Every day, your customers are exposed to over 4,000 advertisements, including yours. Long term, this means your customers are gradually becoming de-sensitized to your advertising, no matter how much time and effort you are putting into it. So what’s a brand to do?
There is no single solution that works for every business, but one marketing technique works for every customer: ecommerce personalization.
What is ecommerce personalization?
ecommerce personalization is the practice of giving customers an individualized sales experience while selling over the internet. Today, ecommerce personalization is made possible by three pieces of data your business collects:
- A customer’s browsing and sales data.
- A customer’s demographic information.
- Brand-wide sales-trend information.
This information is then used to tailor the customer experience on your website, social media, and through the pay-to-product process. When it’s done right, ecommerce personalization focuses your sales experience around your customers rather than your products.
Over the past five years, personalization has steadily grown in popularity, with experts calling it the marketing trend of the decade. In 2019, a study of over 2,000 US consumers found that 43% are more likely to purchase from a company that offers a personalized experience than a company that doesn’t.
The same study also concludes that a lack of personalization cost global businesses over $756 billion in lost revenue last year. With that in mind, it’s safe to say personalization is pretty important to the online shopping experience.
Image via SmartInsights
Embracing ecommerce personalization can help your business to:
- Meet the needs of new and existing customers.
- Build a long-lasting relationship with customers.
- Develop an authentic (yet effective) relationship marketing strategy.
- Keep loyal customers choosing you over your competition.
- Increase the size of each customer order.
- Grow your revenue long term, without the need for hard selling.
To implement these personalization tactics into your business, you’ll need to develop a set of marketing strategies that provide your customers with an authentic, creative and engaging sales experience. I’ve got plenty of ideas for how to do this next.
Ecommerce personalization strategies
Before we dive into personalization tips and tricks, let’s talk about lousy personalization. When it’s implemented poorly, it:
- Looks cringy
- Is personal for the wrong customer
- Uses gender, sex, race and demographic stereotypes to predict customer behavior
- Focuses on hard-selling rather than relationship building
Instead, the best personalization strategies rely on building a ‘communal relationship.’ A communal relationship is when the customer sees a brand as a caring and trusting partner, rather than a business pushing a product for profit.
A well-maintained communal relationship with customers will increase your profits long-term, ultimately providing a better return-on-investment than any hard-sell.
With that in mind, here are eight of my best strategies for ecommerce personalization.
1. Make relevant recommendations based on buyer behavior
The most effective form of personalization is also one of the most simple: personalized recommendations. These are suggested products that appear on screen while a customer browses your website.
Personalized recommendations are generated using a recommendation algorithm that tracks customer browsing history and compares it to previous customers’ pre-sales behavior. For example, an algorithm on a drugstore website is likely to recommend an 8-ounce bottle of conditioner when a customer adds an 8-ounce bottle of shampoo to their cart.
Today, the three most effective forms of personalization come in the form of these three sentences:
- “Visitors who viewed this product also viewed...”
- “Visitors who viewed this product ultimately bought...”
- You might also like...”
Product recommendation algorithms go beyond the website experience; using customer profile data can also be leveraged in any messaging or ad campaign, too. For example, merchants use Octane AI's drag-and-drop ecommerce quiz builder to build product recommenders, gift finders, routine finders, size finders and more.
While website visitors take the quiz, Octane AI collects detailed insights about a customer's likes, dislikes, preferences, needs, demographics and more based on the quiz questions. The customer's answers and results pages get saved in a dashboard where the merchant can sync the customer data to create personalized paid ads, email, SMS or Facebook Messenger campaigns.
Want to learn more about how you can use quizzes to create personalized ecommerce experiences? We have a FREE 400+ Playbook on how to get started.
2. Hyper-personalize website navigation
If you’d prefer to make your website a little more cozy for customers, hyper-personalizing your website is a great option. This means you build your website’s user interface to adapt to the behavior of customers. This may include strategies that:
- Adjust your website around the customer’s time zone and currency.
- Show your customer a manually translated version of your website in their native tongue.
- Use the customer’s Google account to greet them personally.
- Suggest website pages that relate to the customer’s browsing habits.
More sophisticated websites may also feature games, interactive quizzes or even calculators. For a great example of a website calculator, check out SleepJunkie’s calculator, which helps readers learn about their sleep habits.
Image via SleepJunkie
Alternatively, you could use directed choices to give customers a personal tour of your software. Directed choices don’t ask if a customer wants to see a demo; they ask what the customer wants to see first.
A great example of a directed choice can be seen on WeCanTrack’s homepage. Instead of offering customers a try-at-demo software, the first thing customers view on the homepage are visuals regarding the dashboard, prompting them to click through and explore.
Image via WeCanTrack
The best hyper-personalized websites have one thing in common: they never allow customers to fall into an information silo. An information silo is a website that contains no links to other pages. This leaves customers with nowhere else to explore, causing them to exit both your website and your sales funnel.
3. Leverage geo-location targeting
Whether you are selling a localized or globalized product, adapting your shopping experience around your customer’s location is essential. For that, you’ll need geo-location targeting.
Geo-location targeting (sometimes called local PPC) is the practice of delivering geography-specific marketing to customers. This includes:
- Text and internet-based messages customers receive when they walk past your store, ad or headquarters.
