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

website is a goldmine

First, let’s look at why your website is such a goldmine.

Using Your Website as a Marketing Vehicle

According to recent research from Ascend2, a brand’s website is the most effective marketing channel it has. While this may not be all that surprising, the details here may be a little bit of a wake-up call for some marketers.

  • 89% of U.S. marketers recently said that personalization on their websites resulted in revenue increase
  • Marketers personalizing their customers’ website experiences (and who can quantify the improvement) see approximately 19% uplift in sales

While you’re likely already using some automation for your email, social media, or mobile marketing, it’s time to start considering how you can leverage your website to start driving personalized experiences for your customers – something many marketers aren’t yet doing.

While 63% of digital marketers agree that their website is the most effective marketing tool, shockingly few of them are personalizing this channel.

If it’s so lucrative, why aren’t marketers personalizing their websites today? Even though the website is typically responsible for making a brand’s first impression and is often where most of the customer interactions take place, it’s still one touchpoint where personalization is missing. Most marketing platforms base their customer information solely on session-time and cookie-based data – and aren’t able to take advantage of the massive amount of (more meaningful) customer data they have. If purchase, historical, or even demographic customer data are not integrated within the website, it’s impossible to identify individuals and provide personalized interactions they should receive.

The key to bridging the gap and achieving the full potential of a personalized website is using AI-enabled marketing automation technology to connect real-time session data and historical CRM customer data to enable hyper-personalized content.

We’ll look at examples in the final section – but first, let’s talk about what website personalization is and best practice tactics.

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.

Delivering personalized website experiences

If you’re pondering personalization on an individual level on your website, your immediate next questions 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?

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.

Swiss weight loss brand and Emarsys client eBalance uses overlays to increase the size of their opt-in audience. Source: eBalance

You can augment your popups for whatever purpose you need – collecting emails, getting registrations, showing incentive deals, and the like.

Terrain uses an overlay on entry to ask unknown users to join its mailing list. Source: ShopTerrain.com

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 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.

embed content

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.

There’s some overlap with these tactics – you can offer personalized incentives, for example, using the modal overlay technique described above. Source: Emarsys

Pro Tip: There are many amazing tactics available to help you transform your website into a full-throttle personalized marketing machine. We chose to cover three core techniques for the purposes of this post, but using AI-powered technology, you can also do things like:

  • Create custom signup forms;
  • Use browse recovery campaigns to convert users who are about to leave; and
  • Convert anonymous visitors to known users

Shameless plug: To learn more about this new capability, visit our Emarsys Web Channel page.

These kinds of hyper-personalized incentives go beyond mass promotion campaigns where everyone sees the same one-size-fits-all discount. Instead, through the power of AI-enabled marketing technology, they are customized by for each individual based on their purchase behaviors and optimized to drive sales on a 1:1 level – at scale.

Final Thoughts

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.

Emarsys clients, contact your Client Success Manager to get further details and learn more about Web Channel.

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