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Looking Ahead: How to Build a Winning Web Personalization Strategy for the Future

So many ecommerce companies fail to convert their visitors with ill-fitting personalization. We pinpoint the associated challenges and suggest at least 4 ways of addressing them.

While offline businesses usually recognize the enormous value of personalized customer experience, very few of them are successful at adequately reproducing it on their websites. This shows in the average conversion rates for ecommerce businesses, which vary from 0.87% for baby and child accessories retailers to 3.84% for arts and crafts vendors.

2019 Average Ecommerce Conversion Rate by Industry

Most websites fail at tailoring their offer to visitors and creating unique value that translates into high lead conversion. Despite numerous ways to turn visitors into buyers, a crushing majority of e-store visits doesn’t result in a purchase.

Companies Struggle with Conversion

Ecommerce website and customer portals are among the most efficient tools for conversion and lead generation, yet still, most companies don’t know how to use its potential in full. That explains why 69% of marketers make better lead conversion their chief goal, and 61% of them see generating traffic and leads as their greatest challenge, according to HubSpot’s 2018 State of Inbound report.

That’s the hard truth of ecommerce business: in such an oversaturated marketplace, it’s impossible to retain everyone’s attention for a meaningful period. Visits accumulate, but just a fraction of leads will convert, while some of the first-time visitors will never come back. That is where personalization steps in.

A crushing majority of e-store visits doesn’t result in a purchase. Why?

Website Personalization Is the Key to Higher Conversion Rates

Website personalization refers to the process of creating highly individualized experiences for every visitor. The concept originates in the premise that modern consumers expect unique, personal treatment and are unlikely to engage with businesses that don’t meet that expectation. While in the offline world personalization is so common that it may frequently go unnoticed (like a cheerful greeting from a clerk in the corner store you stop by every day), there’s still a lot to be done in the digital realm in this respect.

As statistics demonstrate, investing in website personalization is definitely worth the effort:

  • According to Accenture, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.
  • Epsilon Marketing estimates that 80% of us are more likely to choose a brand that offers personalized experiences.
  • SmarterHQ’s Privacy and Personalization report reveals that currently 72% of consumers only engage with marketing messages tailored to their preferences.
personalization impact on customer relationships

Website personalization delivers enormous value to customers as it helps them save time and facilitate the entire purchase process. Companies providing personalized experiences via their websites benefit from a greater conversion rate, improved customer satisfaction, and enhanced buyer loyalty, all of which ultimately lead to higher ROI. Personalization of the website also helps drive more impulse and repeat purchases. Think about it. How many times did you visit Amazon to buy one book and then ended up with five more items in your basket that ‘you may also like?’

There’s no doubt that the personalization of digital experiences is very lucrative. The question arises, how to do it right?

Why So Many Companies Fail at Personalization?

While creating more personalized experiences is a top priority for a majority of marketers today, most of them don’t know how to do it correctly. Only 6% of marketers would give themselves the highest grade for their current personalization efforts. Nearly half would grade themselves a ‘C’ while one in five—‘D’ or ‘F’ (Evergage 2019 Trends in Personalization Survey Report).

That’s quite surprising considering that many online retailers are already making use of various personalization tools built into ecommerce platforms. Theoretically, they are all set to start reaping the benefits of website personalization. However, to do that, they first need to face a number of challenges. Let’s review some of them.

Poor Use of Consumer Data

Customers are engaging with companies at an increasing number of touchpoints, leaving their consumer footprint at every step of the journey. Where they come from, what languages they speak, what products and services they typically purchase—these and similar details create a rich source of information for ecommerce developers to draw from.

Tech-savvy enterprises use big data solutions to extract consumer insights and produce a relevant customer experience. For instance, that’s what Mall of America did when they invested in building an app that offers highly personalized shopping itineraries to customers. The app navigates shoppers through the mall based on purchase preferences and current location. Another great example comes from a budget hotel chain, Red Roof Inn. The solution the company uses predicts weather conditions affecting flight schedules based on a vast pool of data collected from various sources, and then targets stranded travelers with ads of the nearby hotels.

A few years ago, only global enterprises could capitalize on big data technology due to the exorbitant costs involved. Currently, all companies can benefit from the proliferation of scalable cloud-based big data solutions. Many of them can get you started from as little as $100 a month. What’s more, cumbersome data silos are getting replaced by real-time analysis that leverages modern SQL databases, in-memory data grids, and dedicated analytics platforms to allow uber-fast data processing.

Lack of Personalization Strategy

This common issue stems from the fact that many organizations treat web personalization strategy as a band-aid to patch a hole in their dwindling customer base. What they need to understand is that personalization is something that you use when you have a stable business and want to push it a little further.

For website personalization to work, you need to lay the groundwork. This should cover such elements as detailed audience and persona analysis, the examination of buyer behavioral patterns, content audit, and UX review. Without exploring those details, no matter how much you personalize a visitor’s experience, none of it is going to work.

Creepy Marketing

Do you remember that infamous Target case when the retailer learned about a girl’s pregnancy before her dad did? That’s a painful example of hyper-personalization when companies overstep the mark with their customers. They are trying so hard to adjust their offering to the minutest detail that it’s becoming intimidating for buyers.

