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A Guide To eCommerce Personalisation

As the customer experience continues to play a key role in standing out, gaining more customers and increasing revenue, eCommerce personalisation has much to offer online retailers.

In fact, personalisation in marketing has a huge impact on user engagement, conversions, brand loyalty and advocacy – improving the customer experience all round.

So, how can you incorporate personalisation within your eCommerce marketing strategies?

In this guide, we discuss what eCommerce personalisation is as well as the benefits of the process. You’ll also find out how to make personalisation work for your online store and how to use behavioural targeting and dynamic content to enhance your personalised campaigns.

What is eCommerce personalisation?

eCommerce personalisation is a marketing strategy that targets products to potential customers based on the data that you have collected about their digital presence.

The kind of information that you collect determines the level of personalisation you use.

Although personalisation within eCommerce marketing has gained significant traction in the last five or six years, it’s not actually a new concept.

In fact, personalisation techniques have been traced back to the 1870s, when the first personalised direct marketing letters were sent out to businesses.

Modern personalisation, on the other hand, consists of many different layers, such as:

  • Location diagnosis
  • Tailoring the content of a message
  • Segmentation based on user demographics

In effect, eCommerce personalisation is the practice of delivering the right message at the right time and in the right place. Examples include a personalised email marketing campaign, product recommendations or location-based offers.

With real-time accessibility of data, eCommerce marketers can use information that directly targets the recipient as a single individual – increasing the likelihood of conversions.

In general, personalised marketing is often seen as the “key to success” in the digital world.

However, you should also keep in mind that personalisation can cause controversy.

While there is much evidence to suggest the process is beneficial, the fact that it is based on personal information can create discomfort for some customers.

A recent study has found 69% of Europeans believe businesses may misuse the personal information that they collect – being transparent is key.

In addition to this, GDPR has created a challenge for many online retailers to identify site visitors and gather as much data as possible. With the appropriate content, data can be stored but you must have a clear privacy policy and state how the data will be used.

Any successful eCommerce personalisation strategy must add value for the customer.

So, how do you determine what’s valuable?

McKinsey suggests using the following formula:

Value* = [Relevance + Timeliness / Loss of privacy] Trust

*Value to the customer

What are the benefits to personalisation?

Drives revenue  

From looking at eConsultancy’s Conversion Rate Optimisation Report, 93% companies have seen an increase in conversion rates when using personalised marketing strategies.

Moreover, the Salesforce State of Marketing Research shows that 77% of companies that delivered personalisation experienced revenue growth the following year. This figure stands at 93% for those who used an advanced personalisation strategy.

Improved customer experience

eCommerce personalisation enables retail companies to adapt the customer experience to the specific needs of an individual – listening to their needs, wants, emotions and personalities.

A recent survey by Cloud IQ has found that 64% of respondents expect an individualised experience, while over 80% think such an experience is important.

Customers seek relevant and personalised offers, to be listened to and remembered. 

Increased brand loyalty

A business that dedicates time and resources to implement a successful personalised marketing strategy will benefit from brand loyalty, customer satisfaction and repeat purchasing.

In fact, 44% of customers say that they will likely become repeat shoppers after a positive personalised shopping experience with a company.

On top of this, the same research found 32% of customers that experience personalisation will leave a positive online review and 39% will tell friends or family.

How do you make personalisation work for your store visitors?

Segmenting your website traffic is often the first step of personalisation as the closer you can get to the broad expectations of visitors, the more engaging experience you can create.

Here are six ways you can segment your website traffic:

  • New visitors, returning visitors who are customers, returning visitors who are not
  • Traffic sources (where the user arrived from, e.g. email campaign)
  • Geolocation or IP address – language, currency, country, region, city, weather
  • On-site behaviour
  • UTM parameters
  • Device – mobile, tablet or desktop

How do you show dynamic content (web content that changes based on the behaviour, actions and interests of the user) to these segments?

For starters, with new visitors, you may show a one-time discount coupon for a customer’s first order in exchange for signing up to your mailing list.

With returning visitor segments, you could display their previous browsing history on your homepage with a section titled something similar to “recently viewed items”.

Traffic sources can reveal a lot about an online shopper – including their intent, interests or industry.

For example, a source coming from Amazon may have a higher purchase intent than those coming from a social media website.

Here, you could offer this segmented group free shipping for one day only to encourage the likelihood of a completed purchase or a one-time discount coupon.

In terms of personalising based on geolocation or IP address, it might be an idea to personalise your prices dependent on the location of the site visitor, or perhaps make use of weather-based product recommendations.

eCommerce personalisation(Image from Pure360)

When using UTM parameters to segment a group of visitors, you can alternate between referral sources, different campaigns and content types.

