Retail spending is increasingly taking place in digital environments. The pandemic only bolstered this trend, creating new digital shopping habits for millions of shoppers across all demographics.
In turn, ecommerce personalization has allowed retailers to make customers feel that their online shopping experience is tailored to their needs. There are a variety of ecommerce personalization tools available to help businesses manage consumer data and act on it.
For businesses entering or competing in the ecommerce space, it’s important to understand your ability to create personalized online shopping experiences. First, you need to understand the liabilities around how much personally identifying information (PII) you can collect and find a personalization system to collect and act on this information.
It’s one thing to have the right systems in place, but the real competitive advantage comes in when you act on your insights. It’s essential to always be testing different iterations of personalization.
Personalization: The Vanguard of Customer Service
Do you meet the data personalization expectations of modern, digital-native consumers?
Modern consumers understand the trade-offs that come with being online and supplying businesses with some of their personal information, whether explicitly, like data in a form, or implicitly, such as the items left in their cart. These consumers expect that you will use this information to make their online shopping experience better.
You owe it to your customers to develop ecommerce personalization strategies that benefit them and their shopping experience.
For a traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience, it can be difficult to track every customer and their experiences with your company. But the online experience has changed that.
With Customer Data Platforms and Customer Relationship Management platforms, you can automatically pull customer data from digital and physical interactions, and those records can be stored and acted upon in various ways, both digital and analog.
It’s important to have a human side to your business, but how do you maintain that as you scale?
CRMs are a way to store all customer interactions so that when you do speak face-to-face or over the phone to a customer, you can reference a file of their previous purchases, experiences and interactions.
That way, when they speak to a few different people (from sales to service to complaints), all the information and outcomes are recorded so that the next person to speak to this customer is fully informed. They can even offer personalized discounts to show the customer how valued they are.
Automating Ecommerce Personalization
Once you start to apply the principles of personalization to your ecommerce store, you can test your tactics and measure the response from your actions.
When developing personalization tactics, you have to understand trends, patterns and behaviors in your various customer profiles and how the customer moves through your funnel on their purchasing journey.
It requires upfront effort and regular testing to see what messaging, timing and audiences work for your ecommerce store. But you can easily scale personalization, so the same effort applies whether you’re at 50 customers, 50,000 customers or 5,000,000. When you have larger data sets, your testing might run even quicker, and you can apply the learning outcomes faster than when your audience was smaller.
For example, the team at TurboTax does the bulk of their testing during tax season because that’s when they can reliably have vast sums of data to make new assumptions. Every week during tax season, they come up with experiments to test their assumptions, and then they let the tests run over the weekend. When they come back to work on Monday, they begin making sense of the data and start creating more experiments to run for the following weekend.
In 2006, TurboTax experimented with just one tweak to their website during tax season; in 2012, they ran hundreds of experiments and rapidly increased the quality of their product.
Your process for applying scalable ecommerce personalization tactics to your website should have the following three steps:
- Design how your personalization efforts are executed.
- Develop a process for testing iterations of different messaging and customer profiles.
- Employ these scalable ecommerce personalization tactics, so as your business grows, you benefit from the increased amount of data you acquire.
The point is to start practicing personalization tactics so that the processes you employ for your enterprise are so lean and optimized that the actual application of the processes you designed early on is a quick and easy habit – just the normal course of business.
Six Ecommerce Personalization Tactics That Scale
1. Personalizing Product Recommendations
Develop ways to show related and relevant products to your customers, whether on the product page or in the cart.
Most commonly, you might see a “customers also bought” section on a product or cart page. This can be configured with on-page widgets from your ecommerce host, like Shopify.
But you can also create product selections that compliment the purchase a customer intends to make, like showing hats and gloves when the customer has a winter jacket in their cart.
You should also personalize product recommendations in your emails. You can do this by using CRMs to segment audiences that bought similar products and then send emails out automatically based on parameters like how much time has passed since their purchase or when items are on sale.
2. Continue Shopping for Returning Customers
You can use the same personalization widgets used to make personalized recommendations to show customers the items they had been looking at during prior visits to your website.
By showing them products they’ve already looked at, you’re letting them frictionlessly continue their online shopping experience. It makes it easier for them to find what they’re looking for and buy what they’ve been looking at.
3. Personalized Bestseller Lists
You can keep a bestseller list updated on your website in real-time that lets users know what products are hot right now. To make this strategy more effective, you can use further segmentation to build landing pages for different subsets of your customers and present them with the best-selling products that fit their needs.
If you’re an ecommerce company that sells shoes, it’s not necessarily helpful to show all of your website visitors the top sneakers being purchased at any given time. On the other hand, showing women the top women’s bestsellers or female runners the most popular women’s running shoes would be.
You can segment by location, gender or other demographic features and be rewarded with more successful CTRs and conversions.
4. In-Session Retargeting with Pop-Ups
There are several personalization tools that can trigger pop-ups to react to in-session behavior. A trigger could be something like a user moving their mouse as if they’re about to close out of the tab.
You can use further segmentation to change the messaging in your pop-ups. So, when a new user looks like they’re about to leave, show them a free shipping code or offer returning users a 10% discount. You can even offer tiered discounts or rewards depending on a customer’s value.
If you’re using a CRM, you can even use predictive analytics to determine the expected lifetime value of any given prospect and offer a scaled discount depending on that prediction.
5. Manage Customer Emails and Phone Numbers in a CRM
Direct engagement is more efficient if it’s consistent, and a CRM is a great way to keep track of customer data and act on it in an efficient, scalable way.
You can use a CRM to create ‘if this, then that’ recipes that trigger marketing actions. It might look like following up with new customers with a cart abandoned campaign or checking in with people who have recently purchased something. The more high-value the cohort, the more nuanced and appreciative the messaging should be.
Nurture your existing customers and optimize for lifetime value; that’s where the most profitable margins exist.
6. Pace Your Retargeting Budgets
Retargeting can get expensive. Because leads get colder the longer it has been since they visited your website, the likelihood of someone converting one day after visiting your site is higher than someone that visited your site a week ago. Bid on those audiences accordingly.
Segment your retargeting audiences depending on how long it has been since they visited your website, and use an audience manager so that retargeting lists are automatically updated.
For bigger budgets, we like to use 2-day, 7-day and 14-day audiences. This allows you to cap your bids depending on the likelihood of conversion and manage your spending.
When to Invest in Ecommerce Personalization Tools
It’s not enough to install Google Analytics and a Facebook Pixel to optimize your ecommerce site and get ahead of the competition. The kind of platforms and systems you integrate into your ecommerce site early on sets the pace for your ecommerce store’s success. Make sure you incorporate systems that scale so that your personalization still comes across as personal as your business grows.
There are several CRMs for ecommerce websites that are designed to optimize for ecommerce personalization. The sooner you integrate a CRM into your ecommerce site, the sooner you can test iterations of customer segments and audience-specific messaging. By the time you scale, you will have the personalization side of the system nailed down, and you will just need to focus on sustaining those amazing customer experiences.