How to Drive Higher Marketing ROI with Ecommerce Personalisation
Provide a helping hand through the customer journey.
If we lived in a perfect world, I’d be better at karaoke and every encounter you had with a customer would be flawless. You’d know everything about them, from where they live to what nice creative ad your designer worked up is getting them to click and what compelling product description is getting them to convert. You’d know what makes them a customer. And, in all fairness, we’re getting closer to this ideal with agile platforms, pixels, cookies, SEO optimisation, product pages, and AI-backed processing and automated marketing that means digital commerce has become conversational. We kind of almost know who we’re talking to some of the time. ‘Knowing your customer’ is Avoid Basket Abandonment 101. You’ve done your homework, you’ve researched your customers’ motivations, needs, pain points, and you’ve used this intel to put together your campaigns so all of that 101 stuff is not what we’re here to talk about. No, we’re here for one reason only: Effective ecommerce personalisation and how to drive a higher marketing ROI with it.
Let’s think about your website visitors (just for the fun of it). When they come to your site, you might be able to know a few things like where they came from, what page they landed on, and whether or not they’re a paid-up customer already. You can make some educated guesses from this information, but there are still a lot of balls in the air.
By their third visit you know a lot more about what they’re looking at, what they’re interested in, and what’s keeping them from converting. You can confidently make decisions about them and about how to tweak your site to increase ecommerce conversion and squeeze the most out of your digital marketing dollars. But here’s the: You don’t want to wait for the third visit or even that customer’s fifteenth touchpoint, let alone the other 10,000 customers you’re tracking. You need people to convert. You need them to hurry through their buying journey.
“It’s important that marketing is consistent across channels, shoppers expect to be able to get the same promotion in store that’s advertised online and vice-versa. More and more brands across the UK are working on an omnichannel approach – ensuring they can reach consumers across all touchpoints. Businesses are cottoning on to the need for a joined-up user experience, with an emphasis on creating a seamless journey for the consumer.”
-Paul Lewis, Senior Director of Marketing, VoucherCodes
Here’s the thing: The buyer persona you’ve lovingly created isn’t actually a real person. Real people are quirky. They’re unpredictable. Your target audience might not have read your product description all the way through, or they might not want to sit through your demo video.
So what are you going to do?
Taking action that delivers personalisation in the face of all this uncertainty can be an effective point of difference for your brand experience. 90% of buyers use the internet as part of their research; however, they’re not necessarily following a linear path. You know that just because they’re browsing your website and looking in detail at your product offering, it doesn’t mean they are converting. They might just have a couple of simple queries for you to help them with their research. Or worse, they might be sizing you up against your competition.
This is the rift between online and in store customer experiences. And it’s the rift that needs redressing.
“Retailers have to be omnichannel; stores versus online is a flawed way of looking at performance.”
-Paula Nickolds, John Lewis managing director
It’s time to bring omnichannel to reality and it’s time to stop speculating on what’s next for the digital customer experience; you need to make digital a part of your brand experience. It’s about playing catch up now.
But there’s some good news: The right personalisation software can handle the constantly changing digital landscape, especially when put alongside other optimisations in the ecommerce conversion rate game. Better: It should be one step ahead of you, suggesting changes and offering you flexibility and agility that you didn’t know you needed. But personalisation isn’t just a tactic that can be tacked on to existing practices. Its ethos is something that must permeate all levels and channels of your business and inform your every thought and action to leverage the best of your acquisition practices. Get visitors converting through more than just mediocre pixeling and first name tokens in email; engage them with a full, human experience that puts your customer at the heart of your brand online and in store.
And sure, one nice way to increase ecommerce conversions is through the power of award-winning live chat outsourcing, but we’re here for more than just that today.
Your segmented audience is hurting you.
If you’re doing the bare minimum for ecommerce optimisation, you’re seeking ways to make what’s essentially a uniform experience exceptional and tailored to everyone, no matter who they are or what their budget. You’re competing on customer experience, just like McKinsey said you should be.
To increase conversion, you might test a few different changes. Maybe one works really well, so you pick that up and run with it. Your marketing team takes a holiday. Your sales team basks in glory. You watch the money roll in and retire early.
Except maybe you don’t.
The problem here is that you’re only serving the concept of your audience rather than those real customers who are actually browsing your site. The logic here is fairly circular: The more you improve the basic experience for your selected audience, the more individual browsers are going to slip through the cracks and the more individual browsers slip through the cracks, the more you might try to patch it with improving a basic experience for your selected audience. Tough nut to crack. And if you keep on this track, you’ll hit a point where you’re not seeing returns.
There’s more bad news for segmentation: An increase in workload for your sales and marketing teams but the same universe of leads to nurture means measly returns. So, if you have 5 segmented audiences you’ve researched, developed, advertised to, and emailed, that means you’re doing at least 5x the work. And you’ll see some pretty poor returns if you’re doing 5x the work for the same audience.
That’s the problem with basic segmentation. You’re applying what should be a bespoke, case-by-case methodology, en masse, to 5 personas (or however many you have). It’s hurting you. Compare this to an in store experience: You walk into a shop. You’ve got a question about a product you’ve got your eye on, so you ask an assistant. Instead of just telling you the answer, he hands you a brochure on the product or tells you to go and queue at the customer service desk because you’ve walked through the shop’s east entrance after first going to McDonald’s across the road.
