Back in 2013, our Realities of Personalisation report found that 98% of respondents saw personalisation as critical to success.

Fast forward to 2015 and Econsultancy’s latest Conversion Rate Optimisation report, in association with RedEye, and only 22% of respondents said they had implemented website personalisation.

Every company has its own explanation for this lag, but broadly we can sum up the problem as one of infrastructure and therefore cost.

Historically, website personalisation has been more difficult to implement than some other software-as-a-service (36% viewed it as very difficult to implement in our 2015 CRO study).

Whatever the current adoption of personalisation, what kind of experience can personalisation engender?

Simon Peirson from Barilliance (featured in our Website Personalisation Buyers Guide) spoke at the Festival of Marketing about creating these personalised experiences for four main shopper types.

Here are some of the tactics he laid out.

How to personalise for the ‘Just-Browsers’?

Users who are just browsing can be defined by the following habits. 

  • Frequent visits.
  • Browses a ‘New products’ category.
  • Browses multiple categories.
  • Sorts by ‘new arrivals’ if possible. 

Some examples of personalisation for those just browsing:

1. Personalise new arrivals based on category/product browsing history.

2. Personalise recommendations based on real-time environmental data e.g. display certain products when it’s raining in the user’s location (if appropriate). 

3. Engage anonymous visitors to enter their email address. This can be incentivising users to sign up to a newsletter or, in an example given by Barilliance, prompting users to sign-up to a digest of their browsing habits at the moment they decide to abandon.

Encourage email signup when browsers abandon

email capture for browse abandonment

4. Where customers are known, include personalised product recommendations in email newsletters.

5. Send known visitors a browse-abandonment email, using discount codes where appropriate.

A browse abandonment email with coupon

abandonment email for browsers 

How to personalise for the ‘Researchers’?

Researching users are defined by the following characteristics. 

  • Arrives from external search and lands on product/category pages.
  • Browses within a single category.
  • Sorts by reviews is possible. 

Some examples of personalisation for researching shoppers:

1. Paid-search message reinforcement allows product recommendations on a category page to be aligned with the incoming search term (at a more granular level than the category displayed).

2. Use social proof within these product recommendations served to referrals from non-branded search.

3. Add live sales counters to product pages where appropriate (see below).

4. Match sizing in recommendations, where appropriate (e.g. shoes or baby clothes). When a customer selects a size seven, for example, remove shoes from recommendations that are out of stock in this size.

X people purchased this in the last 24 hours

sales counter tfo show how many recently bought

How to personalise for the ‘Price Sensitives’?

Price sensitive users are defined as follows.

  • Uses ‘sale’ keywords in search terms.
  • Arrives from a shopping comparison engine.
  • Visits sale categories.
  • Sorts products by price, from low to high. 

Some examples of personalisation for the price sensitive:

1. Again, personalise recommendations based on search term, showing sale items to those that arrive from Google with a sale-relevant query. 

2. Recommendations can display cheaper items when users opt to sort products from low to high.

3. In sectors where customers are inclined to copy product titles and use them to shop around (e.g. electronics), display a price match guarantee (see below) when users highlight a product name. 

4. Track mouse movement to gauge likelihood of imminent abandonment. Use this to offer coupon messaging relevant to cart contents.

Price match guarantee when users highlight a product title

price match guarantee 

How to personalise for the ‘Ready-to-Buys’? 

Users who are ready to buy may be defined as follows. 

  • Arrived from a cart abandonment email.
  • Have added items to the shopping cart.
  • Have started checkout. 

Some examples of personalisation for those ready to buy:

1. Auto-apply voucher codes when a customer clicks to buy from a cart abandonment email.

2. Use a countdown timer in checkout for coupons set to expire.

3. Create urgency, perhaps by showing users how many other shoppers are viewing a product (example below from

4. Show stock numbers to create more urgency.

Showing number of people who have bookmarked a property creates urgency and validation

What do you think? Not all of these tactics suit all retailers. Do you have comments on the difficulty of implementing personalisation software, or the tactics you use in your own efforts?

If so, let us know in the box below. 

Ben Davis

Published 18 November, 2015 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (2)

Annabel Paton

Annabel Paton, Group Marketing Manager at PureClarity

Great post, Ben. It’s interesting to see how just four profiles can drastically alter the purchasing experience. As part of PureClarity’s onboarding process, we present clients with 4 initial profiles that provide a great starting point for more in-depth customer profiling.

Two things I would add to Simon’s recommendations – Firstly, consider the on-site search experience. Research has found that customers who use site search often purchase more and at a higher AOV, this part of user journey has a vast amount of potential for personalisation and should be part of every personalised campaign plan. This is especially important for ‘researchers’ – ensure that all search terms present results in order of relevance for that user, show recommended brands and link search terms with synonyms to avoid the dreaded ‘no results’ page.

Secondly, I’d recommend implementing personalised areas to up-sell to the ‘ready-to-buy’ customers including product recommenders in the basket area based on what they have previously viewed, what others like them have purchased and items relating to those in the basket. This may entice customers to purchase additional items, especially if they are presented with an offer code via their cart abandonment email.

over 2 years ago

Jenna Ochoa

Jenna Ochoa, Director of Marketing at Blue Stout

Hi Ben,

Thanks for the thorough article. You've outlined some great strategies around personalizing for specific users. Before a company can get started on implementing any tactics, they'll need the correct tools.

We've put together a list of 6 of the best tools for personalizing ecommerce websites and would welcome any feedback!

over 2 years ago

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