Personalization has proven to have a profound impact on the sales cycle.
It positively affects multiple elements including visitor engagement, average time spent on site, overall customer experience, loyalty and so on. But the main metric that brands should be focused on is conversions.
A study by AddThis even found that one site was able to raise its conversions by a massive 40 percent through effective personalization. But there’s one mistake that hinders a lot of companies from getting to this level. And that’s failing to provide an optimal experience for returning visitors.
Let’s take a deep dive into this topic and discuss why you should give users a personalized experience upon returning along with some techniques for doing so.
When personalization falls short
Although their motives are good, many brands fall short with their personalization efforts. How so?
Most personalization solutions focus on what you can send users (e.g. email and SMS)—as in, “You did this particular thing, now come back and start doing it again.” But then they come back and have to start from the beginning.
Often visitors will have a particular product they’re interested in. But failing to deliver a personalized experience upon returning means that you’re essentially forcing them to start the customer journey all over. They have to manually search through your site again, which can be highly inconvenient, especially if you’re a large E-commerce store with a wide array of products.
And this isn’t advantageous for anyone. From your customer’s standpoint, it creates an added level of complexity, frustration and friction to the process. As a result, the customer experience can’t help but suffer.
As for your company, you can expect lower conversions because many of your customers will simply leave your site and go elsewhere—often to a competitor that does offer the level of personalization they’re looking for.
Personalizing for returning visitors
While basic solutions like sending users personalized emails and SMS can be beneficial, personalizing the experience for returning visitors takes things to a whole new level.
Once they land back on your site, they’ll be exposed to relevant products, recommendations, promotions or discounts based on what they previously viewed, their purchase history, etc.
This means that visitors don’t have to sift through mounds of content or try to trace their way back to the products they were initially interested in. Instead, the experience is perfectly tailored to their unique interests and pain points, and the data is doing much of the work for them.
That way they can jump right back in and pick up where they left off, making their lives much easier and more convenient.
Not only do prospects seamlessly find what they’re looking for, you’re likely to experience increased engagement and conversions as well. It’s truly a win-win.
ConversionXL offers an excellent example of how one particular retailer failed to personalize the experience for a returning visitor and where the company went wrong.
They explain how Karl Wirth, owner and CEO of Evergage, initially purchased two appliances from an online retailer—a microwave and dishwasher. Karl was happy with his purchases, so he returned to the retailer’s store to buy a new stove.
But they dropped the ball. ConversionXL points out that even though Karl had a history of buying expensive appliances, the company made no personalized effort to guide him through the process of making his next purchase.
Here’s what Karl had to say about it in his own words:
“They could have helped me right away by keeping track of my browsing and buying history. They could have paid attention to the fact that I recently bought a microwave and a dishwasher, factored that in and recommended the best stoves for me. And then when I’d shown a lot of interest in a few stoves, but left to look at other sites and came back, it would have been nice if they’d directed me right to my recently viewed items instead of making me search for those products all over again.”
This proves just how frustrating it can be for a returning visitor/customer when initiatives aren’t taken to personalize their experience. In many cases, it can mean the difference between making or not making a sale.
And you also have to consider the long-term implications. Considering that 88 percent of online customers won’t return to an E-commerce store after a bad experience, it can take a huge toll on your customer loyalty, profitability and overall brand equity over time.
So it’s clear that delivering a personalized experience upon returning is a wise choice. But what are some specific ways you can do this?
Here are some ideas.
One of the best places to start is to display product categories based on what a visitor was looking at or has purchased previously. In our example above, the customer had already bought a microwave and dishwasher.
Using action based segmentation on how the visitor interacted with products and their spending patterns, you would want to display various types of appliances such as stoves, cooktops, refrigerators, and so on.
Given the customer’s past purchase history, getting these types of product in from them would be a logical move that should improve the chances of making yet another sale.
To give you an idea of the potency of product recommendations, just think about Amazon—one of the originators of this technique. They’re so good at it that over a third (35 percent) of its total revenue is generated by its recommendation engine.
Recently viewed products
One of the more common ways to remind visitors of what they previously looked at is to send an email featuring those products.
That’s great and can certainly help you convert more of your lost leads. But you can take it one step further by displaying recently viewed products after returning visitors land on your site.
Often these items will appear toward the bottom of the screen or as a widget in the sidebar. This serves a subtle yet effective reminder of what a visitor was checking out previously and gives them a convenient way to return to a particular product page.
Reviews of those products
Let’s say that someone was definitely interested in one of your items. However, they did what many shoppers do and check out a few similar products from competitors before making their final decision and going through with a purchase.
After returning to your site and being directed to a recently viewed product, you can often get them over the fence and quell any of their concerns by displaying reviews. Once they see that other customers are raving about it and vouch for its value, many will feel compelled to buy.
The trick is to target the specific products they’ve looked at and include a sizable number of positive reviews. On top of that, it’s helpful to have an ongoing stream of reviews because trust levels tend to dwindle as reviews become older.
Another effective way to personalize the experience for returning visitors is to offer customized promotions. With 69 percent of online shoppers seeking out deals and coupons online, this can be huge for cranking up conversions. When visitors instantly see a promotion that’s based on exactly what they’re interested in, most can’t help but engage with your site.
Even better, it can be instrumental in minimizing your number of lost leads.
Whenever you’re dealing with leads that are at a high risk for churn, offering targeted promotions is one of the best ways to keep them on your site for longer and prevent them from being swooned by a competitor.
Going the extra mile with your UX
Online customer personalization can come in many forms. While more basic strategies like sending relevant emails can be effective, there’s so much more you can do these days.
Large volumes of data enable brands to personalize countless aspects of the customer journey, with one of the more important being the return user experience.
By providing returning visitors with relevant content they’re interested in and streamlining the customer journey, it puts you in a position to maximize conversions, while at the same time increasing customer satisfaction.
So it’s a no-brainer. If deploying personalized experiences isn’t something you’ve experimented with thus far, you’ll definitely want to incorporate it into your strategy in the near future.
How likely are you to buy from a brand that personalizes their site for you after returning? Please let us know: