How Shopify is Building a $389 Million Brand with Content


Shopify is on a roll.

In the past 12 months alone they’ve increased their paying customers by 55% to 377,500. They’ve doubled the dollar value of products which cross their platform, from $7.7 billion to $15.4. Their revenue is above $389 million, and they’re close to ranking among the top 200 sites on the web.

But, ever since I had a conversation with their content team a couple months ago. I’ve been more impressed by the stuff going on behind the scenes: the “how we do it,” stuff.

And it should go without saying that Shopify really knows how to do it.

This article will give you a 10-step, in-depth walkthrough of one of Shopify’s recently-established marketing funnels.

I’ll examine their whole process, starting with an
impressive SEO strategy, going through blog monetization and content upgrades and ending with the most complete webinar funnel I’ve ever seen. We’ll cover link-building, blog optimization, automated email marketing, video creation, timely sales prompts and much, much more.

Along the way I’ll be stopping to give you actionable takeaways from each strategy implemented by Shopify. So look out for those.

This guide is over 5,000 words. Be sure to use the table of contents below to navigate.

Table of Contents:

Strategy #1: Optimizing Their Content for Search with Valuable Backlinks

Written in early February, Shopify’s “Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping” made its way quickly to the top of the first page for the search term “drop shipping,” ranking (organically) higher than Wikipedia.

shopify marketing funnel

One of my Chrome plugins enables me to see the global search volume of every keyword or phrase I search for, right beneath the search box. It shows a global search volume of 135,000 for the keyphrase “drop shipping.” When I dive into it, Google Keyword Planner says 60,500 average monthly searches for this term. That’s huge.

Ranking well for that kind of search volume can be the reason your whole business succeeds. It’ll give you something like 1,000 daily visitors, particularly if the post which is ranking is “The Ultimate Guide to…”

They also rank in the first position for a few other relevant terms…

  • What is Drop Shipping (12,100/month)
  • Dropshipper (8,100)
  • Dropship Suppliers (6,030)
  • Drop Shipping Companies (5,400/month)
  • Drop Shipping Business (4,400/month)
  • Drop Shipping Wholesalers (2,900/month)

They’ve run the table.

So how they’d do it?

SEO is about three primary things

  1. Existing domain authority
  2. Keyword targeting
  3. Linkbuilding

Domain authority: Shopify has the domain authority for keywords associated with drop shipping – search terms like “ecommerce,” “selling online,” “online sales,” “online distribution.” This will always give a business a leg up, but you shouldn’t for a second believe that domain authority is everything when it comes to SEO.

Keyword Targeting: When I mentioned above that Shopify is also ranking for search terms like “Drop Shipping Companies,” I don’t mean that the ultimate guide, itself, is ranking for that search term. I mean that Chapter 7 of the Drop Shipping Guide (“Drop Shipping Companies”) is ranking for that search term. This is the value of keyword focused-content.

Actionable Takeaway

Each piece of content you create needs to know exactly what search term it’s targeting, and then goes after it with high (though not overly-aggressive) keyword densities.

Linkbuilding: BuzzSumo tells me that Shopify’s guide has build up 965 external links since it was published in February. They’ve also spent some time interlinking, driving 201 internal (domain) links:

shopify marketing funnel

But not every link is of equal value. Shopify also put energy into driving external links on sites with high domain authority, like Mashable:

shopify marketing funnel

I always like to think of the links you get to your content as votes in that content’s favor. When Google is deciding who’s going to win the SEO election, they see who has the most votes. But it’s not a completely democratic system. Links from Mashable are like a “Super-vote,” and worth several (or several dozen) normal links.

To head back to the table of contents, click here.

Strategy #2: Adding a Top-of-Article Call to Action for Content Upgrade (With Click Popup & Thank You Page)

So you click on the article, and head straight to the “Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping” homepage:

shopify marketing funnel

Right off the bat, you see two prompts: “Start Reading” or “Download PDF.”

