I used to stop in the local Chipotle in my hometown so often that I recognized almost every employee. They knew me as well.
“Veggie burrito bowl today, ma’am?” they’d ask.
Oh, I used to live off of those things.
And although the vegetarian burrito bowl was my standard choice, they began to know me so well that they would sometimes recommend specials or new menu items they thought I might like – and they were almost always right!
The team knew me so well that I grew to expect that kind of personalized treatment – they knew me, they knew my name, and successfully predicted what I wanted based on previous interactions.
Many boutiques, small retail stores, and local restaurants that thrived in the pre-digital era provided these “personalized experiences” anytime because they quite literally knew you.
As consumers, the value we place on personalization hasn’t changed and our expectations for it have only grown.
But the techniques and platforms that enable personalization have transitioned from in-person to online.
And as a brand, if you’re trying to create personalized experiences in the digital world, your website is your best bet to capitalize on this promise.
There is now an incredible opportunity to set your brand apart from the competition by leveraging your website as your most valuable, strategic marketing channel.
Tactics that we’ll cover to help achieve this include:
- Using modal overlays to get opt-ins on entry or exit intent;
- Embedding custom messages within your website; and
- Offering personalized incentives to known contacts based on CRM data
First, let’s look at why your website is such a goldmine.
What is Website Personalization?
Website personalization means providing a uniquely-tailored, real-time experience for each individual visitor, browser, or customer that comes to your website – based on that individual’s unique preferences.
As Jeannie Walters wrote on OrbitMedia.com, “the best sites personalize in ways that help the user achieve the personal mission of why he or she is there. The person’s mission – not yours.”
So, it’s important that we begin to use technology to our advantage to not only gain information about who is visiting our website, but also why.
Personalized website experiences will cater to individuals – helping, guiding, and moving them through the customer journey by using new and innovative techniques to:
- Inform and educate them by serving up relevant content;
- Enable browsing experiences that cater to their interests; and
- Help consumers find additional items to compliment past or current purchases
How do we actually start creating these kinds of experiences?
Leveraging artificial intelligence marketing is the answer to incorporating personalization across your ecommerce platform, at scale, for each and every customer.
Why is Personalization important?
In an increasingly digital world, a handful of companies are competing with each other to grab user attention. Personalization can help you stand out from the crowd and be ahead of your competition. Personalizing your website tells your online visitors that you care about their interests and needs while providing them with relevant information and products.
In addition, website personalization enables you to efficiently sort through your online visitors into personalized funnels. You can gain valuable insights into the visitors such as the type of online content and pages that they interact with the most. These insights can help you direct segmented audiences into different sections of the website.
Benefits of Website Personalization
There are many benefits of website personalization, here are some of the most impactful ones:
More Effective Call to Actions (CTAs) and Landing Pages
The ultimate benefit of website personalization is high conversion rates across various CTAs and landing pages. Personalizing your website is essential to achieve higher conversion rates.
Relevant Product Recommendations
Based on the information your customers provided, you can make relevant recommendations for what they might want to purchase next. You can use the data you collected to make sure the product recommendations are always relevant which will boost customer loyalty.
Lower Bounce Rate
When you personalize your website based on your customer’s habits and buying history, there’s a higher likelihood that they will stay on your website longer thus decreasing the bounce rate.
Delivering personalized website experiences
If you’re pondering personalization on an individual level on your website, your immediate next question is likely how to do it. AI marketing provides the path that makes it possible to deliver truly personalized experiences on your website – at scale. Let’s discuss a few best practices for using an AI-powered marketing platform to turn your website into a highly personalized marketing channel:
► Increase the size of your database and known contacts
How: On entry and on exit intent, show a popup or modal overlay that can be used to acquire new email/contact information which will be shown only to unknown visitors.
Why: Collecting subscribers, registrants, and sign-ups will help you begin to build a relationship with new or unknown customers to personalize their experience.
► Embed custom messages for consistency and relevancy for individuals
How: Embed custom messages to provide a unified, consistent experience to contacts across multiple channels.
Why: Using omnichannel campaigns, you can display the same content across multiple channels to meet customers wherever they are – at their desk or on the go – and provide a seamless experience tailored to their unique preferences.
► Offer personalized incentives to known individuals
How: Use the data you have about each customer to serve them with personalized incentives when they visit your website.
Why: Once you know your customers a little better, you can begin to offer incentives that your machine optimizes for the best chance of action, based on an individual’s previous behaviors.
What do each of these tactics look like in practice?
How to Personalize Your Website
Follow these steps to effectively run a personalization strategy on your website:
Step 1: Collect Visitor Data
As you brainstorm a strategy for your website personalization initiatives, think about the kind of visitor data you would need. There are several ways you can collect data from online visitors. This includes asking them for their basic information directly, using website cookies and web beacons that allow you to track visitor browning history, using your own company records to collect first-party customer data, leveraging social media channels, and much more.
