Democratizing Direct
to Consumer Marketing


In the Winter of 2019, I worked on the Marketing Technology team at Shopify. We were responsible for democratizing marketing by giving all of our 1,000,000+ small business owners an accessible platform to keep up with the marketing teams of retail giants. Meaning, merchants could easily launch marketing campaigns on a variety of social channels—that rivalled the best—and monitor their funnels all within the Shopify admin.

What’s a Campaign?

Shopify provides a variety of marketing campaigns. Partners build these campaigns using components that Shopify designs and curates to ensure the most consistent experience for our merchants. They were essentially longfrom pages built by partners like Facebook, Google and Snapchat that let our merchants seamlessly market on their respective platforms.

A visualization of how all campaigns in Shopify Marketing were comprised of components—like Lego creations


Our current component collection could not support new campaigns that our partners wanted to build for merchants. Specifically, our partners and merchants wanted to take advantage of the direct to consumer (DTC) trend with lifestyle marketing campaigns such as Snapchat and Instagram stories.

However, there was no component that allowed merchants to upload and use lifestyle images in their ads; all images used in campaigns were tied to a store’s products since the early visions of Shopify Marketing was to "get your products to shoppers." Thus, this inability to leverage stand-alone images inhibited our platform from democratizing the direct to consumer marketing trend.


Design a versatile image picker component for our partners to build a variety of lifestyle-advertising campaigns, empowering our merchants to embrace the DTC trend of lifestyle-advertising, build relationships with their customers and ultimately, market more than a product, but a brand on Shopify.

We needed a versatile and intuitive image uploader/picker component like Dropbox’s file uploading system


To ensure this project aligned with our product strategy of growing Shopify Marketing, I decided to collaborate with our PM to set some success metrics. We decided on measuring merchant-adoption of new campaigns build with the image picker (to analyze if our merchants preferred these brand-building campaigns over the traditional product-marketing offerings) and our merchants’ bounce rate while leveraging these new campaigns(to extrapolate if they were helpful in growing our merchants’ businesses)

It was imperative to make sure we were always looking after our merchant’s best interests when designing


Since we were releasing a new suite of marketing campaigns powered by the brand new image picker, we wanted to ease our merchants into it as best as possible. The empty state would be a merchant’s initial encounter with the image picker, so the I sought to make it a familiar and informative experience through a combination of content strategy and visual design.

The explorations and final design for the empty state

Selection State

The selection state was where merchants would select the images they wanted for their campaign. I worked closely with our UX research team to see how we could take this to the next level, to see what other features would 10x their workflow. After some discovery, I decided on adding an accessible uploading feature.

Additionally, I designed a database of all their images they have ever uploaded onto Shopify (product images, blog images, etc.) because merchants sometimes wanted to market with images they had on their stores and blogs. Luckily, we already had an API that could power this feature; it creates a central repository with every image a merchant has ever uploaded from the moment they created their store. Thus, I collaborated with our dev team to get this handy feature implemented.

The explorations and final design for the selection state


The gallery state would be the final step in a merchant’s workflow with the image picker. Like any other standard image gallery, this state needed to have a solid feedback loop so that merchants could quickly register if their image selection choices succeeded. As well, the gallery state needed to support editing functionalities because this component was in the context of powering the back-end of marketing campaigns (in case wrong images were used, not enough images were used, etc).

The explorations and final design for the gallery state

Final Product

The final image picker component achieved all the goals that I set out at the beginning of this project:

  • It empowers our merchants to take their small businesses to the next level by powering the next generation of DTC lifestyle marketing campaigns on Shopify
  • The visual design, interaction design and content adhere to common patterns for file uploading systems making this new component still feel familiar and intuitive in the hands of our merchants
  • Comes with features that go beyond image uploading such as the database storage, making it a versatile component that will drive the future growth of Shopify Marketing

The final image picker in production


I was lucky enough to help ship my component and work together with Snapchat—with their Stories product—to launch the very first lifestyle advertising campaign available on Shopify. We gathered some early analytics and the feedback was very positive. Within the first month, over 1000 campaigns were created by our merchants, signalling interest in more marketing campaigns like this one. Furthermore, these campaigns had a 33% bounce rate vs. the previous average of 42%. All in all, this postive reception helped to influence Shopify Marketing’s decision to focus on helping to develop more brand-building campaigns with our partners rather than traditional product marketing offerings.

Although the launch was a success, I think there were opportunities for growth and improvement. One in particular would have been exploring additional features. I was particularly interested in integrating Shopify’s free stock photo product into the image picker, but the resourcing just wasn’t there. Overall, this was an amazing learning experience for me to understand really understand the problems our merchants face when trying to grow their small businesses.