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E-Commerce Personalization: A Complete Guide (2019)

  • Conversion Rate Optimization

Picture this: You visiting your favorite retail store. The employees already know what you like the most, what suits you best, and what you’ve been eyeing for a long time.

Simply put, they know you well enough to make your purchase easier.

In real life, you may call it an exclusive shopping experience. But in e-commerce, you can treat every visitor like an exclusive customer—thanks to e-commerce personalization.

And online shoppers expect personalization.

According to a recent report by Accenture, 91% of consumers are more likely to buy from companies who remember them and provide relevant offers. Further, 83% of them are also willing to share their data in exchange for a personalized experience.

Personalization makes customers feel special and improves their shopping experience.

And that means loyal customers and high conversion rates for your online store.

Today, I’ll share seven of my favorite e-commerce personalization strategies used by top e-commerce brands and how you can easily improve your conversions, too.

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1. Create Personalized Homepages

Homepages are the front door to your online store.

Now that your potential customers are already at your door, it’s up to you to greet them in the best way possible.

And personalization is the key to that.

Unlike brick-and-mortar shops, online stores have the possibility to get to know their visitors closely even after one visit—thanks to cookies.

If you’re collecting cookies on your e-commerce site, you already know so much about your potential customers. Why not use this information in their next visit and improve their shopping experience?

Boozt knows this well and uses cookies to remember my interests and preferences.

This is what I saw when I first visited their site:

An e-commerce homepage targeting all three product categories and displaying offers for everybody.

Then, I clicked the banner to explore the women category and browsed around a bit.

In my next visits, whenever I typed boozt.com in the address bar, they automatically redirected me to the “women” page and displayed only relevant offers:

I don’t see the main homepage that is targeting everybody anymore because the company knows that I’m interested in that particular category. So they take me directly there, without any distractions.

The same holds true for the country information. When I tried selecting the United Kingdom on the top bar, they remembered my choice and took me to the right store every time after that.

Personalizing your homepage is a simple trick, yet it helps the customers find their way easily in each visit.

Visitors can focus on the category they’re interested in and shop without any distractions. It means a better shopping experience for them and higher conversions for you.

Editor’s Note

MeUndies have mastered personalizing their homepage based on where users are in the marketing funnel. To learn more about how they’re converting more visitors, read our post “9 Strategies MeUndies Used to Grow 1,583% in 3 Years (Case Study).”

Sam Thomas Davies
Head of Content

2. Offer Personalized Guides

Wouldn’t it be great to offer a personal shopping assistant for every customer? But that would probably break the bank, right?

Luckily, if you’re running an e-commerce store, that’s not the case.

Providing on-site assistance to your visitors with quizzes, and size and style guides are effective ways of helping users make better buying decisions.

What if you remembered the results of those quizzes and personalized your product suggestions based on them?

That’s exactly what Topshop does.

After I answered a few questions about my taste, style choices, size, and budget, Topshop created a personalized wardrobe for me:

Here I can view my highly personalized product recommendations that fit my budget and my size.

And it gets better. My wardrobe is regularly updated with new products and Topshop informs me about them through email:

It’s like having a store designed only for you… How much more personal could it get?

(In case you’re wondering, Topshop uses a third-party tool, called Dressipi for the wardrobe.)

The ASOS app goes one step further with personalized recommendations.

In addition to suggesting products according to my preferred styles and brands, they recommend me products based on my browsing and shopping history:

What I like the most about these examples is their approach to personalized guides.

They do more than simply offering one page of size charts. They actually help me develop my style and discover new products based on my preferences and previous activities.

And of course, I will be more likely to buy something out of the items that suit me better, rather than a long list of products I won’t ever be interested in.

Even if you’re not in fashion, you can still create quizzes to learn more about the users’ favorite brands or product groups. Remember their choices and guide them better with personalized recommendations.

3. Display Recently Viewed Items

Sometimes I casually browse through a company’s products (especially when there’s a sale) but not with a strong urge to buy them.

Even though I trust my visual memory, I don’t think I can remember all the product pages I’ve visited…

And it’s a shame. Because if I visited a product page, it means I’m interested in it. So at this point, I could use some help from the store.