Notice, however, that the “Download PDF” isn’t the focus of this section. You might expect it to be, as many businesses are focused on driving leads through content upgrades. However, that isn’t the focus of Shopify’s content (though they definitely wouldn’t stick their nose up at a new lead). I’ll get into the real focus of this guide in a bit…

But let’s dive into Shopify’s email-gate and content upgrade nonetheless, because we want to learn all we can from them.

I click on the link to “download PDF.” Immediately I get an in-tab click popup:

shopify marketing funnel

Actionable Takeaway

Why a click popup instead of a landing page, you might ask?

I can actually answer that without needing to ask Shopify. When we tested click popups against landing pages for email-gated content, we found that click popups converted, on average, 44% better.

So there you go.

I submit my email address and click “Download the Guide.”

The Thank You Page:

shopify marketing funnel

Actionable Takeaway

Shopify has a single Thank You Page for all their email-gated content. The conversion on the click-popup triggers an auto-response email, and sends people to the same page as all their other click popups (no matter the content you’ve requested). This will save you time and energy.

To head back to the table of contents, click here.

Strategy #3: Sending Content Upgrade via Email with an Auto-Responder

Many businesses include their content upgrades/email-gated content within the Thank You Page, enabling people to get it right there and then, rather than having to wait for it to arrive in their inbox, or change tabs.

Shopify (and Wishpond is the same) don’t do this.

I head to my inbox and immediately see an email from Shopify:

shopify marketing funnel

Super simple. Straight to the point. I love the option to read on my Kindle or KOBO, and the high-contrast, large CTA makes it super simple to see where to access my download.

But why didn’t they just give it to me in the Thank You Page?

Because Shopify wants to get me used to the fact that value comes through the inbox.

The whole point of lead generation is to open a door to more reliable communication – communication which has a good chance of turning leads into customers.

So, a new lead’s first experience with you should be you providing value through email. If you want them to start trusting your From Name, start delivering value immediately. And don’t stop until they’re convinced you’re trustworthy, awesome and (when you mention that your platform helps them to achieve a lot of the strategies you’re talking about) worth listening to.

Actionable Takeaway

Send any email-gated content as an auto-response email, rather than delivering it through the Thank You Page. This gets leads used to receiving value from you, right off the bat.

To head back to the table of contents, click here.

Strategy #4: Including an In-Article Webinar Prompt

As I really dive into Shopify’s Guide to Dropshipping, I see something interesting at the top of each Chapter: a prompt for me to “Join our free, hands-on training session” – a webinar.

shopify marketing funnel

The first thing for us all to note here, is that the same CTA section is at the top of each chapter, right beneath the intro. This is because, to be perfectly honest, very few people read all the way through to the bottom of any article, no matter how good it is.

If you’re going to prompt any kind of conversion, be sure you get as many eyes on it as possible by putting it at the top of your post.

This is what that section looks like, live:

Free Webinar: How to Quickly Start a Profitable Dropshipping Store

Want to get started even faster? Join our free hands-on training session and learn how to set up an online store, step-by-step, using dropshipping to fulfill orders. You’ll learn how to find awesome products you can quickly import and begin selling immediately. Can’t make it? Register to get the recording after the event goes live.

Register for Webinar or Find Products Now

And here’s the code for it. Just copy and paste the html (the text at the top) and add the CSS to the bottom of your next post:

<p><b>Free Webinar: How to Quickly Start a Profitable Dropshipping Store</b></p>  
<img style="float: left; margin-right: 30px; margin-bottom: 30px; width: 30%;" src="">  
<p>Want to get started even faster? Join our free hands-on training session and learn how to set up an online store, step-by-step, using dropshipping to fulfill orders. You’ll learn how to find awesome products you can quickly import and begin selling immediately. Can’t make it? Register to get the recording after the event goes live.</p>

<a class="button" href="">Register for Webinar</a> or <a href="">Find Products Now</a>

