20 Ecommerce Personalization Ideas to Strengthen Customer Relationships
With the rise of online shopping and digital commerce, has making a purchase become more impersonal? It’s hard to say. On the one hand, most of us no longer have a salesperson who greets us by name at our local department store or corner grocery. However, we now have digital channels that can be tailored to our needs to a greater degree than ever before.
The truth is, there is just as much potential for personalization in ecommerce as there is within a physical store. You can greet customers by name, give them product recommendations, and “hold” items in their cart while they browse.
But unlike a store clerk, it’s much harder to make small talk and keep shoppers shopping. The key, instead, is offering a personalized online shopping experience everywhere your customer is—on your site, in advertisements, on social media, in their inbox, and everywhere else.
To help you build an exceptional ecommerce personalization strategy, we’ve created this guide with 20 ways to offer individualized experiences across multiple touch points.
Personalize through product recommendations
Shoppers today place a high value on “smart” product recommendations—suggestions for new items based on what customers with similar interests have ordered. They’re the online equivalent of the helpful store clerk who says, “Oh, we just got this new product in, and I thought of you right away.” Make it easy for customers to discover new products by offering personalized recommendations throughout your online store.
1. Show products that other customers love
People are often inclined to buy a product if they learn other shoppers like it, too. According to Nielsen, 70% of consumers trust customer reviews as a way to evaluate a product.
Tap into this power of social proof by placing items that other customers with similar tastes like on product and checkout pages. The department store Macy’s, for example, highlights items that other customers loved on their product pages.
To upsell shoppers, retailers can also highlight what other customers purchased on checkout pages. Once a shopper completes their order, direct them to a page that shows what other people who made the same purchase also bought.
Takeaway: Highlight 5 products that customers with similar carts and tastes loved or bought on product and checkout pages
2. Highlight trending searches in your search results bar
If you have a large number of SKUs, customers may be unsure about what items to look at first. The more products you have in your store, the longer it typically takes for customers to choose an item.
Encourage them to browse your store by highlighting frequently searched categories and products in your search bar. Nielsen reports that nearly a quarter of shoppers will be likely to click a suggestion. Even if they don’t, the recommended searches will give site visitors a sense of what your store offers, which may prompt them to click elsewhere.
Target helps shoppers find popular products, no matter what part of the store they’re on, by always highlighting trending searches in its search bar.
Takeaway: Once shoppers click on your search bar, immediately display the most-frequently searched items and categories.
3. Offer a quiz for product recommendations
Data tells you a lot about what products shoppers might be interested in—but it doesn’t tell you everything. Get an even closer look at customers’ preferences by offering a quiz that helps people find the best products for their needs.
The skin care company Clarisonic dedicates a whole portion of their site to their Skin Quiz, a questionnaire to gauge customers’ needs and lifestyle to recommend the best facial brush.
While any brand can set up a product quiz, it’s best for companies with many similar products. The quiz will help shoppers find the version that best does what they need it to do.
Takeaway: Create a quiz that delivers recommendations based on shoppers’ answers about their lifestyle and reasons for using your products.
4. Email product recommendations
With so many brands competing for shoppers’ attention, it’s easy for people to forget about you. Keep your brand top of mind by sending shoppers emails with product recommendations.
The clothing company Everlane sends product recommendation emails that are especially enticing. The message starts with a compliment—”you have great taste”—and includes a product photo and description to show the recipient why they’ll love the item being highlighted.
One of the best times to send a product recommendation email is right after a customer makes a purchase. Use the message to upsell the shopper with complementary items. To customers repeatedly browsing products without making a purchase, send them a message promoting items similar to those they were considering.
Takeaway: Encourage shoppers to make a purchase by sending them emails with products that are similar to items they have browsed and/or purchased.
Personalize your communication
Between email and social media, most people are already bombarded with messaging from companies about their products. If you want customers to pay attention to your communication, you have to speak to their individual needs.
5. Run re-engagement email campaigns
A shopper who has given you their email address has some level of interest in your brand. Build your relationship with them by sending emails that offer something free, but valuable.
The mattress company Purple reconnects with shoppers in an individualized way by addressing the customer by name and recognizing their shopping activity (“I noticed that you stopped by the website”).
The most personalized aspect of the email is the sender Janet offering to answer the shopper’s specific questions. By making herself available, the support rep is showing the customer—not just telling them—that Purple cares about their customers’ unique concerns.
Takeaway: To re-engage customers, send them a direct email to remind them where they left off with your brand and give them an incentive to reconnect.
6. Send abandoned cart emails
Most brands today send emails to customers who leave items in their cart without completing the purchase as a way of bringing them back to the store to complete their order.
Some brands make the mistake of sending the same generic message to every shopper. Customize the email by featuring the items that the recipient left behind in their cart.
Information about the products—photos, pricing, descriptions—will help the shopper remember why they wanted to buy the item(s) and push them to return to their cart. Include a CTA that directs the reader back to their cart so they can easily complete the purchase.
Takeaway: Include product photos, pricing, and a purchase CTA button in your abandonment emails to entice shoppers to return to their cart.
