3 Ways to Get Personal with Your Online Customers
January 11, 2018
by David Abbou
Retail is one of the industries most transformed by technology over the past decade. Online shopping has grown rapidly from a phenomenon reserved for keen early adopters and tech-savvy shoppers to the multi-billion dollar industry it is today. But as much as the medium for shoppers is shifting steadily, the key to turning casual browsers into satisfied loyal customers remains the same: Listen to your customers, understand what they want or need, and prove it to them by suggesting products that are relevant to what they’re asking for.
In the offline world of retail, a talented sales staff that can give customers that kind of personal attention is essential to earning repeat business. It’s that personal touch that builds a relationship between your brand and its customers.
But in the online world of eCommerce, recreating this 1-to-1 relationship has arguably been both the top priority and technological challenge facing online businesses in recent years. Without making strides in this area, shopping online can seem cold and impersonal. Receiving the one-size-fits-all approach when browsing through umpteen product categories, or when being targeted by mass marketing emails, makes the customer feel more like a number than an individual who is valued and appreciated.
Your Customers Are Communicating with You. Are You Listening to them?
Amazon’s intense dedication to personalizing the online customer journey has demonstrated just how critical this is to eCommerce success, and in doing so, they’ve redefined customer expectations. Being competitive today requires collecting and leveraging customer behavioral data at every touchpoint so that you can engage them with personalized content and offers optimized for any platform or device. A few years ago, trying to understand what your online customers were saying was a much more difficult proposition. But technological innovations have advanced to the point where companies can capture and act on user behavior throughout their online experience. Tools exist today to give your customers the personal touch of a knowledgeable salesperson along with the added ease and convenience they can access at the tap of a button or click of a mouse.
Here are some proven methods you can apply that will show your customers that you’re not only listening to them but giving them the shopping experience they expect:
1) User-specific product grids and assortments
Whether it’s your homepage, a product page or a special promotion, it’s critical the first page a customer views when landing on your site reflects that user’s preferences. Making use of AI and Machine Learning technology can help you automatically identify these preferences so you can choose the right product recommendation strategy for specific customer segments. Instead of that visitor having to sort through many categories, layering this context in your product assortments is the difference between that customer having to sift through rack after rack to find something that suits them and leading them right to it. This strategy will help boost your conversions and Average Order Value (AOV).
2) Segment and personalize your emails
According to a study by McKinsey & Company, reports of email marketing’s demise are greatly exaggerated: Email is three times more effective than social media at leading users to make a purchase, and has 17 percent higher AOV. But ‘batch and blast’ is no longer going to yield optimal results. It’s important to segment your CRM lists, both by customer demographics and behavior information so that you can deliver more nuanced offers that speak to their individual preferences.
3) Use geo-location data to speed time-to-purchase
Geo-location data can be used to offer channel convenience to your customers. Many customers enjoy browsing online but prefer picking up items in-store. Recognizing this and recommending this local option can help avoid having visitors drop out near the end of your funnel and reduce checkout abandonment rates. Online retailers with an offline presence can deepen the relationship with an already engaged customer and lead them to the nearest store where the product they’re viewing is in stock.
Applying your customer behavior analytics throughout your online journey adds that personal touch that results in a win-win both for your customers and your brand. Showing your customers that you’re listening to and responding to them on an individual basis will help turn visitors into loyal customers.