5 Common E-Commerce Personalization Mistakes

Nov 22, 2022 10:30:00 AM
9 min read

In a life where days fill quickly and time can pass in a flash, it’s nice to have moments that feel like they’re made just for you. This includes online shopping. Visiting a site and seeing content that’s tailored to your needs just feels…special. Effortless. Considerate. But even more, it’s expected.

Sales associate helping customer

In the United States alone, 90% of consumers find marketing personalization appealing, and 72% will only engage with personalized messaging. Put this all together, and one thing is abundantly clear: Personalization improves the online shopping experience. And e-commerce businesses know that the happier the shopper, the more likely they’ll be to buy—and the more likely they’ll become loyal to your brand. 

Here’s the problem: 36% of consumers say retailers need to do more to offer personalized experiences. When it comes to conversions, that’s a lofty number of shoppers that online retailers still need to impress. 

Confused man staring at crystal ballIf you’ve attempted to implement personalization on your website or mobile app but still aren’t able to retain customers or increase your revenue, hope is not lost. In this blog post, we’ll reveal five personalization blunders many e-commerce sites face and the ways to fix them, so your visitors stay engaged and are more likely to have delightful shopping experiences.

Understanding Personalization

E-commerce personalization is the act of creating a dynamic user experience by tailoring what each shopper sees when they visit your website. This can be achieved through gathering user data, such as digital body language, purchase history, location and other personal information. 

Providing unique user experiences can create a more meaningful relationship with your customers, which in turn, builds trust and significantly increases the chances of them shopping with you again. The outcome is a more thorough understanding of your customers, more qualified leads, a lower bounce rate, and a welcome boost in sales.

Related: 9 Personalization Strategies to Optimize the E-Commerce Shopper Experience  

5 Common Personalization Mistakes

1. Overlooking Real-Time Data

The problem: 

Many e-commerce stores disregard the data being presented on their website, opting to depend exclusively on historical data to offer personalized experiences. By doing so, they miss the opportunity to respond in real-time to their customers’ behaviors and information.  

How to fix it:

Understanding your customers’ individual needs is what personalization is all about, and data is the anchor of that personalization. The more you know about your shoppers, the better your website personalization will be. The secret is knowing what to focus on. That’s where having the right combination of technology and know-how come into play. 

Brain helping to make revenue decisionsTechnology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can detect new customer segments you may have missed and provide valuable insights to help you personalize your content. It also offers real-time data that’s collected while visitors are active on your site and identifies patterns in each visitor’s past behavior. 

If a shopper is a first-time visitor, this technology can match them to a subset of customers with similar digital body language. This data can then be used to provide each shopper with the most relevant, personalized content at the optimal moment. 

2. Inadequate Home Pages 

The problem: 

Cluttering up a homepage with generic, redundant, or outdated copy is a sure-fire way to get a potential customer to find the nearest exit out of your online store. If shoppers don’t feel connected to what’s on your homepage, they’re much less likely to explore any other pages, let alone make a purchase.

Man surrounded by many mobile options

How to fix it:

Think about your homepage as the front door to your e-commerce store. Ultimately, it’s up to you to welcome them in and keep them entertained so they not only want to stay a while, but come back again in the future. Personalization can help you accomplish this goal.

Integrating personalization onto your homepage isn’t complicated. All you need is a few key ingredients to engage your shoppers and steer them toward the products or services that will resonate the most highly with them. At minimum, an optimal home page should include these three components:

  •  An assortment of social proof, like product reviews and ratings
  • High-converting product recommendations based on history, search keywords and other user data 
  • Individualized offers that reflect each shopper’s unique needs (these are known to influence 85% of consumers to buy)

Consider adding other features like user-generated content, popular products, and best-selling items to complement the above elements and deliver a great customer experience. Just remember, you need to know your audience to create a homepage that captures their specific needs and persuades them to explore your site further.

Happy customer with arms crossedTip: Try to keep main messaging ‘above the page fold’, that is, the area visitors see before having to scroll down or click anywhere. This allows shoppers to see personalized content immediately, which will compel them to keep browsing your site. And don’t forget to ensure your homepage (and the rest of your site) is mobile friendly, since 45% of global consumers use their phones to shop online at least once a day.

3. Absence of 1:1 Personalization

The problem: 

Often, e-commerce sites confuse customized content with great 1:1 personalization. What’s the difference?

Customization is done by the user, while personalization is done by the retailer to meet the needs of that user. For example: You own one of those fancy massage chairs that kneads away at every aching muscle in your body. After sitting down and turning it on, you manually adjust the footrest and head pad to just the right spot to get comfortable. Afterward, you set the pressure to the desired level for 30 minutes of relaxation. That’s customization.