- Information webinars in local languages.
- Google ads targeted at specific geographic locations.
- Programming that changes your website to reflect the season and weather of your customer’s location.
- Reflecting the customer’s local time and date on your website or software.
When done correctly, geo-location targeting allows you to personalize your marketing to your customers, build a reputation in a set area and engage global customers in a localized way.
Pro tip: When choosing marketing automation software, check to see if your preferred provider includes geo-location targeting features. This will allow you to embrace geo-location targeting without putting in any extra legwork.
4. Take ecommerce offline
Every day, your customers are receiving an average of 121 emails. This means that while your promotional emails are opened by 15-25% of your customers, the remainder loses your emails amidst an overfilled inbox.
If you’d like to leave a lasting impression on customers, consider marking it personal with some good old-fashioned offline marketing. While online marketing is cheaper, offline marketing goes that extra mile, showing your customers that you care enough to invest in making them happy.
I’m not talking about billboard advertisements or 30-second TV ads. Instead, I’m referring to creative marketing that interacts with the customer personally. Here are some examples of offline marketing with that personal touch:
- QR codes printed on posters around the city.
- Mail marketing campaigns sent to loyal customers.
- Yearly free conventions providing product tutorials.
- Mailed-out information packs for customers.
- Innovative product packaging for physical products.
The right offline marketing strategy for you depends on three things: timing, personalization and creativity.
Pro tip: To ensure your marketing sounds professional, use ‘read my essay’ software to check for any grammar, spelling and continuity errors.
5. Add a live chat bar to your website
When it comes to personalization, it doesn't get more personal than person-to-person sales. Online, salespeople generally operate through live chat bars. Live chat bars are chat boxes available on the corner of your website (just like in the picture below).
Image via Chanty
When a customer visits the chat bar, they are connected with a person who can help answer their questions, direct them around the website or help them choose the right product for them.
While chat bars may seem like an expensive and time-consuming task for your customer service representatives, they offer the following benefits:
- Increased customer loyalty
- A lower website bounce rate
- A substantial long-term return-on-investment
- An increase in the average size of a customer order
- Decrease returns as customers choose the right product or service the first time
You don’t need to build your chat bar either. There are plenty of off-the-shelf chat boxes that can be integrated into your CRM (customer relationship management) software.
6. Personalize the experience for first-time and returning visitors
When designing your ideal customer experience, it’s essential to keep in mind that existing and new customers’ needs are different. Generally, existing customers will respond to gratitude for their business, while new customers react to being welcomed.
The best way to provide a personalized ecommerce experience is to create different sales funnels for new and existing customers. You can do this through:
- Using a website landing page with a login feature that recognizes customers.
- Running different email marketing campaigns for new and existing customers.
- Showing different website content for new and existing customers, including other images, videos and different calls to action.
- Encouraging existing customers to join your social community while inviting new customers to your mailing list.
Another great way to personalize customers’ sales experience is to make your website language more personal than professional. Your customers are all human, and sometimes we like a little humor sprinkled into our work lives. For a great example of that personal touch, check out this review on Planable.io’s homepage.
Image via Planable.io
7. Personalize your pricing
Give each customer personalized pricing. Generally, we sell products with two pricing models: uniform pricing (one price for all) and personalized pricing, which charges each customer a different amount.
There are three degrees of personalized pricing (sometimes called ‘price discrimination’), including:
- First degree personalized pricing: customers can negotiate the price they pay with the company. Often seen when purchasing a car, house or large appliance sales.
- Second-degree personalized pricing: companies set personalized prices based on the customer’s purchase history and popularity of the item, like airplane seats, hotel rooms and car rentals.
- Third-degree personalized pricing: customers pay a base price, with discounts given for students, low-income earners, senior citizens, children and other groups with low purchasing power.
Personalized pricing relies on a slightly different sales funnel, as customers often need to make contact with a salesperson. Although this might seem strange in an ecommerce setting, person-to-person sales can easily be facilitated through chat bars, interactive quizzes or even social media-based sales.
8. Provide personalized incentives
If personalized pricing isn’t suitable for your business, offer personalized incentives for customers. There are two forms of incentives: sales incentives and content incentives.
Personalized sales incentives are already commonplace online and include marketing techniques like:
- Customer-specific discounts
- Buy-one-get-one-free offers
- Review-for-reward discounts
- Anniversary sales email postcards
Sales incentives providing customers with a financial reward. Alternatively, content incentives offer customers high-quality information for free. This includes ebooks, webinars, how-to guides, industry reports, videos, blog posts and podcasts.
Content incentives are designed to strengthen the relationship between you and your customer, offering them expertise that helps them get the most out of your product.
Ready to get personal with your customers?
Ultimately, establishing game-changing ecommerce personalization strategies for your business will take some trial and error. As with all other marketing techniques, the best strategies for you will align with your business’s three pillars.
- Your customers
- Your products
- Your branding
Keep your focus customer-first, and you’ll master ecommerce personalization in no time.
To get started with Ecommerce Personalization, download Octane AI's free 400+ personalization playbook. You'll learn about tons of tips, tricks, strategies and tools to help ramp up your personalization game.