There’s no shortage of tools that can make the creation of personalized offers easier and faster. However, if you’re automating personalization processes to the max, you may end up in a situation where a user leaving your site starts getting ads for the product that they searched for in a matter of hours or even minutes after they left. This is ‘creepy marketing’ in its worst form.

One way to avoid rubbing customers up the wrong way with obtrusive marketing is to ask yourself a simple question every time you’re figuring the right angle for a particular personalization tactic—‘would I be OK with an ad like this, or would I get annoyed?’

Don’t include personal information that hints at a depth of your knowledge about the customer. Again, ask yourself whether it would creep you out if someone knew this information about you and used it to try to sell you something. Treat people like you would like to be treated. Otherwise, they will be offended and won’t hesitate to voice their annoyance:

Examples of creepy marketing
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How to Personalize Your Website the Right Way

A highly effective (and converting) website leans on a clear-cut website personalization strategy. There are many personalization tips out there, ranging from simple advice that can be manually implemented within your everyday marketing to complex strategies that involve advanced technologies like machine learning. Whatever option you choose, always start from data collection and analysis.

Understand Your Audience

Before tailoring any user experiences, you need to come up with clearly defined website visitor profiles. Your goal is to build as comprehensive a picture of each potential buyer type as possible. To do so, you have a variety of tools and methods at your disposal that will help you nail the precise demographics of your audience.

The most basic ones are Google Analytics and social media audience insights. They provide you with free access to people-focused data that can nurture your website personalization strategy. By using these resources, you can gather valuable information about your visitors, such as language, location, age, and gender, as well as discover their interests and frequently searched-for keywords.

Make Website Visitors Feel at Home with Localization

Culture greatly affects our perception through preconceived notions. They change our behavior and purchasing decisions to a great extent. For example, imagery that may prompt visitors from one country into buying your products can be considered too aggressive or offensive for buyers from another region. That’s why applying localization strategies on your website is key when you’re reaching out to a global audience.

One of the few things that you can always be sure about with your visitors is their location. Unless they’re using a VPN, it’s most likely that you can capture their real IP during the session. While many stores practice localization with different languages based on the user’s locale, not many of them take it to the next level and adapt their websites to reflect the culture of their audience. True geo-targeting goes far beyond simple translation of a website’s wording.

Look at these examples of Adidas’ home pages from Poland, Canada, and Japan. Pay attention to how they differ in content, visuals, and graphic design to suit the respective audiences in those countries:

adidas website localization

It’s your job to make sure that the design, colors, visual elements, and other pieces of the UI puzzle fall in line with the person visiting the site. Alternatively, find an experienced development team that already knows all about these small details.

Leverage AI to Learn More About Your Customers

Once you know where your visitors are coming from, you can unleash the potential of artificial intelligence to tailor your website content to individual preferences. Multisensory AI applications can analyze voice, images, and patterns of behavior and act on them, allowing you to create a sense of familiarity for the users and making them feel like regulars on your website.

Here’s an example of how these systems may work: imagine that a shopper visits your ecommerce store looking for a particular item. Instead of picking through a tag cloud or typing in keywords, she pages a virtual sales associate (an NLP-enabled chatbot) and begins a natural conversation.

Based on all previously collected insights about the customer, combined with her demographics, the chatbot quickly presents a range of available items that match the shopper’s description of the desired item. Next, it comes up with suitable product recommendations, answers the visitor’s questions, and finally navigates her towards the completion of the purchase.

Modify UX and UI to Guide Your Audience Through Their Visit

Remember that personalization aims at facilitating the visitor’s journey through your website to the greatest extent possible. The easier and shorter the journey, the more likely the purchase. Think about the following simple tactics to enhance your UI and increase conversion:

  • Heat maps. Heat maps track the user behavior on a website and reflect it using a system of color-coding. They provide you with insights on how visitors interact with your pages. Based on the information displayed on heat maps, you can segment your users depending on their behavior and adapt your UI accordingly to encourage greater interaction.
  • Welcome messages. When you enter a physical store, you’re greeted by shop assistants. Leverage pop-ups, welcome mats, or live chat invitations to extend a warm welcome to your visitors. To make this greeting even more personal, consider sending an email invitation tailored to individual subscribers. For your email subscribers, you can also personalize the welcome message by addressing them by their names.
  • Overlays. Overlays are content boxes that appear on top of your website, obscuring the main content. You can use them to drive highly personalized messages for your target audience. For example, when a visitor is leaving the site, you can use a limited offer overlay to make them stay longer and consider another purchase. To generate greater revenue, add a personalized upsell box that will contain product suggestions based on previous purchases or on what’s already in a person’s basket.
4 ways to do online personalization the right way. No #creepymarketing

Give Your Website a Human Touch

Website personalization increases the rate of customer engagement with your brand and improves conversion. Now, it is becoming a critical component of positive customer experience.

If you would like to boost your website through personalization but don’t know where to start, our ecommerce development team will help you with your custom personalization requirements to get the most out of your online presence.

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