This is the second and final part of our Masters of Inbound Marketing feature on Shopify. Don’t forget to check out part 1 for a deeper understanding of the e-commerce giant.
You may already know that Shopify is awesome. The company’s massive growth is supremely impressive and there seems to be no end in sight. As mentioned in part 1, Shopify is a master of inbound marketing, but even masters can improve. There’s no such thing as perfection, thus the romanticized quest for it is eternal.
Shopify’s great success has painted a target on the company’s back, and the competitors are already lining up for a chance to hit the bullseye. All eyes are on the e-commerce giant, and the pressure and scrutiny levels increase on a daily basis. Shopify needs to stay on their a-game in order to continue their success. Currently, the company stands to gain great advantages from better leveraging their blog. Let’s take a lot at the effectiveness of Shopify’s blog and how it can be improved.
The Data Breakdown
We analyzed 222 posts on Shopify’s blog and discovered that, on average, a post is shared 269 times. We used Screaming Frog to pull the data in order to ensure that our information matches with what search engine crawlers see.
The top 2 blog posts have been shared 3974 and 3269 times (respectively). Due to the exceptionally strong performance of these 2 posts, we initially considered whether they acted as outliers. However, we discovered that the impact of their performances was less than 5%, thus rendering them statistically irrelevant in terms of incorrectly skewing the overall average number of shares.
Shopify’s 10 most shared blog posts have an average word count of 2372. Meanwhile, the bottom 10 posts featured an average WC of only 668. In general, the posts with more shares featured higher word counts.
It’s important to note once more that the WC presented is how search engines see it, meaning that comments and other text are also included.
A relationship between the WC and the “shareability” of Shopify’s blog posts certainly exists, but the intricacy of it is more complex than a mere graph. Yes, the best performing blog posts tend to have a much higher word count than the worst ones, but the link is not direct.
WC alone is not the determining ranking/performance factor for any piece of content. There are many elements at play (e.g. links, authorship, shares, etc.) and it is imprudent to assume a direct link between WC and performance. If we were to assume such a notion, the logic would dictate that all of Shopify’s blog posts should be at least 3000 words in order to be highly successful. This would essentially imply that visual content has no place on the internet, which is an absurd statement at best.
Even though the link is not direct, it’s not a coincidence that the most successful posts have a higher word count in the eyes of search engines. We examined the 10 best and worst performing posts (in terms of shares) and found that significant portions of the word count come from lively comments sections. For example, the content of the top post is actually composed of under 1500 words. This gap between the content WC and the overall WC is a trend that’s evident in all of the analyzed posts.
This implies that the most popular Shopify blog posts have higher word counts because they foster discussion and are easy to share. It appears that the WC is an indicator of social success for Shopify’s blog posts.
Again, we must insist that there is no direct link between word count and exceptional performance, but when analyzed correctly, the metric can act as a revealing factor of social success. Do not confuse correlations with causations.
The Next Step
Our micro study suggests that Shopify’s blog could use some improvements. Here are some suggestions based on the best inbound practices as well as our data:
Encourage discussion. It can be very challenging to get people talking. Have you ever given an amazing presentation that was met with uninterested or awkward silence? The internet is sometimes like that.
Shopify attempts to generate discussions through the use of CTAs and questions in some of their posts, but that’s not enough. Each post should aim to facilitate discussion, and not just through the mere presence of social media icons. Ideally, the content itself ought to leave the visitor with food for thought, that little extra bit of something which gets their brain warmed up. In order to determine what that something actually is (e.g. a statistic or even a powerful image), the content creator must know their buyer personas inside and out. Of course, asking direct questions is always a viable options, but diversity tends to keep things interesting.
Targeted specific niches. The top 10 posts that we analyzed mostly served as information hubs about a particular topic in the business world (e.g. 12 Must Watch Ted Talks for Entrepreneurs). This data indicates that Shopify’s current audience is interested in learning about business-related issues, however, many of Shopify’s other posts already deal with such topics. The company’s blog could be more successful by focusing on a smaller range of topics which specifically target their buyer personas.
However, it’s important to always keep a lookout for new trends and to try new types of posts. Too much repetition will bore everyone to death.
Diversify content types. Some types of posts are easier to share due to the various consumption methods. For instance, lists are often circulated between friends since they tend to be easy to follow and visually engaging. The Shopify blog seems to favor list-type articles, but it should not rest on its laurels. The digital space is inherently open to various content types which can serve different purposes. Using information from its buyer personas, Shopify’s blog could develop a larger audience by diversifying its content types (e.g. infographics, videos, interviews, guest posts, podcasts, etc.). This suggestion is not to be confused with the previous one; we are ultimately saying that the blog could benefit from focused content topics delivered in a variety of ways. Audience engagement and social success would reveal which content types perform the best.
Shopify may be a master of inbound marketing, but as aforementioned, improvement is eternal. By better leveraging its blog, the e-commerce giant could potentially generate more leads and significantly outperform its competition.
If you’re interested in exploring our data set, feel free to download it here.