Today, personalization is all around us, from when we turn on our TV to watch Netflix, to when we visit the Amazon site to buy that perfect present for someone. We are seeing content and ads that are specifically tailored to us. But how effective is all this personalization? Is it worth the effort? And how can retailers actually get a return on their personalization efforts?
Marketers think personalization is worth the effort
First off, is personalization worth the effort for retailers? Well, if you look at Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the the world at the moment, personalization has been one of their main points of difference from their competition.
A Forrester report, Why Amazon Matters Now More Than Ever, found that what separates Amazon from other retailers is its personalization practices, with three-quarters of consumers saying that Amazon offers the best personalized experiences. Furthermore, the report found that the 87 percent of consumers said that when retailers personalize, they are influenced to buy more.
Also, according to a Econsultancy and Monetate report, companies who are personalizing the customer experience are seeing, on average, a 19% uplift in sales.
Personalization is clearly here to stay and is essential part of how retailers can deliver experiences that will drive conversions not only for existing customer, but for first-time site visitors as well.
What do consumers think about all this personalization?
While the promise of personalization as a holy grail of increasing conversion is evident, many consumers have mixed feelings about personalization. In conjunction with Ipsos MediaCT, Yahoo submitted a questionnaire to 6,000 individuals between the ages of 13 and 64 asking their thoughts on personalized content and advertisements.
More than half of participants (54 percent) said personalized ads were more engaging, and another 52 percent even claimed such ads educate them about something of which they were previously unaware.
Another survey, this one from Forrester Research, discovered 66 percent of consumers said personalized content and offers influenced their decision to buy products or subscribe to services.
Still, with respect to Yahoo's and Forrester’s findings, what about the other 46 percent who weren't particularly engaged with personalized ads? Personalization is effective, but is it as impactful as it could be? Adlucent found only 19 percent of consumers believe personalization enables them to shop for products faster and easier.
In addition, fewer than half (46 percent) of individuals believe personalization reduces irrelevant advertising. That means 54 percent of consumers who encounter personalized content still see ads, offers and other types content that don't apply to what they want.
I know that this perplexing relationship with personalization is mirrored in my own experience. For example, recently, I bought blue jeans online from my favorite clothing store, and now all the recommendations and offers are centered around selling me blue jeans. The retailer still hasn’t realized that I had already bought the jeans I want, and they didn’t understand that I don’t need another pair of jeans. But on the flip side, although I found this a frustrating experience, I desire a personalized experience tailored to my needs and wants.
How to get personalization right?
So how can retailers start getting personalization right and start anticipating consumer intentions, needs and experiences to generate stronger, more profitable customer relationships? The answer lies in the data eCommerce sites use to fuel personalization efforts.
Recently, I wrote an article Why Intent Data is the Elixir of Personalization. In the article, I looked at how leveraging first-party stated intent like what iperceptions can provide through our Active Recognition Technology can tighten retargeting strategies by recognizing purchase intenders and aligning messages with their needs to bolster the chances of conversion. Stated intent brings powerful precision to personalization. You can optimize on-site messaging to meet the needs of each individual visitor, even if they are a first-time visitor.
Personalization methods and strategies
Armed with stated intent, you can start to get closer to 1:1 personalization that helps anonymous visitors who arrive on your website for the first time. Personalization is broad and there are many different approaches. Let’s deep dive into some of the different ways you can start seeing a return on your personalization efforts using stated intent.
To better engage potential buyers, many marketers are integrating on-site promotions on their eCommerce sites. One of the most common types of onsite promotions is discounts. The example below is from Groupon that provides $10 discount when you sign up to receive special offers.
Other examples of on-site promotions include free shipping or targeting visitors who are about to leave a site with offers.
All of these types of on-site promotions can be personalized to the specific audience segments. But with stated intent, you can choose to target only specific audience segments, such as purchasers or researchers, with precise on-site promotions. For example, you can show an on-site promotion for a discount to purchasers that are at risk of leaving your site without making a purchase.
This means you don’t interrupt the experience of visitors that are not ready to buy, but only target visitors the promotion will resonate with.
Today most eCommerce sites are investing content from product videos to blog posts to create an engaged audience. But not all content is relevant to all visitors as each visitor is in a different stage in the funnel.
That’s why stated intent can help power content personalization engines to show content that directly relates to their visitor intent. For example, if someone visits your site and is a researcher they probably don’t want to be bombarded with content to buy. Instead what would resonate more would be content that would help them better understand the product from specifications to product videos.
Using stated intent can help personalize the customer experience and show content that will help move visitors down the shopping funnel.
Retargeting is one of the most powerful tools eCommerce sites can use to drive conversion. But just because someone visited your shopping cart, it doesn’t mean they are looking to make a purchase. So creating an audience segment based on people who visit the cart, and then trying to target them with ads to buy, means that they will consequently be shown misaligned ads.
For example, using stated intent, you can recognize which of your anonymous visitors are purchase intenders, and create retargeting campaigns and set bidding limits accordingly. This would ensure that your campaigns align with visitor needs and desires, and in turn increase their likelihood to convert.
Integrating personalization isn't an easy endeavor. It's going to take time and persistence. Also, be aware that your strategy will need constant adjustment based on changing consumer preferences, new technologies and other factors. It's a never-ending process that requires assiduous attention and analysis.