Make your customers feel special by personalizing your eCommerce shopping experience and making your customers want to buy from you again and again.
Why is it Important to Implement Personalization?
Offering a personalized shopping experience is important because customers like to feel seen, and to feel that your business knows and cares about them.
When customers have a positive interaction with an online business, they are more likely to seek out that experience again the next time they want to buy something. 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when provided with a customized experience.
Customers prefer shopping with eCommerce stores that recognize them as individuals at every step of their journey.
When customers have personalized interactions they are more likely to spend more. Personalized shopping experiences drive impulse purchases and encourage customers to spend more. In fact, customers spend an average of 34% more when their shopping experience is personalized.
Only 15% of retailers have implemented personalization strategies, so now is the time to set up a personalized customer experience and stay ahead of the game.
21 Ways to Implement Personalization in eCommerce
Personalizing your customer experience can be as simple as using the customer’s name in emails, or as advanced as offering AI-driven product recommendations.
Take advantage of eCommerce personalization by delivering personalized content throughout the customer journey. Here are a few ways you can personalize your online shopping experience.
1. Offer Tailored Product Education
Provide personalized product training and information for the specific products your customer purchased.
If your customers don’t have all the information they need to use the product successfully, they will need to reach out to your support team for help or they might even turn to your competitors if they can’t easily figure out how to use your product.
Make sure your customers have all the content they need to succeed, from the ‘whys’ to the ‘hows’. Each of your customers should know how to best utilize your product for their specific needs.
When creating tailored products education, answer these questions:
- What challenges are customers having and how can your product help?
- What will customers be able to accomplish with your product?
- In what ways can your product be used?
Customer-facing knowledge bases and on-demand training material are the two most common forms of product education.
2. Automate Your Customer Experience
Automation can help provide a tailored, personalized customer experience while saving you time and money.
Many parts of the customer journey can be automated, from order fulfillment to customer service, to returns processes, and more.
Essential elements to automate:
Inventory management is an integral part of eCommerce and automating your order tracking and stock management can make a huge difference to the customer experience.
Everything from generating and printing shipping labels to marking orders as dispatched to creating order tracking numbers can be automated.
When you automate your inventory management and fulfillment process, you get your customers their orders faster and more efficiently, while giving them more options on shipping, payment, and stock.
Accelerate customer support with automatized personalization and self-service features.
Using an app like Gorgias, you can set up your live chat so that customers can track an order, initiate a return, or cancel their purchase, without ever chatting with a live agent. Set up personalized templates so that customers will feel like they’re speaking with a human.
Automate and personalize your returns process with an automated returns management system.
Using a branded return portal, you can provide a convenient self-service way for customers to request a return or exchange. Customers input their order details and automatically see the items they purchased, and then they can select which items to return and why.
Using customizable eligibility conditions you can personalize the returns process and only show customers return options that are applicable to them.
Offering a convenient returns process makes customers more likely to come back and buy from you again.
3. Develop Customer Profiles
Customer profiles are created to represent the types of customers who would typically use your products and to help make customer-focused decisions.
One of the most important parts of delivering a personalized customer experience is taking the time to understand who your customers are.
A popular way of defining customer profiles is by creating semi-fictional personas that represent your target audience’s shared characteristics.
To develop customer profiles:
1. The first and most crucial step in creating customer profiles is fully understanding your own products, services, and your business mission.
2. Survey your customers to get their feedback on your products and on their perception of your business.
3. Identify your customers’ demographics, psychological characteristics, and behaviors.
Once you have gathered all the information you can, it is important to document your findings in a database using an easy-to-read template. Your customer profile template should include sections for demographics, behaviors and habits, psychological characteristics, and environment.
Developing customer profiles help you better understand the characteristics shared by your target customers, so that you can market to them more effectively and personalize their customer experience.
4. Send Personalized Emails
Stores that send personalized emails have better performance across the board, including an 81% increase in click rates, a 133% increase in conversion rates, and a 142% increase in revenue per email compared to stores that send only static one-time emails.
Make sure to send the right emails at the right times, depending on where the customer is in the customer journey.
