Over the past couple of years, personalisation in ecommerce marketing has graduated from being a relatively niche and new concept to a commonplace practice used by the majority.
The level of personalisation customers have come to expect from retailers has also evolved. A one off email using a recipient’s first name is simply no longer novel; today marketers can (and should!) adopt a cross-channel strategy that is driven and shaped by customer data.
What does this actually look like? Well, instead of a customer receiving generic campaigns/messages that in no way resonate with them individually, they will receive the right message at the right time and on the best marketing channels for them.
To know what content to send each customer, and the optimal marketing channels to do it, marketers will first need to have access to the following pieces of data:
- First name/last name, email
- Demographic information (gender, location, age etc)
- Browsing behaviour (explore how an individual interacts with your store/ what they are most interested in)
- Marketing interaction data (e.g. the messages they choose to open, and the device and channels they use in order to do so)
- Purchase data (including refunds, returns etc)
Siloed, this information isn’t particularly useful—but brought together, into a single record that updates in real-time, it creates what we call the single customer view - which marketers (and/or algorithms) can draw on to power personalised messages.
With that in mind, here are five channels all you ecommerce marketers should be personalising right now and how you can go about doing it.
1) Automated emails
Automated emails are by their very nature personalised, as they are triggered by an individual’s actions.
Examples of automated emails include:
- Welcome campaign
- Cart abandonment email
- Browse abandonment email
- Post purchase campaign
- Replenishment email
- Win-back (for ‘at risk’ and ‘lapsed’ customers)
For example, by using:
- Basic demographic information: Use any personal information available to make the copy of the email more personalised. For example: first name/last name, age, gender, location, date of birth (good for automated birthday emails!)
- Segmentation and dynamic content: Divide your subscriber and/or customer base into groups according to certain shared attributes, such as:
- Lifecycle stage (the basic stages of the customer lifecycle are: lead, active, at-risk, lapsed. Each of these groups of people require a different approach, so segmenting your marketing correspondence for each is definitely worth it)
- Purchase history/ lifetime value: (for example, if you have a segment of customers that all consistently spend over [x] amount of money you can send them special VIP emails)
- Taste profiling or category affinity: Based on customer transactional data, you can understand the categories and products customers are likely to be interested in and tailor your communication accordingly.
Two examples of personalised automated emails in action🔎 Cart abandonment email from Finery, which has been personalised by factors such as name and lifecycle stage (“exclusive welcome discount”). Subject line: "We saved your items"
🔎 Post purchase email from Moonpig, which has been personalised by factors such as name and purchase history (first purchase).
Subject line: "Abi, hope your first order went well"
For more inspiration on ways to enhance on your triggered emails, we recommend this blog post exploring what a perfect cart abandonment email should look like in 2017.
2) Broadcast emails (newsletters)
Broadcast emails enable marketers to regularly stay in touch with recipients who have opted-in to hearing about a brand, usually letting them know about any new collections, blog posts, competitions or company news.
With good quality content being one of the major trends of 2017, the broadcast email is an increasingly powerful way for marketers to show off their brand’s personality and get to know their customers better.
Even though broadcast emails are sent to (almost) everyone, and - unlike automated emails - are not by their very nature personalised, by using the SCV there are plenty of ways marketers can go about making them bespoke. For example:
- Basic demographic information: Again, as with your automated emails, use any personal information available to make the copy of the email more personalised. (For example: first name/last name, age, gender, location, date of birth—good for automated birthday emails, whether or not the recipient is a student or any other customer data you might have.
- Behavioural data: In order to take this personalisation a step further, you can draw on behavioural data - such as:
- Browsing habits (which you can obtain when subscribers visit your website)
- Buying habits (which you can obtain when subscribers make a purchase)
By looking at a customer’s browsing and buying behaviour, you can accurately predict which content is most likely to catch their eye in subsequent newsletters. (This is what we call taste profiling).
