Marketing doesn’t end after you’ve attracted new users to your website. Marketing doesn’t end after you’ve made the sale.
If you’re interested in increasing customer lifetime value, know the real journey begins after that first sale is made.
Personalized marketing – messages and actions tailored to the visitor based on their previous viewing & purchasing behavior- is the key to all of this.
Here’s an example you may be familiar with:
It seems so simple, but even Apple, the most valuable company on the planet, isn’t taking full advantage of personalized marketing.
A couple weeks ago, I bought an iPad Air on Apple’s website, and when I go back, you know what I see?
An iPad Air. Just like everybody else.
Apple knows I bought an iPad Air, so why show me again? Why not feature a case, or some nice manly accessory to go along with my new purchase?
Though price may be a barrier for some companies, it certainly is not for Apple, so why not include personalized marketing into their online shopping experience? Part of it may be due to the mentality of marketers as a whole.
According to a joint study by Econsultancy & Adobe, 63% of companies surveyed do not have the ability to target personalized web content in real time & 27% disagree that it’s even important.
That mentality left over from the world of physical retail stores, where adding featured products near the point of sale – think two-for-one promotions, or cheap up-sells – is enough to increase the amount of products in a customer’s shopping cart.
The reason this works in physical stores is because real-life employees are there to answer questions & make recommendations based on what they observe about the customer.
Online though, this “one size fits all” approach however removes any sort of personality from the experience, and it makes your customers mad. In a study by Janrain, it was found that 73% of consumers were fed up with being presented with irrelevant content.
Note: see a ton of ecommerce guidelines & testing ideas in our comprehensive ecommerce guidelines report (247 guidelines specifically for ecommerce).
How Can We Make Online Buying More Personal?
Though the potential number of visitors to your online store might be infinitely higher, according to Deloitte’s report “The Changing Nature of Retail: Planting the seeds for sustainable growth,” the conversion in a physical store usually is much higher.
That’s because in an online store we loose a lot of the direct communication between buyer and seller.
Even though we have tools like live chats or phone assistance, to bring a more human element to the online experience, in a conversation with oLark, a popular live chat tool, I discovered only between 1-10% of visitors ever take advantage of the technology.
It’s a shame because live chat has the highest satisfaction ratings over all other forms of communication. My guess is most customers aren’t using it because retailers haven’t figured out a way to trigger the chat window based on user intent.
Therefore, if we want to provide optimal service, we must explore other avenues.
The Case For Personalized Marketing Automation.
Amazon and other large online retailers use personalized marketing automation tools to give recommendations like an experienced, well trained employee.
Some of these tools include:
- Personalized product recommendation engines
- Email remarketing
- Behavioral targeting
- Marketing automation
The following infographic, “eCommerce Goes Personal” summarizes just how personalized content can yield significant improvements in our business objectives.
This Überflip infographic, “Marketing Automation: Popular Tools & Trends, explains additional benefits associated with personalized marketing automation and customer relations.
There are obvious advantages for your business KPI’s, and even more if you consider the savings in effort and staff once we have configured the tools and processes to follow.
Automating The Journey From First Click To Final Purchase
So, how can we automate interactions with our customers throughout the buying process?
Below are a few examples of applications of personalization tools and marketing automation in an online store.
1. Obtain Customer Emails For Direct Communication.
According to Monetate (gated content), email still provides the best conversion rates when compared to other traffic sources in eCommerce.
Once you have a customers’ email addresses, you can take advantage of other tools (such as email retargeting or triggered email campaigns) that can lead to additional shopping experiences, thereby increasing sales for your online store.
Don’t take this lightly. According to Experian’s 2013 Email Marketing benchmark report, personalized emails generate on average 6x more revenue than non-personalized email. Yet surprisingly, 70% of brands do not personalize.
It’s too bad, because the open & click rates across nearly every vertical are also significantly higher.
We’ve covered plenty of ways to capture email addresses before, so you won’t be surprised to hear that for B2B businesses, a good way to capture leads is by regularly publishing high quality content.
Mint is a prime example of using “high quality” content marketing to generate leads, as their personal finance blog helped them to grow to 1.5 million users in 2 years.
Our friends over at Vero have compiled a great list of other blogs that create “high quality” content, you should take a look.
Other popular tactics you may be familiar with are:
- Lead Magnets
- & In depth industry research
For B2C eCommerce businesses, the user usually comes with some purchase intent, so it doesn’t always make sense to use such tactics to capture emails.
Hopefully, you’re already generating content like product sheets, testimonials from other users, etc., but additionally, you may want to consider:
- Requesting an email address after the visitor has displayed some intent to buy. For example, once an item is added to the cart, asking for their email to be notified of upcoming promotions – or to invite them to join your loyalty program.