And the help I need came from Zalando:

When I visited the site again, I noticed the “Recently viewed” section on the homepage, displaying the products I checked the last time.

With a strong call-to-action, “Pick up where you left off”, the company reminded me about the items from my last session and invited me to reconsider them in a subtle way.

Personalizing the homepage based on my previous sessions, the company helps me have an uninterrupted shopping experience. Plus, they increase my likelihood of buying those products.

And as I scroll down a bit, it gets better.

Instead of only recommending similar products, they suggest me new brands to explore, based on my recent browsing activity.

This way, they help me discover more items I can like from a wide range of product categories. And it means more sales and more conversions for the company.

4. Personalize Product Pages Based on Location

Whether through cookies or by asking the visitors, most e-commerce sites know where their visitors are coming from or where they want the products to be shipped.

Why shouldn’t you use this valuable information to provide more accurate results for the users?

Customizing product pages based on location is a simple adjustment yet it improves the shopping experience.

And there are many different ways you can use this information and be more relevant to your visitors.

Here’s an example by Allbirds:

When you choose the US store from the top menu and visit a product page, this is what you see.

The currency is, of course, US Dollars and the size information is based on US shoe sizes.

But if you’re browsing from the UK, the size information changes into UK sizes:

This is a good example of location-based personalization because the company anticipates the problems of their visitors.

If you’re an online shopper, I’m sure you already know the trouble. You have to look for size conversion charts for every product category if you’re shopping from outside of your country.

Nobody enjoys that.

If you’re shipping to multiple locations, make sure you stay relevant to the visitor. Keep the cultural or seasonal differences in mind. After all, you wouldn’t want to suggest winter jackets when it’s 29 degrees in Australia, right?

Using geo-targeting, you can also display relevant campaigns based on the user’s location.

Here’s how Rosemunde informs visitors from the US and nudges them to shop:

5. Create Special Campaigns Based on User Behavior

No two visitors are the same.

Users who land on your site for the first time and your returning visitors have different needs and questions in mind.

Why offer both of them the exact same thing, while you can easily personalize your on-site messages?

Not every visitor becomes a customer on the first visit.

So you can offer first-time visitors an incentive to sign up for your email list and help them visit you again.

Here’s how My Best Book collected email addresses by offering visitors a 10% discount on their first purchase:

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(By the way, this campaign converted 22% of their website visitors in one week. Not bad, huh?)

If a visitor is already a subscriber, you might want to personalize the message for them, instead of showing them another signup form.

This is the perfect opportunity to showcase your popular products or current promotions.

Here’s an example of how it might look like:

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Exit-intent is another well-known example of behavior-based campaigns.

The idea is to capture visitors when they’re about to leave and convince them to take an action (usually to complete the purchase or sign up for an email list.)

Here’s how minimum collected leads with an exit-intent campaign by offering a special discount:

(In case you’re wondering, this campaign converted at 37.4%.)

It’s not only individual pages you can customize according to the user. You can also personalize your on-site messages and display highly relevant campaigns.

And I can easily say that personalized campaigns work.

6. Get Personal in Email Marketing

I’m sure you know by now that email is one of the most effective channels for e-commerce marketing.

In fact, email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent.

Hopefully, email is already a big part of your marketing strategy. Adding personalization into the mix, you can make even more out of your emails.

Here are four simple personalization tactics you can start using in your email marketing strategy:

i. Personalize Email Subject Lines

Companies are fighting in users’ inboxes to get noticed.

So how do you get your emails opened in such a competitive arena?

Yep, you got it right: By personalizing your email subject lines.

According to a study, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. And what we mean here is getting on a first-name basis with your subscribers.

Check this example by Curioos and see how they directly address the recipient:

(Note how it also evokes curiosity.)

And here’s how Chubbies successfully uses personalization in a confident way:

Both examples are more likely to be opened because they talk directly to you and makes you want to learn more.

ii. Celebrate Birthdays and Anniversaries

What can be more personal than someone’s birthday?

