For many people, personalisation seems like an easy thing to include in your website strategy. Utilising product recommendations, social proofing, exit and welcome messaging may seem like you are creating a personalised experience for the user, but how relatable is it really?
Genuine website personalisation refers to the practice of tailoring a website's content, user experience, and interactions to meet the specific needs and behaviours of individual users. It goes beyond basic Customisation. It means really getting to know your customers and tailoring their journey, so they see products most relevant to them, so each experience is unique.
Sounds straightforward, right? And yet so many people get it wrong!
What questions do we need to ask?
So, let’s start with what questions you should be asking about visitors who come to your site. When getting into genuine personalisation, there are certain things which I think you should be covering.
- How can we define them?
- How have I identified this?
- Why are they here?
- What motivates them?
- What scares them?
- What frustrates them?
- How they'll be using it (the product, service, etc.)?
Answering these questions will allow you to personalise their user experience to meet their specific needs and preferences. Which, at the end of the day, is what every shopper wants, right?
So, let’s use me as an example, and unsurprisingly, I’m buying some new trainers.
- How would I define myself? I like to find rare sneakers.
- How have I identified this? I have bought them in the past, I specifically visit websites that sell them, I also visit websites that talk about new collections, I spend way too much staring at things on StockX thinking "oh they're nice, but I’m never paying that much".
- Why am I here? A new line of Jordan 1s came out recently. Maybe that. Or I’m looking for some inspiration and to seek out some rare trainers.
- What motivates me? I enjoy people saying "oh, are those...". And you then get to fill them in on what they are and why they're super cool. Get a respectful nod and move on.
- What scares me? That I will spend £700 on some dodgy website, and they never come. Or they're fake.
- What frustrates me? That I find them for cheaper 2 hours after clicking Buy Now. Getting them dirty or creased. Or clicking through 100 pairs, none of which are available in size 12.
- How will I be using them? I won't. Much. It'll sit on my shelf for all but 3-4 days a year.
How can we tailor this for me?
By tailoring the user experience to their individual preference and needs, you can create a more engaging and relevant shopping environment.
- You can work out that it's me, based on my purchase history, or acquiring my traffic through well targeted ads/affiliate marketing/etc.
- You can also work out my size preferences, based on my historical purchases if you have them, actively just by asking me "we want to show you useful things, what size are you?" or passively as I click around the site.
- At this point, you know why I’m here. So front and centre, advertise the new Jordan range. Layer in other high-end brands. Leave out things "on sale from £10" - not the right market.
- When I click through, reassure me that I'm not alone - social proofing, 5* reviews, fast delivery turnaround times. If it's on a Wednesday/Thursday, "get it by Friday night".
- If I'm spending £100+ (I will be), throw in some free crease-protecting inserts. Remind me it comes in a bag to protect it from dust.
- Prioritise all things available in my size. Show me things that aren't at the bottom, if I care enough to look.
- Remind me that I can buy a can of Mint foam to keep my shoes clean. Or some shoelaces that are colour appropriate.
- Inspire me. Imagery focused on popularity, wearing them out, perhaps just a picture of a busy road and everyone wearing boring shoes with these standing out clearly.
Without website personalisation, users may shop elsewhere due to a lack of relevance, engagement and a failure to build trust. The examples above demonstrate how you can personalise what the user sees and the journey they go on to create a meaningful experience for them. By doing this, you show that each unique customer is important to you.
Putting the person in personalisation
Personalisation doesn't need to be difficult, and simplicity doesn’t mean sacrificing effectiveness.
The key to personalisation is to be empathetic. Get yourself into the mind of your customer. Fears, motivations, frustrations - it's all great fodder for creating an experience that screams "WE KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED".
And that, specifically, is what we're all trying to achieve with personalisation.
By starting with manageable steps, focusing on user behaviour, and continuously optimizing your approach, you can gradually build a more personalized and engaging website experience for your users.
It's not achieved through a well merchandised carousel, I'm sorry to say (especially being the bloke who makes carousel tech). It's PERSONalisation. So go put yourself in the mind of the person.