.button {
    -webkit-box-shadow: 0 5px 15px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15);
    box-shadow: 0 5px 15px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15);
    background-color: #5c6ac4;
    color: #fff;
    border-width: 0;
    border-style: solid;
    border-color: transparent;
    display: inline-block;
    padding: 1.0625em 1.875em;
    border-width: 0;
    border-style: solid;
    border-color: transparent;
    border-radius: 5px;
    color: #fff;
    font-family: 'ShopifySans', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
    font-weight: 700;
    font-size: 1em;
    line-height: 1.133;
    -webkit-font-smoothing: antialiased;
    -webkit-transition: 150ms ease;
    transition: 150ms ease;
    -webkit-transition-property: background-color border-color color;
    transition-property: background-color border-color color;
    text-align: center;
    -webkit-user-select: none;
    -moz-user-select: none;
    -ms-user-select: none;
    user-select: none;
    -webkit-appearance: none;
    -moz-appearance: none;
    appearance: none;
    cursor: pointer;


.button:hover {
    background-color: #202e78;
    color: #fff;

Clicking the “Register for Webinar” CTA button sends me to a landing page…

To head back to the table of contents, click here.

Strategy #5: Directing Visitors Toward Conversion with a Webinar Landing Page (With Countdown Timer and Click Popup)

It makes sense that Shopify is sending people to a separate landing page for their webinar (as opposed to the content upgrade in Strategy #2) because there’s far more information which needs to be communicated. And that can’t be done within a click popup.

Let’s take a look at the page:

shopify marketing funnel

Breaking down this webinar Landing Page:

  • Headline: Obvious and to the point, the headline is at the top of the page and promptly features the word “free” (never a bad idea).
  • CTAs: This page has three different CTAs, all of which open the click popup I’ll show you below. Multiple CTAs (so long as they’re for the same objective) increase the opportunity for conversion.
  • Formatting: Short paragraphs and the bullet-points ensure visitors aren’t overwhelmed by too much information, too quickly.
  • Countdown Timer: Countdown timers have been shown to increase conversion rates on landing pages by up to 300%. They create urgency, and communicate to visitors that, in order to get value, they need to convert now.
  • “Can’t Make It” Copy: This is an important part of the page, reminding traffic (three times) that they can get the replay video even without attending – a crucial component to increase the chance of people converting, especially with a webinar coming up in 10 minutes.

Clicking any of the three CTA buttons opens a click popup with two choices of times, your timezone, and a name and email address form:

shopify marketing funnel

Shopify is running their webinars through Webinar Jam, which allows you to schedule automated webinars as frequently as you want. This means that the countdown timer we see above will always be counting down for visitors to the landing page.

Actionable Takeaway

Use a click popup instead of an in-landing page form so as not to intimidate your visitors with the form right off the bat. For a webinar, don’t ask for anything more than name and email address.

To head back to the table of contents, click here.

Strategy #6: Optimized Webinar Registration Page with Video (Includes the Script)

Converting on the webinar registration form sends you through to the “Congratulations” page. This page features the host, Corey Ferreira, prominently, and is focused on getting registrants to attend live:

shopify marketing funnel

The 44-second video script:

Hey congrats, you’re registered for the training session. By attending live you’re going to learn my complete blueprint on how I built a profitable dropshipping business from scratch. You’ll learn how to how to add it to your store within a few clicks, and you’ll learn how to get your first, or tenth or even hundredth sale beyond that. So trust me you really don’t want to miss out on this it’s pretty amazing.

If your session starts soon you’ll want to click above to join the waiting room. If it starts later today you’ll want to click on links on this page to add to your calendar so you don’t forget to attend when this session goes live.

Now you’ll want to ensure you attend live because I’ll be giving a few special bonuses to those who attend live, so don’t be late! I’ll see you soon.

Breaking down this video script:

Honestly, there’s nothing surprising here. Corey is focused on driving live attendance, as live attendance results in happier, more fulfilled leads. He does this by repeating it and also teasing the fact that he’ll be including “a few special bonuses to those who attend live.”

