It goes without saying that creating a personal experience is the gold standard for all online marketing endeavours, and this is especially true for online sales and marketing. The technology to create personal user experiences in ecommerce has been around for years, but the reality is that personalisation – effective personalisation that translates into actual sales – is extremely hard to achieve.
Why though? We have the technology, so why can’t we make it work? Assuming that a company has the resources (up to date personalisation technology and relevant customer data) and the time to develop and implement cutting edge personalised digital marketing strategy, the real problem might be the sheer volume and complexity of information that personalisation technology gives us access to. It’s a little overwhelming!
The following 3 dilemmas are common obstacles to effective personalised ecommerce marketing:
There’s so much data available for segmenting an audience
With so many data points available for personalisation, it can be difficult to decide exactly how to segment your audience. Do you segment my gender? Age? What about real time specifics such as the weather or time of day? How do you decide what is important? There simply isn’t enough time to test all options, and anyway even if you do create multiple segments, having too many is not a good thing and fragments your digital marketing strategy too much to be effective.
The solution: Choose a data point for which you have good, solid information as well as a clear idea of how to personalise, and use that to segment your audience. A great example is return website visitors, or people who used a specific search term to reach your website. Create personalised content marketing for these groups. By keeping your primary personalisation strategy simple, you have a greater chance of making personalisation technology work for you and be relevant to your customers.
Personalisation is not an exact science, so how do you ensure effectiveness?
Personalised content marketing becomes rather vague when you go beyond simple data points, and one also begins to wonder how relevant certain personalisation data actually is. For example, if you know that someone lives in Sandton, drinks coffee, and recently purchased the new Taylor Swift album, will it really help you convince them to buy a t-shirt? And if it’s raining, will this really make a difference to your strategy?
The solution: Keep it simple. Yes, men and women do shop differently, so take this into account. And yes, past shopping behaviours on your e-commerce site are relevant. More specific data can be used for split testing, which is a useful way of determining strategies and market segments that could be giving you big revenues. Always remember however, that if personalising certain segments isn’t delivering actual results as sales, then you need to cut these out of your strategy as it is a waste of time and money.
How do you apply personalisation strategies across the board?
Once you have found a personalisation strategy that is effective for your business, and delivers great results, you need to decide how big a role it plays in your overall online marketing strategy. And how your strategy can be scaled to suit different product lines, devices etc. But how do you decide? Tracking effectiveness can be difficult too – you may have a market segment that is not performing well, but how do you know whether that is because of your personalisation strategy, or simply because that segment is less likely to convert engagement to sales?
The solution: Personalisation should be part of, but not the entire basis of your online marketing strategy. Do not apply personalisation in any areas where it might not have longevity. In the long term, you should be using personalisation not just as a tool to make sales, but to gain important insights into your target market. In this way, the real benefit of personalisation is qualitative, not quantitative.
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