Did you know that 49 percent of consumers surveyed in the US and UK said that they do not mind relinquishing personal data in order for a personalized shopping experience? Though the vast majority of people are worried about how their data will be used, many of them realize that trusted retailers can use their information to market content that is both relevant and appealing to them. It is similar to the Groupon effect. Users reveal their likes, dislikes, Internet usage (via cookies), location, demographics and more in order to receive deals that are most appealing to them.
Take, for instance, the cosmetics industry. Firstly, cosmetics have a small purchasing cycle (say, about 3 months per product). Secondly, there is a growing pool of influencers who want to use new products and give their reviews. This user-generated content is on all social channels, but most notably YouTube. Beauty tutorials and product review videos are uploaded every hour. It’s safe to say that there is a large cosmetics audience online and they are constantly looking for the next big thing, a better deal and how-tos. Therefore, capturing information about these people is easier than ever. Personalizing their shopping experience online is essential to growing a larger community and building brand loyalty. But how do you do this?
There are various ways that cosmetic companies can go about collecting data about their target audience. There is social research, which allows the brand to listen in on unsolicited conversation (blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). There is search engine research, which can reveal the volume of searches for various brands or products, allowing a brand to predict trends in demand. There is also a good old fashioned site-intercept survey, which asks users what they like and dislike about the site, the products and the brand. These are just a few simple ways that brands can obtain information about their profiled audience.
Now that you have lots of data about your potential and current consumers, it’s time to act upon what they’ve said. Look for trends according to location, demographics and opinions about your site. Find what stops people from buying products on your site: is it a lack of visibility issue? an inventory issue? a pricing issue? Once you have gotten this feedback, you are able to conduct tests in order to better the online consumer experience. This can be anything from price sensitivity analysis, which can tell you how much people are willing to pay for a product, to conversion funnel testing, which allows you to see where people fall out most when purchasing products on your site (allowing you to improve these pages). If it is simply that you are not found in search results, perhaps a paid search campaign is the most lucrative response. In any case, it is important to act upon the data you have collected in order to better serve your clientele.
Finally, we get to the customization component. A personalized experience is what the consumers want. There can be several ways to do this through various channels, such as customized targeting options paid search + social advertisements. But I will give you an example using email marketing.
If Customer A gets her hair products every three months, send an email marketing campaign including the products she normally buys (with, perhaps, a discount code) about a week before her regular purchase. Recommend new products in the same email that Customer A would probably like. Since many beauty consumers are famous for brand and product loyalty, it’s important that you offer what Customer A will need and then try to upsell a bit.
If Customer B is an influencer (has her own YouTube channel of tutorials or has a public Facebook profile and posts reviews, for instance), her marketing emails should be a different than those sent to Customer A. The emails she receives should be geared more toward beauty trends and new products to try. Since she is more likely to review products than Customer B (as she is familiar with generating online content), offer her an incentive to review new products on your site that she tries. Reviews will not only benefit your SEO strategy, but improve your conversion rate on-site.
Those are just two very basic email marketing campaigns that personalize the user experience. On-site components like saved shopping carts, wish lists and site search query history can tell you even more about your customers. It’s all about using this data in order to create a better experience, one that will not only retain customers but make them brand advocates. Utilizing all the available tools at your disposal can create a site that achieves your business goals while also making the consumer happier.
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[This article has been syndicated with permission from Asking Smarter Questions.]