Celebrating company milestones, birthdays, and anniversaries with your subscribers is a great way to show appreciation and re-engage your email list.

Adding a little incentive on top of celebration, you can nudge your subscribers to shop again.

Here’s an email you might get from kikki.K for your birthday:

A nicely designed birthday card with a $10 voucher.

And they don’t leave it there. Under the birthday card, they also recommend products “they think you will love”:

Then the email is concluded with clear instructions of how and when you can redeem your voucher.

Everything you need in a perfect birthday email.

If you’re not asking for birthday information during signup, here’s a smart way of doing it later:

Chubbies add this little note to the footer of every email they send. They invite you to share your birthday information in their humorous style. And they make it obvious that there’s something in it for you.

Evoking curiosity and promising an offer. Who can resist that?

iii. Send Emails Based on User Behavior

So far I’ve talked about personalizing pages and campaigns based on user data and behavior.

If you’re already tracking visitor behavior on your e-commerce site, you can use this information to send more targeted emails to prospects.

Here’s an example Rikke found recently.

While she was browsing Frank Kern’s site, she decided to check out a video. Shortly after watching the video, here’s the email she received:

Using URL tracking, you can follow the actions visitors take on your site and follow up with them via email, just like in the example above.

There are countless ways you can use behavioral marketing for e-commerce that goes beyond paid ads.

You can send highly targeted emails to website visitors, based on what they search for, which items they check out or add to their wishlist, and many more.

Combine them with urgency and scarcity, and you will have high-converting emails.

iv. Re-Engage Inactive Leads

Personalization is not only a clever way to grab attention or show appreciation, but it’s also an effective tool to win back old customers.

I assume you can already see who hasn’t purchased anything from you in a long time or haven’t clicked and read any of your emails.

Using that information, you can easily create an email campaign for inactive leads and win their hearts back.

Check this email we recently found in our Gmail account:

The personalized subject line and the curiosity-evoking question immediately got my attention.

So I clicked the email and this is what I saw:

HomeAway sent us this re-engagement email since we haven’t booked or read their emails in a while.

The email gets more personal and continues with tailored recommendations.

But I think this email is still missing one important element: An incentive.

They could have added a special discount code to win us back and gave us a reason to visit their site again.

(I’m sorry, HomeAway, we’ll continue being inactive for now…)

7. Make More Personal Recommendations

You probably know the importance of product recommendations for e-commerce by now.

According to a study by Barilliance, personalized product recommendations account for almost 31% of e-commerce revenues and they have a significant effect on conversion rates.

Suggesting similar or complementary items on product pages is almost a must-have for e-commerce site now.

But how can you make more personalized recommendations without being pushy?

Incorporating product recommendations into your emails.

My favorite tactic is using product recommendations on abandoned cart emails.

Just like in this example by Fabletics:

At first, it looks like any other abandoned cart email. A strong headline and a compelling visual is followed by a list of my abandoned cart items.

But as I scrolled further down, I saw this section:

They added personalized product recommendations based on my cart items.

I obviously liked the items I added to my cart, so I’ll most likely be interested in these products, too.

(Also, notice the personal touch and the friendly tone they added to the copy. Loved it.)

With this email, they can convert the abandoned cart. Plus, they can sell even more.

You can use a third-party tool like addwish to incorporate personalized recommendations to your emails.

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Want More Conversion Rate Optimization Strategies?

We’ve put together an exhaustive list of 100+ conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies our fastest-growing e-commerce customers are using to turn more website visitors into buyers (organized for your convenience.)

Conclusion

E-commerce personalization is not a fad. It’s here to stay with us.

Remember, your customers are wanting a more personalized shopping experience. And they’re willing to share personal information in exchange.

You don’t even need to think about the technical side of personalization.

There are easy-to-implement third-party tools you can use to personalize your visitors’ shopping experience. Barilliance, Monetate, and Evergage are only a few of them.

And the rest is all cookies and email segmentation.

Adding a little personalization into your marketing, you can achieve higher conversions and more sales revenue.

Have you seen any other great examples of e-commerce personalization? Let us know in the comments below.

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