Regis McKenna, commonly known as the advertiser who helped put Apple and Intel on the map, once said "The best kind of marketing is education." As customers, we can appreciate marketing (and accept its foibles) when it helps us unlock additional value or enjoyment from the products we purchase.
It’s a lofty goal that takes frequent, consistent investment. One way we continually try to help our merchants get more value from Shopify is to offer tools and training around their biggest opportunities and thorniest problems. With our educational content now spanning blog posts, guides, podcasts, video courses, live workshops, and many other formats, we wanted to take a look back and recap a shortlist of highlights from 2018.
This year, we launched Shopify Academy, a curated library for new and aspiring store owners that features comprehensive video courses, live and recorded webinars, and free tools and templates to help you run your business. The response was incredibly positive, and we look forward to producing more free courses online, workshops, and community content for Shopify merchants next year.
Here are three of our most popular courses released in 2018.
1. Getting Started with Shopify
As a Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, Samantha Renée spends most of her time helping merchants become product experts and find new ways to scale their growth. In our flagship course, Samantha shares step-by-step instructions on getting set up on Shopify and working towards your first sale. Enroll in the free course.
2. Build a Profitable Print-on-Demand Business
Print on demand provides a low-risk way to turn physical products into the perfect canvas for monetizing your creativity. In this course, entrepreneur Adrian Morrison shares his framework for identifying and selling products that are a strong fit for building a profitable print-on-demand empire. Enroll in the free course.
3. Grow Your Business with Instagram
Instagram has seen explosive growth and as a result, has created an opportunity for brands big and small to reach their customers in entirely new ways. With help from entrepreneur and instructor Gretta van Riel, you’ll learn field-tested ways to create compelling visual content, grow your following, and turn Instagram fans into happy customers. Enroll in the free course.
Written content will always be in-demand on the web, and it will remain the bread-and-butter of content here at Shopify. This year, our editorial team went back to basics to share tips and advice on the sleeves-rolled work that goes into building a business for the long term. Here are a few standouts from the year.
1. What You Need to Know Before Investing in Your Business
Your personal goals and strengths should be the driver behind how (and how much) you decide to invest in your business. In this post, we share how to take stock of your current finances to decide what areas of your business need additional investment, and how you can account for the cost.
2. How to Grow Your Business by Selling More to Current Customers
The guiding principle of retention is that a customer’s first purchase is the beginning of a brand new relationship, not the end of the race. This post shares a comprehensive look at why businesses should heavily invest in customer retention, the metrics to track, and the top strategies that work.
3. Instagram Marketing: Using Hashtags, Stories, and More
The reasons to use Instagram for business keep mounting: 80% of users follow at least one brand on Instagram, with 60% of users saying they’ve discovered a new product through the platform. Instagram ads see excellent results and high engagement, and shopping on Instagram streamlines the Instagram sales process. With the number of opportunities, we decided to distill how most ecommerce brands should approach the channel.
4. What Can I Do to Help My Store Rank in Search Engines?
Though most of us use and rely on tools like Google in our daily lives, understanding how search engines index and rank web pages doesn’t come naturally to most people—at least not at first. We shared our suggested steps for getting started with SEO on Shopify in an easy-to-follow checklist.
5. From Ideas to Action: 6 Creative Ways to Show Customers You Care
In today’s world, being fast and efficient are the table stakes of customer service. To differentiate, businesses must also create a memorable customer experience and have high-quality support to match. Creatively thanking your customers with “frugal wows” is a way to stand out without breaking your budget.
6. No Inventory Required: 7 Low-Investment Business Ideas You Can Start Online
One approach many aspiring entrepreneurs should consider is to start a business with relatively low inventory and overhead. With your risks mitigated, you can confidently get started and test the waters with a product idea with little financial downside.
7. The 27-Point Checklist to Prepare Your Store for Black Friday Cyber Monday
Throughout the BFCM 2018 shopping weekend, Shopify merchants collectively made over $1.5 billion USD in sales. It’s clear the BFCM tradition is here to stay, and there’s evidence that it’s growing worldwide. This year, we completely overhauled our annual checklist to help merchants prepare their store and campaigns.
1. How to Scale Your Facebook Ads (While Maintaining a Healthy Return on Ad Spend)
Facebook remains a powerful ad platform to reach and retarget potential customers. As you scale your spend, however, you need to maintain a positive return, which can be challenging for any business. We asked a digital marketing consultant to share her best advice on maintaining a healthy return on ad spend.
2. Bookkeeping 101: How to Manage Your Ecommerce Store’s Books
Bookkeeping is something that you either have to learn or outsource when you’re running a business. But if you decide to DIY, it shouldn’t balloon into a huge weekly task on your to-do list. We spoke with an accountant and entrepreneur about how they recommend managing your books.
3. How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy: A Beginner's Guide
Social media can be a cornerstone of your marketing efforts, but it can also quickly become a time-consuming obligation that distracts you from other high-value work. The difference is usually determined by your strategy and, more precisely, having a defined strategy in the first place, instead of getting right into posting new content.
4. Upset Customers? Here’s How to Tackle Complaints When There’s No Easy Answer.
When you fail to deliver on your promises, by accident or through a mistake, it can be tough hearing from upset customers, especially when an easy solution doesn’t seem to be in reach. We asked an experienced support practitioner to share her recommendations on dealing with these challenging questions.
5. What I Learned Analyzing 60 Days of Emails from a Fast-Growing Ecommerce Brand
Great marketing shouldn’t be overtly noticeable to customers. As entrepreneurs, however, we know you are interested in getting an in-depth look at what other companies are doing right. This article shares the exact emails a high-growth ecommerce brand is using to engage, educate, and upsell new prospects.
Guides and webinars
Sometimes a deep-dive on a topic demands a different kind of presentation. That’s why we also produce longform guides and starter webinars on popular requests we hear from merchants and readers. Here are a few worth checking out from this year.
1. The Entrepreneur's Guide to Small Business Finance
Understanding budgeting, accounting, and cash flow are important to build a rock-solid foundation for your business. Our guide is a crash course on building a budget, keeping track of your spending, and creating financial statements that are easy to read and understand.
2. The Essential Guide to Selling on eBay
eBay gives sellers a lot of control, and it’s an ideal marketplace to clear out product quickly. Just ask Adventuron, a Shopify merchant that has seen significant success with the channel, using it to successfully sell returned products as-is. Our guide will show you how to get your products in front of a global audience of over 100 million active buyers on eBay.
3. How to Start a Profitable Dropshipping Store
Last year, our own Corey Ferreira’s online store received over 8,000 orders from all over the world. He didn’t store inventory, pay for products up-front, or ship a single package himself. In his webinar, he shows you exactly how he did it—step by step.
Podcasts offer a more intimate way to learn from practitioners in a casual setting, where conversation drives the story. Our podcast, Shopify Masters, saw significant growth this year, so whether you tuned in during your commute or listened while building your side project, thank you for your continued support!
Here are three of our most downloaded episodes of 2018, and you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify for more.
1. Working With the Same Manufacturers Behind Many Luxury Brands
2. From DIY to a Million Dollars: How Alien Outfitters Scaled By Curating Products
3. Pulling off a $10k Instagram Launch (Without Any Automation or Ad Spend)
Until next year
We’ll be taking a bit of a holiday break in the coming days. Next year, we plan on producing more guides, courses, workshops, and other interactive content around the trickiest topics in ecommerce, and we have big plans to find better ways to organize and surface the right content, right when you need it. Thank you, as always, for reading and best of luck in 2019! 🍾