Now imagine sitting down, turning on the chair, and immediately having it automatically adjust to the right incline and pressure levels, without you having to do a thing. That’s personalization. 

When e-commerce stores customize their sites to serve their own needs first, they alienate visitors by excluding what they may want instead. This can result in less than satisfactory user experiences that prevent users from returning ever again.

How to fix it:

Facts are facts, and when it comes to personalized shopping experiences, 71% of consumers want it and 76% feel frustrated when they don’t get it.

1:1 personalization is an effective tool every online store should implement because it transforms the way shoppers see and interact with your products. To reach this level of personalization, however, you’ll need the right customer data and predictive technology (like Granify!) 

Let’s start with the data. Earlier, we mentioned the importance of using real-time data because it provides a complete snapshot of your customers. By having access to this rich set of consumer data, you’ll be able to tailor your messaging and change the products you show to each shopper, based on their individual preferences. 

Man looking over assembly line of carts, some with 'red x' that haven't converted, and some with a 'green checkmark' that have converted

The magic happens when you combine this data with machine learning optimization. Calculating every visitor’s behavior involves a lot of rapid data aggregation and execution. When you use machine learning technology (did we mention Granify?) to accumulate and analyze these data points, you’re able to pinpoint every action performed on your site, and compare that to the actions taken by other shoppers. This allows you to create personalized buyer journeys at every touchpoint. The more 1:1 personalization, the greater the chances for higher conversions. 

4. Irrelevant Product Recommendations

The problem:

Having product recommendations on your e-commerce site is becoming the norm for online retailers, but if your recommendations are unrelated to what your shoppers are interested in, they could do more harm than good.

Customer seeing mobile pop-up messageSome online retailers suggest products or services without considering their audience. This can leave shoppers feeling disconnected from your brand. And the less they feel connected to your brand, the less likely they’re going to stick around—let alone buy anything.

How to fix it:

The value of product recommendations is undeniable. Not only do 67% of customers want pertinent recommendations, but 91% say they’re more likely to shop with brands that offer them (Accenture). 

The intention behind product recommendations is to suggest relevant products to your shoppers—focus on the word relevant. AI algorithms can be used to establish each visitor’s likes and dislikes while analyzing real-time shopping patterns, so that whatever you recommend truly reflects their interests.

Where you place these recommendations matters too. Rather than congesting one page with excessive recommendations, your machine learning capabilities can help you determine the right time and place to share recommendations to convert more visitors into customers. This strategy works – a study by Barillance found that personalized product recommendations account for 31% of e-commerce revenue and have a substantial outcome on conversion rates.

5. Generic Emails

The problem:

Most online stores rely on strategies like marketing emails to connect with their shoppers and get them to visit their site (and hopefully buy) again, but 70% fail to personalize them. If an email comes across like it could be for the shopper, next door neighbor, and the neighbor’s dog, the only action the subscriber will likely take, is moving your message to the trash.

Studies show that when an email isn’t personalized, 52% of customers will find somewhere else to shop. A generic email doesn’t just leave shoppers feeling less than enthused, but sends the message—no pun intended—that they’re more of a number than a person. 

The solution:

Emails are one of the most efficient marketing tactics for e-commerce and produce six times greater transaction rates. But in order to be successful, these communications need to be more than the standard post-order message with blanket statements and nothing else.

To generate interest from your subscribers and convince them to check out your store again, emails must be carefully crafted and, of course, include personalization. 

Here are three simple yet effective ways to accomplish this:

  • Personalized subject lines can grab a subscriber’s attention faster, and are 26% more likely to be opened. 
  • Celebrating milestones like birthdays and anniversaries is a wonderful way to reconnect with your subscribers (61% want their milestones to be celebrated), especially when you add an incentive to them to shop again.
  • Including targeted promotions is an easy win, since 65% of shoppers want them and even more—83% to be exact—are willing to share their data in exchange for a personalized experience (Accenture). 

All three of these strategies can be implemented using the information collected from your website’s tracked visitor behavior, such as purchases, wish lists, and searched items. Combine this with urgency messaging, and your emails will be a welcome addition to your shoppers’ inboxes.  

Closing Thoughts

Two hands shakingYour customers want a more personalized shopping experience, so make sure to deliver one that’s exciting, appealing, and compels them to keep coming back. When you personalize the online shopping experience properly, you won’t just connect to your customers on a deeper level, but you’ll also transform your e-commerce store into a delightful shopping experience that makes every visitor feel like it was made just for them. With just a few fixes, you’ll be on your way to happier customers and higher conversions.  

Personalization Technology That Works

Computer and consumer giving each other 'thumbs up'Using the right tools is pivotal for e-commerce personalization. Granify uses innovative machine learning technology to identify and target shoppers based on what matters most to them. Find out how we can support your personalization strategies and set you on your own optimal path to conversion.

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