Competing in a customer-obsessed market using website personalisation
Have we met before?
Has this ever happened to you? You’re introduced to somebody who you’ve actually met before. You search their face for any sign of recognition, but nothing is evident. You feel a bit awkward saying, ‘actually, we’ve already met’. You can forgive it happening once; but if it happens again, you might feel deflated and annoyed.
As social animals, we search for connections; we have a need to be recognised and acknowledged. We hate it when people forget us as our sense of identity is diminished.
Acknowledgement and recognition are positive and powerful motivators. They boost morale, make people feel important, and increase the chance of them repeating the action they took that made them feel good. The more that you demonstrate that you remember your customers, the more likely they’ll value their relationship with you and remain loyal.
I thought what we had was special.
We’ve discussed at length in previous guides the myriad benefits of personalising your emails to make them relevant and show the customer that they’re a memorable and valued addition to your brand; but what happens to that personalised journey when the customer clicks through from your highly targeted email only to be served up a generic, untargeted website?
What about customers who arrive at your site from an organic search, or because they’ve shopped with you before? What are they seeing?
If your answer is that everyone sees the same thing then you are missing a highly lucrative trick.
One-to-one marketing is no longer the future – it’s here!
To compete and lead in The Age of the Customer, digital customer experiences MUST be transformed. Technology should be applied to guarantee that the users’ end-to-end journey is both led by their actions, and driven by solid insights.
Digital technology significantly affects how your customer perceives and experiences your brand; and since digital experiences are now ubiquitous in every single aspect of your customers’ lives, their expectations have never been higher. Their day-to-day is dominated and saturated by the digital environment – one-to-one marketing is the key to standing out from the crowd.
You are no longer simply competing for marketshare; you’re fighting for consumer mindshare!
Be a disruptor, or be disrupted.
Today’s customers adopt and abandon brands at an extraordinary rate based on their perception of the experience offered. Your competitors are already challenging your business as they develop digital strategies to better engage your customers. Research shows that 25% of companies now have a FULL digital strategy in place (Forrester) – a number that is growing year-on-year.
Plus, market share can be lost on a dime as new players come to the party; startups are agile enough to disrupt your industry in a short space of time. You can either pre-empt the inevitable, or do nothing and watch your market share drop; because, rest assured, digital transformation is happening now, across every industry, as businesses race to keep pace in a customer-led market.
Do get personal.
We know that full digital transformation takes time, resource and cross-functional cooperation; but don’t be disheartened. There are measures that can be taken right now to meet your customers’ growing expectations.
A massive 77% of marketers believe that the ability to personalise content in real-time is critical to this shift (Adobe), and 33% of marketers see personalisation as their most important priority (CMO.com). Despite this, less than 10% of tier 1 retailers believe that they are highly effective at personalisation (Gartner), so there is definitely space to advance beyond your competition.
To date, personalisation has been the main focus of email marketing, and although these emails are still powerful and effective, the most mature, successful brands are backing this up with personalised web pages.
The scores on the doors.
This wouldn’t be a very good guide if I didn’t back up my claims with some cold hard facts. So, for all you stat fans, here are some key figures to bear in mind when deciding whether it’s worth your while reading any further.
- 74% of consumers are frustrated by websites that serve up content (offers, promotions, products) that has no relevance to them (Harris Interactive and Janrain)
- 73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use their personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant (Digital Trends)
- 86% of consumers say that personalisation plays a role in their purchasing decisions (Infosys)
- 45% of online shoppers are more likely to purchase from a site that offers relevant recommendations (Invesp)
- 40% of consumers buy more when the shopping experience is personalised across channels (Monetate)
- 57% of consumers are happy to provide personal information on a website as long as it’s for their benefit and is used responsibly (Harris Interactive and Janrain)
- 66% of consumers said they saw “no evidence” that stores they visit regularly know them as a consumer (Periscope)
I think we can all agree it’s pretty crystal clear that customers are willing us to succeed on this. They want us to prove that we know them; that we value their time and their business; and that we are making every effort to improve their experiences. For that, they are happy to reward us with their data and their hard earned cash.
When a seamless, personalised experience is provided, customers spend more time on your website, download more offers, and spend more money. Marketers who can quantify the improvement from web personalisation see an average of 19% uplift in sales (HubSpot).
Yet, despite all the evidence, only 20% of companies are doing any kind of website personalisation (eConsultancy). Adapt quickly and you stand to benefit substantially from your competition’s laggard behaviour.
Where are the pictures?
I’ve compiled a variety of examples to give you some ideas of how you can quickly and easily get started with your own website personalisation and take the next important step towards one-to-one marketing. Enjoy!