He gives registrants a casual, “from his desk” introduction which really feels like he could be doing it every half an hour or so. He tells you exactly what you’re going to get and mentions that he’s basing it on his “complete blueprint on how [he] built a profitable dropshipping business from scratch.” This kind of content – “my strategy” content – is the best way to do a webinar.

Webinars are all about developing a relationship with your leads. They see your face, hear your voice, and get value from you. And all of that increases the chance of them trusting you down the line, when you say “you should buy this thing.”

Actionable Takeaway

The focus of your webinar’s post-registration page (or “Thank You” page) is to increase webinar attendance. Create a video which repeats the need for people to attend live in order to get the full value.

To head back to the table of contents, click here.

Strategy #7: Sending Webinar Autoresponder Emails to Improve Attendance

In the ten minutes or so before my webinar with Shopify starts, I receive two emails from Corey. Let’s dive into what they look like, and what their objectives are…

Email #1: “You’re in! Here’s step two”

shopify marketing funnel

This email includes…

  • A reminder of when my upcoming webinar is.
  • The webinar’s access link.
  • Exactly who will get the most out of this webinar, making me feel included and confirming that I should attend.
  • A “Why would you trust me” section, which is super effective in addressing registrant’s pain points – namely, “why should I listen to you, again?”
  • A sales prompt which is tied directly to receiving value from the webinar. The copy Corey uses here is best practice for any sales prompt within a webinar or pre-webinar email. It follows the template “It’s super important that you [complete your business’ conversion goal] now, as doing so will help us jump right into [actionable, positive return].
  • Multiple links to the free trial, alongside value-adds in the form of exclusive access to a Facebook group and a bonus resource/starter pack.

Email #2: “We’re about to start the dropshipping training!”

shopify marketing funnel

This email includes…

  • Two more links to the free trial.
  • Another link to the webinar in case you don’t still have the other one open.
  • Help with technical issues and links to support email addresses.

Actionable Takeaway

Trigger your webinar’s reminder emails as soon as someone registers and then again 10 or 15-minutes before you start rolling. In these emails, provide an incentive for people to start a free trial or complete some other conversion objective – remembering that those objectives need to have a direct connection with getting the full value from the webinar.

To head back to the table of contents, click here.

Strategy #8: Creating a Webinar-specific Landing Page

Clicking any of the four free trial links sent in those two emails sends registrants to a webinar-specific landing page.

Why is a webinar-specific landing page better than just sending visitors to the Shopify homepage?

I’m sure you’ve heard that personalization is a keystone of marketing success: the more you can create an experienced tailored to each prospective customer, the more effective your campaigns will be. It’s true with emails, advertising, social media and, (as here) landing pages.

The goal of this page isn’t any different from any of Shopify’s other campaigns. They’re driving free trials. But the difference is that sales points, here, are relevant to the specific visitor. The conversion rates from this page will be higher than if Shopify was to send webinar registrants from the email (or webinar itself, in the upcoming strategy) straight to a general free trial page.

The dropshipping, webinar-specific landing page:

shopify marketing funnel

Breaking down the elements of this landing page

  • Large, clear, action-based headline tells visitors that they’re in the right place and what they can do by converting on this page.
  • The subheadline reiterates the 14-day free trial selling point and the bonus, add-on “dropship business starter kit”
  • A simple form (with single field requirement) and visible CTA.
  • Three benefit points, with headers and short copy – communicating value without overwhelming visitors with long paragraphs.
  • Trust icons from well-known businesses and publications who vouch for Shopify’s legitimacy.
  • A testimonial specifically relevant to the matter at hand (dropshipping) from a “Dropshipping expert.”
  • A below-the-fold CTA which sends people back up to the top field, meaning people don’t have to scroll back up.

