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Hyper-personalizing E-commerce Stores: Your Key to Even Bigger ROI

As a consumer, are you a fan of personalization?

Let’s picture this. Recall the last time you had a personalized experience and how it made you feel right after. It could be something as simple as sitting in a comfy chair and having the seat automatically adjust to your preferences. Or even you walking into your gym and receiving a personalized workout regime just for your needs.

Doesn’t that make you feel important?

The act of personalizing someone’s experience puts a brand in the good graces of its customers or clients. It inspires loyalty and uncovers the smiles on people’s faces.

All About Hyperpersonalization

Here’s a fact: 81% of consumers express their desire for brands to understand them on a better level and know exactly when to approach them and when to stay away. And for this reason, more and more brands have invested money and large efforts into personalizing the experience that customers would have when visiting their website.

It’s no longer just personalization and sticking people’s first names on an email subject line. The trend every e-commerce store should keep up with nowadays is hyper-personalization.

“Hyperpersonalization takes personalized marketing a step further by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time data to deliver more relevant content, product, and service information to each user.”

~ Todd Lebo (Convince and Convert).

The growth of the Internet in recent years has ensured that every customer on this planet is now more hyper-connected across various devices that range from mobiles to smartphones to laptops.

It’s a door that’s wide open for opportunity that marketers can grab, but it’s also rife with challenges in effectively establishing connections between your brand your customers’ fragmented way of experiencing your brand.

In fact, by the year 2020 comes around, it’s evident that customer experience would be more relevant and important than the product or the price — as far as key differentiators are concerned.

So now, the challenge lies in aligning their current methods of e-commerce digital marketing with how they would set up the site to cater to every one of their customers’ needs.

Traditionally speaking, personalization in marketing was always served through email marketing and effective customer relationship management.

It used to be about marketers offering and serving customers content that they thought they would want. But now, marketing strategies have been changing as they are more willing to let brands know what they want.

And all this data that customers and clients are willing to offer alludes to one big fact: they expect more personalized efforts from the companies they associate themselves with.

Customer Experience & Hyper-personalization

As you provide content that gives value, engages, and delights your customers and couple it with personalization, you’ll find that you would have an easier time connecting the dots on how your customers experience your online store.

Your job primarily lies in providing that experience from the moment they type the first search query to the moment they decided to purchase; up until they become returning customers, and through continued nourishment, eventually become loyal customer advocates for your brand.

You need to focus on:

Making Use of the Right Technology

One of the biggest challenges marketers face in their quest for hyper-personalization is finding insights, collecting big data, and acquiring accurate information in a swift manner.

That could pose as particularly challenging perhaps over two decades ago. But nowadays, thanks to the continuous growth of AI, machine learning, and deep learning technology, these concerns are easily addressed. With technology like this, you take hyperpersonalization to a different level with data as the voice of the customer.

Advanced technology for data tracking enables marketers to:

  • Experiment with different personalized experiences.
  • Use recommendations based on current industry trends, customer behavior, and searcher intent.
  • Reach the right people at the right time with the right type of content on the right sharing platform.

Customers’ Behaviors and Personas

Hyper-personalizing your e-commerce store won’t be possible without a clear cut understanding of how your customers behave and what kind of personas you’re catering to. For this reason, online store owners ought to think deeply about how they would tackle persona marketing.

A good place to start is audience segmentation — although that won’t be enough.

Your ultimate goal should be to create a language that your customers would understand and immediately recognize. And you do that by having an understanding of sub-personas, individual personas, and multi personas.

In creating a marketing persona, here are three places to try and dig through:

  • Polls and surveys: Only your customers know themselves better than you. For this reason, interviews and surveys are an essential part of creating a useful marketing persona. These types of content reveal all sorts of insights into your customers, and you can dig into those answers to find their pain points, their values, their goals, etc.
  • Social media research: Social media listening to your potential customers can work wonders. By keeping an eye on what your customers are posting about or praising, you can uncover a bunch of insights that would be useful.
  • Checking website analytics: Through website analytics, you get to see where your visitors are originating from, which keywords they utilized to find you, and how much time they spent in your store upon arrival. The data these metrics can reveal will uncover the motives that led your target audience to explore your website.

The bottom line of focusing on customers is to constantly formulate new digital marketing experiences, and then test and monitor the results of each campaign or strategy.

Pay Attention to Organizational Design

The data is available for the taking, and so are the tools. But for a strategy to truly soar, organizational structures need to be integrated to achieve the results you want. You need to structure yourselves around the customers’ interests.

How you structure your organization is important yet it’s easily overlooked. With a louder call to focus on customer experience, businesses can no longer afford to work on the marketing behind individual departments. The customer services department, sales, digital marketing, along with other organizations need to come together to create a comprehensive strategy that would work.

How do you set up hyperpersonalization for your stores?

