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24 eCommerce Experts Weigh in on How Personalization Improves Conversion

I notice that the way customers are making decisions has changed - for good. They are expecting a brand to establish a relationship before committing to a purchase or a sign up. If a marketer fails to provide that relationship, they leave. 

With this change, marketing has also shifted towards personalized experiences. The majority of marketers indentify personalization as a “highly” or “quite” valuable method for improving their conversion rates. 3 out of 4 customers agree on this

So in what way does Personalization improve Conversion Rates? Why should an ROI-focused marketer consider it? 

I asked 24 eCommerce experts: "How can Personalization enhance conversion optimization?"

Here's what they had to say:

John Lincoln.jpg  #1. John Lincoln - IgniteVisibility.com

Personalization is one of the most important aspects of conversion rate optimization. Personalizing ads based on dynamic keyword insertion, personalizing landing pages based on the ads and crafting users experience in a funnel that clearly aligns with the buyer makes all the difference. Even something as simple as location detection can have a big impact.

For example, imagine searching for hotels and landing on a general page. Alternately, you land on a page that has hotels in the area you are looking for. That can have a massive impact on lowering your bounce rate and conversion rate. Or in another scenario, imagine you serve an ad on Facebook. Then, when the user comes to your site you create an entire experience for them based on the Facebook audience you were targeting. Say your audience is women, 35 to 55, who are interested in Sephora.

A personalized experience based on what this demographic enjoys is going to have a big impact on conversions and would be very different than an experience for men, 21 to 35, who like trucks and racing. So in the modern day, your ads and web environment need to be personalized to your audience for the best results.

*follow John on Linkedin and Twitter

Sam Hurley.jpg #2. Sam Hurley - OPTIM-EYEZ

Customer expectations are more demanding than ever before.

“81% of consumers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them (and when not to).” (Source: Accenture)

The more you are able to learn about all your customers on a 1:1 level, the better their experience. Consequently, you will be rewarded with higher conversion rates...

It's a no-brainer. People want to be made to feel special — not like numbers on a spreadsheet.

So, just how is this possible in the case of thousands of customers?

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning tech allows granular, on-the-fly, automated personalization without the huge additional resource that would otherwise be required manually (if even possible, at volume).

The flood of new, AI-based solutions are only testament to demand in our era of everything ‘personal’.

Here are just a few examples of personalization techniques to keep visitors engaged and encourage conversion:

— Dynamically alter your website interface to each visitor's buyer profile

— Display the best tailored content to the right visitor at the optimal time

— Deliver predictive product recommendations, incentives and lead magnets

Optimize pricing (in real-time) to suit every customer and their individual preferences

*follow Sam on Linkedin and Twitter

shep hyken-1.jpg #3. Shep Hyken - Hyken.com

Personalization is simply knowing your customer. Any time you can “speak” directly to your customers, whether it’s through a digital/online channel or in person, recommending what you know they want, or might want based on past-purchase history, you not only have a higher success with conversion, you’re offering them a better customer experience.

*follow Shep on Linkedin and Twitter

Mike Kawula.jpg #4. Michael Kawula - SocialQuant.net

Though it’s a bit cliché, I’ll say it.

People do business with people they know, like and trust.

One of the best ways to gain that trust is by making the experience as personalized as possible.

Your copy should ALWAYS speak to the customer individually not to the masses.

But it goes much deeper than the copy and with all the tools we have at our fingertips today, we need to assure we’re taking advantage of them.

I’m a huge fan of “live” one-on-one discussions whenever possible.

If you have the support, have your phone number easily seen, it gives the warm feeling that support is available. The majority won’t call (trust me we shipped tens of thousands of packages monthly and received little calls).

Install live chat on your website, but please make it non-intrusive.

Nothing is worse than visiting a site and having it pop up immediately. Today software has gotten much smarter and can be much more customized.

Not only will you help with the current visitors concerns while on your site, but more importantly by storing that data, you can make changes to your website by adding videos or copy to the pages that get repetitive questions.

Chatbots are also very interesting and you can automate a personalized assistant to help create that warm feeling.

Lastly, talk to your customers frequently and ask for feedback.

