What is Ecommerce Personalization?

The collection of data from website visitors and the analysis and the use of this data to not only segment customers into multiple profiles, but to show real-time personalized recommendations and relevant products to each individual based on their activity and the activity of similar people.

There is an important statement here – ‘based on their activity and the activity of similar people’ – to achieve true personalization it is important to invest in a system that learns about a customer from two data sets:

  • All of your customers, to learn about general product trends and best sellers
  • Only customers who act in a similar way to that individual, to truly understand what that type of person would most likely be interested in

The likelihood is that you already have the ability to view the data from the first dataset, it may be a manual process but you should have access to your top viewed products, most purchased items etc. What personalization does is split this data into multiple profiles and automate the whole process, spotting the patterns it would be impossible for the human eye to see.

When considering personalization it is important to understand that a personalization solution is often made up of multiple products for example site search, product recommendations and email marketing. As part of every personalization solution, segmentation should come as standard (it’s impossible to personalize without this feature!).

Here’s a quick overview of each module:

Site Search.

I think all Ecommerce and Marketing Managers understand the importance of a feature-rich, engaging site search feature. Customers now expect to be able to quickly type in a term and be directed to either the exact product they had in mind or something very similar. Customers also expect this to happen extremely quickly, and I think we’re all guilty of tapping a word into a search box that only slightly resembles what we actually meant (thank you, autocorrect!).

A personalized site search solution should include:

  • A feature-rich base including the ability to correct misspellings, add in synonym rules, add stop words and search by content rather than products
  • Present an autocomplete dropdown featuring relevant search terms, products and brands
  • Auto-generate product filters based on your website’s product feed
  • Show personalized product recommenders where ‘no results’ are found
  • Present product results in the most relevant order based on customer segments
  • Give you the ability to ‘push’ products to the top for certain search terms and/or segments
Product Recommendations (or Personalized Merchandising).

Personalized Merchandising is, in basic terms, responsible for all of the personalized content areas across your website. When you implement this product you will set certain areas that you would like to personalize (such as a homepage banner or ‘you may like’ zone on your product page). These areas are then yours to configure as you like. Your personalization software should allow you to set the system to run itself and determine the best content for each of these zones, and also allow you to manually set each one.

For example, you may want to show offer of ‘£10 off when you spend £100’ for a high spending customer and ‘10% off your first order’ for a new visitor.

A Personalized Merchandising solution should include:

  • Ability to manually upload different types of content (image, recommender, HTML)
  • Responsive support
  • A variety of different personalized recommenders to choose from (such as ‘based on your basket’)
  • The ability to add zones into any page template
  • A ‘run itself’ feature for when you are tied up managing seasonal campaigns
Automated Email Marketing.

We all know how powerful email marketing is and segmentation as a method has been successfully used for many years now. So, what’s different with personalized email marketing? The majority of the emails are sent based on a trigger. For example, if someone has not made a purchase in 6 months or has abandoned their basket.

A personalized Automated Email Marketing solution should include:

  • Ability to upload bespoke templates
  • Full control over campaigns including how long after an event the email is sent
  • Ability to insert product recommenders/personalized content
  • An option to export behavioral data to feed into further email marketing campaigns

Finally, one of the most important elements to consider when reviewing ecommerce personalization solutions is the reporting. It is key that you invest in a system that offers real-time reporting per segment – this will enable you to quickly set up new rules, understand how each profile is performing and plan future marketing campaigns.