There’s one little detail in your marketing strategy that could boost your chances of converting a customer by 450%. That may sound too good to be true, but increasing personalization can be extremely influential.
Doing it right is not always easy. But like everything in business, if you have the right guidance and put in the work, the payoff can be huge. And in this case, there are several straightforward methods that brands can use to personalize their marketing and boost conversions—no fancy algorithms or creepy tactics necessary.
One of the reasons personalization works so incredibly well for online businesses is because it allows them to make a connection. Typically, one of the reasons a customer will prefer to buy something in store is because they feel more of a personal connection. They can talk face to face with a salesperson and the customer tends to be treated with more attention.
When it comes to dealing with a company online, this factor often goes out the window, as a customer becomes just another number in a database. Personalizing your marketing strategy solves this issue because it makes customers feel important and understood.
So why doesn’t everyone do it?
The Challenge of Personalized Marketing
The reason this can be so challenging is that it can require loads of consumer data, along with complicated algorithms and technology to properly incorporate into the user experience.
Online businesses also face some very high expectations from consumers. Since customers know their data is being tracked by online brands, they expect to see benefits from it. One study from Salesforce shows just how high customer’s expectations truly are:
Adding to the difficulty, consumers are still quite hesitant about businesses tracking their behaviors online, and sometimes find their personalization efforts creepy. Consider:
- How many times have you innocuously searched for something on Google only to see a Facebook or Instagram ads for it just moments later?
- Have you ever received a promotional text message from a business that you were physically located near to?
No doubt these interactions may have freaked you out a little bit since you know it was a direct result of companies “spying” on your online behavior.
So, how can online brands win here?
Well, the truth is that some personalization marketing strategies are more effective than others, and thankfully, sometimes a simpler approach is better. There are a handful of straightforward ways that businesses can use to make the customer experience more customized (without stepping over the line).
1. Sell On-Demand Customized Products
What often intimidates marketers about personalization is the assumption that it needs to happen automatically. We often associate personalized experiences with a custom website layout that highlights the content we want to see, along with personalized product recommendations or special offers based on past interactions. In order to offer these kinds of experiences automatically, marketers would need extremely thorough consumer datasets as well as complex algorithms.
However, personalization does not necessarily have to be automated to be effective. Offering products that are designed to be customized by the customer themselves is one easy way to create a personalized experience. This can look pretty different for various types of businesses, depending on their product lines or service offerings.
Selling easily customizable products is the most straightforward way to make the process more personalized. If you are looking to launch a new online store, you could consider starting a t-shirt printing business with customizable designs, or items like phone cases, coffee cups, water bottles, or other gift items that people want to personalize. Online stores like Vistaprint and CafePress have modeled their entire businesses around this concept.
But what about ecommerce stores that have established products that can’t be customized in this way?
Well, there are several other options to incorporate a more personalized touch into your business. If you offer a wide variety of products, you can offer personalized bundling options. For instance, the makeup company Tarte allows customers to build a customized makeup set by choosing from seven product groups for a totally personalized purchase.
Another option is including personalized accessories or up-sells to these items. For instance, L.L. Bean offers personalized monogramming to many of their items, such as backpacks, totes, and even dress shirts for an additional charge.
If you are unable to offer this kind of customization for the product itself, consider personalized accessories, such as a custom color combination for a sunglasses case or a luggage tag that includes the buyer’s name and address with the purchase of a suitcase.
These are some simple options that still provide meaningful personalization to your customers. You may need to get a little bit creative here depending on your product offerings to see what ways you can integrate personalization into the shopping experience.
2. Add Personalization Benefits to Creating an Account
Nearly all ecommerce stores these days ask customers to make an account during the checkout process. But unless a customer is expecting to buy again from you soon, they don’t necessarily have any incentive to do so.
Furthermore, up to 34% of customers will abandon their carts altogether if they are required to make accounts, simply because it takes up too much time. Some retailers even require email verification, forcing the customer to leave their sites and slowing down the checkout process. Additionally, it is typically only the retailer who benefits from customer accounts because it provides them with information like contact details and shopping behavior.
In order to grow your list of customer accounts, you will need to offer specific incentives and explain how it benefits the consumer directly. Since gaining access to customer accounts provides your team with key behavior data, personalized experiences can be the perfect perk to offer in exchange for your customers’ personal information.
For example, when customers first arrive on Madewell’s website, they are greeted with a perfect incentive to create an account. The retailer makes it clear that in exchange for some personal information, you can receive free personalization features along with perks like birthday gifts and fun rewards.
Loyalty programs are another opportunity to not only incentivize customers to create an account, but to also incorporate personalization. There are several ways to set up a personalized reward program:
Create a simple point system geared toward the customer’s favorite purchases. Starbucks offers this kind of personalized loyalty program to their rewards members by assigning point values to each purchase that can be cashed in for a reward, such as a free drink or a pastry item. Starbucks will also send out customized reward incentives based on the person’s behavior. For instance, if they are typically an iced coffee drinker, Starbucks will send an extra reward if they purchase an iced latte three days in a row.
