The Keys to eCommerce Personalization: Part One — Mining the Right Data

Robert Brodie
Jan 17, 2019

Personalizing the customer experience is vital for retailers, both online and offline. While learning about a specific customer and customizing the shopping journey to fit their needs is a given, actually figuring out how to accomplish that feat is another story altogether for both businesses big and small. According to Internet Retailer’s new eCommerce Personalization Report, most retailers are offering personalization in some areas, whether it be their websites, mobile sites, or marketing emails, but not all. Often overwhelmed by the first step in the process, they fail to attain the data they need to actually begin the personalization process.

eCommerce retailers can mine data many different ways throughout the customer journey. This learned information is not only essential to customizing offers, offering recommendations and creating strong user experiences but building long-lasting customer relationships.

Existing Customers

Because they have purchased products or services from a particular retailer before, learning data about people and their purchases is a natural first step in establishing who your customer is. Traditional demographics, like age, gender, and location, are a good starting point, but they don’t paint the full picture. Tracking the types of products purchased, the number of orders and the recency of the orders can help fill in the blanks, giving retailers a better understanding of what features have worked in the past and how to tackle issues like shopping cart abandonment with more personalized solutions, like product recommendations and follow-up emails.

Potential Customers

When potential customers land on an eCommerce site, they don’t fill up their carts and buy right away. A series of steps takes place, aptly referred to as the conversion funnel. The behavioral data retailers already know about these customers, such as previous site searches and purchase history, can help retailers better serve potential customers shopping their sites and personalize the experience to meet their needs, increasing the chance of a transaction.

While some of this behavior might occur on only one channel, most customers use multiple devices to
browse and buy. No matter the cross-platform behavior, whether it be a smartphone, tablet or laptop,
it should be traced back to the same user.

Data from Other Sources

In addition to the information retailers already have on their existing and potential shoppers, there are a wealth of outside resources available. For example, “Big data” acquired from third-party providers can give eCommerce stores broad information about their existing customers, or even their competitors’ customers, and reveal trends in the market or potential changes in the retail forecast.

The main goal in acquiring social media data is to determine “actionable patterns” based on the users’ activities, which can then be translated into targeted marketing campaigns for specific audiences. But understanding those patterns can be difficult, especially when there are multiple accounts across various social media platforms. Collection tools, such as Hootsuite or Buffer, are helpful for both managing different social media accounts and gathering information in one place.

Direct Feedback

While customer data can be sourced from social media, a retailer’s website, and across the Internet in general, there’s perhaps no better feedback than what comes directly from the customer. A Salesforce report revealed fifty-six percent of customers are willing to share data to receive faster and more convenient service. They are also open to providing information if exclusive deals or discounts are offered. Loyalty programs are a win-win for retailers and customers, as the former gains access to customer data while the latter receives rewards.

Surveys are another way to get feedback from customers. Retailers can use existing data available through other retailers and news sources or conduct their own using services like Survey Monkey.

Sourcing the right data is the first step in creating marketing and retail strategies that not only boost sales but encourage better customer relationships, but the personalization process doesn’t end there. Retailers must be prepared to further analyze the data and execute strategies to ensure customers are completing the customer journey, from acquisition to transaction.