What is website personalisation?
Website personalisation (or also commonly known as ecommerce personalisation) is, typically, a piece of software that creates tailored experiences for the individual user driven by machine learning. It is basically a solution for ecommerce brands to create personalised experiences for each of their visitors.
There’s many different tools that can be associated with website personalisation. Some of the most effective and most used features are; AI product recommendations, dynamic content, pop ups, live chat, email and search (but more on this later).
The reason why an ecommerce store might opt to have website personalisation is to optimize user experience, which in turn maximizes conversion rate, average order value, online sales and all the other lovely metrics that we like to see nice and high.
Website personalisation can be broken down into two main categories:
- Explicit personalisation: Explicit website personalisation is when a user experience is tailored to you based on criteria that you set. For example, some sites ask you to explicitly personalise your web experience by selecting your geolocation and other factors. These preferences are then saved as cookies which allows you to skip this step on your second visit.
- Implicit personalisation: Is the kind of personalisation that Amazon uses to up sell and cross sell recommended products. It is based on behavior data and customer data between the products, people and content.
In this article we will discuss why website personalisation is important, in particular we will look at implicit personalisation, the challenges that you might face, what tools can be used and how to get started. Let’s jump in!
Why is personalisation important for all ecommerce stores?
User experience is everything. And creating one that converts more ecommerce customers requires empathy. Demonstrating to customers that you really understand them and value them is what drives sales. More than two thirds (68%) of website visitors actively expect empathy from the retailers they buy from – but only a third or so (37%) say they’re actually seeing that empathy.
Retailers are rushing to plug the gap. It’s now top priority for 45.9% of ecommerce businesses, versus 33.6% for product development and 20.5% for pricing strategy. As one CMO put it in our research into the SMEs’ martech priorities for 2021: “No one can afford to be left behind. You can hang on in there and get by but eventually you will be left behind if you don’t keep up.”
But what does ‘keeping up’ mean in practice? Ecommerce personalisation means taking a customer-centric approach. It allows you to tailor every step of the customer journey to the individual. Accounting for their unique habits and preferences. Showing them the things they’ll really want or need – perhaps even before they know it.
The one-size-fits all methodology will no longer suffice in the ever-changing world of ecommerce. Smaller businesses need to consider new forms of communication and engagement in order to compete with the likes of Amazon and their fellow online competitors. I am almost certain that if you don’t prioritise your customer’s unique experiences, then your competitor will – and they are the ones that are more likely to convert.
How to get started with website personalisation
Ecommerce personalisation software, like PureClarity’s, helps you get to know every customer like they’re your best friend. By monitoring their visitor behavior and habits, you can see clearly what they’re interested in and segment them more effectively – thus showing them the products and marketing messages to enhance their digital experience and, therefore, convert them.
A few of the behaviours you can see include:
- Search behaviour: If a customer uses the search bar on your site, they’re doing all the work for you; they’re telling you exactly what they’re looking for. Or if people usually land on your site from Google, you can see what they’ve been searching for in Google Analytics or a similar platform.
- Browsing history: Here we’re looking for patterns of behaviour in the things they’re viewing on your site. Maybe they’ve looked at the same pair of curtains three times; that suggests they’re very interested in the product and so they’re likely to buy them if you give them a nudge (like a personalised pop up).
Or maybe they’re viewing a similar range of products in a predictable timeframe, like a grooming product every couple of months, or sweets around the time of a religious festival each year, or PlayStation games at Christmas. Whatever their browsing habits look like, they’re a clear indication of the person’s purchase intention – which you can then capitalise on to increase conversions.
- Where they’re browsing from and when: a customer’s location can suggest a lot about why they’re on your site. If you know where in the world they are, you can also discern what time it is for, what the weather’s like, and their cultural tendencies and behaviours; like if somebody in the Middle East is browsing gift hampers, you know they’ll almost certainly opt for one that doesn’t include wine.
- Basket abandonment: if a customer has reached the checkout stage then abandoned their basket, that suggests something at the end of their buying journey has put them off – like slow or expensive shipping. So you could tempt them back in by following up with a personalised email offering a better deal, like free shipping with the costs absorbed by the business.
