Website personalization is now a must for many, but some don’t have the knowledge or the data to get their strategy off the ground. In fact, a report from Epsilon has found that 90 percent of customers find personalization appealing and 80 percent are more likely to do business with a company if there is personalization involved. So, the desire for website personalization is there, but is your brand getting it right?
Website personalization is the process of creating a fully-customized experience based on collected data to dynamically populate the best possible user experience (UX) for each individual user. While it has become a brand imperative, some businesses have found their weak spots are keeping them from reaching their full potential.
Specifically, brands are often missing the mark on scalability, properly finding their audience, working with new technology, and more. Before you create a strategy to solve these issues, read through the following tactics for creating a more personalized website.
The Importance of Website Personalization
We saw personalization crop up over the last year as a top priority for brands, but why? For starters, it’s what the customer wants most these days. According to Invesp, 57 percent of shoppers say they are willing to give personal information if they felt they will benefit from it. Not only are customers alright with your brand using personal information to improve the UX, they’re actually offering it up. Accenture notes that roughly 75 percent of customers want to buy from brands that know them by name, recalls their purchase history, and remembers what they have already bought.
Achieving effective website personalization is challenging, but it’s all about finding the strategy that not only works, but also sticks. Finding a strategy that lasts can be a difficult task when you don’t have the proper personalization software to back it up. Personalization software will help you put data into context so that you can build out a plan that truly works. To further that point, Gartner is predicting smart personalization engines will boost profits by 15 percent.
Understanding Your Weak Spots
Identifying your weak spots is a fundamental step to achieving website personalization. When you find out which parts of your performance are lacking—or if you might be taking personalization too far—you can begin to better understand your next move. This way, you will be able to figure out what will drive conversions by testing out optimizations of specific areas of your website.
For example, if your homepage is the same for every visitor or your checkout process involves multiple pages, you may want to consider optimizing those areas of your site using personalized marketing techniques. Knowing where you are underperforming can be a powerful tool that will force you to learn from your mistakes and come back a stronger brand.
Piecing Together Your Website Personalization Strategy
1. Find Your Customer
It’s important that you know who your customer is. The concept seems obvious, of course, but demographics are all made up of individual customers with varying backgrounds, interests and needs. When visitors come flooding in, each and every one of them matters. If you don’t know who your customer is, spend time with your data to get to know them better. You should know their first and last name, their age, their location, and their previous search history…at the minimum. You would be surprised at the number of ways you can incorporate this type of customer data into your website.
Finding which demographics are visiting certain areas of your website is a gateway to deciding on a course of action for improvement. You can build trust and lasting relationships with your customers once you have learned how to personalize for them. This can mean something as small as greeting a shopper by their first name, or as in-depth as providing product recommendations based on their location’s climate that day. The customer will notice that your brand made the effort.
2. Understand Your Brand Identity
While it depends on each individual business, something to try is to lay out your brand identity in terms of demographic and visitor behavior. After taking a closer look, determine if you need a rehaul. Essentially, rediscover what you are trying to convey to customers based on who they are and the way they interact with your website. If you find that your customers are converting the most from social, ramp up your Twitter and Instagram efforts. Or, if you see customers are finding you by way of email, make sure everything that is landing in their inbox is personalized.
Your brand message can be spread across multiple platforms and any way you choose, so take advantage of that. Though a brand identity should be cohesive and consistent across the board, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to uniquely apply it to each customer. The more your customers begin to see your brand for who you are, the more they will be able to connect with you.
3. Don’t Forget About Your Homepage
There are many ways to employ website personalization, but many often forget one of the most important places: the homepage. Since it is the first thing that your customer is seeing when they enter your website, the homepage is an ideal place to personalize. Your homepage can either encourage shoppers to continue browsing or convince them to shop somewhere else. First impressions are important, especially in the digital space.
Brands are often hesitant to tweak something as central and impactful as the homepage, but changes don’t have to be glaring: you could acknowledge the time of day, the weather, customer location, and significant details of the customer’s relationship with your brand, all within a few subtle shifts to the page’s layout. According to a study sponsored by Marketing Insider Group, more than half of survey participants won’t engage with a brand whose content isn’t mapped to their interest and needs. Showing your customers that you understand them drives conversions. Remember, even acknowledging a customer by their first name goes a long way—and raising the stakes by testing bolder customizations will bring proportional gains. A homepage could truly be your time to shine.
4. Utilize Dynamic Content
Dynamic content allows for a page to show product descriptions, related blogs, and product recommendations tailored to each user. So if you have yet to adopt dynamic content in your strategy, you are missing an opportunity to connect with prospects and customers on a more personal level. Dynamic content relies on the behavior, preferences, and previous searches of the user, which gives you all the more reason to know them inside and out.
Plus, dynamic content should be seamless. The content being presented to each customer should be catered to them without seeming unnatural or out of place. This way, customers are only seeing the information they will find most relevant, and you will benefit from the conversions it will drive.
5. Simplify the Checkout Process
By now, you have gone through your entire website to find the kinks and strengths. One step you surely will not want to miss, however, is the checkout process. Is yours streamlined, or is it difficult for consumers to make a purchase? (Keep in mind: 28 percent of shoppers say they will abandon their cart if the checkout process is too long or complicated!)
One way to get ahead of checkout frustrations is by auto-filling forms for shoppers. Filling out information can be frustrating, since web pages can crash or become finicky, resulting in unhappy visitors. When you auto-fill forms with the customer’s name, shipping address, billing address, and even preferred payment (if applicable), you’re making their lives much easier. After all, 44 percent of customers say they are likely to become a repeat buyer after having a personalized shopping experience.
Website personalization brings your brand to the forefront of customer’s minds. Whether you’re optimizing product displays and descriptions or creating a smoother checkout process, you’re taking the steps needed to see a real change in your business.
If you would like to take a look at how you could benefit from the Monetate Intelligent Personalization Engine, head over to our solutions page. Or, to speak with an expert, contact us today and we will get you started.