Ask anyone with a desktop, tablet, or mobile device, and chances are, they’ve shopped online at least once in their lifetime (or once a month, like most people). With a seemingly endless world of online retail, it can be hard to set your brand apart and encourage repeat purchases.
Right now e-commerce is more competitive than ever, with over four million online stores in Canada and the United States alone. As the e-commerce industry continues to grow, so do consumer expectations. Shoppers aren’t interested in average experiences anymore. In order to attract new customers, bring back existing customers, and build brand loyalty, online retailers must provide more than products or services. That's where e-commerce personalization comes in.
It’s no secret that personalization is becoming integral to how e-commerce brands do business. 86% of retail marketers already use personalization as part of their e-commerce strategy. Clearly, they’ve seen the numbers and know that 80% of frequent shoppers only purchase from brands that tailor their experiences. (Source: SmarterHQ). Unfortunately, despite so many retailers providing personalization, only 60% of customers believe they’re successful at it. (Source: Segment) This leaves a lot of room for many online stores to fine-tune their personalization strategies for better shopping experiences.
In this article, we'll uncover why e-commerce personalization is important and how you can use it to build brand loyalty.
Why is personalization important for building brand loyalty?
It makes your brand more relevant.
Personalizing content that genuinely interests your shoppers not only captures their attention more effectively, but lets them find what they’re looking for more efficiently.
It enhances the customer experience.
Personalization lets you customize the e-commerce experience to each shopper’s unique needs and preferences. The best optimization is felt at every point during the customer journey, delivering a more positive experience that increases the likelihood of return visits.
It increases customer retention.
66 percent of customers say they often feel like a number, not a person. When you’re able to show shoppers that you care about their individual needs, they’ll feel more connected to your e-commerce brand, which will encourage them to come back over and over again.
It boosts sales.
By showing customers messages and products that are relevant to their needs, you’ll increase the chances of them making a purchase. This can translate to fewer abandoned carts, an increased average order value, and a higher conversion rate.
How can you use e-commerce personalization to build brand loyalty?
Provide tailored product recommendations.
Recommending products is one of the most effective ways to boost brand loyalty. In fact, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations. (Source: Accenture)
When users interact with your e-commerce website, they leave a lot of information behind about what they like and dislike. Utilize this customer data to create personalized product recommendations, which can be based on details like:
- The shopper’s actions during their current session
- Previous product views and purchases
- Past digital body language
For example, if a customer previously bought books about true crime, you could recommend a top 10 list of ‘Must Read’ true crime novels, or show them books that other shoppers interested in true crime also purchased. The shopper will feel like you’re paying attention to their needs, and you’ll increase the chances of them spending more money.
Offer targeted discounts and promotions.
Personalized incentives are an excellent way to motivate shoppers to make a purchase and build trust between them and your brand. Even better – they’re proven to work! A study by Sailthru discovered that 80% of consumers will share personal data in exchange for deals or offers.
The easiest way to come up with personalized offers? Tailor them to how each shopper interacts with your site or app. This can be determined by using the same data we mentioned earlier. Once you recognize unique shopping behaviors, you can customize your offers accordingly. Some examples include:
- Limited-time offers that are tailored to each customer's interests and preferences
- Cart-based discounts to those who have items in their cart but haven’t completed their purchase yet
- Customized deals that reward loyal customers for their ongoing support or referrals to friends and family
- Seasonal promotions that are relevant to the shopper's needs
Send emails based on each customer’s journey.
Email marketing involves sending personalized newsletters, campaigns, and other messages to your customers. These emails help online retailers extend their personalization beyond their websites to connect with customers, with the potential to yield some great returns.
When done right, personalized email marketing can increase click-through rates back to your website by as much as 139 percent. The challenge is ensuring you execute it right. To avoid coming off as pushy and getting your emails moved directly to the trash folder, try these personalization tips:
- Use their first names instead of generic introductions.
- Be relatable by speaking to them more like a friend than a business.
- Ensure your content is based on their interests and needs.
- Include discounts or offers to encourage them to come back.
- Remember to personalize the subject line, which can generate a
50% higher open rate.
