As hard as your website must work to engage visitors in a limited amount of time, it is even harder to move consumer engagement to the next phase of the buyer’s journey: the purchase. Abandoned shopping cart rates are on the rise, as high as 80 percent among ecommerce websites. Online retailers are in urgent need of strategies to help reduce website churn and convert visitors to buyers. Personalizing the experience can help.
Purchase: How do I get you to buy?
More than ever, consumers are price-sensitive and focused on value. Combine that with the ease with which they can research products, comparison shop and access reviews, and it is easy to see why it is so difficult to drive a purchase while visitors are engaged on your website.
With web personalization, you can offer information in real time that will help visitors make a confident buying decision. It might be relevant content that encourages confidence in the purchase, such as customer reviews and ratings from other like-minded shoppers. Or it might be a promotional discount that entices the visitor to make a purchase now rather than waiting. Content and offers like these can also help close the deal on shopping carts before they are abandoned. When your website senses that the visitor is at risk of leaving without completing a transaction, you can offer free shipping or a modest discount if they complete their purchase now.
Post-purchase: How do I get you to buy more?
What’s almost as challenging as the initial purchase? The next purchase. Web personalization can go a long way toward helping you succeed in moving customers along to the next phase of the buyer’s journey — sometimes before the initial purchase is even completed.
One way to encourage a post-purchase is to keep customers engaged in the satisfaction of their initial purchase from your website. Some strategies are simple to execute, such as a targeted satisfaction survey or personalized thank you message that includes a discount offer for their next purchase. Some can help influence more than just a repeat purchase, but purchases from other customers, such as a refer-a-friend offer or an invitation to rate and review a product. In every case, these strategies are highly targeted and remind customers of your value and service.
Another important post-purchase strategy that web personalization can help with is cross-selling and up-selling purchases. For example, an electronics purchase can include a real-time offer for an extended warranty or cable bundle, or a service reminder when they return to the website. A clothing purchase can make relevant offers for matching attire and accessories to help complete an outfit. Ideally these offers enhance the value of the purchase of both you and the customer.
Case example: FSAStore
When it comes to web personalization strategies that help customers realize value in the purchase and post-purchase phases, few examples are better than FSAStore, an online retailer for consumers with healthcare flexible spending accounts. For many FSA customers, there is an urgency to make purchases and maximize value, as flexible spending accounts can be lost if they go unspent by a certain date.
FSAStore uses real-time web personalization to make live recommendations based on product affinity, from frequently viewed pages to previous purchases. The website will promote products in-session that a visitor has spent the most time viewing in hopes of closing an urgent purchase. Furthermore, FSAStore makes recommendations for related products while visitors are placing products in shopping carts. This is critical, as some consumers struggle particularly at the end of the year to ensure they use their flexible spending accounts to the last dollar. Reminders of free shipping offers for minimum orders, for example, can increase cart size and help consumers spend FSA dollars wisely.
Following the buyer’s journey
Using web personalization to increase purchases and post-purchase success is critical given how consumers are controlling the online shopping experience. When you can target their needs and interests with decisive information, such as ratings and reviews, and a relevant offer, perhaps for a cross-sell or up-sell item, you increase your chances of closing the sale two-fold.
Andy Zimmerman is CMO of Evergage.