How To Personalise Your Ecommerce Experience
What does it mean to “personalise” an e-commerce experience?
Personalising goes further than starting an email with, “Hi [First Name]”. It’s about reaching your customers by showing that you know them and care about their interests. Personalisation comes in lots of different forms, including recommendations based on behaviour, recommendations based on assumed interests, information that comes directly from the consumer (like through a survey, loyalty program, or customer service interaction), and personalisation based on location.
What benefits does personalising bring?
Personalising your content means you’re providing a customer experience they’ll enjoy and trust more. A report from Mojn shows that 75% of consumers like when brands personalize messaging, and that a close 74% of online consumers are frustrated when they see content that has nothing to do with them.
As companies become more savvy at personalising content, customers are getting used to the idea -- and getting annoyed by stores that aren’t keeping up. We see personalisation happening through the mega-internet wizards like Google and Facebook, which are tracking huge amounts of highly specific data. But we’re also seeing it happen at the small scale too, with small and medium businesses trying to get to know their customers more directly.
Targeting and personalising go hand in hand. The more targeted your marketing is, the more work you’re putting in to make sure your messaging and advertising locations are relevant to the people you think are going to buy your products. With better targeting, you’re wasting less ad money on people who aren’t interested in buying your products, and focusing on the ones who will. And who will come back, again and again.
There’s a fine line between personalised and creepy
One of the bigger debates going on in the field is the tension between providing a highly targeted experience and invading your customers’ privacy. While almost everybody agrees to terms and conditions that allow for some information to be collected, sensitive data hacks are rampant and many customers are concerned about the ways their information is used. Yes, you want to be there for your customer, but showing you know too much might shake their trust.
Going too personal can also keep your limits too narrow. This writer, for example, once bought a gift card for his nine-year-old niece and had My Little Pony recommendations for the next six months. Not personal, just annoying.
Getting to know your customer is hard
In e-commerce, we don’t have the luxury of getting to meet most of our customers face to face. Pure and completely individualised personalisation is really hard to do, and it can be expensive to collect enough data to really personalise an experience. For companies that don’t have the time, budget, staff or inclination, there are still plenty of things you can do to make your shopping experience a bit and a fair bit more personalised.
What are ways I can personalise my content?
Good customer service
One of the first places to start is making sure you have a customer service strategy that’s allowing you to serve people as people, not just faceless numbers on a screen.
A few ways to make your customer service more personalised is to, well, put a human on it. Try using a live chat app to help connect with your customers, and talking with your customers on Facebook Messenger or other conversational commerce platforms. Talking directly with your customers, keeping track of their needs over time, and providing a human face to any customer service issue is an important part of making customers know they’re important.
Are you supporting your customers across multiple platforms? Keeping it personalised means integrating those platforms, so your customer is getting the same quality of service no matter how they’re reaching you. Find out how to nail multi-channel customer support.
Choosing targeted sales channels
If you have a broad base of customers, try to break them up by sales channel and see how they might differ. It could be that customers coming to you from Facebook are more interested in buying more of certain types of products than those coming from Amazon. You can find out this data from your Shopify Reports, which breaks down how each sales channel is doing by product.
If you see distinct trends, you can start creating content that’s slightly different depending on the sales channel.
Segmenting your emails
The biggest advantage of using MailChimp, Klaviyo or a similar email marketing client is the ability to segment. If you’re not segmenting, you might as well be using Gmail to send emails.
You can use MailChimp or Klaviyo to break down your email list into smaller groups, that you can then tailor messaging to differently. For example, you can send an email specifically to customers between the ages of 17-32 who are based in a coastal city and have bought a particular product. They might want different messaging than your contingent of 50-70 year olds who live in the suburbs.
Gathering more data on how your customers shop
You can use what’s called a “Pixel” to see what other things your customers like. By installing the Facebook Pixel as a line of code on your website, you can actually trace the journey between what a customer is interested in on Facebook and what products they’re buying in your store.
Using the Pixel helps you create custom audiences that you can then target with specific, more personalised content.
Utilising customer accounts and VIP programmes
You probably want to make your checkout process as streamlined as possible and not leave any dropoff places where your customers are likely to abandon their carts. Merchants see a lot of abandoned carts when you ask for too much information right out. It makes the checkout process long and intrusive.
One way to deal with that is to offer special programmes, such as VIP programmes, loyalty programmes or even simple customer accounts. Within these programmes, there are lots more touchpoints you can use to collect more data on your customers and offer them a personalised experience based on their consumer behaviour.
“Suggested for You” sections of emails, order confirmations, receipts, or checkouts are a great way to add a little personalisation with an algorithm. You can include product recommendations through email marketing clients like MailChimp.
Squad goals: Connect the dots
In order to offer a more personalised experience, it’s more about what you do on the back end of your store and management than how you’re presented. You need to be able to connect the dots between individual customers, what they’ve bought in the past, what they’re interested in, what interactions they’ve had with you, and what they’re looking for from your company.
There are several apps and gadgets mentioned above that can help you streamline this data, but to succeed you need to start thinking like an omni-channel company. What are all of the touchpoints my customers have with me, and what do they tell me about their experiences? How can I use information I learn in one place and turn it into something meaningful in the next?
Want a hand there, Alex?
Ok so your name might not be Alex (though if it is, hey there!). That’s because we don’t have personalised data on you. But we’re happy to help you learn more about your own customers and improve your company with personalisation strategies. Give us a buzz.