When to personalise the customer journey
It is important to cover all customer touchpoints when it comes to ecommerce personalisation, to ensure that you are meeting their unique needs at every step of the customer journey.
- Before they land
If somebody viewed a particular product on your site before – say, three weeks ago – but didn’t commit to the purchase, they might have forgotten about it now. But a personalised reminder about the product in an email or targeted social ad might be all they need to come back and buy it; perhaps it’s been payday since then, or they’ve had time to realise they really need it.
- When they’re on the site
Personalisation can be at its most effective in a two-way dialogue between customer and business. Live Chat gives you a way to talk to customers directly, and can make a big impact on customer experience; almost eight in 10 businesses say implementing live chat resulted in increased loyalty, sales & revenue. You can ask them what they’re looking for, help them with any product or service queries and, most importantly, recommend the products that are right for them.
- After they’ve made the purchase
Personalised customer experience doesn’t end at the checkout. You can also stay in touch by tailoring your email marketing to every individual’s behaviours and preferences. It could be promotional, with overtly sales-focussed messaging like discounts and offers addressing them by name – perhaps strategically timed, like a month after they’ve bought a consumable people often buy regularly.
Or it could be more informative; you could provide content that gives them useful information about the product they’ve just bought. Somebody who bought a leather purse would probably value a blog showing them how to care for it properly, for example; someone who bought some cake mix would probably like to see a new recipe or two. This kind of content doesn’t just build brand trust; it also, of course, brings the person back onto your site.
Website personalisation tools and features
- Intelligent product recommendations, powered by AI, use large amounts of customer browsing data to identify patterns and trends in what people are looking at. People in a specific region, for example, might gravitate towards certain products – reflecting, perhaps, cultural attitudes, climate or average income.
Product recommendations use machine learning to predict what each customer segment is most likely to want, recommending the best products for them in a ‘you may also like’ carousel or similar. It’s a way to personalise your site based on real-world data, rather than assumptions. It saves marketers time by using AI automation to show relevant content to the right online visitors.
- Pop ups are most often used to capture contact details. Research suggests between two and seven in 10 customers will enter their email when prompted by a popup, depending what’s offered in return; the sweetener is typically a discount or offer, like free or faster shipping.
They’re also an ideal place to address your customers by name; if they’ve bought something before, you know who they are, and you can reward their loyalty with an offer that looks like it’s unique to them.
- Dynamic content such as personalised banners are ideal to personalise your homepage; they’re often the first thing a customer sees – so they can make a big impact. They, too, might address a customer by their name or introduce an offer that’s tailored to them. It is good to include a strong CTA in your banners to increase conversion. For instance, include a welcome banner that greets your customers and draws their attention to a CTA: “Hey Hannah, nice to see you again. Use code SALE10 to receive 10% off your next order.”
- Search personalisation means showing customers relevant products and offers on the results page. That might mean showing different customer segments different products from one category depending on their demographic or other factors, or promoting a particular brand based on your current sales goals. Or it could mean incentivising cross sells and up sells (more on this below), building awareness of products they’re not yet familiar with.
- Live chat is another element of personalisation. Utilise current and past activity to help you convert your customers in real-time. Our live chat feature is 100% ecommerce focused, meaning you are provided with a full profile and behaviours of the customer that is messaging you, given the ability to make live recommendations, and leverage segmentation tools.
- Personalised email is all about re-engaging those who’ve bought something in the past or provided their email. You’re looking to their customer’s interest at just the right time to bring them back onto your site. Common ways to personalise an ecommerce email include the subject line, who it comes from, the customer’s name and the imagery.
- Audience segments or customer segments are groups of online visitors based on a number of factors such as geolocation, demographics, contextual, behavioral data, and more. They can be as specific as you like. The best way to approach this is by using an ideal customer persona model and creating different segments for each persona (e.g. female, lives in the UK and uses a mobile). The idea being that the more targeted them are the more effective they will be at converting your online visitors to loyal customers. For instance, a popular segment created is first time visitors or returning visitors. You can target customer profiles that meet this criteria with specific content.