Segment your email list based on factors such as:
- Purchase history
- Email opening times
Beyond using the customer’s name, make sure to provide personalized content, messaging, intent, and visuals. Incorporating direct links to the customer’s account page, wishlist, or recent orders is an easy way to instantly make each email more personal and relevant to each customer.
5. Offer Personalized Product Recommendations
Personalized product recommendations can help increase revenue and session time, and make you stand out from your competitors.
There are a number of places on your eCommerce site where product recommendations can be effective.
Your store’s homepage is the first thing that customers see when they visit your site. Homepage recommendations inform customers about the latest deals and discounts, display a selection of products, and provide personalized offers.
Product Page Recommendations
Personalized product recommendations on your product pages entice customers to continue browsing, moving from one product they liked to another that complements it.
Shopping Cart Recommendations
Product recommendations in the shopping cart enable you to recommend accessories or products frequently bought together. Make it easy for customers to add recommended products directly to their cart so they don’t have second thoughts and abandon their cart.
Product Category Recommendations
Filters don’t help customers who aren’t sure what they need, especially when there are a large number of products in each product category. Product category recommendations can be used to direct customers towards what they might want to buy based on what you know about them.
Offering personalized product recommendations can be extremely valuable in driving more revenue, increasing average order value (AOV), and providing a positive customer experience.
6. Provide an Omnichannel Experience
Provide a personalized and consistent customer experience across all channels.
Providing an omnichannel customer experience means engaging customers through multiple channels, treating each touchpoint (e.g. social media, SMS, chatbots) as part of a single seamless, frictionless experience.
Whether it’s face-to-face or by phone, email, social media, or live chat – customers expect your business to be there when they need something.
Using an omnichannel approach, your customers can start their experience on one channel and continue it seamlessly on another. 90% of customers use multiple channels to engage with a business throughout the process of placing an order.
Businesses that use three or more channels have a 494% higher order rate than those using a single channel.
An omnichannel marketing strategy doesn’t have to mean being everywhere. It means being present and available where your target customers are and delivering a positive and personalized customer experience.
7. Develop a Self-Service Process
Offering a self-service customer experience reduces frustration by enabling customers to find the answers they need quickly and easily.
A self-service customer experience can include accessible information such as FAQs, guides, how-to videos, and a knowledge base. You can also include tips, hints, and best practices to help customers.
Benefits of offering a personalized self-service experience:
- Helping customers solve issues themselves by using their past data and automatically suggesting solutions and tools.
- Providing easy problem resolutions, tools, and guidance strengthens brand loyalty and gives customers a positive shopping experience.
- Addressing each customer by name, keeping a record of their past purchases and using customer data to create relevant content makes customers feel cared for.
81% of customers want more self-service options. Customers who are able to solve issues on their own are usually more satisfied with their experience and give a high customer service rating.
8. Follow Up on Cart Abandonment
Cart abandonment emails help re-engage customers who created but then abandoned online shopping carts. Abandoning online carts is pretty common – almost 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes the purchase.
Ask yourself the 5 C’s when creating cart abandonment emails:
1. Customer – Is the email tailored to the customer using their name and other elements that make them feel seen and cared about?
2. Context – Does the content of the email address the reasons the customer might have abandoned their cart?
3. Customization – Does the email include personalized elements such as unique subject lines or product recommendations?
4. Concise – Is the email engaging, short, and to the point?
5. Call to Action – Is it easy to find a button or link to the checkout page?
Personalization adds flavor to cart abandonment emails – the trick is to make what may seem like an unwanted marketing message feel like a life-saving, last-ditch opportunity.
9. Speak Your Customers’ Language
To communicate effectively with your customers, you need to speak their language. Using technical jargon will confuse and deter them. Remember that while you may be an industry expert, your customers are not necessarily – so fit the language you use to how your customers think and speak.
Make sure your message doesn’t get lost in a sea of buzzwords and technical jargon. We often become so familiar with our products that we lose sight of the simpler terms that our customers are using. Build trust with your customers by communicating with them the way that they communicate with each other.