Behavioural targeting for personalised marketing

Segmentation of your site visitors can only take you so far when it comes to personalisation.

The next step is to make use of behavioural targeting in order to transition into a one-to-one personalised marketing strategy.

This level of targeting goes beyond traditional demographic targeting and instead attempts to capture those who perform specific on-site actions and patterns, such as:

  • Number of previous site visits
  • Most frequented category pages
  • Guest vs. registered members
  • Purchase history
  • Referral traffic source
  • Geolocation (location, weather, temperature)
  • Devices used

Tracking and using this data enables you to create a one-to-one customer experience, which contributes to highly engaged customers and in turn directly impacts your revenue stream.

For example, consider Amazon.

Each person that visits the marketplace sees a completely different version of the homepage. Why? The leading business personalises each and every one.

Content personalisation helps retail companies to increase conversions and drive revenue.

In fact, a recent study from Evergage has found that 98% of eCommerce marketers believe that personalisation impacts customer relationships – with nearly 75% suggesting it has a strong or extreme impact on advancing these relationships.

Find out how to use artificial intelligence to enhance your personalisation strategies.

On-site personalised marketing: Dynamic content

Using behavioural data, you can create eCommerce personalisation strategies on your website.

One way in which you can accomplish this is through the use of dynamic content blocks.

Dynamic content blocks are specific areas on your webpages dedicated to providing customised content that is specific to groups or segments of site visitors.

For example, if you are a UK-based company you may offer free shipping for orders over £30 in a banner at the top of your website, and for a USA visitor this may change to £100.

eCommerce personalisation(Free People)

Such content blocks include modal pop-ups, banners and image sliders.

Another effective way to drive revenue through personalisation techniques is to use dynamic personalised product recommendations.

These personalised product recommendations are based on site visitor data, behavioural data and session history. The main objective is to increase the average order value of each shopping session per customer.

This can be achieved through cross-selling and up-selling strategies.

For instance, a fashion retail site may have a “you may also like” or “how to style” image slider section below the fold on a product page. These are product recommendations tailored to the user’s shopping history and product choice.

netty(Net-A-Porter)

Another example of dynamic content is the HTML content of a landing page or an email campaign that adapts itself to display information that is relevant for the customer based on location or previous interactions with your website.

Other common textual elements that could be transformed into dynamic content include:

  • Location
  • Weather
  • Temperature
  • System details (browser or device)
  • Name
  • Gender
  • Visited products
  • Previous actions on-site

What are the benefits of dynamic content?

On top of the advantages that come with personalisation, dynamic content can create a much more user-friendly experience and in turn increase KPIs such as bounce rate, return visits and conversions.

What’s more, once the page is live and active, it doesn’t need to be tended to again.

Need more inspiration? Check out these 15 eCommerce marketing ideas.

Off-site personalised marketing: Social media and email campaigns

In addition to on-site personalised marketing strategies, you can also deliver personalised experiences when customers aren’t on your website.

For instance, social media is likely to be a key channel to communicate with your customers and it is important to create custom audiences to target your existing customer base.

With some social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) you can create custom audiences for retargeting website traffic, based on the following insights:

  • Website visits
  • Product page visits
  • On-site searches
  • Products added to a shopping cart
  • Checkout sessions
  • Previous purchases

As you can respond to your customers in real-time, you can personalise each and every response to make them feel heard and listened to. Creating these personalised interactions can increase brand loyalty and brand reputation.

Another popular method to engage in off-site personalisation is through email marketing.

Did you know that emails that are personalised are 26% more likely to be opened and marketers have seen a 760% increase in revenue from personalised email campaigns?

Here’s what you can personalise within an email:

  • Customer name within email
  • Subject line (e.g. use of first name)
  • Email copy (e.g. gender, clothing size, birthday)
  • Email imagery (e.g. location-based images)
  • Dynamic content offers (e.g. showing menswear to male subscribers)

Looking for some email marketing best practices? Recover lost eCommerce sales with this abandoned cart template, examples and tools.

By integrating recent purchases or a customer’s browsing history into your personalised email marketing campaigns, you can create much more relevant and engaging emails that are likely to boost sales through cross-selling and up-selling.

Personalisation drives your sales and revenue

If one thing’s for certain, it’s that personalisation marketing helps to fuel business growth.

By showing relevant and engaging content with a personal touch, online retailers can quickly increase their sales and revenue, all while improving the customer experience.

51 ecommerce growth tips

Topics: eCommerce Marketing