Hyper-personalization is not some come-and-go occurrence in the e-commerce landscape. Companies that have taken the step to focus on the measures have witnessed positive results. Another thing everyone considers is that online shoppers are varied individuals. Diverse backgrounds, different pain points, and one-of-a-kind preferences characterize each buyer.

Generic e-commerce stores are a no-no.

In fact, 31% of customers have expressed their wishes for a more personalized experience. And furthermore, 74% admit feeling frustrated with an e-commerce store that isn’t personalized and showcases irrelevant content.

So is it difficult to set up hyper-personalization for any e-commerce store?

Well, not really. It just takes a lot of work.

Preparatory Steps

Hyper-personalization requires a truckload of data to get it going. And setting up hyper-personalization for your site begins there too.

Collecting sufficient data

Collecting the right kind of data is crucial. The very first attempts at personalization will only be as good as the quality of data that you bring in.

Take this, for instance, personalizing names and titles are great, but what if you’re looking to send out alerts to promote new bags in stock that retail for $200? You need to know which customers purchase $100 – $250 bags from that specific seller to have a hyper-personalized message.

This kind of narrowed segmentation ensures that only the people interested in that particular seller who spend that amount of money will see the email and will likely buy the bag.

For a wider catch, you can try sending messages to people have looked up that specific seller but not necessarily purchased anything. This works for people who bought complementary products in the past, and who may be interested.

You see?

You need highly specified data, but not too much that your brand will come off as annoying or stalkerish to your customers. A start to doing that can be through information collection that’s not invasive. From running competitions to utilizing a simple signup form to pop-up surveys; the more data you gather, the better your personalized messages and customer services would be.

Start with basic personalization

In everything you do, it’s conducive to start small and simple. You can start small, like segmenting your audience and sending segmented messages according to gender, age range, geographic location, etc.

Long story short, there’s going to be a lot of testing that has to be done. For instance, you can try changing up banner images in your messages to cater to your segmented audiences. Track and monitor what happens when you send age-relevant content to a particular age group, or when you have men’s only products in segments that are all-male. Closely monitoring this will provide data, and will let you move on to a deeper level of personalization afterward.

Gather results from the initial personalization tactics

The surface layer of basic personalization should be bolstered with an even deeper personalized campaign founded on the results of the initial test.

  • More personalized messages taken from newly gathered data.
  • Start looking into social media.
  • Produce surveys and polls and consider the results you can include from this.
  • Measure engagement rates of the primary campaigns.
  • Check which messages affected your audience the most.
  • Do some more audience segmentation.

Go with automation

Manually keeping track of and setting up hyper-personalization is massively difficult — not with your busy schedule and your other tasks to think about.

There are oodles and oodles of data to sort through; emails to screening, schedule, and segment; messages to craft and design and tailor to your customers’ interests and preferences.

As much as human help is valued, it’s not enough. You need good marketing automaton to aid you and make the job easier.

Besides, advanced technologies for marketing today come with advanced reporting mechanics, analyzes gathered data and measure them, and presents them in a comprehensive format. The best part is that the data marketing automaton can provide is real-time.

Personalized Homepages

In setting up hyper-personalization, it’s ideal to start at the homepage, because the moment a visitor lands on your homepage, they immediately come up with a first impression. The idea here is to adjust the visible content that your visitors see so that it mirrors where they currently are at the sales funnel.

Shoeline is an online store that personalizes its homepage banners to show products that returning visitors found interesting the first time they visited. I tried it out myself, and navigated to the women’s section the first time. Returning the second time, I was greeted with a banner image of the types of footwear I previously looked at.

[NB: Sephora’s Beauty Insider customer loyalty program, Beauty Insiders, also makes use of personalisation o

Customize the Search Function

Search bars appearing at the very top of the search engines have become commonplace nowadays. It lets your customers enter search terms to conveniently locate what they’re looking for. It’s very hassle-free, and it’s highly appreciated.

But you can’t just stop here. You can take it up a notch by including personalized site search, and these results will reflect previous search history and their unique buying behavior.

So, let’s say for instance that you run an online store that sells footwear for both men and women — both have made purchased something at some point. The next time they enter the term ‘sneakers’ into your search bar, the male would be directed to the section of men’s footwear the same way the women would be directed to women’s shoes. 

Image Credit: Evergage

Consider Local Weather

Take your current weather into account. This is especially easier if your e-commerce store’s target is primarily local. But you can also have it in a wider scale. And this tactic of hyper-personalization comes especially handy to clothing stores.

A good example of this is featuring weather-specific products on the homepage. So, let’s say for instance that it’s mid-April, and your store’s nationwide coverage caters to customers living in states like Phoenix and Virginia.

Both states are perfect examples of states that different weather patterns in April. As most people know, Phoenix is a state that’s mainly warm, while Virginia in Spring is slightly chilly.