7. Chat with customers on your site
A surefire way to address customers’ individual needs is by letting them talk to customer service representatives through chat. Many shoppers appreciate chat features on stores because they’re able to ask questions about products and voice their concerns with a quicker turnaround time than email. That’s why delivering superior support is one of the three omnichannel trends retailers identified as essential to the future of ecommerce.
To keep chat as efficient as possible, the department store Nordstrom asks shoppers to select their main issue before the messaging begins. This preliminary filter helps the company pair customers with service reps who are most knowledgeable.
Takeaway: Include an online chat box on your store’s website so shoppers can quickly communicate with your team members about their concerns and questions. Consider asking customers to choose the topic they want to chat about before the messaging begins so you’re able to pair them with the best support rep for their needs.
8. Connect through a Facebook Messenger chatbot
Along with using support reps, you can also set up a chatbot on Facebook Messenger to assist customers. From your Facebook business page, shoppers can start an automated conversation with the chatbot to ask common questions, buy a product, and more.
You might think that these bots can’t offer the friendly, personal customer service of a rep, but advanced technology has made them sound pretty conversational. More importantly, they’re able to give shoppers useful guidance and recommendations by pulling from browsing and purchase data.
The office supply company Staples uses a Facebook Messenger chatbot to not only offer product suggestions, but also to help customers process their orders.
Takeaway: Use a chatbot on Facebook Messenger to provide personalized customer service to shoppers. Check out this resource from Facebook to learn how to set up a chatbot for your ecommerce business.
Personalize with geo-targeting
Geo-targeting is curating your messaging to shoppers based on where they live. It’s an essential ecommerce personalization strategy for driving online customers to physical stores and for proactively sharing delivery information with shoppers.
9. Run online ads about in-store promotions and events
Many retailers today have both physical and online stores. Instead of keeping the business types separate, drive shoppers to both your online and physical stores with geo-targeting.
Use your website to drive more customers to your physical stores by showing announcements to local shoppers. For example, you might set up an in-store-only promotion to pop up when local shoppers visit your website.
Likewise, you can direct customers who visit your physical shop to your online store. Say, for example, a person wants a size that you only carry online. One of your store clerks can help them complete the order through the website.
Takeaway: Use geo-targeting to send announcements about your physical shops to customers who live nearby.
10. Show the closest store for pickups
Not everyone wants to wait for their items to be shipped. Offer customers a personalized experience by highlighting the nearest physical store they could visit to pick up what they’re interested in. This small touch to your website makes the shopping experience much more convenient for shoppers. They can go to the store and get their product right away without worrying whether it’s in stock or not.
Target shows customers the store location that is nearest to them in the top left corner of their site. The location stays there on every page, so shoppers don’t forget that they can always go to the physical store.
To make the shopping experience even more convenient, retailers can also highlight the inventory of local stores on product pages. Customers can avoid making a trip to a store and discovering that an item is out-of-stock by seeing how many products are left at the location from your site.
Takeaway: If you have physical stores, highlight the closest location on your site and the inventory of products at that location.
11. Show predicted shipping time based on location
People care a lot about delivery time, especially now that Amazon has made free two-day shipping a norm. Nudge shoppers towards completing their order by showing the estimated delivery time on product pages. Using geo-targeting, you can show how long shipping is estimated to take based on the shoppers’ locations.
Amazon consistently gives expected delivery windows on product pages for all types of items—Prime or not Prime, new, old, you name it.
Use geo-targeting to show shoppers exactly how long it will take for their products to arrive. Once they see the delivery timeline, customers will feel more confident in placing the order.
Takeaway: Use geo-targeting to highlight estimated delivery time on product pages.
Personalize by using shoppers’ names
Greeting shoppers individually might feel strange at first since you don’t actually know them. Research, however, shows that customers don’t find brands using their names odd at all. According to Accenture, 56% of people are more likely to use a brand that recognizes them by name.
Just like a store clerk recognizes repeat customers, use your shoppers’ names in online communication to build familiarity with them. Personalization can help you build a stronger connection with customers that will ensure their loyalty and engagement.
12. Use names in email subject lines
An easy way to make shoppers feel acknowledged is to include their name in email subject lines.
Though you can do this at any point in the customer journey, we recommend using this tactic in your first few messages to a potential customer. The small gesture of using the shopper’s name shows that your brand cares about them specifically right from the start.
Takeaway: Use the customer’s name in email subject lines to make them feel recognized. However, avoid using customer names too frequently, as this may feel inauthentic.
13. Greet customers once they’re signed in
A simple way to personalize your store is to display “Hi, [Customer’s first name]” when they sign into their account.
Leave this message on the shopper’s screen, no matter what part of the store they go to. Customers appreciate this greeting because it lets them know that they’re signed in and more importantly, it makes them feel recognized by the brand.
Takeaway: Display the shopper’s name in a greeting message when they sign into their account.
Personalize your site’s design
If your online store appears the same to all shoppers, you’re missing out on a major personalization opportunity. Retailers today can set up their store to automatically change its design based on who is visiting, either through ecommerce personalization software or the store’s own code. This flexibility allows you to show shoppers content that fits where they are in the customer journey cycle and their product interests. Learn how you can customize the appearance of your store with the tips below.
