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A 10-Step Strategy for Winning Personalization in E-Commerce

April 21, 2014

10 Step E-Commerce Strategy for Winning

What is your plan for generating increased revenue from your enterprise e-commerce operation?

As in real life, online success is driven by presenting information and offers at the right time, in the right place and with the right message. When you attend to your online customers in this way, you will see increased customer retention, increased sales opportunities and improved customer loyalty. In other words, providing a personalized e-commerce experience increases customer satisfaction which, in turn, can maximize online profits.

Personalization--the ability to uniquely respond to online actions and behaviors and then meet a user’s specific needs with customized, targeted interactivity--achieves for all customers the online equivalent of tailored engagement that tends to be reserved for the most valuable customers.

Gartner, a global information technology research company, predicts that by 2018, B2B companies with effective personalization on their e-commerce sites will outsell by 30% competitors without the same level of personalization.

How should you approach personalization for e-commerce?

A Clear Process Path to Personalization Success

The 10 steps below outline a recommended strategy for winning in personalization with your online brand presence. What tactics are best for each step in the strategy? That’s a topic for 10 more blog posts. But if you follow the 10 Steps, you should begin to identify specific tactics for your enterprise.

(Note: Working with the one-to-one marketing tools in your CMS is Step #7. Sidestep the common illusion that simply owning a software package will solve the problem. Rally your team around all 10 Steps to create understanding, shared focus and specific goals.)

10 Steps to Winning in Personalization:

1. P&L: Where’s the money?

Create a Profit/Loss statement for your online brand presence. What products generate the highest revenue and the highest margins? What are the top 10 revenue-generating products in your e-commerce (or real-world commerce) portfolio? The P/L statement will provide a complete picture by helping you to understand where the investment comes from, and where revenue is generated.

E-Commerce Strategy Step 2

 

2. Goals: Use your website as a tool.

Identify and document enterprise marketing goals. Always approach the Internet as a tool to help achieve business goals. Your website is a powerful opportunity to amplify your marketing, sales and business presence to the world. Be sure to integrate your website’s function and reporting into other business KPIs, like quarterly profitability.

E-Commerce Strategy Step 3

 

3. Research: Create aggregate personas.

Deep-dive to identify who your customer is. Capture the attributes of their profile(s) in an aggregate persona or set of personas.

E-Commerce Strategy Step 4

 

4. Why: What do customers value?

Identify the top 3 areas of value your customer gets from you. Know your customer. What does psychographic and demographic research tell you about your customer? Don’t succumb to internal, corporate-culture-centric assumptions. Ask your customers to articulate why they buy from you.

E-Commerce Strategy Step 5

 

5. Path to Purchase: What leads to a sale?

What drives your customer to conversion? Understand the customer mindset at each phase of the purchase cycle. Better still, have marketing data that directly conveys the voice, need and demand of the customer during each of those phases.

E-Commerce Strategy Step 6

 

6. Provide Value: Meet customer needs.

Match your business value proposition to the demands of the customer in the purchasing cycle. Wherever they are in their purchase process, what do they care about and what value do they seek from you?

E-Commerce Strategy Step 7

 

7. Assign Value: Tailor valuable content.

Use your Content Management System (CMS) tools to assign value to the content on your website, and relate it to the customer personas you defined. Some user activity carries a higher value than others, because it is consumed along a path to conversion. Your online marketing software should allow you to associate specific content and conversion goals with a defined persona or user behavior pattern. At Hanson Dodge Creative, we use Sitecore CMS and Sitecore’s Digital Marketing System (DMS).

E-Commerce Strategy Step 8

 

8. Conversion: Metrics show performance.

Create conversion goals. Define metrics on your website that align with your enterprise marketing goals.The conversions achieved on your site should align with stated goals (see Step 2). When evaluating your overall marketing goal progress, conversion metrics show performance.

E-Commerce Strategy Step 9

 

9. Analytics: Track your success.

Make sure your analytics report on conversion and marketing goals. Depending on the CMS, you’ll be able to use data from engagement analytics and standard web analytics.

E-Commerce Strategy Step 10

 

10. Adapt: Match evolving behavior.

Take repeated measurements over time. Customer personas begin as hypotheses that need validation and require refinement with real data. Adjust value delivery through your web presence to respond to shifting patterns in customer behavior. Adjust your customer personas to match actual behavior.

If you measure it, you can manage it

There is no silver bullet, but measurable behavior with actual customer data is a valuable tool in understanding how, when and why your customers buy. It will enable you to meet them where they are, with the value that they’re looking for...which is precisely the goal of personalization. To learn more about integrated marketing strategies for your business and/or how to further leverage personalization, contact us.

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