To better understand how your customers speak:
1. Read industry publications and see how situations are described.
2. Attend customers’ events and listen to the phrases and words used to describe challenges.
3. Track current and potential customers on social media to see the phrasing they use.
4. Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups relevant to your customers’ industries and monitor the discussions and the most commonly used words.
5. Follow industry blogs, online articles, and discussion boards, and see what people are writing about and what they care about.
The goal is to figure out how to communicate your products in terms and phrases that your target customers already use.
10. Reward Loyal Customers
One of the best ways to keep your eCommerce customers coming back is to reward them for their loyalty. Offer discounts, free shipping, or exclusive access to new products.
Let your loyal customers know that you appreciate their business and want to keep them coming back for more.
Everyone loves presents, and your customers are no exception. While traditional loyalty programs are limited to points for purchase, you can add a level of personalization to your customer experience by offering points for social media sharing, uploading images, leaving reviews, and answering surveys. Offering a variety of options for earning points allows the customers to interact with your brand on their terms.
Ensure that you are offering relevant rewards by collecting customer feedback and checking in with your customers.
11. Identify Customer Needs and Motivations
Understanding what your customers want and need enables you to more effectively market to them and provide what they are looking for.
For example, fashion shoppers looking for dress shoes are more likely to want to filter by color than durability, whereas the opposite may apply to a factory worker looking for work shoes (prestige motivated vs safety motivated).
You can identify customer needs and motivations by running surveys, collecting feedback, performing competitor analysis, and doing other market research.
Analyze which pages your customers view the most and do A/B testing on marketing messages that target different customer motivations.
Turn insights into action by tailoring your eCommerce store’s visuals, navigation, and content according to the information you gathered about your customer needs and motivations.
12. Focus on Customer Segmentation
Customer segmentation involves grouping customers based on shared qualities, taken from existing data.
Factors by which to segment your customers:
Group your customers by demographics such as age, gender, language, or occupation.
Use geographic information to segment your customers by location.
Leverage your customers’ behavior and product usage such as purchase frequency and login sessions per month to segment your customers.
Your customers can be grouped by the stage of the customer journey they are in.
Segmenting your customers enables you to more easily communicate with customers in a way that resonates with them, and personalize their shopping experience in a way that suits them best.
13. Collect Customer Data
Making sure that personalization is respectful and helpful, and not unwanted or creepy depends on designing the right customer data foundation and strategy.
Your personalization experiences are only as good as your data.
Look at it this way – a personalized customer experience is a meal that you serve, and customer data is the raw ingredients that you’re using in the kitchen. To deliver eCommerce personalization that drives business, you need to start with the right data foundation.
There are 3 main types of customer data you can collect:
1. First-party data is provided directly by customers through your channels, such as your website or mobile app.
2. Second-party data is provided by an external source for whom that data is first-party.
3. Third-party data is bought, collected, and sold by a data aggregator.
Increased regulations over the last few years have made it more important to ensure that your personalization efforts are based on compliant customer data.
As consent preferences of data from third-party sources can be unclear, it’s preferable to focus on collecting first-party customer data, which you can track.
Data-driven personalization in eCommerce requires a delicate balance between improving the relevance of the customer experience and respecting data privacy.
To find that balance, follow these rules:
- Collect customer data responsibly
- Keep a customer-centric focus
- Don’t overstep
14. Check In on Your Customers
Take the time to check in on your customers to send a clear message that you care about their experience with your business. This can go a long way in building customer loyalty and creating a positive reputation for your eCommerce store.
You can send customers personalized emails about delivery updates, special promotions, or product recommendations to remind them that you haven’t forgotten about them, that you’re available if they have questions, and that you’re committed to their satisfaction.
Ask your customers for a review after they receive their order or recommend similar or complementary products they may be interested in. Checking in on your customers reminds them that you care and that you see them as individuals.
15. Be Available Around the Clock
Nowadays it is more important than ever to be available around the clock for your customers. With the click of a button, customers can purchase products and services at any time of day or night, and they expect the same level of customer service and support.