Step 2: Create Customer Profiles
The next step is to build customer profiles that detail the methods and techniques you would need to reach your ideal target audience. The customer profile should give you a structured look at the goals of your audience and what they are searching for on your website, therefore, helping you to curate personalized content that appeals to them.
Step 3: Set Your Goals
Once you collect data and build out your profiles, you can define goals for each of your customer personas and your website as a whole. Your goals can vary – from increasing conversions, reducing bounce rates, increasing retention, etc. Make sure you align your strategy accordingly to effectively reach your goals.
Step 4: Plan and Implement Your Personalization Strategy
Next, you would need to prepare strategies to personalize the experience of your customers. There are three pages that should be on your list of priorities: the homepage, your product pages, and your shopping cart page.
For the homepage, you should integrate a personalized banner image that appeals to different customer personas. You can also present personalized product recommendations as soon as visitors land on your homepage. In addition, appealing images, high-converting CTAs, engaging videos, and personalized greetings are effective.
On your product pages, you can attract customers by showing them products similar to those that they have purchased in the past. This will provide them with easy and personalized product recommendations and also compel them to check out other products that may be showcased on the page.
For the shopping cart page, your focus should be on maximizing purchases while eliminating distractions that can cause cart abandonment. You can personalize this page by showing them impulse items, potential upsell items, accessories, and more.
Step 5: Measure Success
Once you developed your personalized strategy and launched your campaign, you should always test and optimize your strategy on a regular basis to ensure successful results.
To do this, you’ll need to determine the metrics that you will be using to measure the success of your website personalization. Since there are many metrics that you can use, make sure you choose the ones that align with your goals. This includes time spent on the site, number of actions taken on the site, direct user feedback, visitor frequency, and more.
3 E-Commerce Website Personalization Examples
Let’s take a peek at a few examples of the manifestation of website personalization.
► Entry or exit intent popup/overlay
If “popup” still has a negative connotation in your mind, think instead of these conversion machines as “overlays” that activate upon entry, or more commonly, exit intent.
While marketers have been experimenting with exit-intent popups for a few years with utilitarian point tools, most have yet to unlock the full potential of personalized ones that draw from CRM data.
Advanced marketing technology enables you to automate the execution of exit-intent popups in a variety of formats, shapes, sizes, and with dynamic content for each user.
Entry and exit-intent popups are most commonly used today to collect emails, prompting users to subscribe.
You can augment your popups for whatever purpose you need – collecting emails, getting registrations, showing incentive deals, and the like.
Instead of showing random, one-size-fits-all messages that could turn off your potential customers, get to know them based on their interactions collected in the database, and tailor your content accordingly, with these adaptive web overlays.
Displaying overlays on exit (or entry) increases retention and captures valuable data from your otherwise anonymous visitors instead of letting them disappear without a trace.
► Deliver omnichannel experiences with personalized embedded messages
One of the challenges for today’s marketers is the inability to unify interactions across multiple channels. AI marketing can address that problem.
Now it’s possible to ensure consistency and relevancy throughout the customer journey and across channels for known contacts. You can do this by presenting them with embedding custom website content that is consistent with the messages they’ve also seen on other channels.
When known users navigate to your website, you can show them messages or content they’ve seen elsewhere – like from an email, social media, or mobile push message in the past.
And chances are since they’ve seen it before, they’ll be more aware, more interested, and more likely to engage.
► Personalize the web experience with individualized incentives
Chances are, you’re already running promotions and offering discounts on your website. The majority of e-commerce brands are.
The point of differentiation with personalized incentives is the strategic segmentation and use of custom incentives for only selected individuals.
When visitors belonging to a defined segment arrive at your website, they’ll see customized content you created specifically for them.
You can select the group of pages where you want to display this content as well as the frequency at which you want it to appear, then let the AI machine do the actual execution across your database.
As with the other tactics in this article, the point here is to present the contact with an optimized offer that is most likely to convert him or her. There’s also some overlap with these tactics – you can offer individualized incentives, for example, as exit intent overlays on your website.
Transforming your website into an AI-powered marketing channel means inserting and replacing content based on the user, displaying overlays on entry or exit, and providing customized individual treatment.
Companies that use their own website as the most active, valuable marketing channel for personalization are set up for success in 2018. Doing so offers multiple benefits to help drive increased revenue, including:
- Longer page dwell times and more time spent on your website;
- Decreased bounce rates;
- More product views;
- Increased return website visits;
- Increased purchases per individual;
- Higher retention rates among known contacts; and
- The ability to turn anonymous visitors into known contacts and loyal customers
In fact, our Web Channel product was just recently released publicly, clients that have been piloting the product have seen increases in conversion rates of up to 400%, and have doubled both the number of web page interactions per session and the average length of these sessions.
Personalizing your website sits at the intersection of an integrated omnichannel marketing approach AND optimal customer experience – driving customers to your owned content platform (website), and then personalizing the experience once they arrive.