Actionable Takeaway

As much as you possibly can, personalize the experience of your website visitors throughout the sales funnel. They should never just “start a free trial,” but rather “start a free trial to start dropshipping,” or “start a free trial to start selling your jewelry/Etsy products/hair extensions/organically-grown diapers” (whatever). Personalization = optimization.

To head back to the table of contents, click here.

Strategy #9: Include an In-Webinar Call to Action

I click on the links in my emails and head into the waiting room for Corey and Shopify’s webinar. A couple minutes later I’m sent directly into the live webinar, and Corey starts his presentation.

It’s comprehensive, talking about his own experience with dropshipping, and introducing attendees to Oberlo (a dropshipping company integrated closely with Shopify), dropship wholesalers, strategies and more. He reminds people throughout the webinar that signing up for a Shopify free trial will help them get the value of what he’s talking about.

Corey finishes off with a pretty strong push for attendees to move towards Shopify for their dropshipping business. Because of the webinar content, however, (full of Shopify screenshots) this pitch doesn’t seem as aggressive as it might.

And the entire time, there’s a yellow box on the right side, prompting me to save the signup link now so I get the bonuses mentioned in the email and webinar-specific landing page:

shopify marketing funnel

Why I love this in-webinar CTA:

  • The exclusivity of the offer: I love “You won’t get them if you start your trial anywhere else!” as it not only makes me aware of the bonuses, but that those bonuses are exclusively available at this moment, right now. Exclusivity is also reiterated with the “Exclusive to webinar attendees!” making me feel part of an exclusive club.
  • The countdown timer: Shopify’s webinar-specific signup promotion lasts only as long as I’m in the webinar. And, as I watch the webinar, I’m also seeing the timer tick down. Nobody likes to watch a countdown timer hit zero.
  • The images: A little bit of visual clarity communicates the value of the dropship starter pack. I get, essentially, three books – all from the same expert I’m listening to within the webinar.

Actionable Takeaway

There are as many places to prompt a paid conversion (or free trial, if that’s your goal) in a marketing campaign as you have creativity.

To recap, Shopify has a free trial prompt in…

  • The webinar landing page
  • The webinar registration/thank you page
  • The video within the registration/thank you page
  • The reminder email (both #1 and #2)
  • The webinar video itself
  • The webinar’s sidebar/chat box
  • The webinar’s follow-up email (below)

To head back to the table of contents, click here.

Strategy #10: Send a Follow-up Email Post-Webinar With Recording & Free Trial Promotion

We’re not quite done. After I watch the webinar, and because I still haven’t started my free trial of Shopify, I get a follow-up email:

shopify marketing funnel

One thing to note is that I would get something like this email no matter what my actions were. Corey will have set up an automated email with the dropship training webinar replay to send to all registrants once the webinar was over.

But, because I haven’t signed up, I will get the second of two automated emails. The one above will have been sent exclusively to people for whom “signed up ? true” and includes the sign up prompt.

To clarify, here’s what that automated email flow might look like in Shopify’s email marketing tool (though this is from Wishpond’s automated email tool):

The Conditions of the flow:

shopify marketing funnel

The Actions, triggered when the conditions are met:

shopify marketing funnel

Wrapping it Up

I hope that an in-depth look at Shopify’s full marketing funnel, from SEO and content upgrades to a dive into their webinar campaign, has given you some inspiration to get rolling on your own marketing campaign.

What I love about this campaign is that, once it was set up (the guide written, content upgrade created, click popups added, webinar recorded, emails written, etc) it will be making money for Shopify while Corey and the rest of the team sleep. SEO will be driving huge traffic, the automated webinar will be running, and the emails will be sending – all without needing a single moment of time from Shopify’s marketing team.

Want to know how Shopify increased their userbase by 55% in a single year? How they’re about to cross $400 million/year in revenue? It’s campaigns like this one.

Have any questions? I’d love to chat with you in the comment section!

To head back to the table of contents, click here.

Take a look at our 21 Shopify Marketing Strategies You Need to Know for more marketing inspiration.


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