- Real time analytics and data insights. Ecommerce personalisation software gives you insights into your campaign, product and customer data. Monitoring these metrics allows you to understand what’s working and what’s not, where the opportunities are and which campaigns have the best conversion rates, click-through rates and engagement levels.
Misconceptions of personalising your website
Earlier last year we conducted some research around the perceptions of AI and personalisation. In summary we found that brands believed that there were four main barriers to website personalisation:
- Time consuming: Out of the 250 SME businesses that we interviewed a high percentage believed that they didn’t have the right amount of time or resource to manage website personalisation software. Luckily, with the advances in today’s technology AI-driven software is more automated than ever, meaning that the software not only delivers you the results but reduces man hours!
- Expensive: I agree that when you hear words like “AI and personalisation software” it does sound like it is going to come with a big price tag. But it doesn’t have to be. We understand that not all businesses generate as much as Amazon, that’s why our personalisation solution is affordably priced based on page views and why all our tools and features are included in one set price.
- Complex integration: Understandably there is some level of integration with ecommerce personalisation. However, we integrate with all ecommerce platforms and have made the onboarding process as simple as possible. No developers are required.
- Lack of understanding: Brands stated that the reasons why they were reluctant to implement personalisation was due to a lack of understanding of what the software does and how it can benefit their ecommerce store. Below we will take a look at the main benefits and how brands can optimize their website metrics through personalisation.
What are the benefits of website personalisation?
Boosts AOV, conversion rate and online sales
- Encourage your customers to spend more and return time after time by showing personalised offers and products relevant to them through dynamic content.
- Allow ecommerce personalisation to effectively upsell and cross-sell your products in real time to increase product quantities in basket and increase average order value.
Optimizes landing pages
- Personalisation reduces the bounce rate on web pages by ensuring that only relevant content appears.
- Optimize your website content.
Cost effective digital marketing
- Reduce time and money spent on producing successful campaigns. The AI-driven software will automate the right ones for the right visitors for you in real time.
Build longer lasting customer relationships
- Understand your customer better through insights and analytics. Learn about what your customers want to see and then action off of the back of that. This will increase customer retention.
- Once you have improved your user experience, you will be able to ask your loyal customers to leave reviews. People listen to other people. The more social proof you have on your website the more visitors will trust you.
Insights into what marketing strategies to implement
- Take advantage of the real time analytics. Measure and monitor which campaigns and products are the most reactive.
- If you are unsure of which campaigns to run, a/b testing is a great way to split tests.
Website personalisation in action: PureClarity case study
Case study: How PureClarity client Comfy Homes increased their AOV by 5% with AI product recommenders
Covid-19 had a big impact for Comfy Homes, a Yorkshire based furniture retailer; their bricks and mortar stores had to close during lockdown. That meant they needed higher online revenues to compensate – and so optimising the digital customer experience was top priority.
They implemented PureClarity’s automated, AI recommendations to up sell and cross sell on their homepage, showcasing more of their wide range of products and tailoring the page for every individual. Customers began to see more of the items they really wanted and fewer of those they didn’t. The recommendations changed in real time.
The outcome was a major lift in order values; in just 60 days, personalising the customer experience delivered a 5% higher AOV. As Comfy Homes puts it, “the data is really supporting our paid media activity to increase performance and ROI from our key platforms. Having PureClarity onboard is helping us stay ahead of our competitors but also understand our customers better to help us grow quicker and efficiently.”
PureClarity can take your customer experience to the next level
PureClarity is a Saas company that specialises in website personalisation, marketing automation (using machine learning and AI) and customer engagement. Our mission is to help ecommerce businesses reach their maximum potential by improving their digital experiences – we believe that putting your customer’s individual needs first is a sure-fire way to succeed in the ever-changing world of ecommerce.
Get in touch. See how we can help grow your ecommerce business by booking a demo or trying our 30 day free trial today!
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