Post-order email is where most merchants personalize their onsite and post-order experience, with 77% of respondents to [download page] a November 2011 survey from the e-tailing group sponsored by Adobe reporting tapping into these messages. Data from “Prioritizing Personalization for Growth” indicates that shopping cart (52%), product page (44%), and home page (41%) are also popular areas for personalization among merchants, with category page (21%) and search results (17%) trailing distantly.
The e-tailing group survey coincides with recent research from Parks Associates, which suggests that consumers are becoming more comfortable with personalized ads: more than 1 in 3 US broadband households report being comfortable with seeing personalized ads on the Internet based on the products and services they are shopping for, their gender, or their age.
Emails Perform Best
According to the e-tailing group report, 26% of merchants say that triggered shopping cart abandonment emails are a top 2 very or somewhat important personalization tactic from an ROI perspective. Personalized product recommendations via email (14%) also have some perceived success, as do personalized product recommendations on the product page (12%) and retargeting (11%). By contrast, personalized product recommendations in the shopping cart, personalized home page based on past browse and buy behavior, and recently viewed product tactics are seen as top 2 very or somewhat important ROI tactics by less than 1 in 10 merchants.
Meanwhile, almost half of the merchants surveyed say that their loyalty program is critical or very important to understanding their customers and personalizing the shopper experience, while a further 37% cite their program as somewhat important.
Most Look at Previous Purchases, Acquisition Source
More than half of the merchants look at behavior data such as new/return visitor, previous online purchases, acquisition source (search, Facebook, SEO), and customer/prospect when attempting to garner a 360-degree view of the customer. 20-46% rely on other data such as previous product interests, searches, customer demographics, and previous campaign responses, while less than 1 in 5 turn to point-of-sale, previous campaign exposure, customer psychographics, and mobile usage pattern data. E-tailing group insight suggests that the latter data likely poses challenges due to their cross-channel nature or difficulty in securing the measurement data.
According to an earlier report from the e-tailing group, sponsored by Bronto, just 28% of merchants say their data allows them to currently receive a 360-degree of their customer’s engagement with them.
Personalization Strategies Still Immature
On a scale of 1-10, where 10 represents the highest level of sophistication, 54% of merchants rated their sophistication level between 1 and 3 when it came to personalization. Just 13% rated themselves between 7 and 10, with the average level being 3.8.
According to the report, the top 3 areas cited for improvement are: making the user experience more specific and relevant; involving IT, adding functionality, and better managing 3rd party vendors; and improving CRM, post-sale follow-up, and analysis.
About the Data: The e-tailing group surveyed 131 merchants in Q3 2011. 19% had annual sales of $5 million or less, while 26% had annual sales of more than $1 billion. For 35% of those surveyed, online sales account for more than 70% of their overall business, while for 19%, online sales account for 5% or less of their overall business.