Let’s get personal – a guide to creating a more personalized shopping experience

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I recently had the chance to attend eTail West – one of the largest gatherings of retailers…period. And a common theme throughout the event was personalization.

Every marketer understands the more you know about your customers, the more impactful your brand message will be and the more likely a shopper will convert.  But a happy brand-customer marriage requires personalization.  For marketers, “personalization” can be a pretty broad term with many applications.

But if we dig a bit deeper, we can uncover three ways you can deliver a tailored, one-to-one experience to your customers and prospects.

  1. Optimize your website experience

Website clicks, product browsing behavior and shopping cart size. Nearly every brand today tracks these digital key performance indicators.  When a customer or potential shopper comes to your website, your marketing technologies can effectively and intelligently capture how long someone is looking at a section of your website, what products the shopper is clicking on and which ones they add to their cart.  But if you leverage the previous shopping experience for that consumer in addition to the not-yet-refreshed cookie, you can also learn what they’ve clicked on and placed in your store’s virtual shopping cart in the past.  The result: a semi-personalized product recommendation that has a better chance of being the right product at the right time for that shopper.  Emphasis on the ‘semi-personalized’ product recommendation.

This tactic is a good one – one that should remain in your marketing toolbox. But there is a way to take this strategy from good to great by using additional data to intelligently serve up product recommendations This takes us to our next tactic.

  1. Recognize your site visitors

Marketing data and on-boarding providers, like Cheetah Digital, can help brands not only identify anonymous site visitors, but also infuse additional data about those visitors that you otherwise would not have known.

Put yourself in the seat of a first time site visitor who is clicking on your website and exploring your products and services.  Like many retail marketers, technology may be in place to gather click data and quickly begin predicting what the consumer may be interested in next.

Personally, I have my go-to stores for certain items.  For basic products like socks and pajamas, I go online to stores like Kohl’s or Target. They are both stores near my home and make it easy for me exchange items if necessary.  If I’m looking for a new pair of running shoes, I often go online to a specialty retailer like Footlocker.  What if you, as my family’s primary socks and pajamas store, also have a new line of the hottest running shoes? If you rely just on my past purchases or click behavior on your site, you may miss a big opportunity to also recommend to me a product like those shoes.

If you want to fill in the data gaps and improve your personalization strategy, work with a marketing data and onboarding partner to help you identify the shoppers that frequent your website and understand their shopping preferences and habits outside of your own website. For example, you can connect other data to the visitor – like your own first party information. Is the site visitor a member of your loyalty program? You can also connect additional browsing behavior. Does your visitor frequent athletic and sporting goods websites?

With this type of information, the next time a consumer shows up on your website looking for socks and pajamas, imagine their delight to see your product recommendation for the newest athletic shoes.

Achieving a “single view of the customer” is no easy task, but fortunately, there are credible data partners out there that can help you learn more about the shopper you are trying to convert.

  1. Grow shopping cart size by using even more data

Consumers demand that brands know who they are and what they want so as not to waste their time with irrelevant experiences.  They also expect brands to know what they want before they ask. So how else can you deliver on that expectation without third-party consumer marketing data?   For example, if you were to partner with a company like Cheetah Digital, our data can tell you things like the age, income, discretionary spend, and even propensity to buy certain brands or products of your site visitors.

The shopper looking for socks and pajamas on your site?  They also have three children – all girls under 6, and are considered a lifestyle segmentation type Experian calls Mosaic – Babies and Bliss.” How might your recommendation for socks in another color change now?  Your analytics team is on it, now that they are armed with website clicks on and off your site and third-party consumer data.  Recommend the cotton dresses in youth sizes and a BOGO deal to get the shopper to try out your line of athletic shoes, one for her and one for her husband (who you now know she has).  And of course, the ankle socks in black.

Personalization is more than just understanding how consumers shop on your website. Sure, the predictable socks and pajamas recommendations may fit their needs today, but what about tomorrow? The more you understand who your customer is, the easier it will be to get them interested in products they may be unaware your store sells.  The right mix of first- and third-party data combined with your website technology can help you stay ahead of the curve and show your customers that you understand their needs. And the brands that caters to them, keep their customers coming back for more.