To meet these expectations, your eCommerce store needs to have customer service and support available 24/7. This can be accomplished by using a combination of live customer service representatives and automated systems.
By being available around the clock, you can provide your customers with an exceptional level of customer service, which helps build customer loyalty.
16. Gather Customer Feedback
Gathering customer feedback provides valuable insights into what is working well with your products and what can be done to improve the customer experience.
Customer feedback is a great way to listen and learn from your customers. You can gain valuable insight into what customers feel is lacking in your business by collecting feedback in a systematic manner.
When gathered effectively, customer feedback can be used to optimize your customer experience to make it more personalized.
Methods for gathering customer feedback:
- Customer feedback surveys
- Email and customer contact forms
- Customer interviews
- Social media listening
- Website activity analytics
Think about your most important goals and start with one simple method for collecting customer feedback before branching out to more complex methods such as analytics.
Customer support channels are a great place to begin collecting customer feedback; you can approach every interaction as an opportunity to collect feedback.
17. Create a Customer-Focused Vision Statement
When creating a customer-focused vision statement, it is important to consider what your business wants to achieve and who your target customers are (based on your customer segmentation). Your vision statement should be aspirational yet attainable and should serve as a guide for your team as you work to grow your business.
Keep your customers at the forefront of your mind as you develop your vision statement. With a customer-focused vision statement, you can ensure that your company is always working to meet the needs of your target market.
A good vision statement will be:
Great vision statements are aspirational and ambitious, conveying a sense of passion for the ideal future toward which the business is working.
Your vision should be something that your business will have to strive for while still being achievable.
Zoom out and broaden the scope of your vision instead of making it finite or specific.
Be strategic in selecting the ideas that feel the most relevant – your vision statement should focus on objectives that relate to your business’s mission and purpose.
A vision statement will adapt and change as your business achieves goals, grows, expands its offerings, and updates its mission. Once a year, review your vision statement to make sure it still accurately describes your business’s vision.
18. Offer Customer Support via Social Media
Social media is a customer support channel that is becoming increasingly popular in eCommerce.
1 in 3 social media users would rather use social media customer service than telephone or email customer service.
Social media has become key to multichannel initiatives because it provides a convenient way for customers to engage with eCommerce stores.
Social channels provide a valuable source of information and insight that your business can use to personalize your online customer experience.
19. Regularly Evaluate Your Products and Services
It’s important to regularly evaluate your eCommerce products and customer service to make sure to keep offering a personalized experience. By understanding your customers’ needs and wants, you can make sure that you meet their expectations.
Consistently review your customers’ preferences and seek feedback from every available source. Use the insights you gain to develop more customized customer interactions.
By taking the time to evaluate your eCommerce products and customer service, you can ensure that your customers have a more positive and personalized shopping experience.
20. Use AI for Real-Time Personalization
Real-time eCommerce personalization is now possible thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI).
AI can help recommend products that a customer might be interested in, using AI-based algorithms that heavily rely on real-time behavioral data of the user, providing them with hyper-personalized experiences.
In addition, AI can be used to provide customer support, by answering questions or resolving issues. As AI technology continues to advance, more and more businesses will use AI to create personalized customer shopping experiences.
By using AI for real-time eCommerce personalization, you can provide your customers with a better overall experience, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and higher sales.
21. Close the Personalization Loop with Returns
Provide a personalized online return process to create an overall positive customer experience.
Use data from your returns process to improve the customer experience. Look at which products are being returned and why, and then use those insights to improve the customer experience even more.
For example, if you notice that certain products are being returned frequently for the same reason, you can take steps to address the issue.
Give customers a choice in how they return or exchange products, and make the returns process as easy as possible. Use an automated return management system to provide a personalized return experience.
Personalizing Your Customer Experience Goes a Long Way
From the initial look through your site to the final checkout, an excellent customer experience must include personalized content that appeals to your customers’ wants and needs in order for them to be satisfied and come back and buy from you again.
Digital technology has paved the way for eCommerce businesses like yours to go the extra mile to make every customer feel special by implementing personalization.
Pick one element to personalize and get started on improving your eCommerce shopping experience and creating a competitive advantage.