Since time immemorial, customers have always valued personalized experiences - the store owner who calls them by their first name or the barista who knows just how they want their coffee. In fact, the central argument against online shopping largely hinged on the inability of ecommerce platforms to provide these type of one-on-one experiences.
Thankfully, the rapid evolution of the ecommerce space has led to the discovery of innovative ways to personalize customer experiences. These days, customers or prospects at every stage of the customer journey expect brands to make them feel special, making it a key ecommerce trend to pay attention to. If you're operating in the ecommerce space and you cannot guarantee personalization, there's a high chance you'll struggle to keep up with your competitors.
What is the customer journey?
The customer journey chronicles every interaction a customer has with your brand, from the moment they became aware of your business to the time they place their first order and until, hopefully, they become a loyal customer.
Although there are many traditional models depicting the typical journey, it's worth noting that today's consumers hardly fit into any generic map. Every retailer has the responsibility of figuring out the unique journey of their customers and ensuring they provide a seamless experience every step of the way.
Why you should personalize the customer journey
Personalization is one of the easiest ways to influence customer behavior and increase sales. A recent survey reported that about 40% of U.S. consumers claim that personalized customer experiences have made them spend beyond their budget while shopping.
Another Infosys survey revealed that more than 8 out of 10 consumers confessed that personalization influenced their purchase decisions. If you're an ecommerce store owner, and you're still wondering why you should personalize the customer journey, below are a few more points to convince you:
Ecommerce is growing faster than retail
According to Digital Commerce 360's report, ecommerce spending by U.S. consumers increased by 44% in 2020. In comparison, total retail sales increased by only 6.9%. Although the pandemic was largely responsible for the bump in ecommerce sales figures, there has already been a steady year-on-year increase even before 2020.
Ecommerce spending by U.S. consumers increased by 44% in 2020
It's safe to say that ecommerce is gradually becoming the present and future of retail. Moreover, 29% of consumers who only started shopping online post-lockdown revealed that they'd be relying more on ecommerce after movement restrictions have been lifted.
The digital shopping experience is more important than ever
Many online retailers trying to stay ahead of their competitors have had the misconception that low prices are the singular factor that draws and retains consumers. Little did they know that the customer experience is just as important as the price, if not more.
According to the Riverbed Retail Digital Trends Survey 2019, 89% of consumers revealed that a positive shopping experience impacts brand loyalty as much as prices. If you want your customers to remain loyal to you, it’s best if you pay attention to intangibles like loading time, attractive user interface, digital coupons and rewards, and access to reviews. In fact, check out our guide for seven more ways to create the best shopping experience possible.
A positive shopping experience impacts brand loyalty as much as prices for 89% of consumers
- Riverbed Retail Digital Trends Survey 2019
Customers generate lots of data with their online shopping habits
Every customer interaction with your brand is an opportunity to mine valuable data. If you can gather and analyze enough data from these interactions, you'll soon have a single view of the customer (SVOC). This refers to having all customer data available so every part of your system can customize the customer's interaction with your brand. For example, your system will not serve ads about products a customer just bought, but make helpful product recommendations based on the customer's purchase history.
You can then use this data across other channels, including retargeting ad campaigns and strategic personalized emails by segment.
Increase customer retention
Personalization is now a vital part of the retention strategy of all progressive brands. As you surely already know, customer acquisition costs are becoming steeper by the day, making it vital to ensure you get maximum value out of the customers you can acquire.
Personalization strategies like leveraging purchase history to share relevant content, cross-sell or upsell related products, and send marketing emails that teach how to get the most out of their recent purchase can deliver excellent value to your customers and keep them coming back.
Improve conversion rates by selling the right product at the right time
Personalizing the customer journey entails figuring out what your customers need and delivering it to them when they need it. Whether you're rolling out routine ads or discounted offers, personalization can be the key to improving your conversion rate and ensuring you enjoy maximum returns on your advertising investment. According to an industry report by Segment, 49% of customers admit making impulse purchases due to the personalized experience they enjoyed. Unsurprisingly, data gathering and analytics are at the heart of this endeavor.