Product recommendations usually appear on the homepage. They show a variety of products based on browsing or purchase history, or the search term used to find the website. They’re great for engagement and can be shown before the customer has given any personal details, making it a highly effective tactic for first-time, as well as returning visitors.
You would think it odd if Amazon didn’t feature highly in these examples – so I won’t disappoint. It might surprise you to discover that a staggering 35% of Amazon’s revenue is generated by its recommendation engine.
Amazon’s use of the real estate above the fold is dominated by products that are relevant to items that have previously been browsed, increasing the chance of a click through.
Personalised web banners
Shop Direct launched fully personalised homepages back in 2015 that greet every visitor to very.co.uk with products that directly reflect their preferences. It was a major step towards the digital department store’s goal of creating the world’s most relevant digital shop, and part of a digital strategy that saw Shop Direct’s profits surge by 43% in the first year.
The clever use of a contextual, personalised web banner serves multiple purposes. It ensures the customer knows that they have been on the website before, adding trust and familiarity. It ensures they realise that *you* know that they have visited before, improving their sense of self. It makes the site feel new every time it is visited. Finally, it allows you to showcase products that are relevant in real time in the most valuable real estate of the homepage.
Creating a sense of urgency can be a powerful method to push customers into making a faster decision on a purchase they’re considering. Countdown timers provide a clear visual cue, telling customers that they should take action within a specified period of time. This could be a countdown until the end of a sales period, or for a deadline on next day delivery.
The use of a live timer reinforces the ‘Hurry’ copy in the web banner. Following this with product recommendations based on purchase history will further increase the chance of a quick conversion. The timer on the homepage also mimics the email that was sent to advertise the sale – both updating in real time.
No personal device in history has had the same impact as the smartphone. Four out of five UK adults now have one, and 4G adoption has surpassed all expectations. What this means for you is that more customers than ever are doing research *whilst* shopping. The ability to use their location and serve up their nearest store(s) on your website is an easy way to show you value their time, and increase footfall to your brick and mortar shops.
Weather is the single most universal factor in consumer decision making. It affects what we wear, what we eat, where we go, what we buy – and, most importantly, how we feel. This makes weather data the perfect tool for contextual marketing. It is practically the only dataset available to marketers in realtime which provides an insight into a person’s mood and purchase intent at any point in time.
By utilising weather targeting relevant to the location and time the site is viewed, Timberland can serve up the most suitable products, right there in the header.
Another simple but effective way to convey a sense of urgency to make a decision is the use of social data. Travel companies are particularly good at letting you know that other people are looking at the product you are currently showing an interest in. This creates a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) as, if you don’t act fast, you risk someone else beating you to the punch.
Booking.com cleverly use another form of social proof in the form of letting you know how many other people have booked. This increases the credibility of the product and removes doubt from the purchase.
Live social feeds
Showcasing your company’s social feeds is another powerful way to improve personalisation on your website. Embedding a preview of your latest Tweets and Instagram posts is a great way of letting customers know that other people like them are actively engaging with you, which will encourage them to get more involved with your brand.
If these examples have inspired you to personalise your own website, and improve the digital experience for your customers, I have a few final pieces of best practice advice to offer:
Don’t fall into the trap of personalising absolutely everything! You also want them to discover new things within your offer. If they only see products that they’ve viewed or purchased before, you risk them thinking that your product range is extremely limited.
Don’t try to cram everything that is relevant to them above the fold. If they are bombarded with offers, products and promotions as soon as they arrive at your site, you could have the exact opposite reaction to your intended one.
The great thing about website personalisation technology is that it’s really quick and simple to implement. Devise a strategy over a defined period of time whereby you test the effects of adding one area of personalisation at a time.
On the theme of testing, it is always advisable when you try anything new on your website to keep a control group. This is a percentage of your customers that sees the generic version of your site when they visit. Doing this enables you to benchmark the impact (positive or negative) of your personalisation efforts.
Be relevant, not repetitive
If a customer buys a pair of slippers from you, you would be pretty unwise to show them slippers every time they visit, for the rest of their natural lives! In fact, it would be worse than not personalising at all. Use the data from that purchase to inform you of their colour, brand and size preferences; cross check against purchases other people make that also bought those slippers; then show them products related to those things instead.
Key takeaway about website personalisation
In conclusion, an end-to-end digital strategy can radically improve your relationship with your customers. It’s time to take the next step and ensure the journey continues onto your website. A small amount of upfront effort can deliver the relevant experience that your customers are demanding and leave your competitors in the dust. The time has passed where customers will simply endure frustrating online experiences so make sure you’re not delivering one; your customers, and your bank balance, will thank you!
If you need any advice about web personalisation, please get in touch. We’re always happy to help!
This best practice guide was commissioned by Pure360 and written by Nicola Webster; it is used on this website with their kind permission.