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WEBINAR REVIEW Latest trends in website personalisation

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Interest is currently high in the science of personalisation – which enables a website to show a personal, individual response to website visitors and customers. So when Internet Retailing recently teamed up with Monetate to host a webinar focusing on the Latest trends in website personalisation, we drew a large audience. Our speakers, Simon Harrow, head of digital trading at Kiddicare, and Nathan Richter strategic services director at Monetate, showed us how personalisation worked for the nursery retailer, and how it could also operate on other websites.

Online trading gives retailers many opportunities to get to know their customers. Whether it’s Google search results, website analytics, clickthroughs from an email campaign or social media, or visits linked to an individual on the catalogue mailing list, all of these generate data that helps to give useful insights into the customer. “These are all different ways to start distilling down what are different profiles or attributes about your customers that might start to give you an idea of what a personalised programme could be to help them to get through a shopping session,” Nathan Richter, director of strategic services at Monetate, told those listening in to the recent Internet Retailing/Monetate webinar on Latest trends in website personalisation.

The volume of data may prove daunting, so Richter advised that a useful starting place in a personalisation programme is to take one segment of the business, whether that’s a high-value or high-volume part of the business. By understanding where inbound traffic to that part of the website comes from, retailers can also gain insights into the profile of different customer groups as well as individual visitors and where they fit within those groups. Data around time and geography feed into all of these to give information about the customer. Reflecting this knowledge will help to give results that show the website understands the visitor, knowing, for example, where stock is held local to the individual.

The practical aspects of personalisation will depend, said Richter, on the individual business, from the testing tools they use to the personnel that is available to support different measures, to the promotions that the business will use. Companies can also leverage the strengths of their partners, whether that be in merchandising, creative and design teams, IT and development and analytics to identify how someone has arrived at the site, what their intent is, and what their attributes are.

Richter took the scenario of someone searching for waterproof jackets to illustrate just how a retailer can turn their approach from a one-size-fits-all website to a “one size that fits each person or each different profile that you’re looking at” website. The person in the scenario clicked through to the fictional ‘Gear’ website via an advert that highlighted the wide stock of waterproof jackets available, the high star rating of the retailer, and a free shipping offer. While the default ‘Gear’ site shows a variety of backpacking equipment, personalisation can be used to change the copy to reflect the ad, to show top-rated waterproof jackets, adding in a free shipping offer.

Personalisation promotions can also reflect the cost of acquisition, in that those who come to a site through a natural search ad might see free shipping, whereas those who come through a paid search ad might see an offer for free shipping when £60 is spent. Conversions can range, said Richter, from 5% to 20%, and can go as high as 100%, depending on how many elements are changed.

Geotargeting can be used, for example, to translate key messages into the visitor’s local language and to flag up deliver costs to that particular destination. And personalisation is not just something that ends at the landing page – companies can also maintain these messages across the pages that the visitor sees, whether that’s the product detail page or the delivery page, where the original delivery offer is reinforced.

Beyond the single visit, retailers who understand their customers’ likely buying pattern can reinforce the same messages over each visit, showing the same messages to returning visitors as they consider whether to make a purchase, and also adding transition messages as the consumer moves into the buying phase.

“It’s really important as you do some testing and find some wins that you communicate that across the organisation,” said Richter. “Nothing builds momentum and builds a programme like people being involved in winning activities that happen on your site.”

Simon Harrow, head of digital trading at nursery retailer, Kiddicare, was the second speaker in the webinar. He shared insights into his company’s personalisation programme for the year ahead, as the business moves from a pureplay into a multichannel retailer with stores, under the new ownership of Morrisons. “As a business we’ve always been very data rich. Ecommerce businesses for a long time have had an awful lot of data. The change over the last 18 months is that we’ve become data-driven.” That means using data to build insight and then use short, sharp tests involving small or large groups of people to find out what works for the business. “It lets us fail faster, it lets us learn quicker and it lets us take calculated risks – it’s no longer just risk for the sake of it,” said Harrow.

Kiddicare’s personalisation strategies are in three main areas:

Location

• Kiddicare delivered targeted messages to those visitors visiting the website who are local to the new Kiddicare stores. That both helped to generate interest from potential staff, and to highlight the openings of the stores.

• Weather-related messages and information were shown to customers in areas affected by the recent stores.

• Location is also used to tailor product recommendations based on whether a customer lives. Thus city-dwellers might see a buggy highlighted that was good for use on city roads, but those who live in the countryside might see something altogether more rugged.

In-session behaviour

“Ultimately what the customer is doing there and then on your site is really relevant,” said Harrow. “To be able to say I know what you are doing right now is as close as we’ll ever get to the store experience.”

• Kiddicare capitalises on this by using lightboxes at key locations such as the checkout, allowing them to push universal products such as its own-brand nappy range.

• Target by time. “The ability to put messaging around a site that communicates with customers, says you’re up at 1am, how’s it going.”

Marketing communications

• Communications are personalised, taking email communications to landing pages.

• The messaging to customers who haven’t shopped at Kiddicare before is differentiated from those that haven’t. Messages around awards are used to build trust with new customers, while repeat customers are more likely to be interested in new ranges.

• Kiddicare also aims to reward customers who come straight to the site, typing in Kiddicare.com. In tests, said Harrow, that type of approach boosted returns enormously.

The question and answer session that followed covered areas from tactics taken in encouraging customers to leave reviews, to the risks that personalisation brings to the technology used in determining from where visitors originate.

To hear the webinar for yourself, to view the accompanying slides and hear the question and answer session, visit the Monetate webinar page. Or visit the webinar page on the Internet Retailing website for information about our other webinars.
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