Personalization Strategy

10 Tips to Propel Your Personalization Strategy

Personalization is everywhere, showing up in ways that are often so subtle they may not be noticed by customers. Being greeted by name in an email, seeing the perfect item materialize in front of you as you shop, getting a reward when you log into your favorite commerce app – these small, but important, gestures make you feel seen as an individual, rather than just another generic customer.

Retailers that fail to personalize every single interaction risk losing something vitally important in digital spaces – relevancy. Generic experiences that don’t resonate with shoppers are conversion killers. So even if your customers don’t notice the small personalization elements that guide them throughout their buying journey, they may still react if they’re missing – by leaving you for more personalized pastures.

Why is a Personalization Strategy Important?

To work well, personalization uses a mix of human ingenuity, technology, and lots of data. Pulling it off requires a comprehensive personalization strategy. Without a clear plan, personalization efforts can fall flat with customers or even backfire if you fail to deliver the right content, offers, and experiences.  

A well-crafted personalization strategy keeps you focused on optimizing the entire buying journey across all touchpoints and for every customer. Examples of what this might look like include:

  • Improving engagement: Displaying product recommendations based on a shopper’s browsing history keep them engaged by showing them items they’re more likely to be interested in. 
  • Inspiring action: Personalized email subject lines that include the recipient’s name or reference their recent purchases are more likely to be opened and clicked on. 
  • Motivating sales: Targeted offers that align with a customer preferences and behavior can drive higher conversion rates.

Each personalized touch adds up to a more satisfying and relevant shopping experience. Over time, this leads to increased loyalty as customers feel understood and valued by the brand. Personalization becomes even more powerful when you add automation and AI to your approach. 

In one example from Monetate’s Personalization Playbook, a major retailer achieved a 12% increase in add-to-cart rates by using automated personalization to reorder product pages for each visitor, demonstrating the tangible impact of good strategy combined with powerful technology.

Propel Your Digital Personalization Strategy with these 10 tips 

There are many ways to personalize a shopping experience, so it’s helpful to start by focusing on best practices that will make any approach you take more effective. The tips listed below include proven techniques that we hope you’ll consider when crafting your personalization strategy. 

Tip 1: You Need Good Data

Personalization is only as effective as the data that powers it. When we say “good data” we mean data that’s accurate, complete, and tied to your business goals. It should include a mix of demographic, behavioral, and transactional data points that paint a comprehensive picture of each customer. 

This data should be collected from all online and offline touchpoints (website interactions, email, in-store purchases, call center, etc.) Data is what sets the stage for creating targeted segments that make experiences relevant for each customer (we’ll get into segments soon). 

Tip 2: You Need Unified Data

Unifying all that good data is what makes it actionable for personalization. Unified data gives you a complete view of each customer. It removes silos and views customer’s interactions as one connected journey. Unifying customer data is a key function of personalization platform like Monetate. 

Monetate lets you consolidate data from various sources across your entire retail ecosystem, including first-party customer data and third-party systems. This unified view allows for consistency regardless of where or how customers interact with your brand.

Tip 3: Really Understand the Customer Journey

Delivering effective personalization requires a deep understanding of the buying journey from the customer’s perspective. To (literally) take a page out of Monetate’s Personalization Playbook, here are elements you can personalize across various commerce pages:

  • Homepage: Use data to create personalized content, product recommendations, and offers.
  • Category/Product Listing Page: Create product finders and personalized category pages based on user behavior.
  • Product Detail Page: Leverage social proof, product recommendations, and dynamic layouts to drive conversions.
  • Cart/Basket Page: Optimize the layout, highlight value propositions, and provide personalized cross-sell recommendations.

You can and should personalize experiences at each stage and page of your website to help guide customers as they shop and make them more confident about completing their purchase. 

Tip 4: AI is Your Best Friend

AI and elements of AI like machine learning and automation are what allow you to scale your personalization approach to every customer. Monetate client Landmark Group, a multinational retail and hospitality conglomerate, has over 2300 stores across 22 countries. 

They were able to scale personalization with AI, adding product recommendations to their cart page based on each shopper’s in-session and past behavior. They then refined their approach with Monetate’s AI-driven dynamic testing. Among other effective approaches, Landmark discovered that the “Viewed-Also-Viewed” recommendation algorithm worked best, resulting in a 16.6% increase in revenue per session and a 13% increase in average order value.

Tip 5: Personalize Across All Channels 

Unlike multi-channel marketing, which treats each channel separately, personalization requires an omnichannel approach. Omnichannel views the customer journey as one interconnected experience. It’s different for every customer and can incorporate a mix of physical and digital channels. So, for example, a customer might research a new couch on their phone, add it to their cart on their laptop, then drop into the store where they can see it firsthand. 

They can then complete the order in-store, schedule delivery, then follow its delivery progress via their app or through SMS messages that provide updates. Regardless of how this customer got from point A to point Z (sitting on the couch binging Netflix), personalization should be cohesive across all these interactions, reflecting the customer’s preferences and behavior at every step.

Tip 6: Make Search Personal

Personalized search and customized AI-powered product recommendations add an important element of relevancy to online shopping experiences. Since many people start at the search box, personalizing search results can provide needed guidance as soon as someone reaches your website. Personalized search uses data like customer behavior, preferences, and past purchases to rank results.

Product recommendations display relevant items based on in-session activity as a shopper searches, browses, and takes action like adding a product to the cart. They use browsing and purchase history to recommend items that shoppers might like. Monetate’s product finder and social proof features are two additional features that work in tandem with personalized search in that they help shoppers with product discovery. They surface items a shopper might not know about and recommend additional items to compliment a given product (e.g., batteries and charging cables for a laptop they’re eyeing).

Tip 7: Inspire Discovery with Relevant Content

Personalization isn’t just about reacting to what customers are doing, it’s also about inspiring them to discover new products and experiences. Features like product finders, social proof, dynamic bundles, and badging can pique shoppers’ interest and encourage them to explore further. 

For example, a product finder quiz can guide customers to items they might not have considered, while social proof elements like ratings and reviews build trust and confidence. Dynamic bundles suggest complementary products, making it easy for customers to find everything they need in a single order. Badges that highlight “new,” “trending,” or “best-selling” items can draw attention to products and inspire action. 

Tip 8: Get Better at Understanding Customers

Test, measure, and iterate – these are three needed elements to any good personalization strategy. A/B/n testing allows you to compare different versions of an experience to see which performs best. Dynamic testing automates and scales this with machine learning that allocates more traffic to the winning variant, maximizing results while minimizing risk. 

You can also test specific elements of an experience like the placement of a recommendation or the wording of a call-to-action button with feature experimentation. A commitment to ongoing experimentation and analysis gives you a sound understanding of what works for your customers so you can optimize and personalize based on what resonates in the moment. 

Tip 9: Segment, Target, and Automate

Segmentation lets you slice your audience into specific groups of customers based on shared characteristics or behaviors so you can target content to them. For example, you can target new versus returning visitors or VIP customers versus one-time buyers. 

You can also segment by income level, region, and browsing behavior. Segmentation is a great way to customize content to different user groups, but manually creating and managing segments can be time-consuming and resource-intensive.

Personalization platforms like Monetate automate segmentation and targeting by using machine learning to create different segments. ML-powered platforms can analyze your customer data – even for very large retailers and databases – then identify patterns. This is exactly how you can deliver the most relevant experience to each individual customer at a scale worthy of even the largest retailers.

Tip 10: Put Your Data Scientist Hat On

A good personalization strategy is not set in stone. It will need refinement and that requires analysis. Use your audience analytics data to uncover actionable insights and better understand who your customers are, what they care about, and how they behave across different touchpoints. 

Journey analytics look at customer interactions and behaviors at different stages on your website (home page, product page, shopping cart, etc.), but also beyond this. Journey analytics encompass other digital channels like social media and mobile apps. They can show you what’s working and, importantly, where there are roadblocks preventing customers from moving forward. 

How can a Personalization Solution Elevate Your Personalization Strategy?

A personalization platform like Monetate contains everything you need to support and refine your personalization strategy. Monetate makes it easy to efficiently analyze and use customer data. It’s built with marketers in mind, so you can immediately start to customize messaging and experiences across all content levels on your site. This extends to different channels as well, like email, mobile, social, and even in-store. 

Monetate supports automation in a few different ways including via AI-driven insights, dynamic testing, personalized search, and product bundling. Industry-leading ML algorithms help you pinpoint what resonates best with your audience and allow for effective adjustments. That translates to better customer experiences and, thus, better outcomes, e.g., more sales, higher average order values, and improved customer retention.