Online personalization, more than just showing the right products

Xeï Hulshoff
Personalization is a well-known buzz word in the world of online shops. Although showing ‘the right products’ is a very common topic, personalization involves a lot more than that. In this article, I’ll share 3 opportunities that aren’t strictly about products, but can definitely make your visitor’s lives a lot more personal and a lot easier.

Opportunity 1: motivating with service and experiences

In many cases, your customers don’t just consider the product and the specific price you set for it: your service is also a key factor. If you manage to present your service at the right time, you’ll give users an extra reason and motivation to buy the product or service from you. Here are a few examples.

Gift-wrapping service

If a visitor has been to various pages in the ‘gifts’ section but hasn’t come to a decision yet, you can make it easier for them by alerting them to your gift-wrapping service. It’s a handy extra for your visitor and a great upselling opportunity for you.

Reviews

If your visitor has spent quite some time on a single page, you can activate and motivate them to buy your product or service by showing a review. You could opt to show a general review of your business on the homepage and a more specific product review on a product page, for instance. By doing so, you’ll personalize your website based on the flow the visitor is in at that very moment.

Just look at Booking.com for a practical example: this website shows reviews that fit in with the type of traveler you are. You could consider only showing reviews submitted by families with children, for instance, to people from this target group looking for accommodation.

Opportunity 2: showing content based on visitor interests

Today’s websites often look the same for all visitors, regardless of what individual visitors are interested in or how they use the website. As a result, they often display information that just isn’t very relevant to users.

Passively identifying behavior

Personalization lets you classify your visitors based on how they behave on your website. You can group them according to the category of their first entry to the website or the brand they choose to filter products on. You can then use these groups to coordinate which images and texts are shown on your website to match the interests of your visitor.

For example: suppose that someone enters your website on a page about corner sofas, before navigating to the homepage. In that case, a banner about sofas is more likely to have an effect on this person than a banner about kitchen tables.

Active interaction

If you have distinct target audiences, such as private and business customers, you can choose to interact with your visitors and ask them to which group they belong. This allows you to offer them information that they will find interesting. Taking an active approach to interacting with your visitors can be ‘frightening’ as you don’t want to seem too pushy and scare them off.

That is why relevance and timing are very important: make it clear that answering your question will benefit the user. An additional advantage is that the visitors who do choose to engage in interaction often feel more involved with your company.

Opportunity 3: supporting a sense of locality

A website, or the company behind it, can sometimes come across as being somewhat distant or far away. When choosing a company to purchase a service or product from, people allow themselves to be influenced by name recognition and reviews, as well as a company’s location. Is the company near me and would I be supporting local entrepreneurs? Personalization lets you make the most of your visitors’ ‘need for locality’.

Local phone number

If your product or service sales depend strongly on contact by phone, having a local phone number will often help you seem more accessible. If you have 1 or more brick & mortar locations, it is best to show the number that’s the most relevant to the visitor in question.

Take RRS, for example, a sewer cleaner that has several physical branches throughout the Netherlands. Many visitors enter the website on one of the branch pages, where they can find a local phone number. If they navigate to another page, however, they’ll only find the general 0800 number. This will see visitors lose their ‘sense of locality’ and it may decrease their motivation to call.

Personalization lets you change the phone numbers shown on other pages to a local phone number, based on the entry page. This approach means that visitors will keep seeing the same ‘trusted’ phone number during their entire visit, allowing for easier conversion.

Visiting brick & mortar shops

Companies like Coolblue have clearly shown that your online and offline presence can reinforce each other. Some products are better suited to offline sales than online sales: you want to listen to a high-end audio speaker before you buy it, and the same goes for trying out a children’s car seat. If you have a brick & mortar shop, you can use personalization to make your visitors aware of this.

Based on their behavior on the website, you can see whether visitors are still a little unsure about which product they’re looking for. These visitors will often navigate to and from the product overview and individual product pages For example: if a visitor has already viewed 3 or more different speakers, you can display a notification that says something like: ‘If you’d like listen to this speaker first, come and visit our shop.’ If your visitor is browsing the internet in your area (based on their IP address), you could even opt to be more specific and highlight the nearest shop.

Get more out of your online visitors with personalisation

As you can see, there are plenty of ways in which you can optimize your business by providing your visitors with a more personal experience. We have good news: we are sure that there are also opportunities for your company (and your customers). It’s up to you to grab these opportunities and offer your online visitors a better experience. If you’d like to discuss the possibilities, feel free to contact one of RIFF’s CRO specialists.