For example, if a customer purchases lipstick from your store, you already have data about their lipstick preferences. Knowing that people are recommended to change their lipstick every year, you can offer them a discount on the lipstick brand eleven months from the date of the first purchase. Or, you can send them a coupon for 25% off the purchase of any other lipstick brand from your store if they're no longer pleased with the brand.
Don't forget that the right time can also apply to where and when a customer shops. Headless commerce allows you to create new, unique shopping experiences that meet customers where they're already active online and even offline - through IoT, blog, email, social, and other emerging channels.
Improve customer loyalty
There's no overemphasizing that there's a direct link between personalization and customer loyalty. According to a recent study by Accenture, 91% of customers are likely to give their business to brands that get them and deliver relevant recommendations and offers. If you can offer your customers personalized experiences at every touchpoint, you may not need an elaborate loyalty program to gain an army of brand advocates. If anything, businesses that do not offer personalized experiences record a less than average subscription rate to their loyalty programs.
91% of customers are likely to give their business to brands that 'get them' and deliver relevant recommendations and offers.
Scale your business profitably
Although many business owners opine that personalization gets more challenging as the business expands, the reality couldn't be any more different. When approached correctly, personalizing the customer journey can help you scale your business effectively and profitably.
Your personalization efforts will help you establish systems for data gathering, draw insights out of the data, create diverse buyer personas, and develop content or offers that suit each customer segment perfectly. These systems are typically powered by machine learning and easy to scale. You do not need to start afresh whenever your business expands.
Steps of the customer journey
As mentioned earlier, your customers will likely not fit into a generic customer journey map. However, considering the customer journey as a series of stages allows you to personalize your customers' experiences based on where they are in their journey. Below are the typical stages of the customer journey:
Awareness (first-time visitor)
Visitors that are at the awareness stage have just learned about your business or website. To personalize the customer journey at this stage, you may want to find out how they got to know about your business and observe the items they're interested in.
For example, if they followed a social media ad for your product, you may want to offer them free shipping on their first purchase. However, if they came in search of information about a product, prompting them to sign up to your mailing list may be an excellent way to capture their attention.
Consideration (casual browsers)
The prospective customer has indicated an interest in your offering at this stage, but they've yet to buy from you. You'd typically want them to go deeper into your site and remain engaged for as long as possible.
If they came in to look at a product, you'd want to show them other products they may be interested in and what they'll gain by buying from you. Even if they leave without making a purchase, be sure to do what you can to keep them engaged - offer exit intent pop-ups, incentives to sign up for your mailing list, or quizzes to get to know them better and tailor their experience from there.
Acquisition (active customer)
These users are pretty close to making a purchase but not there yet. They may have included some items in their wishlist or added products to their cart, but they're still one step away from converting. Personalizing these users' experiences might entail monitoring them closely and sending abandoned cart emails to get them to complete their purchase.
Purchase (active shopper)
The customers at this stage have made a purchase or two from your store, but you want to get them to keep visiting. If they're not on your mailing list yet, you'd want to get them to sign up so they'll have access to your deals and special offers. You may also leverage appropriate social media platforms to keep them engaged with your brand and send offers for complementary products based on their purchase history.
Advocacy (loyal shopper)
Advocates are the dream of every business owner. They'll consistently buy from you over your competitors and encourage the people in their network to do the same. It's vital to ensure this category of customers enjoys the highest level of personalization possible. Your marketing campaigns and promotional offers should be geared to meeting their needs. Give them exclusive offers, early access, enticing discounts, and other freebies that would keep them loyal to your brand.
It's vital to understand that different customers have different intents and shopping patterns. While some may go through every phase of the journey, others may skip steps, while others may not even arrive at the desired endpoint. Offering a personalized customer journey for visitors at every stage greatly increases your chances of converting first-time visitors to loyal customers.
