There’s a thin line between wise customized marketing and annoying ad attacks – be sure not to cross it
Online shopping is on the rise today. Most customers prefer to make their purchases without leaving their homes, taking time to compare similar offers, prices, shipping terms, and customer reviews; and of course, staying safe. At the same time, they still want a personalized approach, just like the one they receive from friendly shop assistants at their local stores.
Personalization is one of the key factors for customer loyalty. It helps clients find the desired items quicker, and it informs them about special offers on the products of their particular interest. Sometimes they also end up buying extra items that they didn’t initially plan to. Wise personalization establishes a strong bond between the caring company and a grateful buyer.
However, many e-commerce businesses, especially startups, do not invest much in personalization technologies. They use outdated marketing methods, bombarding their prospective clients with numerous ads. This becomes annoying very quickly. In many cases, it is also inappropriate, insensitive, or even creepy. Such kinds of personalization never bring any benefits. It scares off the targeted customers often along with their families and friends. After all, word of mouth is still a powerful marketing tool.
We have gathered the main simple rules for successful business personalization.
Personalization: best practices
- Analyze behavioral patterns. Check how often the person looks for certain products. At what time of day/season etc. do they browse for it? How much time do they dedicate to this? Try to imagine their lifestyle, their daily routine. Only after that, make your personalization move.
For instance, some women are shopaholics and fashionistas, they look for every new trend and buy lots of clothing. They make spontaneous purchases without long hesitations. Others are practical and shop for essentials according to the season. They add items to their wish lists and take a while to consider the best options. You can see all that from their browsing histories at your website. The first category will like continuous new offers, while the latter – gentle reminders and discounts.
- Be a visionary. Imagine what your buyers will want next. Have they bought items from you recently? What goes along well with them? If they bought a new laptop, they will likely be interested in accessories. Perhaps, they will need some licensed software. In a while, they may want to upgrade. If they asked for a consultation, such as which model was the best for gaming/work/study/children, etc., note that. Give them time to master the laptop for their unique purposes. Offer other gaming/work/educational/children technological solutions later.
- Use convenient communication channels. Office workers tend to check their emails regularly, others prefer instant messaging as they are always on the go. Some people only browse social networks, and others like live communication on the phone. All this is important when you choose your personalization strategy. Quick surveys or analyzing prior communications will come in handy.
- Please before offering. If you have a new client, firstly satisfy their initial needs. Give them get exactly what they came for. Gain their trust. Provide quality service. Only after that, can you offer additional services, complementary products, etc.
A friend of mine recently ordered motor oil from a web-store. It was his first purchase there and he chose a specific brand product which he usually used. Imagine his reaction when the store managers offered him new oil from an unknown company at a similar price with a free changing service. He felt they were trying to push an unpopular product, though the store may have had the best of intentions in promoting a better oil. As a result, they left a negative first impression.
- Leverage technologies. AI web-solutions are better analyzers than human beings. They use real-time visitor data to instantly transform the web-interface. They may change fonts, backgrounds, captions, item lists, or favorite categories, based both on your real-time behavior and preferences. That experience is even better than holding on to the history of previous visits. It is flexible and timesaving.
- Offer more than you’re expected to. Personalization is not only about targeting ads wisely. It is also about great customer service for every category of buyers. Keep your website user-friendly. Offer free advice on choosing the best product according to one’s needs. If you sell clothing, provide sizing tables, pictures of how to measure the required parameters, description of fabrics, etc.
If you deal with gadgets, include options to compare characteristics. Offer support helplines to guide your customers through initial use and installment. Care about those customers who are not tech-savvy. Make your support managers experts in what they sell, not just the rules for purchase and shipping.
What to avoid
- Don’t be creepy. Calling a person by name is fine, but using all other personal details revealed during previous purchases or via web-browsing history is too much. Respect people’s privacy. Do not become a Big Brother who’s constantly watching them, and reminding about that with phrases like: “We know that you’ve been watching Game of Thrones every weekend at 8 p.m.”
- Don’t make quick judgments. One visit to a sports clothing store doesn’t mean that a person is a fan of the gym and a healthy diet. Do not bore customers with repeating ads after a single purchase.
For instance, a friend of mine has a godchild. She gives her presents a few times a year, naturally, and gets truly annoyed when the images of dolls and Lego sets appear in front of her whenever she logs into Facebook. She says if she had known that would happen she would rather have bought these gifts offline.
- Don’t be too pushy. Sending newsletters every day is too much. Inviting people to every event after they have declined a few already is close to stalking. Showing ads of the products customers have already bought from you is not ideal either. How often will they actually buy new TVs or wedding dresses?
- Don’t get into sensitive areas. Don’t jump into assumptions about romantic relationships, child-rearing, psychological problems, etc. You can offend people by improper comments.