When you think of 'personalization', no doubt a few simple tactics come to mind: Using someone's name in emails or presenting a new customer with an introductory offer.
But the realm of ecommerce personalization is much vaster than these simple examples demonstrate. In fact, the primary aim of integrating personalization into your business and marketing strategy should be to replicate a positive individualized customer service experience at scale. LimeSpot helps ecommerce businesses create personalized shopping experiences quickly and easily. But the same rules and lessons apply across any business sector, well beyond retail.
First, let's recap what exactly personalization is. Long story short, personalization involves tailoring any interaction with your business to a customer or client's unique history with your company. More often than not, personalization aligns with a typical 'buyer journey' - Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action / Advocacy. The golden rule of personalization is the further down the funnel, the easier it should be to personalize the experience.
At the Awareness stage, you are personalizing the experience to ease customers into learning about your business and unique value proposition (UVP), while giving them special offers to convert. For example, think of something as simple as a direct mail piece sent by a vegetarian meal kit service to a bought list of customers that have shown an interest in plant-based products. At this point the customer doesn't know a whole lot about you and vice versa, but you're still aiming to reach customers that would be more likely to have a vested interest in your product or service offering.
In the Interest stage, prospective customers are generally looking for answers to assess the relevance of a product or service. You might have an opportunity to engage with a shopper directly through customer service outreach. Or if they sign up for your emails or submit a form stating their interest in a specific topic area, you can personalize what emails they receive from there.
In the Decision stage, it's all about personalizing your pitch to not only convert shoppers, but to maximize the sales opportunity. Imagine a skincare store that manually curates the products on its store site and presents the same products to every customer. That's essentially saying "one size fits all." On the other hand, personalized product recommendations can be based on an individual's browsing and purchasing behavior and show more relevant and compelling products. So a customer with sensitive skin would have products shown to them that's specific to their needs and they'd be more compelled to purchase.
Finally comes the Action/Advocacy stage. At this point you know who your customer is and a little bit about what they're interested in. It's up to you to segment them accordingly and start providing other ways to bring them back to your business. For example, you might segment a group of customers that is highly loyal based on the frequency of purchases or the annual amount they spend with your business. This loyal group should be given VIP treatment- give them exclusive access to special offers, promotions, or events.
Consumers are asking for personalization. In fact, 72% of consumers say they'll only engage with marketing messages tailored to their interests.
But more than that, personalization is proven to drive better results at every stage of the funnel. Better personalization equals more sales. More sales equals more shoppers to nurture into loyal customers. More loyal customers translates into a growing business. Looking at the retail space, 98% of marketers have seen an increase in average order value (AOV) with personalization, while 97% have seen an increase in revenue per user. But as we said earlier, personalization does not have to be limited to retail, or to ecommerce.
According to one study, 79% of organizations that exceeded revenue goals have a documented personalization strategy.
So how do you get started in building one? The easiest way is by revisiting the funnel stages and looking at what steps you can take to prompt someone to move from one stage to the next. Do not limit yourself to a single tactic per funnel stage. Not every strategy is going to motivate every customer, so having a few options or offers can help move things along.
Don't forget about considering multiple channels. In-person, SMS, email, direct mail, and web are just a few of the more common channels you can apply personalization to.
Personalization does not need to be a hyper-manual process. In fact, the aim is to achieve personalization at scale by understanding what might motivate each prospective buyer to move down the funnel and become an actual customer, often using tools and technology to automate this identification and promotion process.
Still looking for ideas? We've rounded up a few personalization tactics you might want to consider baking into your strategy.
#1: Enhance your core offering with personalized value-added offers
No matter what business you're in, chances are you have a core product or service you offer- from lawn maintenance to selling hammocks. But one of the easiest ways to differentiate your brand and provide a more personalized experience is to show customers what else you've got, in a way that adds value, rather than feeling like a 'cash grab'. This is what's commonly known as an upsell or cross-sell in the retail industry (although there is a key difference between upselling and cross-selling).
These offers should be specific to the product or service a customer is interested in, and in some cases, may be personalized to a customer's individual situation. For example, a senior living on their own may be more motivated by a discounted delivery and setup charge than a twenty-something who may be savvier at technical installs.
Common offers might include:
In all of these cases, the offer is designed to:
#2: Focus your personalization efforts on retention, not acquisition
Customer acquisition costs are on the rise, particularly with the way companies like Apple and Google have changed the way brands can track and target consumers. Hence why more companies than ever are looking to grow sales within their existing customer base, rather than continually trying to fill the bucket with new prospective customers.
The good news? It's way easier to tailor offers to customers that have already shopped with you before. Here's a few ways to personalize your interactions with existing customers:
#3: Leverage your best AND worst customers
We've already covered the fact that your best customers should be treated like the rock stars that they are. One great customer that comes back to your business on repeat is worth a hundred customers that make one purchase and disappear.
That being said, there are lessons to be learned from both ends of the spectrum. Regularly survey your top customers to understand what you're getting right and use those proof points to attract new customers or win back lapsed ones. At the same time, be prepared to act on any constructive feedback you get from this group. You may even want to personalize things further by reaching out to specific customers who made a suggestion to let them know you've listened or giving credit to a customer who inspired a business change.
On the flip side, customers that buy once and never return, and even customers who have negative experiences with your brand and leave a review about it are also a valuable resource- if they're willing to talk to you. With this group, the important thing is to personalize your communications to where you went wrong. Address them by name, flag the last time they made a purchase, identify whether you've got something new and improved that may inspire them to return, and be prepared to incentivize them to come back.
By tackling both ends of the customer spectrum, you've got the opportunity to grow your business by retaining your top customers and showing what they mean to your business, while also winning back lost business. Addressing feedback from both groups should also help improve retention with your middle of the road customers too.
Implementing personalization at scale
If you think personalization is daunting, the good news is there are plenty of tools out there to help simplify the process. LimeSpot is the top personalization platform in the Shopify ecosystem, helping thousands of businesses present relevant products, offers, and content for every shopper, at every stage in the buyer journey. If your business includes an ecommerce component, you can even try us for free for 15 days.