For someone visiting your website in Phoenix, your online store can showcase clothes fit for warmer weather. Similarly, for the visitor from Virginia, the e-commerce platform can show outfits which are great for chilly temperatures.

A good example of this was an online clothing store — Very.

 

Image Credit: Internet Retailing

Target via Geographic Location

Perhaps one of the most common types of target audience-based segmentation that is easy and is unquestionably effective, along with appealing to the local audiences better.

How your site can do this is through cookies and by taking a peek at your customers’ IP address. In response, you can adjust the type of products or services you feature based off of a visitor’s state, city, country, etc.

Personalized Product Recommendations

I’m sure you can think of or encountered more than a few online stores that make use of this. Whenever you visit the e-commerce site, you’re welcomed with a list of recommended products. And these recommended products are based off of visitor’s previous visits, views, and purchases.

This is one of the best ways of segmenting online customers because you’re actually guiding them through the buying process. It’s a great way of encouraging a customer that’s expressed an interest in a particular type of product or service before. After all, if they’ve already expressed their interest in one product before, then they’ll likely appreciate the recommendations as long as they’re relevant.

There are two main ways that you can go about accomplishing product recommendations on your website.

  • Cross-selling: Involves offering complementary products to customers. It’s final product coupled with a suggestion for added product. Cross-selling is all about suggesting extra products and telling your customers about the benefits they could get for each product.
  • Upselling: This is the act of offering customers a better item than the one they’re currently adding to their cart. For instance, when they purchase a bag of accessories worth $3, you can suggest upgrading a selected item to something better for only $2 more. Upsells prove to be 68% more affordable than attracting new customers.

Previously Viewed Products

It’s inevitable that there will be one particular customer who spends a good amount of time looking through products in an e-commerce store, but they won’t actually purchase anything. Some people like to window shop, but that doesn’t entirely mean that they’re a lost cause. You can improve their online store experience by offering your help.

You can send reminders or follow-up emails to them about the items they’ve spent long minutes viewing. This lets pick up right where they left off.

It’s a retargeting tactic that serves as a subtle reminder to visitors to take the final step and purchase that item they’ve been mooning for a long time now. Of course, it’s not a guaranteed tactic, and it won’t work every single time, but it does influence a percentage of your visitors to go right ahead and complete their purchases.

Asos, like Shoeline, does a good job with this. Returning to the website a second time will automatically redirect you to the category or the page you were last looking at.

Discounts Based on Categories

A classic way of getting people to purchase products is to offer promos, sales, and exclusive discounts. Applied to your own personal shopping experiences, who doesn’t love a discount? It’s a time-honored strategy that will never get old.

But why stop at offering discounts over site-wide purchases? You can hyper-personalize a customers’ journey even further by adding category-specific discounts to your e-commerce store.

Customized Best Sellers

Recommendations done by other customers are powerful. Customers trust the opinion of their peers, and even value a customer recommendation from a stranger who bought the same product rather than the owner of the store themselves. Products purchased more than others can influence buyer decisions to jump into the bandwagon and see what they’re missing out on.

Rather than include your store’s overall best sellers, narrow the showcased products down to specific categories.

The Takeaway

Thanks to technology, we now have fantastic opportunities to make significant improvements on our e-commerce stores.

So how do you succeed at your hyper-personalization tactics?

  • Analyze customer data: Applying actions that were gathered from data should be their top priority. Any time you upgrade your customer experience, the more you can reap significant benefits. Prioritize your data collection and implementation.
  • Implementing the use of technology: There is no shortage of AI-powered applications that you can utilize for better hyper-personalization. Doing everything manually isn’t an option, and you need the power of the best personalization tools out there.
  • Adopt hyper-personalization first: Marketers the world over are swarming hyper-personalization, considering it and talking about it, but haven’t done anything. In fact, 62% of them are doing this. The best course of action is to learn all you can and implement hyper-personalization for your store to stay ahead of the competition.

The principles that revolve around hyper-personalization are simple. Segmenting your target audiences and personalizing the e-commerce experience generates happy and more content customers.

Think about the fact that our world is a busy place, and some people are too busy to spend time manually sorting through a list of products and services, while trying to find good deals for every single item they decide to purchase.

Hyper-personalization is the desired future. In fact, 86% of marketing professionals acknowledge the positive effect of hyper-personalization strategies powered by AI. And 31% consider this shift in personalization welcome and significant.

So here’s the good news. Hyper-personalization really does work! All it takes is effort, rigorous data collection, and effective strategy implementation.


About the Author

Al Gomez is a Digital Marketing Consultant at Dlinkers. Al has over 12 years’ client digital marketing experience and has proven track records of successful projects and expertise in various marketing channels. He is passionate about solving online marketing problems like generating leads and an increase in sales.

Raúl Galera

Raúl Galera

Raúl is ReferralCandy's partner manager.