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E-commerce personalization: 10 tactics that take you beyond product recommendations

By Lars Petersen , Tuesday, January 16, 2018

 

Don’t miss out on high-value conversations that can lift revenue and turn first-time visitors into customers.

E-commerce Insights blog

Personalization is growing rapidly in e-commerce, but most efforts until now have consisted of simple product recommendations.

That approach can lead to increased sales but, because it’s the only personalization, there’s also an opportunity lost. That’s because it fails to leverage other important data about your visitors, such as whether they’re just starting to research a product category or making a final purchase decision about a specific product. And that sort of information can lead to much greater sales.

Sending a premature product recommendation can seem pushy and even scare customers away. Instead, try to engage customers with the most relevant information for them at that moment. After all, the more you engage your visitors, the more they’ll end up buying.

There are two obvious segments in e-commerce: known customers who have already made purchases and unknown visitors who haven’t. In the simplified diagram below, you can see both groups at all the stages of the buying funnel.  It also shows that “opportunity value” rises as they move down the funnel.  If you focus only on product recommendations, you’re missing out on high-value engagement based on the need of your customer that can translate into higher sales.

To better engage your visitors, try these 10 personalization tactics, which address shopper needs at all levels of the funnel. You’ll find more details on these strategies in our white paper, “10 tactics for optimizing the commerce experience.”  

For unknown customers

Tactic 1: Understand inbound intent—By noting the inbound channel and source (e.g., a PPC campaign for 4K 60-inch TV), you’ll get a good idea of why visitors came to your site. That lets you offer them the information they’ll find most relevant.

Tactic 2: Implicit browsing behavior—Walk in the digital steps of your customers. Are they looking at broad product categories? Or at detailed information about a specific product? Once you understand that, you can send information they need to help them reach a decision—and complete a purchase.

Tactic 3: Propensity to buy—Score visitors on their likelihood to buy something. If they view product details, reviews, and availability, there’s a higher propensity to buy. Viewing just the home page or high category pages suggests a lower propensity. This helps personalize your approach for each visitor.

Tactic 4: Integrate content and commerce—Tight integration between content and commerce delivers an experience that makes it easier for the spontaneous visitor to transact. For example, a blog post may also contain personalized product reviews and a button to “add to cart.”

For returning customers

Tactic 5: Onboarding customers—When customers return, they may want to buy more or simply get information about the product or service they already bought. You can enhance that experience by recognizing who they are, what they want, and making the appropriate content available to them.

Tactic 6: Profiling with past purchases—If you know what customers bought in the past, you can personalize their next visit by showing them related products instead of unrelated items. For example, a customer who bought soccer shoes might be more interested in a soccer jersey than a hockey stick.

For active baskets

Tactic 7: Trust messages—After customers adds your products to their baskets, support their decision with relevant information such as strong reviews from other customers who have bought the same product or services. This will minimize pre-purchase exits.

Tactic 8: Related products—Based on what is in their basket and location, highlight important related products, including active promotions. This may help them ensure they have everything they need.

For missed sales opportunities

Tactic 9: Abandoned cart—Oh! You were so close, but lost the transaction. For known customers, contact them and get them back to the basket. For unknown customers, provide a shortcut to the basket for when they return.

Tactic 10: Re-engaging by product views—When customers view detailed product information, then exit before purchase, use the sum of their page views to determine the most relevant offers. Then use this insight when contacting known customers, and try to influence other visitors when they return.

Get more information on how to take your personalization efforts to a new level in our white paper, “10 tactics for optimizing the commerce experience.”

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Lars Birkholm Petersen is Sitecore’s VP of Business Optimization. Follow him on Twitter @LarsBirkholm