The more you can personalize the entire experience from that initial visit to a customer who repeatedly visits, the faster your company will grow.

*follow Michael on Linkedin and Twitter

Nichole Elizabeth Demere.jpg #5. Nichole Elizabeth DeMere - Zest.is

Personalization can mean a lot of things when it comes to conversion optimization. I think it too often means targeting and retargeting ads more precisely, but it's so much more than that. For me, personalization for conversion has to begin with accurately identifying your ideal clients, and doing thorough research with customer interviews, surveys, conversation logs and recordings so you understand exactly what they want, need and are missing. And then you create your entire brand experience around what will move your ideal client towards *their* ideal outcome.

But that's very clinical.

That's just getting them from point A to point Z, which you need to do, but it's not all you need to do. Personalization is also about making the experience of working with you personal - building a relationship, a friendship even. The businesses I keep coming back to are those that share my values, interests, passions, sense of humor. That's something I see brick-and-mortar businesses nailing in ways e-commerce is just beginning to understand.

You might even call it the "Cheers" effect - where everybody knows your name, and when you come in the door, you feel like family. That's what drives the kind of conversions that keep coming, spreading, and growing businesses.

*follow Nichole on Linkedin and Twitter

Jeff Gibbard.jpg #6. Jeff Gibbard – Jeffgibbard.com

Personalization in marketing is one more way to remove friction for customers. The more personalized suggestions can be to the user (without being creepy) the less work there is for the buyer to do finding what they're looking for. Further, the impact on conversions should be substantial as relevancy will always convert higher than irrelevancy. The goal as a marketer is to get a potential audience to say "yes," what better way than to offer products, services and solutions tailored to their specific wants and needs.

*follow Jeff on Linkedin and Twitter

Joanna Wiebe.jpg #7. Joanna Wiebe - CopyHackers.com

One of the first rules of conversion copywriting is this: help your prospect see him/herself on the page. Until now, digital marketers have tried a combination of custom pages / emails and A/B testing to reach that goal - for example, make 4 landing pages for 4 market segments, and test 2 versions of each of those pages. So create 8 distinct pages and pray that 4 of them are generic enough to win more clicks. That was super-common in CRO. But it's a hack-job for so many reasons, including this: CROs focused only on A/B testing were still optimizing for a generic market segment. We were asking prospects to see themselves in a sort of foggy mirror - "just squint and maybe you'll see how X product is perfect for you?"

With personalization, we get much closer to helping the prospect see himself or herself on the page. Not a generic segment that might look something like they do.

If a person arrives on your site after clicking a FB ad targeted at 18 to 25 year old women in the US, we can now personalize the page to serve up the content that's best for her. That means serving testimonials from American women in the same age group. And serving a headline that speaks to the specific pain she feels - not the general pain X market segment has indicated they may feel. The result is perhaps not quite a perfect reflection of the prospect on the page… but something much closer. Combine that with A/B or multivariate testing as you personalize, and suddenly conversion rate optimization is no longer just trying to win the lottery on demand.

*follow Joanna on Linkedin and Twitter

Antonio Grasso.jpg #8. Antonio Grasso - AGrassoBlog

The Customer likes to be part of a brand and like to receive targeted messages instead of generic offers. The Personalization and the Data Analytics backed Hyper-Personalization can boost the Conversion rate because we reach our Customer with an Individual message and he "feel our effort" to reach him without harassing him. A better Customer Experience mean a loyal client.

*follow Antonio on Linkedin and Twitter

Nicholas Scalice.jpg #9. Nicholas Scalice - Earnworthy.com

People buy from brands that they know, like and trust. Part of building that trust is in feeling connected to the brand, and the people behind it. That's where personalization comes in. By personalizing an online experience, you're talking to a specific visitor, rather than just talking to a broad audience. This will help the visitor connect on a deeper level and truly understand the value in the product or service that you're offering. Ultimately, that will make it much easier to win the conversion.

*follow Nicholas on Linkedin and Twitter

Brian Massey.jpg #10. Brian Massey - ConversionSciences.com

A better question to ask is, "How does conversion optimization enhance personalization?" Businesses embark on personalization strategies with the assumption that, if we know where a visitor is in their buying cycle, we can provide some information that will move them to the next step. But, the only way we can find out what visitors need to move to the next step is by experimenting. This is what Conversion Optimization offers.

