Personalization is fast becoming ubiquitous in online retail. Major retailers, such as the youth fashion brand ASOS see it as part of its future success strategy. Its chief exec, Nick Robertson, recently told The Telegraph online retail is about serving up what the customer really wants. 

We see online being a more relevant shopping experience. I want to know what you’re looking for before you get there. I know what you’ve browsed, your save for laters, your size you’ve returned, what you’ve kept and what colours you prefer – so when you experience ASOS it should be more relevant to what you’re looking for.”

But Rob Carpenter, from newly launched cloud-based personalization platform, Evergage, says:

Real time behavioural data can show you what that customer is doing on site right now and at what stage of the lifecycle.  A real-time behavioral targeting solution can then use that data to personalize the web experience for each visitor or customer.  This results in maximal relevance and higher conversion.”

This new technology opens up the world of personalization to a new breed of online retailers and marketers – where those interpreting the data no longer have to have technical expertise or a large team to support them.  Smaller business will now be able to give the big online retailers a run for their money.

Three simple personalization techniques that every online business can use

1. Look at the referring source:

One of the first steps in effective online personalisation is recognising where your customer has come from by looking at the referring source such as the URL/domain/keyword. The closer your site matches the experience or expectation of the user the higher the conversion rate.

Welcome messages can be an effective way to capture your customer and personalise their experience with you.

For example, US online retailer, Gardeners Supply Company, was experiencing a high volume of traffic from its Pinterest boards to its site but a relatively low conversion rate.

It decided to target its Pinterest visitors with an exclusive offer which said: “Welcome Pinterest visitor. Surprise! You’ve just earned $6 off your order over $25”. This message, delivered at the right time in the buying cycle, lead to a 6X increase in conversions.  

Max Harris, Vice President of e-Commerce, Gardeners Supply Company said: 

We recently applied technology to a large traffic segment of site visitors coming from Pinterest, increasing conversion rate in-session while providing a very effective email capture-and-trigger solution.”

2. Tracking a visitor’s behaviour on your site:

New technologies can allow you to identify a visitor’s persona, based on their online interactions on site in real time, before conversions. This means you no longer have to rely on what they’ve previously bought.

The page they are on, how long they stay there, whether they scrolled down or if they are returning visitors are all easily identifiable and means you can build a relationship with the customer instantly.

Sittercity, the US online babysitting and nanny service, recently used personalised header bars once a customer had visited their site for the third time or had clicked the homepage banner three times.

The header bar offered users a free account and a chance to call the service for a free consultation. The message was seen by 70,000 viewers (1.1% of traffic) during a couple of months. It resulted in 770 phone calls and 175 paying customers.

3. Engage with on-site messaging. Why the email will die:

Personalized emails have had their day. The big problem with them is that the customer is out of context when reading your message in their inbox. Perhaps the customer is at work or not in the buying mode while reading their email.

The new personalization technologies on the market can now allow you to personalize messages and content whilst your customer is on your site. Pop-ups, call-outs, header bars and task lists are all ways you can reach out to your customer in real time to prompt, remind, help and engage with them.

These can be segmented and pre-programmed to recognized behavior on site to deliver relevant messages. 

For example, the online innovation magazine, MIT Technology Review was experiencing a high bounce-rate which was affecting its advertising revenue. It addressed this by using bounce detection.

This meant when someone moved their mouse cursor to the URL bar or back button while on MIT Tech Review’s site a relevant pop-up message appeared, such as “have you read this blog or whitepaper it may be of interest to you”, which had great results.

According to MIT Tech Review CTO Brent Turner, “We immediately saw a 10x improvement in user engagement on key areas of our site”.