Importance of eCommerce Personalization in The Buyer Journey

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Personalized shopping experiences are the cornerstone of many brands’ business models. This display of excellent customer service and an enhanced buyer experience, tailored to customer needs and preferences, drives brand loyalty and increases the likelihood of larger, more frequent purchases from customers.

In the digital space, it’s difficult to achieve the level of customer service and engagement found in brick-and-mortar shops — but not impossible. Although the merchandising, sales staff, decor, and overall atmosphere of in-store shopping have a unique impact on shoppers, you can create a customized and thoughtful eCommerce experience with a few tips and tools.

In this article, we’ll discuss personalization in eCommerce and how you can take your digital customer experience to the next level.

Personalization in eCommerce

In eCommerce, personalization refers to a shopping experience customized for your customers based on their past engagements with your website.

Your brand needs to display dynamic content grounded in customer data like demographics, intent, preferences, browsing history, previous purchases, and device usage (e.g., whether the customer is shopping on the web, mobile, a tablet, or a smartwatch).

Data collection is the foundation of personalization. Several data collection points are critical to eCommerce personalization, including:

  • Traffic
  • On-site interactions
  • Email
  • Personal data
  • Paid media pixels
  • Purchases
  • Search
  • Pricing

By tracking these data points, you can make informed decisions based on reliable evidence. You can then implement the insights gained from these points into your personalization efforts, such as what the financial threshold is for customers, or what kinds of content are most likely to engage and convert them.

To be successful in your personalization efforts, it’s crucial you determine:

  • What data you’re tracking
  • Who you’re tracking
  • When you track that data (which should be in real time)
  • How you track (including tools used)

Avoid generalizing and making assumptions about your shoppers; not all traffic is the same, and individual intentions can vary enormously.

Why personalization is important

Giving your customers tailored experiences distinguishes your brand. A report from McKinsey & Company found that “…companies that excel at personalization generate 40 percent more revenue from those activities than average players.” It’s proven to help you stand out from the competition, which leads to several larger benefits.

Personalization also ensures the content displayed to your customers is relevant to them. Data from an Epsilon research survey revealed 80% of customers are likely to make a purchase when given personalized experiences. The opposite holds true as well: When brands fail to deliver a personalized experience, customers are more likely to seek out a competitor who will.

Increase sales

According to Infosys, over 85% of consumers say eCommerce personalization influences their behavior, and nearly 75% of marketers assert it increased their sales.

When you show shoppers relevant content, they’re more likely to engage with it and, eventually, complete a purchase. You can accomplish this by leveraging tools and widgets that allow you to:

  • Display recommended products for up-sell, cross-sell, or even down-sell opportunities
  • Show products to visitors “Based on your browsing history”
  • Customize floating headers or other offers based on visitor behavior, geography, and more

Build brand loyalty

More than 70% of consumers expect personalization from the brands and businesses they choose, which means your brand loyalty is at risk when you forgo tailoring your customers’ experiences.

As digital behaviors expand, so do consumer expectations — especially when major eCommerce leaders raise the bar for other companies. Brand loyalty increases when consumers see brands have made an effort to get to know their shoppers and demonstrate how well they know them. This can take the form of displaying relevant ads, offering targeted promotions, celebrating milestones like birthdays, and sending triggers based on behaviors, to name a few actions.

Boost customer engagement

Customers are more likely to engage with content that’s relevant to them, so the more personalized your content is to your customer, the higher your engagement rates will be. This creates a cycle where your customers increasingly engage with your content, making it easier for you to personalize it to boost engagement, etc.

You can derive valuable information from every interaction to deepen your knowledge of your customers. In turn, you can use that to craft more targeted marketing initiatives that will close more sales.

How to create a personalized experience for customers

A personalized online shopping experience begins with personalized marketing, where you study your existing customer data and collect actionable insights to steer your efforts. Research shows personalized marketing yields higher conversion rates, and with ever-rising CPCs and more discerning shoppers, personalization matters now more than ever.

According to McKinsey & Company, “consumers don’t just want personalization, they demand it,” so it’s critical to get this right and make it an integral part of your business model.

Communicate clearly

One of the simplest solutions to providing a personalized experience for your customers is through maintaining open communication. However, that communication has to be a two-way street.

Although you should strive to communicate your brand value proposition and product information to your customers, listen to their feedback as well to capture valuable data. Use form submissions, polls, and personalized opt-ins to gather this information and get to know your customers. This will help you understand their interests and needs on a deeper level and improve future communication.

Retarget

Retargeting, or remarketing, is the practice of showing customers ads based on previous interactions they’ve had with your business’s digital presence. This can range from engaging with social media content to browsing product pages or even adding items to cart.

When you retarget, you provide a personalized experience to customers by showing them content they’ve previously engaged with or that’s similar in nature, which produces a cohesive shopping experience.

Say thank you

Post-purchase communications are a prime opportunity to add a personal touch.

Rather than sending a generic thank you message, thank your customer by name and include the name of the product they purchased as well as any order updates you can provide in the message.

Tip: Include content that will help them get the most out of their purchase, such as a useful hint or demo video link.

Tailor messaging to customer activities/purchase habits

If you don’t offer subscriptions or auto-renewal of purchases, you can nevertheless send tailored messaging based on your customer’s previous purchase habits. The makeup company Clinique does this well: They send reminder emails to customers letting them know it may be time to replace their products.

You can deliver unique messaging at multiple touch points; remind customers they’ve left something in their cart, or show retargeting ads based on past browsing history. Whatever you choose, that messaging should be suited to your individual shoppers’ activities and interests.

