Shopify launches Kit Favors, a way to try its virtual marketing employee free

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Shopify’s acquisition of Kit seemed like an intriguing move toward giving small shop owners more of the power of a fully staffed retailer, using virtual assistants to help supplement functions like marketing. Now, Kit’s automated marketing abilities are available to test out for merchants looking to see what the personable bot is capable of before they commit to “hiring” the virtual helper.

Shopify’s new Favors feature for Kit will let it create two Facebook ad campaigns and promote two Facebook social posts (you’ll still have to pay Facebook for the ads, of course) free of charge, and it’ll also send out your first five thank you emails to customers upon purchase. The idea is that it’ll basically work for shop owners for free up until it essentially makes five sales on your behalf.

Kit founder Michael Perry explained in an interview that the purpose of doing this kind of trial, as opposed to a time-based free sampling of Kit’s service, was to help clearly demonstrate the marketing bot’s potential value for customers. Kit actually moved away from a free trial period to the new Favors model despite the success they were already seeing, Perry told me.

“We were converting at over 65 percent, from our trial users to paid customers, which, by industry standards is phenomenal,” Perry said. “We feel very, very confident that that percentage actually will go up. The biggest fear that small business owners have is they’re actually skeptical out the gate that Kit even works.”

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Perry believes that by lowering the barrier so that there isn’t even a requirement to put credit card details on file will help convince even the skeptical hold-outs to give Kit a shot, and drive their conversion rate higher. It’s clear that Shopify sees virtual shop assistance as a big part of what it can offer small merchants, and it makes sense because it’s a product offering that still has value regardless of where the sales are actually happening, since it can work with various online store endpoints.

Shopify uses a lot of anthropomorphism when talking about and marketing Kit, going so far as to pen its blog posts in first-person, and to use the word “hire” to refer to its subscription options, which include a $10 per month basic plan and a $25 per month Kit Pro offering. It’s a key distinction that helps Kit distinguish itself from other marketing automation software, but the approach beneath is also more about helping merchants who otherwise wouldn’t look at that kind of offering realize its benefits.

Using Shopify’s own logic, the new Favors approach is almost like an internship preceding a full hire, and it seems like a smart way to expand the reach of its shop-running bot further still.