One of the most important sales and marketing trends to establish itself online over time has been the prioritisation of personalised marketing. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that this is the kind of approach customers prefer, but where do you draw the line between personal and intrusive? Read on to find out…
It is not enough anymore to simply address your emails with “Dear, [insert name]”. This sort of targeting has become so commonplace that its ability to grab the customer’s attention is more or less redundant. The analysis of customer interaction and historical data can reap rewards when tied into a brand-cohesive and well-planned strategy.
Given the openness of social media, and the prevalence of online shopping, people are less worried about giving more personal details to companies if it means they receive a better service. In fact, many expect that those details will cross over into eCommerce, and that their social media accounts will be open to those companies who are also linked.
Personalisation now looks more at engaging directly with the customer than just putting their name into an email. It looks at new ways to determine exactly what that individual wants from a company, via the use of targeted sales offering based on past activity, engaging and exciting copy and ultimately a smoother user experience. While some features of this can seem a little tedious to begin with, it will most certainly pay off.
Take Amazon as a prime example; if you are using the site for the first time or use it very infrequently, a lot of their features, such as the “Recommended for you…” section can seem completely off-key, but the idea of it is to keep the consumer coming back so that their preferences are accurate, searches are simpler, and email campaigns and offers are perfectly targeted to them.
What can I do?
There are many ways you can introduce personalisation into your eCommerce platform. The first of these is to include sections like:
Recommended For You
: based on people’s last couple of visits, products will be generated based on their searches or previous purchases
• People who viewed this also viewed : recommended products based on their popularity with other users who viewed the same product
• Loyalty schemes : rewarding your regular customers if they sign up to a loyalty scheme is an incredibly easy way of making the consumer feel as though they are getting a tailored experience but with fairly little impact on you. They can be as simple or as complex in construction as you dictate.
• Favourites, wish lists and “save for later” : the ability to save items not only creates a personalised environment for the customer to come back to, but can make the checkout process much quicker on their next visit, creating the same feeling as going away from the shop to think about their purchase first
Content language is also crucial. You must present everything in an engaging way if you want to speak directly to the reader, so make sure you know your target audience inside-out. This direct language can be assisted in its impact by you making the most of your CMS by maximising on your account management. If you personalise the account side of your eCommerce offering, it will give that feeling you want to achieve with the customer, which is one of empowerment. They are going to want to come back to you and use your site because you have given them control over their experience while making it feel intimate.
What should I do?
The only issue with this type of marketing is that there are very fine lines to toe – some people can still feel like you’re being too intrusive. We’ve all heard the story of the girl who, still in high school, was sent pregnancy coupons before even telling her parents she was pregnant, (if you would like the full story, please visit
Forbes story on Target
), demonstrating the terrifyingly accurate predictions companies can make if looking at the right data.
It is important to look at what can be taken from this story though; on the one hand, it shows how intrusive some users can view this level of personalised marketing, while on the other, it serves to prove the powerful extent to which we can determine what the customer wants and when they want it. As you implement the features into your strategy as described above, you will expand each type of the data being fed to you by customers, and your marketing will only become more and more accurate as time goes by, but don’t see this as a green light to bombard them with questions – it will only serve to annoy them and soon you will once again make your way into the ‘Junk’ folder.
Personalisation is thriving because of what some have dubbed ‘me-commerce’, and there are huge benefits that can be taken from it if you respond to the marketplace in the right way. Don’t forget though, in order to stay ahead of the competition you need to try and think in a more evolutionary way every time you build a new strategy: will this still be relevant in six months’ time? In a year’s time? Due to the rapidly expanding nature of eCommerce, we must always think of the next stage. Geo-location personalisation is that stage, but that is a topic for another article.