Let your customers pick their earned rewards after multiple purchases. Sephora uses this approach in their VIB (very important beauty insider) program. Shoppers earn points for every dollar they spend, which can be cashed in for various rewards of their choosing. If those customers reach a certain spending threshold level during the year, they are automatically upgraded to a higher level and receive even more perks, including extra personalized experiences and better rewards based on their product preferences.
Personalized Deals and Offers
We all want to get a good deal, so when we feel like we are the only one being offered a special discount, chances are we are going to pounce on it. This is another great way to incentivize more customers to create accounts in exchange for access to customized sales or special offers.
DSW does a great job of boosting email open rates by sending out personalized deals to individual customers. Not only are the offers customized, but every detail about the correspondence is personalized by including the customer’s name and even a snapshot of their past interactions, like their past purchases and how many years they’ve been a customer.
Providing personalization perks for creating accounts offers benefits to both your business and your customers. Most importantly, it will help your marketing team grow their database and gain access to critical datasets for targeted marketing strategies.
3. Offer Customized Subscription Services
Another trending marketing tactic these days is to offer personalized subscription services. For example, Ispy sends their customers one box a month, full of sample-size hair, skin, and cosmetic products that are customized to the person’s preferences. This means that every customer feels like they are receiving products that are totally customized just for them.
Again, this subscription service may not be applicable to every type of business, but it certainly is something to consider. Furthermore, it does not have to be deeply personalized in order to be effective.
For instance, say that your company sells an assortment of teas and coffees. Customers that create accounts could be offered customized subscription boxes each month that allow them to try new flavors or choose their own samplings for a customized box of products.
4. Use Interactive Content for Personalized Recommendations
Rather than trying to analyze behavioral data and guessing what products your customers might be interested in, let them tell you directly.
Interactive content like quizzes and surveys can help you gather important customer preference data to create personalized product recommendations. Using this type of interactive content ultimately guides your customers toward the products that match their style, budget, and preferences, while giving you ground-level insights in the process.
The activewear clothing retailer Fabletics uses this approach to narrow down their vast product offerings to personally curated options for each person. Customers are required to take a quick style quiz and select the types of workouts they enjoy, the colors they prefer, and their sizes.
Fabletics then offers them a list of product selections based on those preferences, making it far easier for customers to find exactly what they want, without having to scroll through all of the products.
This approach works for both B2C and B2B entities, and can be quite a useful way to leverage content to generate more qualified leads.
The short-term car rental company ZipCar offers a great example of using interactive content for lead qualification in the B2C market. Customers can use their site to see if ZipCar can fulfil their needs and receive an estimate.
This interactive quiz also show users how much they could potentially save by switching over to this car-sharing service. It’s based on how much they currently spend on expenses like car payments, insurance, or public transportation. Customers can then instantly qualify, providing a sales team with a great database of highly interested customers to engage with.
B2B organizations can use a similar approach to narrow down their service offerings and automatically qualify leads. For example, Runzheimer offers a vehicle reimbursement program for companies. Their interactive content shows potential clients how much they could save based on their current usage with a free assessment tool.
Remember, the primary goal of personalization does not necessarily have to be related to boosting sales. It is an incredibly effective way to engage with your customers and influence decisions down the road, too. By using interactive content to narrow down each person’s preferences and interests, your business can also offer a more customized experience that allows you to connect with the customer long before a conversion.
For instance, HubSpot offers creative interactive pieces like the “Blog Topic Generator” to offer writers ideas for content pieces based on their subjects of choice. This has nothing to do with sales or promotions, but it does build a connection with the customer that could be influential later on.
For another good example, Pentaho uses interactive quizzes to offer clients ideas and strategies that are related to their services, without being overly promotional. One such quiz helps companies narrow down the types of Big Data technology services that would offer them the most benefits based on their organization’s size, budget, specific challenges, and level of digital adoption.
This really gives customers personalized information that is specifically geared toward their unique situations.
Personalization is a Powerhouse
There is no reason to lag behind on personalized marketing strategies, especially as emerging technology is making it easier than ever to offer customized experiences in multiple ways. Nearly every business model can integrate personalization in more ways than one—for sales, marketing, and lead-generation strategies.
In order to figure out the kind of personalized strategies that will work best for your business and target audience, ask yourself:
- What kinds of personalized features will have the biggest impact on your specific customers?
- What are the primary goals for offering personalization? Is it to grow conversions, increase brand awareness, drive more visitors to your website, or create higher engagement with your audience?
- Do you have enough consumer data for hyper-personalization? If not, how can you use the data that you currently have? or how can you effectively collect more?
By answering these questions, you can start to see where personalization can fit into your current offerings.
What are some ways that your business is currently offering personalization and what’s been most effective? Which of these strategies are you eager to try? Let us know below.