Other ways you can personalise broadcast emails include:
- Contextual content/external factors: For example, using geographic data to determine the weather forecast in each recipient’s time zone, and then use this information to send the right message and advertise the right products.
- Product recommendations: Product recommendations are a selection of products that are pulled into a newsletter template according to a specific algorithm. Three popular types of product recommendation engines include:
- Best-sellers/most popular products of the last seven days
- New arrivals/products that have recently arrived on the site
- The personalised engine: Customer specific products, based on factors such as transactional history and browsing habits of each individual customer (this is touched upon in the point above on behavioural data). Some retailers also ask new subscribers or visitors to their site to fill out a “style quiz”, so they know which sort of products to recommend in the future.
( 🗒️ NB: both contextual content and product recommendations can also be applied to automation emails!)
An example of a personalised broadcast email in action
🔎 Newsletter from Wonderbly, (formerly Lost My Name) which has been personalised by: first name, purchase history and incentive.For a more in-depth analysis on how to make your broadcast emails more bespoke, we recommend reading this blog post.
3) Social adsWith worldwide email usage predicted to top 3 billion users by 2020 (The Radicati Group), it’s tempting to stick all your eggs in one basket and invest all of your marketing efforts on automated and broadcast email.However, this is not necessarily wise. Why?
- Not everyone uses email.
- Different email recipients like being contacted at different frequencies; whilst some customers might be fine with receiving lots of emails from you, others might only want to hear from you one a week or month.
For everything else, Facebook and Instagram Custom Audiences enables brands to target specific customer segments based on customer attributes and behaviour. It works by uploading the email addresses of a list of subscribers to social - either via a manual upload, or automated using a tool like Ometria. Instead of promoting specific products viewed, these ads could be personalised by factors such as lifecycle stage.
For example, to prompt a lead to make that all-important first purchase, you could create a link ad targeting new subscribers encouraging them to ‘Shop now’, and check out your latest or top products, or to just like your page.
(You can also read more Facebook and personalisation here!)(Not-so-subtle plug: Ometria’s campaign builder enables you to send triggered/ broadcast email and automatically target non-openers on social within a single campaign screen.)
Personalised social ad in action
🔎 Here’s a Facebook ad from Pura Vida, inviting me to check out its best-selling Wave Rings.
N.B: I haven’t ‘liked’ the brand’s page yet, but, as I’m part of the mailing list, it knows i don’t need an introduction to who they are, and instead gets straight to the point - with a small “like page” CTA in tow.
4) Direct mail
If you thought personalisation was a practise reserved for online marketing only, think again.
By having a detailed understanding of each and every customer (ie a SCV), marketers can rest assured their direct marketing is being sent to the correct person at the correct time in order to bring about a specific action.
For example, to welcome new customers, Charles Tyrwhitt sends a letter in the post, complete with a personal note and cheeky discount.
For more great examples of brands using data and technology to send awesome direct mail, we recommend reading this blog post.
5) Mobile push notifications
Push notifications can boost app engagement by 88 per cent, and it’s easy to see why: they are a great way to interact with customers on-the-go and in real-time.
(For example, in the screen grab below, Topshop manages to re engage a user and bring them to its store via an irresistible invitation to an “exclusive” tour of its A/W collection.)
The personalisation process for mobile push notifications is much the same as email; you can trigger notifications based on customer behaviour (for example, cart/browse abandonment), or send out a broadcast notification about a sale or new collection.
Again, with the SCV, these notifications can be personalised by (for example):
- Demographic information: gender/location/age
- Taste profile: announcements and/or product recommendations based on a customer’s style (this could be done via a style quiz or browse/purchase history data)
- Back in stock notifications
- Segmentation based on: lifecycle stage (e.g. an exclusive sale for a VIP segment), purchase history
A cross-channel conclusion
Sooner or later, marketers across the world are going to start implementing a cross-channel marketing strategy that prioritises this completely seamless, bespoke experience that ensures each and every customer feels at home with their brand. Why not get ahead of the game and start doing it now?