Setting Up Product Recommendation Quizzes for Success

product recommendation image

They’re fun. They’re engaging. And they help customers find exactly what they want. That’s the prevailing wisdom behind product recommendation quizzes, which are fast becoming a preferred way for ecommerce merchants to collect valuable data and win the personalization game.

But merely having a quiz on your ecommerce site doesn’t guarantee success. In fact, our experience at Nosto shows that quizzes only deliver the desired results about 50% of the time. The most successful product recommendation quizzes are well designed. They propel—not inhibit—the user experience. And they’re part of a larger overall personalization strategy for your brand.

Why Create Product Recommendation Quizzes?

Even with Google delaying blocking third-party cookies from Chrome until 2023, ecommerce merchants can no longer derive personalization strategies solely using data from web browsers or social networks. Instead, they must own their own data.

The good news is that most shoppers are now on your side. According to Twilio, 70% of consumers today say they’re comfortable with personalization, as long as brands use their own data and not purchased data.

Product recommendation quizzes allow merchants to grasp the holy grail — zero-party data — information that customers intentionally share with you. Shoppers will gladly provide their information when your quiz is helpful and respectful. They won’t if it’s too complex or if it stands in the way of their shopping journey.

Which Merchants Benefit Most? 

Quizzes usually bring the biggest benefit to direct-to-consumer (DTC) merchants with larger product assortments. They also work best with shops selling items consumers purchase less frequently or those selling products that are entirely new to market. After all, a shopper doesn’t need a quiz to learn what type of t-shirt to buy. But he may need more direction when shopping for recreational equipment like a paddleboard. For items like this, product recommendation quizzes bring two benefits: They help consumers find the right product and educate them about the different types of available products.

One of my favorite quiz examples comes from SourceBMX, which bills itself as the world’s largest BMX store. Visitors to their website can click on “What is my favorite BMX?” and answer one simple question: What’s the bike for? Depending on their selection, shoppers will receive two to three other questions (for example, “How tall is the rider?” or “How much do you race?”) and then get bike options that suit their specific needs.

Quizzes also help in categories with rapidly shifting consumer behaviors, such as skin care. While beauty brands have hundreds of products, customers in their category often get overwhelmed by options that won’t work with their skin color, tone or complexion. In addition, beauty consumers often seek specific, ever-changing ingredients.

Neutrogena uses quizzes to help their customers solve problems. Their five-question Acne Quiz, for example, asks shoppers to describe their skin type, type of breakouts, how many pimples they have right now, how often they break out and which products they think would benefit them. At the end, the shopper gets a personalized acne skin care routine.

4 Tips to Create a Quiz Consumers Will Love 

Successful quizzes don’t always have to be product finders. But they should be helpful and friendly. These four tips can help you design a quiz that will truly reflect your customers’ challenges, desires and preferences.

Segment your audience 

Most ecommerce sites base their user experience around a single goal: Helping customers find their products with as few clicks as possible. Quizzes turn this idea on its head by asking shoppers to make more clicks. And while product recommendation quizzes may help shoppers who struggle with decision making, conversely, they could hinder and frustrate shoppers who already know what they want. That’s why I recommend merchants target quizzes toward new website visitors and not repeat customers.

In addition, consider the value of quizzes as a customer acquisition tool. A well-timed product quiz in a potential shopper’s Facebook or Instagram feed will bring value to that consumer and introduce them to your brand in a natural way.

Plan an exit opportunity 

Yes, your goal is to get as much explicit data on your customers as possible. But don’t make the mistake of bullying customers into giving it to you. Every quiz should have a clear exit opportunity so shoppers who don’t want to finish the quiz can continue browsing elsewhere on your site and enter your catalog without friction. This can help you turn a loss (an incomplete quiz) into a win: More sales and additional implicit, first-party data that you can use to better personalize that customer’s experience the next time they visit your site.

Ask, don’t interrogate 

Quizzes that ask too many questions too fast can feel intrusive. I recommend asking between three to five questions. But just as important as the number of questions is the flow of the entire experience. A tip I picked up from Common Thread Collective: Make longer quizzes more engaging and friendlier by embedding elements like GIFs, memes or useful brand information between questions.

Include personalized, non-personalized recommendations 

Beyond leveraging a user’s explicit answers to the quiz, you can also use implicit signals such as their browsing history or traffic source data to improve quiz results. In addition, include a few non-personalized recommendations in the results. Consider highlighting generally popular store products or geo-targeted items that perform well in highly populated areas like New York or Los Angeles to drive conversions.

Adding a brief testimonial or social proof could be helpful, too. And while the personalized results should be front-and-center, these supplemental, non-personalized results can introduce customers to new products or segments and open the door for valuable cross-sells and upsells without seeming intrusive. 

Jan Soerensen is General Manager North America for Nosto