When does personalisation stop being valuable and start damaging customer relations? We're taking it back to basics to figure out whether personalisation efforts are truly adding value to the customer experience, or if some elements are just chasing shoppers away.

It can be tempting to rush in with a full arsenal of optimisation tricks, especially when it comes to perfecting user experience, but how much is too much?

There is a balance to be struck between helping customers in their decision making process, and just generally being too much of a presence in their shopping experience. Used to excess, personalisation becomes a pushy sales tactic.

According to our insights, these are the main triumphs and hazards to focus on when finalising your personalisation strategy, both onsite and after browsing;

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Do;

Speed-Up the Purchase Process

Nobody wants to churn through thousands of products before making it to the checkout, so be sure to bring relevant items to your customers' attention if you want to increase the likelihood of a sale.

Evolution Organics have made great use of this concept by looping Personalised Recommendations, Best Sellers, Trending and New Arrivals onto their homepage.

As first port of call for the majority of shoppers, this is a strong strategy designed to appeal to a wide range of shoppers, whether they are motivated by how others shop, or by simply being the first to own a new product.

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Accurate data is essential here, so be sure to locate a personalisation suite which can support your plans. Implemented correctly this can be a great way to guide customers to the right products for them.

Assist with Virtual Changing Room Options

It isn't always easy to visualise the end product and its usage, so to maximise the chances of completing a sale - or adding extra items to the basket - it is important to tell a story with the arrangement of your products.

There's always room for manoeuvre in online sales, for example your browsing customer may be pleasantly surprised by the cost of your products and much more receptive to adding a few extra items into their basket.

Cotswold Collections use this to their advantage by painting a picture for the customer around the original item, and how you can complete the look. Alternative colours, complementary items and accessories are displayed within easy range of the original item, allowing the potential end usage to solidify in the customer's mind.

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This is a good place to promote and display niche products, which customers may not have spotted when browsing. To do this accurately, it is important to research, monitor and listen to your customer; how do they like to shop, and why?

Figuring out these preferences will give you a much better understanding of which niche items will work well in conjunction with other products to potentially boost basket size.

Give the Option to Continue Shopping

Tread carefully when nudging customers towards the checkout, or encouraging them to add more items to basket. It's easy to overstep the mark and spook a customer away from a sale by excessive pop-ups, but used correctly they can work fantastically to increase sales.

Firstly, you need to clearly and promptly acknowledge when an item is added to basket. Customers need to know the status of their basket, including where it can be found onsite and what the sub-total is at all times. This builds trust and is particularly important if you are hoping to encourage customers to buy more items. Receiving a nasty surprise with the cost at checkout is a surefire way to an abandoned cart.

Secondly, you need to decide whether you'd like to attempt to upsell customers, and how the most appropriate way to do this will be. There are many different algorithms which can be used alongside basket pop-ups, such as what others also purchased, trending items, or new arrivals, so it will depend on what is more suitable for your customer base.

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e-Gear.dk are employing a strong confirmation strategy which both acknowledges receipt of the item and encourages further shopping with personalised suggestions. Pop-ups such as this work very well to aid the flow of the customer journey with relevant information whilst avoiding being too invasive or overly present onsite.

Tempt Back to Site to Browse Again

Encouraging a customer back to site to shop again has more to do with building lasting relationships and less to do with constantly sending offers and deals. Customers buy from brands that they love and trust, so the main focus here is to present your business as a safe place to browse time and again.

Engage with your customers about how they can become involved in brand activities, such as social media, company news and upcoming offers. This will give you an explicit reason for getting in touch, and allow you to subtly add opportunities for sales, such as recommendations based on their last purchase.

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Statistically, customers are much more receptive to emails sent shortly after a purchase so consider your content carefully to tap into this post-sale buzz and build loyalty. Avoid uninspiring, text-based auto-confirmations - even if they are free with your e-Commerce platform - as they are less engaging and will take the shine away from the new purchase feeling, potentially damaging customer relations.

Above all, customers need to feel that they are valued and not just a number in your sales quota. When reaching out after a period of time, make a reference to the product which was initially purchased. This not only reminds the customer of their initial feelings when buying the item, but gives a subtle draw back to site to shop again.

Don't;

Excessively Follow Customers around the Net

Just because you can track customer movements after they leave your site, doesn't mean that you should. In fact, a recent survey found that 79% of customers object to being tracked online.

The majority of modern consumers are aware that tracking occurs for marketing purposes, and appreciate that they are likely to benefit from improved shopping experiences as a result, but most draw the line at being followed after leaving site.

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Be sure to find the right balance when displaying personalised messages, or previously viewed items, by understanding what your audience considers to be an irritating game of cat & mouse across the web.

Facebook Ads within the newsfeed receive a much more welcome reception than those in banner form, but be aware that once the customer has left your site they are unlikely to be in the browsing frame of mind.

Avoid Bombarding with Pop-Ups

Onsite optimisation usually has one main goal; to convert a browsing shopper into a loyal customer. How this is achieved varies from brand to brand, with fierce competition and much trial and error.

Pop-ups are one such area which can act as the best friend or the worst enemy to e-Commerce stores, depending on how and where they are used. By interrupting the flow of shopping, pop-ups can be used to display important information, strategic offers or tailored suggestions to your customer, but be aware - if you are too top heavy with the pop-ups they may chase away the custom.

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There are key areas to consider for pop-up data, for example, related or alternative items if the original product is out of stock will show customers that you are trying to accommodate their needs and build levels of trust.

Automating this process is key to a smooth shopping experience, and used correctly pop-ups can have a fantastic return for areas such as subscription, or newsletter sign-up. These are all vitally important for brand engagement and will ultimately lead more customers towards the checkout.

Don't Repeat Information

This may seem to be a rather obvious point, but where sales are concerned, the temptation is there is show the same information to the customer over and over again - surely there must have been a reason why they haven't responded to my offer? Maybe they just missed the ad, so perhaps we should re-send it....

Unfortunately, we have to be aware that sometimes customers are simply not interested in purchasing, and no amount of advertisement or persistent messaging will change the situation until they are ready to start shopping again.

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Sending the right message to the right customer, and more importantly at the right time, can make all the difference when establishing a bond between customer and brand. One way to achieve this is to segment the information that you hold on your customer base and tailor all communication.

By looking at browsing history you may be able to pinpoint trends between when certain products are likely to be sold. For example, protein powder is usually bought once per month, so sending a warm-up email shortly before customers are due to stock up will keep your brand at the top of their mind.

Using segmentation data wisely will allow you to pinpoint the exact moment to send information and offers to your customers, so you will never need to repeat communication.

Get in touch any time for a consultation - we'll be happy to review your web performance and give some insights in how to optimise further!