How Personalization Drives Customer Acquisition and Engagement

Something interesting is happening to the traditional consumer buyer’s journey. It’s getting shorter, and that’s not necessarily good news for online retailers.  A typical website bounce rate is 60 percent, a typical website visit lasts less than 90 seconds, and a typical abandoned shopping cart rate for retail sites is approaching 80 percent.

Buying decisions are happening faster than ever, partly because consumers have shorter attention spans, but mostly because they have more information available than ever to make a quick decision and feel good about their purchase. Which begs the question: is your website providing that information?

This article will explore the beginning of the buyer’s journey – customer acquisition and engagement – and examine how web personalization can convert more visitors into paying customers using real retail examples.

Acquisition: What brings you here?

Though your knowledge of the consumer is limited when they visit your website for the first time, personalization offers small but meaningful steps toward a 1:1 interaction that can have lasting results. For example, your website can acknowledge the source that has led the visitor to your website – such as an email, pay-per-click advertisement or affiliate site – or offer a welcome message geo-targeted to the visitor’s location. The latter is particularly effective if the visitor is say, on a mobile device and near a physical store. Web personalization can also engage a new visitor in real time with a compelling call to action, such as a Deal of the Day or newsletter offer.

Engagement: What will keep you here?

One of the most important things web personalization can do is expand that average 90 second visit to 120 seconds, three minutes, or more. It creates this advantage by increasing relevance the longer and more frequently a customer visits your website. For example, you can target offers based on products or brands a visitor clicks and actively explores. You can educate a customer on a topic related to the products he or she is exploring. Or you can engage visitors on a targeted level when they return to your website, reminding them of products from their last visit.

In addition to delivering targeted content, web personalization can increase engagement by responding to in-session behavior in order to influence the visitor’s urgency. For example, you can enable triggered messages based on the duration a visitor has been on a particular page, the extent to which they’ve engaged with a product, and if their mouse is moving toward the navigation bar in order to leave the site. You can also trigger “buy now” and reminder messages if an abandoned cart is detected.

Case example: Rue La La

As a members-only retail website, it’s important for visitors to understand the value that Rue La La offers, and understand it as quickly as possible (remember, 90 seconds!). For that reason, Rue La La uses real-time messages to inform first-time visitors about the brand and its unique offerings, and offer them a virtual tour of the website and the value available to them.

For new and returning visitors, Rue La La uses flash sales and incentives such as a 30-day $9.99 shipping promotion to convert new members into buyers and repeat purchasers. Special offers like these significantly reduce the number of abandoned shopping carts, and are also effective at extending the visitor’s shopping experience. They shop longer, and buy more.

Rue La La also uses web personalization to respond based on a visitor’s location, customizing real-time content based on domestic and international locations. This is critical for a brand that’s bread and butter are daily deals and trend-based offers, with a short window of availability.

Following the buyer’s journey

Using web personalization to improve customer acquisition and engagement is critical given how the attention of today’s consumer is divided. When you can target their needs and interests in the first visit to your website – with a warm welcome, offer relevant to their search or information about your brand’s value proposition – you increase your chances of engagement exponentially.

Andy Zimmerman is CMO of Evergage.