The Power of Personalization and CRO
E-commerce sales in the United States are expected to top $370 billion by 2017, according to research conducted by Forrester Research. This means that by 2017, one in ten retail sales will be made online, proving there to be a substantial market of internet consumers — and one that cannot afford to be ignored by chief marketing officers. This forecast also indicates that a great deal of revenue can be lost if CMOs fail to pay proper attention to any conversion rate optimization (CRO) issues they may have.
Today's online consumers have stringent demands and brief attention spans. They don't, however, all fall under one banner. Some consumers are fiercely loyal to specific brands that have earned their trust. Others continually search for bargains and snap up discounts wherever they can find them. Some view a 24/7 connection to the internet as the norm, thanks to the evolution of smartphones and tablets. Such consumers expect to be treated as well in the cyber world as they are in reality. They expect a personalized experience, one tailored to their individual needs and interests as much as possible. This has led to one "buzzword" that's become commonly banded about by online marketing experts: personalization.
It's your duty as an online marketing expert to provide personalized content for customers and prospects. Tailor their web experience so it appears your website was created specifically for them; they won't want to wade through reams and reams of material in which they have no interest. Attending to personalization issues will see you heighten the reputation of your brand, boost your traffic and drive more sales. It will also see you achieve your short-term goals while giving you the momentum to achieve long-term success. Here are five reasons why when it comes to CRO, personalization is crucial:
1. Meet your new best friend — data. Many brands continue to make the same mistakes when coming up with their e-commerce strategy. They rely too much on "common sense" thinking and intuition in tailoring their site. The real value comes from data analysis and doing what the numbers tell you to do. Cold, hard facts are what should drive your audience definition, and then you can tailor your content accordingly. You should never release website updates without performing A/B and multivariate testing first. Testing will help you gain more traffic, more repeat customers, and increase both your conversion rate and, as a result, revenue.
2. Find your particular audience. Any retailer needs to understand the precise audience they're targeting. What's the overall demographic profile? Do consumers mostly visit from desktops or mobile devices (tablets, smartphones)? Does pricing have any effect on your customers’ decision-making processes?
All these questions are important if you want to connect with your target audience as effectively as possible — and that's something you achieve by using content personalization. The more direct a connection you establish with an individual visitor, the more likely it is they will turn into a customer.
3. Be relevant and indispensable. Don't stop at selling yourself as being important — sell yourself as being indispensable. Once you've achieved indispensability, it won't even enter into your customer's heads to think about venturing elsewhere to find the services and products that you supply them with. Further research by Forrester shows that once your site becomes indispensable, your customers will continue to line your bank account across multiple channels, not just online. If you embrace personalization, you're on the correct path towards becoming indispensable. If you show relevant products and services as effectively as possible, you'll naturally see increases in conversions and revenue.
4. Embrace the mobile revolution. The "one size fits all" approach to website management is no longer appropriate. Your site may look great on a 15-inch monitor, but how does it look on a smartphone? Ensure your site works just as well on small screens as it does on big ones. By the start of 2013, it was estimated that 10 percent of all internet traffic originated from mobile devices. Fast-forward one year and this market share has risen to nearly 18 percent. If you don't cater specifically for smartphone and tablet users, you're ignoring a huge percentage of potential customers.
5. It pays to be friendly. A great deal of social interaction now takes place online. Whether you personally use social networking or not, your business simply can't afford to ignore the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest when it comes to marketing. Yet another study by Forrester Research reveals that almost 50 percent of people who use social networks will interact with their favorite brands. When you consider that nearly three out of every four internet users visits social networking sites daily, you realize that's a lot of interacting. Your website needs to embrace the marketing possibilities of social networking alongside a personalization program in order to maximize sales and revenue.
Online marketing can be tough. If you're not outlining a decent CRO campaign for your company, you're going to remain a retail fish instead of a customer-luring shark. If you implement the five considerations mentioned above, you'll find yourself heading in the right direction — turning visitors into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. By using the data you've gathered about customers to treat them as individuals, you'll find they're much more likely to return and make repeat purchases, generating the revenue you need to survive and flourish.
Isaac Rothstein is a director at Infinite Conversions, a digital marketing agency.