14. Use personalization software
While you can build these personalized design elements with your own code, it’s often faster and more cost-effective to use an ecommerce personalization software. These tools will automatically change your online store’s content based on data about each site visitor.
The ecommerce personalization software Dynamic Yield allows users to vary their homepage design based on the type of site visitor.
Below is a breakdown of the top three ecommerce personalization softwares out there to help you find the best tool for your store.
Personalized pop-ups, headers, coupons, and more
Must request pricing quote
Personalized CTAs, site notifications, product recommendations, and more
Must request pricing quote
Personalized homepage content, item recommendations, and more
Check out this list of popular ecommerce personalization tools to explore more software options for your company.
Takeaway: Personalize the design of your online store with automated ecommerce personalization software. Using these tools will help your engineering team save time and ensure that your site design is reliably customized for every shopper.
15. Offer personalized discounts on your homepage
Many ecommerce homepages are filled with sales and coupon announcements. Every discount starts to look the same, so shoppers overlook the offers.
Less is more when it comes to homepage promotions. To grab the attention of shoppers, display just a handful of personalized offers based on the site visitor’s familiarity with your brand and their product interests.
Say, for example, a shopper reaches your online store for the first time. You might set up your site to display a discount for first-time purchases. On the other hand, you wouldn’t want a repeat customer to see that offer. Instead, you could show them a deal in their favorite product category.
Takeaway: Show promotions to shoppers on your homepage based on their familiarity with your company and their product interests.
16. Design pop-ups to appear based on user behavior
Pop-ups are especially annoying if you see the same one every time you visit an online store. Make your pop-ups useful by personalizing them for every shopper, based on their site behavior and past browsing and purchase history.
For example, you might set up an exit intent pop-up to appear for shoppers who are about to leave your store. Shoppers who are still in the early phases of the customer journey could be shown a pop-up that offers a discount in exchange for their email address.
Takeaway: Don’t show the same pop-ups to every site visitor. Change them based on the shoppers’ browsing and purchase history and their site behavior.
17. Offer personalized product lists
Shoppers who don’t complete a purchase may have plans to buy these products down the road. Make it easy for them to find these items later by allowing them to save their favorite products.
Retailers like Amazon let shoppers bookmark their favorite products through a wish list feature. Many stores will also allow customers who use Pinterest to note their favorite products with a “save to Pinterest” button, as furniture company Interior Define does.
Takeaway: Give shoppers a way to save their favorite products, so the items are easy to find when they’re ready to order.
18. Show shoppers their recently-viewed items
It’s common for people to visit an online store and take a look around without making a purchase. Episerver reports that 92% of first-time visitors don’t intend to make a purchase.
When shoppers do return to your shop, help them pick up where they left off with a recently viewed products display. This list will increase the likelihood of shoppers purchasing these previously viewed items, instead of just browsing again.
L.L. Bean shows shoppers their browsing history by displaying recently viewed items on product pages.
Some online stores also show previously viewed products on their homepage. Shoppers are especially likely to see the items with this placement since homepages are visited so frequently.
Takeaway: Create a display of recently viewed items on your product pages and/or homepage to encourage shoppers to buy products they were browsing.
Personalize your marketing efforts
People are inundated with advertising, so they’re likely to scroll past your promotions that don’t immediately register as relevant or interesting. The best way to catch shoppers’ interest is to craft personalized marketing. Show people what they care about—not just the general interests of the whole customer base—and they’ll have good reason to click on your ad.
19. Target customers with Facebook ads
Through robust targeting features, Facebook allows you to choose who sees your ads based on behavior, interests, and demographics.
This personalization works for both you and your shoppers. You make the most of your ad spend by showing promotions in front of the people who care the most, and customers see only relevant ads from your brand.
Say, for example, you run an electronics company and want to promote your store’s back-to-school sale on laptops. With Facebook ad targeting, you can set up your promotion to appear only to college-age users.
Takeaway: Use targeting features on Facebook to send ads to people who are most likely to find them useful based on a number of factors—interests, location, demographics, and more.
20. Create ads that show previously viewed products
Even when a shopper leaves your store, you can still keep them thinking about your products with personalized ads on other sites.
This personalized advertising is known as dynamic remarketing. You set up cookie-based ads to show shoppers items that are similar to ones they were recently browsing. Showing the exact product that a customer was considering can make them feel uncomfortable, so it’s best to just show similar items.
Takeaway: Set up personalized ads that show shoppers items that are related to ones they were browsing or ones that would complement their recent purchase.
Bolster your shopping experience with ecommerce personalization
In the age of tech-driven shopping, it can feel like we’ve lost the ability to create personalized shopping experiences. The truth is, you can still cater to shoppers’ individual needs without in-person interactions.
Today, thanks to all of the customer data at retailers’ disposal, there are numerous opportunities to personalize your online shopping experience. Whether it’s offering recommendations or implementing user-based site design, an online retailer is more than capable of giving shoppers individualized treatment.
Use the tactics in this guide to constantly nurture your online store visitors. With enough personalization, you’ll create a shopping experience that is just as friendly and helpful as an in-store visit.