Create offers based on customer actions

Customized offers based on customer actions are one of the best examples of personalization in eCommerce.

For example, when a customer purchases a particular product, you can send them offers based on complementary products that may help them get the most out of their original purchase.

Or, if a customer has left an item in their cart, that could trigger a special offer to close that sale, such as 10% off, free shipping, or a free gift with purchase.

Display location-based products & campaigns

If a customer lives in the desert, they probably don’t want to see ads for snow boots. Location-based campaign targeting shows customers content that’s more relevant and thus of interest to them so they’re more likely to engage with it.

To display products or campaigns based on location, you have to construct your campaigns around demographic data collected from your customers. These campaigns or displays can vary from product-specific (e.g., showing snow boots to people who live in places where snow is common) to area-specific, like showing state- or city-themed items.

Upsell, cross-sell, & downsell

Upsell, cross-sell, and downsell opportunities are relatively easy ways to personalize the shopping experience for your customers.

When your customer has engaged with a particular product or added it to their cart, you can showcase other items through the widgets on your site. These can include:

  • Cross-selling opportunities, such as showing products that complement the item(s) your customer is considering
  • Upselling opportunities, like displaying a larger or newer — and usually more expensive — version of the item(s) the customer has engaged with
  • Downselling opportunities, which include showing customers a smaller, less advanced, and usually less expensive version(s) of a product or products the customer is looking at (usually if you notice they are about to exit)

These actions can help your customer find the product best-suited to their needs, providing excellent customer service and increasing the likelihood they’ll complete checkout.

Streamline site navigation

When visitors arrive on your website, they don’t want to spend time clicking from page to page to find what they’re looking for. Instead, use your navigation to personalize the experience for new and repeat customers by helping them reach relevant content. This saves them time and boosts your conversion rates.

For example, you may ask a first-time visitor to your online store to select the type of product they want and direct them accordingly. When a customer returns to your website, you could display a unique-to-them banner based on their previous browsing history to help them search.

Personalize opt-ins

Just like online traffic, not all customer preferences are the same, so it’s imperative you personalize opt-ins for your customers to ensure they receive the content they want and avoid what they don’t.

Allow customers to select their opt-in preferences when signing up for newsletters and other communications. These could include options like:

  • Helpful hints
  • New product releases
  • Deals and promotions
  • General business news
  • Frequency of communications

Helpful tools

During the early days of business, you may be able to stay on top of personalization efforts manually, but as you scale and grow, you’ll likely need to automate them. There are dozens of tools available to support personalization efforts, from data collection to enabling website edits quickly and easily. We’ve listed a few recommendations to get you started:

OptinMonster

OptinMonster is a popular lead generation software that marketing agencies, eCommerce websites and small businesses use to help them grow their subscriber lists and build their businesses.

The software’s value lies in its behavior automation capabilities, which can help eCommerce professionals unlock maximum revenue by reducing cart abandonment rates and improving conversions. This automation allows the platform to glean information from your customers and grow your subscriber lists so you can focus on other aspects of your business.

OptinMonster offers both a WordPress plugin and a Shopify app — among other options — for a seamless add-on to your online store. With this platform, you can create:

  • Personalized exit-intent pop-ups to help you recover lost revenue from abandoned shopping carts
  • Floating headers to promote flash sales and deals with countdown banners (which are personalized to each visitor)
  • Coupons and other lead magnet offers based on visitor behavior to help you convert hesitant shoppers into email subscribers for future email marketing opportunities

WPForms

WPForms is a form builder for WordPress boasting easy form creation for your website, including payment forms, contact forms, registration forms, and more. It also offers a powerful personalization feature you can use to boost sales by:

  • Creating surveys or polls to learn more about customers for improved targeting
  • Sending personalized thank you emails to every visitor who submits a form on your website
  • Collecting and storing geolocation data along with form submissions so you can better segment email lists and craft location-based offers

Of course, being a WordPress form builder, WPForms is only applicable to websites hosted on WordPress.

Barilliance

If your goal is to produce a personalized experience throughout the full customer journey, then Barilliance is for you. Its AI-driven product recommendations personalizes and then automates cross-sell and upsell opportunities across all customer touchpoints. Meanwhile, its website customization ensures your visitors are targeted with real-time, tailored messages and offers to increase sales.

Barilliance also includes cart abandonment and customer retention tools, live shopping notifications, and more.

Salesforce B2B Commerce

Salesforce’s B2B Commerce solution uses its Einstein AI software to help online retailers tailor product recommendations for all web visitors.

The solution provides unified data to personalize each interaction to grow revenue across channels thanks to its automation, AI, and single data source that unifies touchpoints. This enables you to convert more customers and drive loyalty as you provide a seamless customer journey from beginning to end.

Bunting

Bunting allows you to create personalized website content for each visitor. It offers solutions based on your selected pain point or primary focus: Acquire Traffic, Convert Visitors, or Retain Customers.

Specifically, you should look at Personalize, an AI-powered solution that earns more sales by customizing the visitor experience through product recommendations, website personalization, urgency and social proof, and cart abandonment reduction tools.

Wrapping up — Upgrade your buyer experience through eCommerce personalization

By adding personal touches throughout the buyer journey, you transform their experience from a basic transaction to a thriving relationship. Building these connections deepens loyalty, increases customer lifetime value, and leaves them with a great impression of your brand — which your shoppers may then share with their friends and family and on social media.

Personalizing various aspects and tailoring suggestions, messages, and offers to your customers can have stronger impacts on more than your bottom line. It can grow your brand, enrich shoppers’ experiences, and produce loyal customers.