use Marpipe to automate the process!

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How to Run a Multivariate Test

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How to Run a Multivariate Test
The Beginner's Guide

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