In 2021, more than 2 billion people worldwide shopped online. In the second quarter of this year Ecommerce sales accounted for over 14% of total sales — or $252.1 billion in sales in the US alone. Additionally, online sales have grown 40% year over year, trusted by 75% of US consumers Brick and mortar and Online channels to research and buy products.
When brands have been hesitant about whether or not to prioritize investments in their digital experience, the answer is a resounding yes.
But what should brands focus on within this experience? The answer is personalization.
Why prioritize personalization?
Simply put, a business cannot exist without its customers. A majority of ecommerce and digital marketing executives who took part in a CommX survey conducted by Commerce Next agreed and named Build meaningful relationships with customers a top priority for 2022. This focus has outpaced investments in AR/VR, cryptocurrency payments and other technologies.
A brand’s ability to provide personalized content increases customer loyalty, lead conversion, average order values and revenue growth. When brands send personalized content, recipients see what’s relevant to them, making it easier for consumers to determine if a product or service meets their needs.
- 78% of consumers chose, recommended, or paid more for brands that offer personalized services or experiences. (McKinsey)
- 60% of consumers who experience personalized shopping with a particular brand say they are likely to become repeat shoppers. (segment)
- 80% of consumers say they are more likely to shop from a company that offers personalized experiences. (epsilon)
The heart of personalization
People spend an incredible amount of time on their computers, tablets and smartphones. They scan emails and texts at lunch, stand in line at the store, and wait for their kids after school. It makes sense that brands would want to meet these customers where they are (online) and do so in a way that feels seamless and relevant.
This is where data, the heart of personalization, comes in. By having access to real-time insights, brands can better understand how consumers are interacting with these digital channels, what exactly they are looking for and what else they might be looking for. Then, brands can tailor the content, campaigns, and products shown to those consumers so that each touchpoint reflects their unique needs and preferences.
Maximize your personalization strategy
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to personalization. But when developing a personalization strategy, start with these three questions:
1. Where Want to personalize your users’ experience?
Consider all touchpoints along the customer journey. Identify the areas where personalization would be most effective and helpful. Micromoments may include email, SMS, product recommendations, and site searches. Each of these possibilities helps to create seamless customer journeys.
2. What information should you use?
You already have a plethora of tools at your disposal—A/B testing, CRM, ecommerce marketing automation, and transactional systems—that generate a lot of data. Once you’ve determined where you want to incorporate more personalization, determine which tools will help you get there and where you may have data gaps that you need to fill in to achieve your goal.
3. How can you use technology and human insights to create personalized experiences?
Personalized experiences are data-driven, but shaped by people. Identify how to combine your data and channels, using your expertise as a digital commerce expert to deliver personalized online offers and contextual experiences.
In business-to-business marketing, prioritize context over personalization. As an industry that traditionally relies on human experience to drive sales, you should consider how you can use your expertise as a starting point to understand what customers want. Then supplement that understanding with data and analytics to further refine your personalization (and contextualization) efforts across all your digital channels.
Personalization connects the dots
Although studies show that 73% of B2B customers want personalization, getting it right has long been a challenge for B2B marketers. They are faced with multifaceted personas defined by multiple factors such as accounts, applications, departments and industries.
The customer bases are also more diverse: from customer service representatives to researchers to technicians and others. Also, most product catalogs are quite complex. Getting the right information to the right people is not easy.
B2B buyers make purchases to solve a business or organizational problem or to meet an urgent need. Merely personalizing the trip is not enough – it needs to be contextualized. This approach requires B2B companies to understand not only the products they offer, but also their customers’ industries and use cases.
The most effective way to offer contextualized, personalized experiences is to base them on the application. Your strategy needs an intelligent personalization solution with artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.
This technology – which processes data quickly and facilitates real-time optimization and scalability – is faster and more accurate than humans. Product, marketing, and sales teams can extract insights from the data to create customized, user-centric shopping experiences that provide each customer with personalized, real-time recommendations.
Start your ecommerce personalization journey
In the e-commerce world, personalization is everything. When planning your strategy, you should:
- Conduct due diligence on available ecommerce personalization tools and technologies.
- Create a team and allocate resources to manage this project and measure its gains. Personalization can and should lead to measurable business results.
- Start segmenting your audiences and personalizing key channels—be it through email personalization or personalizing the website experience itself.
- Track and monitor the results of your strategy regularly and consistently, and adjust and tweak as needed.
- Once you feel the strategy is right, start scaling across channels. Remember that personalization should not exist in isolation. Empower your customers to move seamlessly across your brand’s channels by creating a single journey, tailored to their unique needs at every step.
Personalization completes the customer experience. It Iincreases sales by an average of 20% with effective use. It doesn’t have to be complicated – but it has to engage, inspire and keep your customers coming back.
Businesses that don’t embrace personalization risk falling behind in the e-commerce world — and leaving an extra 20% on the table.
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Raj De Datta is CEO of Bloomreach, which he co-founded in 2009. Prior to that, Raj was entrepreneur-in-residence at Mohr-Davidow Ventures, served as director of product marketing at Cisco and was part of the founding team of FirstMark Communications in the telecom space. A founding partner at the seed stage of venture capital firm Founder Collective, Raj has a BS in Electrical Engineering with a certificate in Public Policy and International Affairs from Princeton University and an MBA with honors from Harvard Business School.