Website personalization is the future of marketing. Personalization elevates the brand experience by reaching customers with messages, products and offers that speak to their individual needs. We’ll show you why you should be personalizing customers’ online experiences, how to do it, and what’s next for brands forging closer relationships with customers.
As e-commerce represents a larger (and growing) portion of retail sales, competition is really heating up. Standing out and providing an exceptional and memorable brand experience at every interaction helps companies capture and keep customers’ fleeting attention.
Customers want to engage with brands that “get them.” According to Zendesk, 78% of consumers are more likely to be repeat customers if a retailer provides them with targeted, personalized offers.
Personalization elevates the brand experience by reaching customers with messages, products and offers that speak to their individual needs. Whether it’s a coupon at an opportune time or a product recommendation when a customer is browsing, brands using personalization show customers that their time and business is important.
Personalizing the brand experience simply means figuring out who your customers are and what they want, and then giving it to them.
For example, let’s pretend a mom named Wendy visits the Sports Superstore website and signs up for emails, but doesn’t browse the site. Sports Superstore can begin building a relationship with Wendy using email, but they don’t know what she’s interested in or who she’s shopping for.
To entice Wendy to revisit their website, Sports Superstore emails her a 15% off coupon to thank her for joining their email list. Wendy browses children’s football jerseys, indicating to Sports Superstore (via web tracking) that she’s interested in children’s sportswear. She places a jersey in her cart, but is distracted before she completes her purchase.
Instead of giving up on Wendy, Sports Superstore sends her an abandoned cart email with images of the exact jersey she left in her cart. When she lands back on the website, the personalized homepage offers a special discount on children’s jerseys. Wendy uses the coupon code to complete her purchase, filling in her personal information and shipping preferences.
Sports Superstore slowly captures data to develop a complete profile of Wendy and her shopping interests. Meanwhile, Wendy is a happy customer – it’s always easy for her to find the products on her list at Sports Superstore, and she consistently gets a great deal.
The first step to personalizing the customer experience is figuring out core audience segments, called personas. Next, brands must identify typical behaviors each persona takes, so they recognize who they are and what they want.
Commerce companies can start by developing 3-5 personas representing about 80% of their customer base. Every customer will not fit neatly into a persona, and that’s perfectly fine.
Customer personas are also fluid. Wendy, for example, might fall under the “parent of an athlete” persona initially, but when she buys women’s running sneakers a few months down the line, she falls into the “female athlete” persona. Sports Superstore will want to tailor outreach at this point to adult active wear, until her browsing behavior indicates she’s back to shopping for her children.
A solid marketing automation program integrated with a content management system like Episerver can track a contact’s website and email activity, helping brands react in real-time with relevant offers and messages. By reacting to specific, identifiable behaviors, brands can consistently nurture a customer and guide them towards a purchase, regardless of whether their persona changes over time.
In the future, we predict personalization is the rule, not the exception, for brands trying to forge loyal relationships with customers. Why bother shouting the same generic message to an entire customer base when it will only persuade a small segment?
As technology improves, predictive personalization will get better and better. It will allow marketers to bend the environment (both online and offline) to the individual. Just think about all the data that can be collected from wearable technology. Imagine if we could apply that data to the retail environment – we could know that someone abandoned their in-store purchase and then follow up online.
Brands will be able to leverage their unparalleled access to customer data to tailor their marketing efforts to reflect individual customers and react to their changing needs and interests in real-time. (Still having a hard time picturing the personalized customer journey? Check out our simple personalization infographics for a B2C or B2B e-commerce company, or a services company, here.)
At the Episerver Ascend Conference, on November 9th at 5:10 p.m., I’ll be walking through our client Mud Pie’s personalized e-commerce website (built on WOW Commerce and powered by Episerver). I’ll demonstrate how Mud Pie leverages behavioral data from their website and email activity to deliver a truly personalized customer experience across every channel.