- Offering an irresistible first time offer, like 20% off your first order or free shipping after reaching a purchase threshhold.
2. Define Email Workflows & Guide Customers Through The Funnel.
According to MarketingSherpa, over 70% of leads are not ready to become customers, primarily due to a lack of nurturing.
One of the main tools offered by marketing automation is the ability to create lead nurturing workflows that will adapt based on how the lead interacts with the content.
With tools like HubSpot, Intercom, or Marketo, you can define workflows as follows:
Step 1: When the user gives you their email address, send them an introductory email to introduce them to the brand and build trust. In this message, it is important to explain your return policy, free shipping, security of payment, etc.
Step 2: If the user has not made any purchases after one week, send them a coupon code and try to encourage their first purchase.
According to Forrester 30% of eCommerce repeat purchases come from email marketing, which is why it is critical to make the most of the channel while the lead is still warm(ish).
5mimitos.com did this and increased their revenue by 13.5% within 1 month.
Step 3: If the user still has not made a purchase within 2 weeks, you can send content that may be of interest to them. Send them reviews of the item they were originally browsing, a link to a report, or even a list of new products in your store that may be of interest.
Workflows should be adjusted to the needs of your business, as well as to each segment of your customer database. That being said, the previous workflow allows us to have a clearer idea of how to marketing automation tools.
3. Completely Personalize Email Communications Based On User Behavior
Going a step beyond email workflows are transactional communications, which are generated as a result of the user’s actions on the site.
With email retargeting tools, we can maintain automated communication with a high level of personalization.
- When a visitor adds a product to their shopping cart but does not complete their purchase, send them an automated email inviting them to look at the items they have in their shopping cart, while also recommending complementary products.
- When the user views various products in a category but does not buy any of them, we can send an email that features top sellers from this category, reminding them of their need while offering interesting options.
Because email retargeting allows us to send emails tailored to the behavior of almost any (registered) user on the web, we’re able to stay top of mind as the user is trying to meet a need (searching for a specific product on our website, adding it to their cart, etc.).
Amazon has been able to use trigger based personalization technology to great effect by sending personalized newsletters.
According to a study by my company BrainSINS:
- Recommended products automatically get 73% more clicks than products that we choose to be included in newsletters.
- Recommended products automatically generate 46% more revenue than products that we select.
- The time that it takes to create the newsletter decreases between 30% and 90% (depending on whether or not there is any kind of editorial intervention).
This type of communication has two major advantages.
First – Each user sees only those products that may interest them.
Second – You can define the frequency of newsletters based on the level of user activity in our store.
This is to say that we can send more frequent newsletters to users who are accessing our store every week, and have more sporadic communications with those users who go for a month at a time without visiting our online store.
Not only can you personalize the content of your newsletters, but we can also adjust their frequency according to varied levels of user interest using tools such as the ones we provide at my company BrainSINS.
4. Modify Your Website In Real Time Based On User Behavior
Tools like Behavioral Targeting allow you to define user segments based on their behavior and take action to change your website for each of these user segments.
In this way, you can customize the user experience in your store almost any way you want. Some rules of Behavioral Targeting that are commonly applied in eCommerce:
- If a user accesses your online store from the UK but you’re unable to ship overseas, you can inform them of a more appropriate shop based in their country.
- If a user has visited your store before, rather than simply showing top-selling products on your homepage, you can feature products that the user viewed during their previous session.
- If a user has made more than 3 purchases in the last month, we can reward their loyalty by offering a discount towards their next purchase.
- If a user has entered through a specific AdWords campaign, we can redirect them to a landing page associated with that campaign.
- If a user did not purchase products that they placed in their cart during a previous visit, we can show them a pop-up with the products in their cart.
In general, Behavioral Targeting allows you to define the type of behavior we want to target (including new users, users who have completed more than 3 purchases in the last month, unregistered users, etc).
You can determine what type of modifications you should make to your website for that user segment. Broadly, you can modify a website in the following ways:
- Display a pop-up with specific content for specific visitor segments.
- Display a pop-up with a form to capture unregistered user emails.
- Replace one banner/image with another banner/image.
- Replace existing web content with different web content.
- Add an item to the website (content, image, etc.).
- Delete an item from the website (content, image, etc.).
There are many tools and options to automate various marketing processes on your eCommerce site, such that you can automate communication with your clients from the time of their first visit to your website until the end of their experience as customers.
Most of these tools are affordable, and the process of integrating them into online stores is tried-and-true, so they will not be a hindrance as we apply them to your business.
Having these tools & the proper knowledge of how they work can increase your conversions, the lifetime value of your customers, and sales within your online store.