An easy way to personalize your email campaigns is by segmenting customers into different groups based on their purchase history, location or demographic. Once you determine that, you can tailor your messages to what each shopper segment is most interested in, which can then be used for a range of emails and other personalization activities, including:
- Welcome emails to make new customers feel valued
- Post-purchase emails to thank shoppers for their purchase
- Reward emails to offer incentives based on the customer's purchase history and preferences
Abandoned cart emails to encourage those who left items in their carts to come back and complete the purchase
Of course, you can’t achieve any of this without your customers’ email addresses, which you can prompt shoppers to provide by offering account sign-up or by offering the shopper discounts or promotions to sign-up. These sign-up messages typically appear on the home page, or as a popup during checkout.
Leverage loyalty programs.
Personalized loyalty programs can be a powerful tool for building brand loyalty, and appeal to many consumers (55 percent of shoppers say personalized rewards are why they sign up for a rewards program).
What’s great about programs like these is that you can tailor them to whatever works best for your company and your shoppers. For example, if you’re looking to get more social proof on your e-commerce site, you might create a program that rewards customers each time they leave a product review.
Other ways online stores can use personalized loyalty programs to build brand loyalty include:
- Providing exclusive benefits such as early access to sales or free shipping
- Rewarding loyal customers with access to private events or limited edition products that are unique to their interests
- Building reward options around your customers' values.
- Partnering with other providers that can reward your customers with additional benefits.
By rewarding customers through personalized benefits and rewards, you’ll be able to build stronger relationships with your customers, while also improving the effectiveness of your loyalty program.
Deliver customer service that speaks to each individual shopper.
When it comes to personalizing customer service, it’s all about making each shopper feel like a person, not a transaction. Provide a good brand experience, and 93% of your customers are likely to return. But fail to offer any real-time customer support, and up to 42% of your customers will stop using your brand.
So how can you ensure your e-commerce store is delivering personalized customer service?
Start by thinking of each shopper as an individual.
This means getting to know what their unique pain points are and then using that information to provide tailored solutions. By doing so, you’ll be able to create an emotional connection with every customer.
Provide context-based support.
When a customer contacts you, ensure you have their information—name, address, order number and status—readily available. Essentially, both you and the customer should be aware of all aspects of the conversation from the very beginning, saving time and eliminating unnecessary roadblocks.
For example, a shopper reaches out via online chat, requesting the status of their purchase. Rather than getting the customer to share a bunch of details related to their purchase, your system should have automatically collected that information so that your support team knows exactly what they need and are able to access the information immediately.
Provide personal touches.
Not all customer service interactions are based on providing support to online inquiries. Sometimes, it’s little gestures that say the most.
For example, if you’re e-commerce store sells paper goods like gift wrap and greeting cards, providing a prompt that enables customers to input special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries, so that they are notified of a week or two prior to the date.
It all starts with the data.
Personalized shopping experiences are only possible when you’re collecting the right data about your customers. Without it, you’re merely guessing at what your shoppers want, which can lead to experiences that feel generic, or are completely inaccurate.
Now that third-party cookies are making their exit, many retailers are focusing their attention on artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms (like Granify) to help bridge the personalization gap for their customers. As it stands, 84% of e-commerce stores are already working AI solutions into their business (or have it as a top priority). The data collected from AI-driven technology can include everything from past purchase history to user behavior to demographics and location. This information can then be used to generate tailored recommendations for each customer based on their individual needs or interests.
By providing real-time data, AI technology can enable retailers to get accurate insights into their customers’ behaviors, so they can better comprehend what influences their decision-making process. The best part? Customers get a personalized experience without having to give up their private information.
Effective e-commerce personalization is key to building brand loyalty. By using AI technology and leveraging tactics like product recommendations, tailored offers, targeted emails and loyalty programs, you’ll be able to create a highly personalized shopping experience that your customers will appreciate. Just remember: personalization is all about meeting each of your customer’s needs, so how personalized content is presented is just as important as the experience itself. Do this right, and you’ll experience increased engagement, loyalty, and ultimately, more revenue.
Looking to power up your personalization?
Granify’s machine learning technology utilizes real-time data to boost conversions and engage and retain shoppers. The result is personalized product recommendations that are designed to delight.
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