Let's look at a visitor that has visited the website six times and looked at the same product over a two-week timeframe. We might assume that they are really interested in that product and that the price is too high. A nice discount might push them over the edge to buying. We might also assume that they are waiting to see if the color they like becomes available. In this case we might ask them for their contact information so we can inform them when new products are released.

Which one is it? How do we personalize that page to give the visitor what they need to buy?

A better use of personalization is to serve different experiences that are revealed in tests. Let's pretend we test adding a video to a webpage. When our test completes, we find that the version of the page without the video generated more revenue than the one with video. However, our analysis reveals that visitors who entered the site on that page converted higher when the video was present than those who visited from another page on the site. Rather than choosing one option for everyone, we personalize the experience, offering video to those who are just entering the site and eliminating it for everyone else.

We never would have known to use that signal and that solution without the testing tools used for conversion optimization.

Poorly informed personalization -- I call it purse-onalization -- makes conversion optimization harder because it breaks up the website into more and more versions. This makes AB testing more difficult and causes tests to take longer.

*Brian Massey is the founder of Conversion Sciences which offers conversion optimization services to businesses serious about the web. Follow Brian on Linkedin and Twitter

Jamie Turner.jpg #11. Jamie Turner - 60SecondMarketer.com

According to one recent study, 77% of those surveyed believe real-time personalization is crucial, but 60% said they struggle to personalize content in real time. That mismatch is actually an opportunity for those businesses willing to take it on. How? If 60% of your competitors are NOT doing something and studies show that personalization can increase conversion rates, then that puts you at a decided advantage … if you take the time to execute it. The bottom line – we know personalization is important, and we know that most businesses struggle to make it happen. So take the time to personalize your content and you’ll realize a better conversion rate and a better ROI. It’s a win/win opportunity.

*follow Jamie on Linkedin and Twitter

Richard Lazazzera.jpg #12. Richard Lazazzera - bootstrappingecommerce.com &  abetterlemonadestand.com

Personalization makes customers feel special, thought of and considered. It exceeds consumer’s expectations and makes a product stand out from others that are similar. It enhances conversion optimization because it makes consumers more likely to purchase a product they can personalize rather than a generic product. It makes the product more special and unique to them.

*follow Richard on Linkedin and Twitter

Frederick Vallaeys.jpeg #13. Frederick Vallaeys - Optmyzr.com

Between AdWords and Facebook Ads, there are constantly new ways to get more granular with targeting. Advertisers can get ever closer to targeting just their highest value prospects and that level of specificity enables more personal ads and offers. Combine better targeting with more personal ads and you're almost certain to boost your conversion rates. But remember that when you only target bottom of the funnel traffic, you'll be competing with everyone else for that super valuable (and expensive) traffic so don't forget to build the top of your funnel so that you can slowly get to know your prospects before you get personal with them.

*follow Frederick on Linkedin and Twitter

Matt Janaway.jpg #14. Matt Janaway - mattjanaway.co.uk

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is a process of continual evolution overtime - CRO is never finished! Websites evolve, customer behaviour changes and competitors sometimes get their act together. In the digital age of personalisation and connecting with customers, business owners should be adopting a personalised strategy approach to gain a competitive advantage over their close competition.

Econsultancy suggest a personalised marketing strategy creates happy customers, who wish to purchase more and perhaps most importantly, then become an advocate for your brand or business.

And according to Smart Insights, personalising a customer's interaction is still not being used across the whole ‘digital’ journey. Email marketing has by far seen the largest adoption as a key personalisation techniques with 72% of business owners now using personalised emails as a key marketing strategy. However, there is still room for businesses to improve the personalised experienced customers receive on their websites which can help to increase conversions and drive more leads.

