Ecommerce personalisation in a post-COVID world

In an increasingly busy and competitive online marketplace, personalisation is still the tool for getting in front of the competition. Akshay Raja explores how an ecommerce retailer can shift its experience to create an impressive personalisation strategy.

Personalisation is old news, it’s true. It’s been a buzzword in marketing for at least the last few years. But, the pandemic has really upped the ante on the need for ecommerce retailers to adopt personalisation strategies. And, with rapid tech advances, personalisation just keeps getting more personal.

The last couple of years have caused a rapid shift in how we shop. Out of necessity, we’ve become more comfortable online. This has sparked businesses to focus their resources on building or improving online environments. Consulting company Mckinsey coined the term ‘The Quickening’ to describe this time. While, admittedly, it doubles as a great title for a sci-fi film, it refers to the fact that COVID-19 has caused our consumer habits to leap forward in what should’ve taken a decade, in a mere few months. 

For ecommerce businesses, The Quickening poses a huge challenge – the uncertainty is leading to a bifurcation in the industry. Some businesses stagnate, thrust into an emergency mode where either risk or financial instability force inaction. Others progress faster than ever because they’ve been open and able to adapt through digital innovation, of which personalisation is fundamental. 

Another recent McKinsey report also explored consumer sentiment post-COVID, discovering shoppers are favouring value for money over brand loyalty. In an increasingly fickle marketplace, personalisation then becomes an even more urgent tool for both attracting and retaining customers. When there are more than enough options at a customer’s fingertips, a website that caters to their ‘personal’ needs is the best tool a business has to distinguish themselves from the competition. 

Website personalisation

In this article I am focusing on ecommerce website personalisation. That is, how a website can shift its experience to target the customer and their individual needs. There are tools available to personalise just about every aspect of an ecommerce site, but understanding data and focusing on digital marketing are key starting points to an effective personalisation strategy. 

It always starts with data 

The key to understanding your audience – who they are and what they’re looking for – lies in in-depth data analysis. And, the most valuable information driving personalisation right now comes from real-time behavioural data, or the breakdown of  how someone interacts with your site.

It encompasses things like how many clicks a consumer makes, how many pages they visit, which promotional message brought them there or how many times they visited before making a purchase. This helps to paint a detailed picture of the type of primary persona you’re reaching and their motivations. And it goes deeper too, providing insight into secondary personas that you’re then able to make a more targeted approach towards. In a Yieldify study, 76 percent of respondents said real-time behavioural data was the most popular option for driving website personalisation.

Data segmentation

Again, segmentation isn’t a new idea. But, in all the types of segmentation at a marketer’s fingertips (demographic, geographic, psychographic) it seems behavioural segmentation is what’s winning the hearts of customers and driving more successful business in the post-pandemic economy.

As a more common example of behavioural segmentation at work, a personalised ecommerce website can distinguish between a first-time visitor, a regular visitor who hasn’t yet made a purchase and a regular purchaser. It’s then able to adapt its message respectively. For example, offering a first-time purchase discount, a reminder that the first-time purchase discount still applies or an invitation to join a loyalty program or a premium service. Results from this type of messaging show that it’s highly effective at customer engagement. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of personalisation strategies.

Digital marketing by a digital marketing expert

Engaging the services of a digital marketing expert or agency may seem like an unnecessary expense, especially during times such as these where uncertainty prevails. Where you might be able to make educated assumptions at demographic and geographic customer characteristics, personalisation through behavioural segmentation is a more exacting and technical tool that’s worth the time and effort of doing well.

If your ecommerce website is not geared up for maximising sales through personalisation tactics then you’re missing out. While others who do invest in website excellence take market share. Another Yieldify study from August 2020 said, “74 percent of ecommerce sites have now adopted website personalisation, with this number expected to reach over 90 percent by the end of 2021.”

It’s those companies who push hard to survive, to rise above their competitors and take advantage of opportunities, that will have a higher chance of succeeding and thriving. With the digital space becoming an increasingly large part of a buyer’s interaction with your brand, making sure your website is optimised to win business for your company should be high on any business owner’s or marketer’s list. Personalisation is key for converting data into actionable goals with targeted results.

And on the other side of the screen, it helps customers feel that they’re being considered as a person – not just a sales target. 

 

Akshay Raja is a digital marketing specialist at Rock Agency.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

 

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