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      Real-Time Personalization

      5 E-Commerce Personalization Questions With Tech Experts

      By Carl Bleich

      Mar 22, 2022

      14 min read

      Real-Time Personalization

      5 E-Commerce Personalization Questions With Tech Experts

      As customers’ demands of brands grow higher and higher, e-commerce personalization is becoming more and more important to digital commerce companies. 

      One of the many goals companies should have for their personalization efforts should be to create a connected commerce experience for loyal customers. But that’s easier said than done in e-commerce. 

      How can your company ensure it is prepared for the future with personalization? By making the investment in necessary personnel and technology resources now. 

      That was one of several topics of discussion in our Conversations to Conversion: Bridge the Gap With Personalization webinar with our partners Sinch, Mailgun, and Fast. Keep reading for more highlights from our technology experts, or you can watch the entire webinar on demand here.

      What is the definition of e-commerce personalization? 

      A: Martin Simo, Product Marketing Manager, Bloomreach

      When it comes to e-commerce, personalization is so much more than a Webster’s Dictionary definition, or even the various definitions you’ll find floating around the internet. In our world, personalization is quite literally the key that unlocks growth for your company and allows for easy optimization of the customer experience. 

      E-commerce personalization is the practice of using commerce data responsibly to get to know, guide, and impress your customers with experiences that are so relevant and contextual, they feel like magic. E-commerce personalization spans cross-channel, on-site, and in-app, resulting in measurable journeys that engage and lead customers through brand awareness to product discovery to repeat purchases. 

      At Bloomreach, we pride ourselves on making personalization simple and actionable for marketers, merchandisers, CRM managers, and other key stakeholders. We do this with the Bloomreach Commerce Experience Cloud, which features Engagement, Discovery, and Content solutions that provide growth fuel for digital commerce.

      How do you spot good opportunities for e-commerce personalization and create the right customer experience?

      A: Jonathan Bean, Chief Marketing Officer, Sinch

      The good news is there are a ton of opportunities here. Not that many companies are doing personalization well in this situation. 

      Where is the biggest area of frustration in your customers’ journeys? Once you know that, how can your company ease that frustration with personalization? Because it really is possible to do that. 

      Focus on fixing areas of frustration with personalization. Also focus more on loyalty than the acquisition phase with personalization. 

      At Sinch, we’re going from cookies to conversations. We’ve been brought up on third-party data, cookies, capturing, and that’s going away. We need to move to a more authentic way of doing both acquisition and loyalty, and that’s what personalization gives us. 

      A: Alex Meadow, Head of Consumer Product, Fast 

      Connecting with customers at the right point of their journey is essential. Context is very important. You can personalize a customer experience perfectly for customers, but if you serve it up at the wrong time, it will feel disingenuous and it can actually degrade trust. 

      For example, let’s say a customer just bought a jacket from your company and is now looking for a scarf to go with it. If a company serves up a recommendation for another jacket, it’s going to look like the company is just trying to sell another expensive jacket. 

      By tailoring that product recommendation to ensure that matching scarves are being shown rather than expensive jackets, it shows that the company is listening and actually trying to help the customer rather than just trying to sell expensive merchandise. Keying in on what the customer is trying to do rather than just pushing a sales goal will help build brand loyalty and trust. 

      How can companies differentiate their communication to stand out from the crowd? 

      A: Nicole Jacobson, Vice President of Marketing, Mailgun

      Being different and standing out in a crowded space starts with taking chances. This is the thing that most companies don’t do — they are afraid to be different. 

      You’re never going to stand out if you’re doing the same thing as everyone else. Some companies are watching the competition too much rather than having their own stance or strategy. Companies won’t stand out if they first don’t have their own stance. 

      From a tactical email perspective, you have a very crowded inbox that you’re competing with at all times. Research has shown that the two ways to stand out in an inbox is making sure that you have a really recognizable sender name, and having great subject lines. Those really help you stand out. 

      Those are things that you can test. For us, the sender name has been a first name plus the company name — like “Nicole at Mailgun” for instance. Testing those things can really help get someone to click on your email. Doing that helps you stand out in ways that other things might not.

