You'd be hard pressed to find a tactic more capable of winning and losing customers than personalization. In the past, bad personalization has cost businesses three-quarters of a trillion dollars. In the future, Gartner claims smart personalization will enable businesses to boost their profits by up to 15 percent:Today, personalization is everywhere -- in B2B, B2C, e-commerce, SaaS -- the list goes on. Unfortunately, the term "personalization" still carries much confusion with it, which is evidenced by the often-heard admonition that brands still aren't getting it right. The trouble is, personalization is hard -- both to plan and to implement. It requires several stages of preparation that many businesses either don't know about or skip altogether. Here's what they are and why they shouldn't…
What Is E-Commerce Personalization?E-commerce personalization is the process of serving specific marketing messages to targeted segments and subsegments of a given audience, with the goal of boosting e-commerce revenue.
- Amass data on users. This could be, geographic, behavioral, demographic, etc.
- Analyze that data to find segments that may respond more favorably.
- Deliver an experience to that segment in real time.
Setting Up PersonalizationThe last several years have seen a major rise in adoption of personalization among marketers. Now, 98 percent of marketers agree that it advances the customer relationship. As effective as it is, there's a problem with the perception of personalization: It's assumed it works, no matter the way it's used or the goal it aims to achieve. That's never the case for any tactic, regardless of how popular. Personalization isn't a one-size fix-all, which means that if you want to use it, you need to make sure it's worth implementing. You might argue that personalization is worth implementing, at least in some capacity. There are plenty of easy ways to "personalize" your content -- from name in email to recommendations on product pages. Because they're "easy," many implement these tactics without consideration. However, it's not a question of whether you can get them done easily, but whether it is worth it right now for you.
Resist Getting Swept UpIt's easy to get swept up in the obsession with personalization. As with any tactic, though, personalization methods require a strategic evaluation of business needs. Is personalization where your resources are best spent right now? What are your goals, and how are you trying to achieve them? For some, a universal user experience may work fine. For others, personalization may make sense. However, you should never implement a tactic for the sake of doing so, even if other businesses tout its effectiveness. In this case, you have to remember one all-important fact: Their business is not your business.
Cost vs. BenefitDetermining whether a tactic like personalization can work for you is as simple as performing a cost-benefit analysis. Work backward from your goals. What are you trying to achieve? From there, lay out different routes for getting there. Is personalization the most effective route to accomplishing what you're trying to do? Or are there other tactics that will move the needle more? Consider whether there are other tactics that will require significantly fewer resources than the personalization methods you're trying to implement. Personalization is as complex as you want it to be -- and the more complex it gets, the more effective it can get, too. What's also true is that the more complex it gets, the more difficult it can be to monitor. The more segments you create, the more you have to manage -- and you have to manage them well. Poorly managed personalization is no personalization at all.
So You Want to PersonalizeIf you believe you're prepared for personalization, you'll have two ways to go:
- Personalization by business observations
- Personalization by machine learning
15 E-Commerce Personalization PointsThink you're reading to start using e-commerce personalization? Following are 15 methods that may work for your business. 1. Shoppable Social Media The majority of Internet users access the Web via mobile device, and mobile device users spend most of their time in a select few apps. Among their favorites: social media. At first, it doesn't seem like a fact that benefits e-commerce businesses. However, research has shown that more than three-quarters of people have bought something they've seen on social media. This leaves e-commerce brands with a unique and effective way to get into the wallets of their ideal customers: shoppable posts. Shoppable posts feature images or videos of products, accompanied by a product page link that visitors can click on to shop. They can be as simple as these below from Urban Outfitters and Nike:
- The pre-click stage is everything that happens before a user clicks through an advertisement. That includes, but is not limited to, ad design, targeting, platform, etc.
- The post-click stage is everything that happens after a user clicks through an advertisement. That includes, but isn't limited to, page load speed, landing page design, conversion ratio, etc.
- Want to be able to carry a lot, but want to look stylish as well. For them, pictures of all the different colors offered would be highly valuable.
- Want to be able to organize their cargo efficiently. For them, you might show photos of all the pockets in the bag, but also internal photos of compartments that can be used to divide up cargo.
- Want to be able to carry a very specific kind of cargo. Is there a place for me to store my water bottle for long hikes? Images and descriptions that confirm such a feature are valuable to this subset of prospects.
- products to be up-sold based on purchase history
- products to be cross-sold based on purchase history
- sales personalized by browsing history (e.g. mens/womens)
- sales personalized by geography
- sales personalized by time, etc.