Trying to customise your e-commerce website for every individual visitor can be complex and expensive – there are, however, several more affordable methods that will allow you to create a personal online shopping experience for your customers.
Many e-commerce business owners dream of being able to make their website completely customised to every individual customer who visits their site, says Stephen Foxworthy, Strategy Director at digital agency Reactive. However, the complexities and costs of making this a reality mean that website owners and developers should instead focus on easier ways to customise their offering to customers’ different tastes.
“People are more alike than they are different,” says Foxworthy. “Instead of trying to come up with a completely individualised approach, market to a segment. It is something that need not cost too much and the results can be very impressive.”
There are three ways to personalise your website’s online shopping experience without breaking the bank.
1. Segment-based landing pages
Instead of sending one marketing message to your entire customer base, target your marketing via email, social media and search to specific segments. When customers respond by clicking a link, that link should bring them to a customised landing page that has been designed to fit their tastes.
“A ‘tween’ girl should see a different landing page to an older man, who should see a different landing page to a middle-aged woman,” explains Foxworthy. “That landing page should then recommend products or services that fit the interests of that market segment.”
This, adds Foxworthy, is not expensive and is actually quite simple to do. “You need to do some research,” he says. “Then, via Google or Facebook etc, you can target different segments.”
Using this approach means you need to work out how your products or services should be grouped according to market segment, so that as soon as a person from a specific segment enters the site, they find the types of products they are most likely to be interested in.
Product catalogues are often organised on the basis of market segment categories, so this is simply a matter of creating similar categories on your site and around your marketing campaigns, says Foxworthy. That way, when a customer responds to your marketing by visiting your site, they automatically feel it is customised for their interests. They also feel an immediate affinity with your business, which is a very powerful thing.
2. Cross-sell using a related product
Every e-commerce business has best sellers – these can be the perfect place to start with customisation of website behaviour and navigation.
“If you promote particular products that you know are appealing, then you should be cross-selling from there,” advises Foxworthy. “In this case, we’re not talking about starting with a particular market segment or category of products, but simply starting from one product and organising your other merchandise around that.”
If a customer buys one item then there are often other items that apply to that product or other things that can or must be used with that product, says Foxworthy. For example, customers interested in skateboards will also be interested in wheels, bearings, decks, skateboarding shoes, helmets and kneepads. When the skateboarding enthusiast visits a website, it should present them with a wide range of products that apply to this activity.
“One of the most opened emails in the field of e-commerce is the confirmation email after a purchase has been made,” says Foxworthy. “Everybody wants to check the order they made has been correctly fulfilled. This is a perfect opportunity to customise this sort of marketing. Make an offer on a related set of items.”
3. Practise the art of “lookalike marketing”
“Your friends tend to be similar to you,” says Foxworthy. “They often have the same interests and share similar tastes. That’s part of the reason you’re friends.”
Exploit this fact, he adds, by giving people the opportunity to promote or share their own purchases with friends and family.
“Offer them a ‘send-to-a-friend’ deal that saves them both $10 on their next purchase, for instance,” he says. “There is a good likelihood of the offer being fitting for the person and for some of their friends. It means that you, as the retailer, don’t have to customise your message, because the friendship group has already customised itself by sharing similar interests.”