      A: Martin Simo, Product Marketing Manager, Bloomreach

      At Bloomreach, our Commerce Experience Cloud really spans almost all aspects of the customer buying journey. Because of this, we have a “know me, guide me, wow me” framework that we work off of to differentiate ourselves and stand out. 

      “Know me” is the most basic first step of e-commerce personalization. In today’s market, that means collecting commerce data compliantly to develop a baseline understanding that leads to connected customer experiences later on. Without data, you’re just guessing. 

      “Guide me” involves using that collected data to lead customers to experiences that data suggests they would enjoy. The point of personalization is to build additional brand loyalty and help facilitate the customer journey. Your personalization efforts must have those two end goals in mind at all times. 

      “Wow me” encompasses the experiences had by customers with your brand that are mind-blowing and delightful. Having deep background knowledge of your customers and products allows you to present an experience to them that is exactly what they are looking for, sometimes without them even realizing it. 

      Personalization vs. optimization — what would you say is the difference? 

      A: Alex Meadow, Head of Consumer Product, Fast 

      Optimization is creating a better experience for a broader set of customers by finding the common denominator between them. Personalization is a more advanced form of optimization, but you’re really reducing that common denominator to just one. You’re trying to find a specific pain point and then address it so that you’re really creating unique experiences for individuals. 

      Ideally, they should always be used in conjunction and that’s how you get the most powerful experiences. Mirroring the two together is really where the power of both techniques come into play. 

      A: Nicole Jacobson, Vice President of Marketing, Mailgun

      Personalization is using data to focus on one person. Optimization allows you to more broadly serve a larger audience. 

      For companies who are not using personalization, if you aren’t quite ready for that at your company, optimization is a great baby step into personalization. I don’t see why any company wouldn’t use at least parts of optimization (A/B testing, CTA testing, etc.). Optimization can generate meaningful metric lifts. 

      Optimization can lead companies into personalization when they are ready for it. 

      What are some tips on how to create better customer outreach and offer better customer experiences? 

      A: Jonathan Bean, Chief Marketing Officer, Sinch

      Don’t be blinded by your data. Get out there and test things yourself, or even better, talk to a few of your customers. Interview people in a particular cohort and actually find out what their experience with your brand was and how we can do it better. Getting on a call and getting qualitative data is super important. 

      The other thing to consider is — how do you like to communicate with your friends and family? Similarly, how do you communicate with your customers? I think the trend we will see more and more is that your customers will expect a more personalized experience. That means experimenting with different channels than you’ve used in the past and communicating in different ways with them. 

      A: Martin Simo, Product Marketing Manager, Bloomreach

      Whenever we talk to companies that are really successful with personalization, there are two things that they are doing to offer a better customer experience. 

      The first thing is intentionality. They come in with a clear plan and they use personalization to achieve very specific goals. Whether it’s improving email conversion rate, improving search conversion rate, improving add-to-cart to final conversion rate — whatever it is, they are intentional about trying to improve those metrics. 

      The second is running a lot of experiments. These companies are testing a wide variety of different things to ensure that they are offering as optimal of a customer experience as possible. They are able to make changes to certain things when the data tells them to but they are also able to understand the “why” behind more of what they do because of the amount of experiments and how they analyze those results. 

      Bloomreach Powers E-Commerce Personalization Initiatives

      With demands for an optimized customer experience soaring higher and higher, your commerce-driving team must be committed to working together to ensure that the customer experience is not disjointed and the customer can flow seamlessly through the customer journey. E-commerce personalization is key in strategizing and scaling winning customer journeys. 

      Bloomreach offers the technology to businesses across the world to not only support personalization efforts, but to also ensure that your company has the capability of offering a connected customer experience. Bloomreach powers the equivalent of $400 billion in commerce annually and serves over 850 customers in a wide variety of industries with our Commerce Experience Cloud

      Schedule a demo today to learn more.

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      Carl Bleich

      Content Marketing Manager at Bloomreach

      Carl works with Bloomreach professionals to produce valuable, customer-centric content. A trusted expert with over 15 years of experience, Carl loves exploring unique ways to turn problems into solutions within digital commerce.

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