Would you stick around?
That’s what segmentation looks like online. It’s profiling. It’s dangerous. It leaves a bad taste in your customers’ mouths.
Getting 1-to-1 right (and wrong)
You’ve been in this business a while. Maybe you already know not to approach personalisation through over-reliance on segmentation. So, you know what’s needed: 1-to-1 tailored messaging.
You’re at a football game. The stadium is packed with people and you’ve decided to tailor drinks to each segment of fans. The people who like beer are happy, the people who want Coke love you, and people who want Fanta are living the dream. But in the flawed segment of one model you’d have to deliver a specific drink to each individual. One person would have Pepsi (weird), the next wine, a third a gin and tonic, and someone would just want water because it’s hot even though they would normally get a Coke.
TL;DR: Segmentation is not scalable when we consider personalising experiences across every single touchpoint or moment of truth.
True 1-to-1 personalisation is something different from providing an iterative interaction to a segment of your audience. 1-to-1 is about individual decisions and accommodations. Instead of trying to create a new drink for every person you meet (imagine one of those Coca-Cola Freestyle machines but ad infinitum), your team needs to decide which of your available drinks can suit an individual’s specific needs and desires. So that might mean you have 10 drinks on your menu for an individual to choose from and knowing (or at least inferring) which is going to appeal most to them. You make magic by building a flexible model that allows your team to make a completely unique decision for each individual, even though you might have little information on them.
This kind of agility is a significant shift from thinking of personalisation as a segmentof one. And it’s absolutely imperative to break with the old thinking if you want to operationalise personalisation at scale across multiple channels, in store and online.
Operationalise and scale personalisation
When you think about solutions that respond to what someone is doing, in the moment of an increasingly narrow buying window, it requires an experiential tool that can first identify the customer as an individual, be able to push a message within seconds as they are about to leave a site or pass by a storefront, and take into consideration their full purchase and behavioural history.
Forrester discovered that 44% of online customers say that having questions answered by a real person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the best features a website can offer. At the same time, your site isn’t about pushing a sales agenda. In fact, 59% of buyers prefer online research precisely because all too often the company rep seems more interested in bagging the sale rather than solving the problem. LinkedIn found that buyers are five times more likely to engage with a rep who provides real insights. So this is your chance to prove that you’re different; it’s your opportunity to earn trusted advisor status and bridge the gap between bricks and clicks.
If you’re available, ready and willing to interact with them right when they need it, chances are you’ll make it on their shortlist. In fact, if you offer this kind of interaction through live chat, eMarketer found that customers were 63% more likely to return to the website at a later date. Every time they return, that’s a chance for you to make a new impression – a new chance to impress and a new chance to convert.
For example, imagine a customer visits an ecommerce retailer’s site and is presented with a navigation bar, imagery, and promotions that are most relevant to them based on their specific purchase history, age, location, and search history. That’s what should be happening. When customers reach your website, you want to keep them there. Otherwise, what good is all that cash you’re dishing out on your SEO agency? And what good are all of those coins thrown into the fountain of site agility if it’s not able to provide a targeted display to each visitor, based on who they (not their segment) are?
In this way, a tool like live chat on your site can be your way of saying, ‘Come in. Take a look around. Give me a shout if you need anything.’ It’s bringing your in store experience online. It’s personalised, tailored, and human. The longer the visitor stays, and the more they are engaged in the right way by award-winning service and sales experts, the more likely it is that they will eventually find their way to their basket (and they’ll have a guide through checkout if they run into any bumps).
It sounds too good to be true, but in fact The Chat Shop has spent the last five years breaking down the barriers to conversion that have limited brands. We help you get to a given goal metric, like bounce or conversion rate, or customer satisfaction score. We’re a full strategy team for digital engagement like you’ve never seen before.
Be agile from the start
Average cart abandonment rates are currently thought to be at just under 70%.
Visitors decline to checkout for all sorts of reasons; they might just be using the trolley as a handy browsing tool for instance, or as a way of double checking for any hidden charges. Forrester have found that as many as 56.8% of US buyers use the cart in this manner – without ever really considering making a purchase.
For some leads though, the Human Touch online might mean the difference between conversion and walking away. Conversation = conversion. Forrester found that 53% of buyers are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find an answer to a question.
Research from Baymard points to ‘Too long/complicated checkout process’ as the third most common reason for abandonment. For a customer grappling with a required field on the checkout form, proactive help, a nudge in the right direction might be all that’s needed to get them over the final hurdle.
For prospective customers, it’s also a case of, ‘how you sell to me, is how you’ll serve me.’
Let’s say there’s a facility on the website to instantly make a human connection. Even if they haven’t had to put it to use, it’s still a trust indicator and adds to trust differentiation. It says that if a snag comes up further down the line, this looks like the type of company that’s geared up to fixing it quickly and easily.
Celebrate the diversity of your customers.
Give your customers power of the Human Touch on your site, delivered by the only digital engagement strategist proven to deliver 500% ROI through targeted, agile, AI-empowered award-winning personalisation.