There are many ways businesses can integrate a more personalised website user experience - here are a few of my top favourites:

  • Location personalisation - with most mobile devices now highlighting the location of a user at all times, location personalisation can be used throughout websites to promote location based offers such as restaurant deals / opening times or targeted user information for example on tourist information websites or contact pages.  
  • Demographic personalisation - although this type of personalisation has received mixed results due to the data sometimes being inaccurate, business owners should be using demographic personalisation at a very basic level. For example, when a user logs into their website account i.e Mary, 56 yrs old from London who uses a fashion website, Mary should be shown clothing or products aimed towards her demographic that are based around her buying habits.
  • Stage of customer journey - with every website customer's journey being different, deploying tactics to personalise each different stage of the buying process is a very undervalued conversion strategy. Abandon checkout software offers the chance for a targeted and personalised email to be sent out to a prospect customer. In addition, simple personalised tactics such as highlighting related products when a customer adds what they want to basket have also proven to increase customer basket values.

*follow Matt on Linkedin and Twitter

Dennis Seymour.jpg #15. Dennis Seymour - Seriousmd.com   

I cannot do a “standard” average across industries but for my own results, I can definitely say that personalization helps enhance conversions.

I’ve done this on multiple niches, from my own coaching and course offers on LeapFroggr.com to converting users based on specialty on my startup SeriousMD.com

As I am targeting a more specialized niche within a niche, the better the conversion, the better it is for my ROI as it’s not cheap to find leads. Personalizing the landing page, to the messages they read (I sometimes use chatbots) to making the emails they get once they optin, I could say that I had an increase of at least 50% from normal conversions of just a landing page and just sending traffic to them.

It might not look “big” but that equates to a rather nice LTV for each conversion.

*follow Dennis on Linkedin and Twitter

Shanelle Mullin.jpg #16. Shanelle Mullin - Shopify.com

Personalization is the real-time individualization of a site to suit each visitor’s unique needs and guide them through a custom funnel. The problem? Most marketers have content personalization, not user experience personalization. Personalization has become synonymous with “the right message at the right time to the right visitor”. While that is certainly part of it, copy is not the be-all-end-all of user experience. Push yourself to dig deeper into the user experience and go beyond the basics.

*follow Shanelle on Linkedin and Twitter

Kath Pay.jpg #17. Kath Pay – holisticemailmarketing.com 

Personalisation - true personalisation - is a game changer for email marketing. For years we've been saying that to get the best results we need to be relevant, and sending personalised campaigns is one way of achieving this. Moreover, the consumer now not only wants it but expects it.

One of the issues is though that achieving personalisation that will increase conversions is an art. We tend to rely only on the obvious types of personalisation - those that the consumer can overtly see is personalised to them. There is a fine line though between what the consumer sees as a nice overt personalisation campaign and stalking them.  It's crucial we get this right. To assist is in achieving this fine balance, we can use covert personalisation, which is providing offers, content etc. personalised to the individual or failing that, the segment or persona, in a more subtle fashion, so they just see that what you're sending to them is relevant and valuable to them, without the association of 'stalking them' and potentially scaring them.

Personalisation all too often for an email marketing begins with a tactic or technology - but in my experience where it should start is with our mindset and a solid strategy. The tactics and technology help us to bring the personalisation strategy to life. I recommend that the first step is to change our mindset and start seeing all of our marketing emails as helpful. I call this helpful marketing. If we do this, we can't help but begin with the consumer and this is where we should start. Read more here.

*follow Kath on Linkedin and Twitter

Jeff Sauer.png #18. Jeff Sauer - Analyticscourse.net

Personalization can improve your conversion rate in many ways, with my favorite way of improving conversion rates being segmentation of your audience.

We live in a world of analytics tools and marketing platforms telling us about the “average” user. Average open rates, click through rates, conversion rates, etc. But how many of your prospective customers want to be treated as average? Simply put, average is a myth. Average is the opposite of personalized. It’s a one-size-fits all approach in a world that demands a tailored fit.

It's up to us to fight back against average, and deliver the experience that our customers expect. How do we do that? Through personalization. By creating content aimed at our customer segments, and giving them the experience they deserve. Instead of being average and checking boxes on marketing tactics, think about it from the perspective of your prospective customer. Think in terms of their experience.

Generic experiences are uninspired, average, and wasteful. We’ve come too far to stop at average. Segment your customers using tools like Google Analytics, customer surveys and marketing automation. Deliver a personalized experience. Get better results. Look cool in front of your bosses, who in turn look cool in front of your bosses bosses.

