Ecommerce Panel, Week 1: Prepping for Personalization

We may be well into the holiday sales season prep, but it’s never too late to remind ourselves of why it’s so important to approach your ecommerce gameplan with a strategic mindset…

Plus, with Q1 sales planning hot on our heels, it’s more crucial than ever to absorb valuable tips to fully optimize the consumer experience. So we’ve recruited three of our partners to deliver their approaches to maximizing sales in this quarter and the next. This week’s post is from our friends at Digital Operative! DO, take it away…


Imagine that it’s early December and you are shopping for a gift for your sister for the holidays. She wants a new pair of boots, so you go online to look around and add a few pairs to your shopping cart on two different websites (Company A and Company B), but you don’t actually make a purchase.

A day later, you get an email from Company A with the subject line, “Did you forget something?” and a link to return to your shopping cart to purchase the boots you had added the day before, plus a coupon code for free shipping. You click the link, and notice that there is a section below your shopping cart titled “Holiday shopping? Buy two pairs and get 30% off your purchase!” with images and links to product pages for three similar pairs of boots.

Meanwhile, Company B has not sent you an email, a coupon code, or a reminder about your shopping cart. Which company are you more likely to buy from? Seems like a no brainer at this point – we’re putting all of our money on Company A, and betting that you end up with two pairs of boots instead of the one you set out to buy.


The Value of Personalized Shopping Experiences

The reason for Company A’s success is personalization, or the ability to provide a unique experience that aligns with a consumer’s specific preferences and needs. For ecommerce brands, it is a critical digital strategy that must be implemented in order to keep up with consumers’ expectations, ensure a truly one-to-one shopping experience, and simply, sell more stuff.

Personalization for ecommerce brands encompasses everything from website experiences to email marketing to social media, however, the ability to personalize depends largely on how well you know your customers. Understanding their preferences, needs, and unique traits is the first step in providing a personalized online experience that engages them at an individual level, and isn’t the “just the same” for every visitor. Consumers who feel valued and believe you care about their unique needs are more likely to buy and become a loyal customer, so let’s take a look at how you might achieve this.


Getting Started with Personalization

There are two main ways that you can gather the necessary data to start personalizing your online experience:

1-Study customer behavior:

  • Segment your customers based on browsing and purchasing history
  • Look for trends (i.e. a customer who purchases product A is 50% more likely to purchase product B)
  • Analyze website data (site traffic, top landing pages and exit pages, demographics) and email marketing analytics (open rates, click through rates)
  • Install a heat mapping or click tracking tool (check out Crazy Egg or Hotjar) to see how your online visitors are interacting with each page and help determine what best catches their attention


2-Ask them questions:

  • Ask your customers for feedback on how you can improve their online experience
  • Add a survey question to certain pages or social media sites to gather specific information
  • Entice your customers to provide feedback by offering a discount or incentive in exchange for their time and participation

Once you’ve gathered your data, you should have a better understanding of your existing customer base. Next, use your data to segment your customers into buyer personas (a semi-fictional representation of your customers based on market research and real data about your existing customers). Then, you can work to personalize the experience for each persona segment based on collective trends of the group as a whole, so that you can tailor content and messaging to their specific needs, behaviors, and concerns.


Holiday Personalization Tips

For ecommerce brands, the end of Q4 is often the most profitable time of the year, and therefore, a crucial time for personalization. Prior to the holidays, merchants should plan ahead by gathering data from their digital consumers that will set them up for success. Here are a few ideas:

Tailored Purchase Paths: Display a pop-up or landing page that says: “Tell Us What You Love!” or “Tell Us Who’s on Your Shopping List This Year!” Based on each consumer’s response, group them into a unique path: one will provide product recommendations based on categories the individual consumer likes, while the other will provide gift recommendations based on a persona (gender, age, interests).

Better Merchandising & Promotions: Study data from previous holiday seasons to determine what your most popular products were, which buyer personas were most likely to buy, and at what dates and times. Use this information to offer discounts or incentives that reach your consumers at the right times.

Time-Based Incentives: Make sure your abandoned cart email series is ready to go and aligned with holiday incentives and sales. For example, if you are running a holiday promotion that ends on a certain date at 11:59 PM, send a final abandoned cart reminder out at 9:00 PM that lets consumers know they only have a few hours left to check out with the special discount.

And, don’t worry, if you’re too far along in your 2017 holiday planning to make any last minute changes, you can always apply similar strategies and tips to Q1 or later in 2018.


Be Company A, Not Company B

The key to building a successful personalization strategy is to do your research. Study data, collect information, create your buyer personas, and then use your findings to create a long-term strategy that aligns with specific goals. Remember that consumers are just people who want to feel like they are valued, and it is important to personalize their experience so that you don’t lose their loyalty to the competition.

Consulting with a personalization expert is also a good way to get started. One of our partners, Nosto, offers a powerful personalization solution designed for ease-of-use and to help online retailers deliver personalized shopping experiences at every touch point, across every device. Learn more about their platform and service offering here.

About Digital Operative

Digital Operative is a growth-focused digital agency where transformative digital marketing meets creative commerce. As a part of the transcosmos family of companies, we understand that today’s “anywhere customer” browses, compares, and buys across many channels. That’s why our offering is fully integrated to cover brand strategy, user experience (UX), visual design, digital marketing, analytics, and website development. We work with our clients to build better relationships with their customers at the intersection of commerce, content, and community, and our mission is to deliver cross-channel customer experiences that grow awareness, engagement, and revenue. For more information, please visit

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