How brands can leverage personalization
Below are a few suggestions on how you can personalize your marketing channels to improve your conversion rate:
Email personalization remains one of the most effective ways of driving customer retention and loyalty for many ecommerce brands. However, with the declining open rates of promotional emails, it's vital to properly plan and execute your email marketing campaigns for the best results.
Here are a few keys to email personalization:
- Gathering relevant psychographic, demographic, and behavioral data about email subscribers
- Segmenting customers based on their purchases
- Tracking customer interaction with your website as well as email marketing messages
- Filtering customers based on tracked data
- Sending marketing emails that best meet the needs or wants of the customer at the particular time
Your business website should be equipped with automation tools to help you identify customer segments and offer them personalized experiences at every visit. Website personalization strategies will include dynamic content blocks, overlays, footer/header banners, sliders and pop-unders, and product recommendations.
For example, it's not uncommon to have different landing pages tailored to each segment. While first-time visitors can get welcome messages and recommendations based on the source of traffic, repeat customers may have access to special offers or upsell coupons based on their purchase history.
Personalizing ads for different stages of the customer journey is key to improving your conversion rate. For instance, while it may be ideal for informing advocates about exclusive offers and loyalty programs, sending the same ads to casual browsers will amount to jumping the gun. As always, customer segmentation and data gathering are crucial to achieving effective personalization.
Personalizing your text marketing messages can significantly increase conversion rates and earn you maximum returns on your investment. Considering that SMS messages have a higher than 90% open rate, sending relevant, timely, and appropriate content is a sure way to get customers patronizing your brand. Again, customers should get messages based on their stage of the customer journey, as well as other relevant segmentation characteristics.
Cross-sells and upsells account for up to 30% of revenue for ecommerce brands
Upsell & cross-sell opportunities
Cross-sells and upsells already account for up to 30% of revenue for ecommerce brands. Having a well-thought cross-selling or upselling strategy starts with analyzing customer data and recommending products they need or want to see at the right time. Furthermore, top brands regularly introduce bundling as a part of their cross-selling strategy.
Learn more about how to master upselling on Shopify here.
How LimeSpot makes it easy to personalize the customer journey
LimeSpot is an advanced Customer Data Platform that delivers your customers’ personalized experiences when they interact with your brand. The platform's numerous features, automation capabilities, and integrations guarantee a significant boost in your bottom line while ensuring you do less work.
Below are three major ways LimeSpot can help you deliver personalized experiences, thereby ensuring customer satisfaction and converting casual shoppers into brand loyalists:
LimeSpot delivers personalized advertising experiences to every customer. The platform gathers pre-and post-campaign launch data to inform your marketing decisions and guide your campaign modification strategies. LimeSpot can:
- Send personalized email campaign and newsletters to each customer
- Send 1:1 content to drive customers back to your site
- Seamlessly integrate with all major email service providers like Omnisend, MailChimp, Klaviyo, HubSpot, and more
LimeSpot delivers real-time personalization at scale across web and mobile browsers. It can:
- Show customers the right products at the right time
- Personalize every step of the customer's browsing experience, from the homepage to post-purchase recommendations
- Match each recommendation type to suit each customer's needs
LimeSpot offers personalization based on customer browsing and buying behavior, allowing you to tweak any HTML on your website, including imagery, copy, CTAs, pop-ups, navigation, and more. Each customer is unique so their experience visiting your website will be tailored to their specific behaviors.
Google Shopping ads personalization
LimeSpot directly integrates with Google Shopping to improve the conversion rates of your Google Ads. The software's AI can:
- Automate catalog updates and ensure out-of-stock and newly added products are updated in real-time, thereby optimizing the customer experience
- Improve info passed to Google through data enrichment and significantly increasing your reach and performance
Not too long ago, personalization used to be an afterthought. These days, however, it's more of an obligation, as it's essential to delivering a great customer experience. Ecommerce businesses that wish to stay on top of their game need to accurately map their customer journey and deliver customized experiences to prospects and customers at each stage of the journey.
When you have an effective strategy for delivering personalized experiences across all customer demographics, you're guaranteed greater customer satisfaction, long-term loyalty, and consequently, increased revenue.