Stand out from the crowd of average. You can do it. Segment. Be personal. Be awesome.

*follow Jeff on Linkedin and Twitter

Sean Si.jpg #19. Sean Si - seo-hacker.com

Personalization, in any form, gives your web pages a unique look and feel to it. It adds a good amount of authenticity, which makes it more presentable and genuine. Brand trust is something that takes a lot of effort to build up and grow, and personalization will help your business stand out from the rest.

Users have a preference towards exclusivity and unique ideas. Using these elements in your business will help increase your conversion rate. Personalization makes your audience feel that they are being prioritized by your business, which helps you sell your product or service that much easier. With today’s tools and software, personalization has become much easier to pull off. Boosting any site’s conversion rate is always a competitive challenge, but simple things like personalization would help your business in the long run.

*follow Sean on Linkedin and Twitter

Jason Quey.jpg #20. Jason Quey - TheStorytellerMarketer.com

A business is all about serving your customers problems. Naturally, people want to feel like you really understand their problems.

If you interview them in the right way, customers will tell you everything you need to know to be a better marketer.

I've had them tell me everything from how to price a product, who the key influencers are to connect with, and where I should strategically be guest posting.

*follow Jason on Linkedin and Twitter

Matt Thorpe.jpg #21. Matt Thorpe - Webshopmechanic.com

Personalisation is something that many sites don't even attempt to understand and they should. It could transform their business. Seriously, would you buy a sports car when you need a 4x4? Would you buy chicken when you're a vegetarian? Would you buy red when you're favourite colour is blue?

You need to work on collecting data about your customers and using it to get under their skin to find out what makes them tick. At a basic level, just personalise your emails with their name and deliver relevant content. Work towards a personalised experience on your website where you make them feel special, like the store has been made for them. The more granular your targeting, the more relevant the experience, the happier the customer and the more revenue you will drive.

I quote a famous phrase - 'The riches are in the niches'.

*follow Matt on Linkedin and Twitter

Raphael Paulin-Diagle.jpg #22. Raphael Paulin-Daigle - Splitbase.com

To me, personalization is a part of conversion optimization.

At the end of the day, the reason why companies are looking at personalization is that they know that if they do it right, it’ll likely increase their sales. Just like anything else in conversion optimization. If there wouldn’t be any business case for it, no one would be doing it!

The key to being successful with personalization is first to understand what problem you’re trying to solve. Don’t do personalization for the sake of it, or just because it’s trendy, it’s a strategy that should be used to solve a specific hypothesis.

For example, let’s say you discover through Conversion Research that people don’t buy your products because they likely don’t relate to how it’s being sold to them. In this case, personalization could be used (and different types of personalization should be tested) to solve this problem and display images or product descriptions that they might relate to better.

I see personalization as a strategy that's part of a pyramid of conversion optimization:

  1. At the bottom, start by understanding your customers’ behaviors, needs and wants, and know how to interpret your data
  1. Then you should be able to craft hypotheses and master A/B testing
  1. And finally, once you’ve mastered the basics, personalization is the next step to enhance your CRO toolset of strategies.

If you don’t understand how to use data to come up with hypotheses, you won’t know what to personalize to drive results. And if you can’t A/B test, you will likely fail at personalization too.

See personalization as an advanced strategy to test and solve some conversion problems.

*follow Raphael on Linkedin and Twitter

Keith Hagen.jpg #23. Keith Hagen - GoInflow.com

Before you personalize, you need meaningful information about the user.  The best way to start to "profile" them with simple self-identification techniques (If someone clicks on "baby strollers" than guess what, they may be expecting...now you know). Start small with giving users more of what they appear to be interested in.   

*follow Keith on Linkedin and Twitter

Joseba umbelina.jpg #24. Joseba Umbelina - LUXHABITAT

Personalization is a clear win in terms of optimizing the conversion rate. I believe in offering users products and services based on their past behaviour and trying to predict what they might like, based on similar user’s data. A smart personalization surely enhances the user experience, increases user’s satisfaction and in the end, leads to more conversions, improving the ROI of our marketing campaigns.

*follow Joseba on Linkedin and Twitter