Ecommerce personalization is how most retailers and online businesses market to customers today. This involves targeting customers based on their demographics, intent, preferences, email search tactics, website browsing history, previously purchased items, and device usage. A real-life example is when a customer researches a future purchase online – such as a couch – and when they use social media or email, they receive targeted ads that feature couch styles similar to the ones they browsed. This can happen with any item or service, and it is a central marketing strategy that has proven to be adequate time and time again.
Online shopping and researching brick and mortar purchases online before heading to the store have become the norm worldwide. Sixty-nine percent of Americans online shop and this percentage is expected to grow exponentially. It is estimated that there are 1.92 billion digital shoppers worldwide. Even the most traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have had to adapt to the online shopping desires of their customers.
Online browsing and purchasing offer a wealth of data. Browsers capture every step people take online, from browsing specific items to researching future purchases to the final purchasing history. Emails about items are also captured, and a simple email search is saved in browser archives. This data can tailor ads to people based on their browsing history. This is a very effective marketing practice: research shows that as much as 67% of people like to browse or shop on their smartphones as a pastime. Then, 77% of these digital browsers make impulse purchases.
Additionally, 70% will return and purchase from their device within the first hour of seeing the product. Online shopping is quick and convenient, especially when done through smartphones. Easy plug-ins to payment options such as PayPal further automate and expedite the process. By using e-commerce data, businesses can reach the most relevant targets faster.
Looking closer at e-commerce personalization, the following trends are prevalent:
Unified data – this practice allows businesses to bring all data collected about customers into one place, usually via a data analytics platform. This can include browsing history, email search and history, and so much more. In bringing data into one area, you can get a complete picture of customers’ habits and behaviors. Artificial intelligence can help e-commerce personalization go even deeper with AI-powered targeting and personalization. By using AI, companies can offer optimal customer experiences in real-time. This is done by targeting individuals instead of grouping people into broader categories. This results in more accurate personalization.
Psychographic targeting – consumers are studied based on their activities, interests, and opinions in this trend. When this data is collected, it allows marketers to create detailed “psychographic profiles” of audience segments then create relevant messaging. This practice is effective because it goes much deeper into analyzing customers’ needs than simply looking at their demographics and purchasing behavior. It assesses their values and beliefs and considers them when tailoring marketing messages.
Image Recognition – this AI trend enhances personalization even more. Image recognition features can provide customers with relevant product recommendations by analyzing the images of the products they browse, their interests and preferences, and finding products that relate to them.
Omnichannel Presence – this feature allows customers to shop from any device and saves their browsing activity – such as a shopping cart – across all their devices. Suppose a customer starts looking at a retailer website on their phone and adds items to the cart when they go into the same website on their computer or tablet. In that case, their browsing session can continue uninterrupted.
Off-Site Social Retargeting – In this trend, an item that a person looks at on one website will “follow” the shopper across future sites. A potential customer might view a home good item on the store website, then navigate away. Ecommerce personalization will then target the person with the same item via Facebook, Gmail, and many other sites. This is effective because it follows up on a planted seed, which often results in a customer purchasing the item.
Evergreen Shopping – This feature saves a shopper’s online cart and browsing session, so even if they pause for an extended period – days or weeks – they can return and pick up where they left off. Shoppers are busier than ever, so this is a valuable service for many.
Quizzes and Surveys – This customization trend targets social media users with “just-for-fun” quizzes. These collect essential data about customer preferences used for targeted ad campaigns in e-commerce personalization.
Onsite Retargeting – With this feature, online user behavior determines targeting. If a shopper adds or deletes items from their shopping cart, they are approached with offers that reflect that action.
E-commerce personalization is exciting for both buyers and sellers. Buyers can spend less time searching and duplicating efforts if their searching activities are interrupted. At the same time, businesses can gather rich data sets from customers’ online activities and then use that data to design effective marketing campaigns. Companies can become much more cost-efficient with targeted online ads than advertising to the masses.
As with many AI and algorithm-driven activities, it is essential to understand how the different tactics work and to continue to build knowledge about changing technologies and trends. It is also vitally important to understand online privacy regulations and stay compliant. Hiring an expert with relevant experience, reading about the topic, or enlisting a data analytics / AI marketing service can help you determine the right formula for effective e-commerce personalization.
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