The success of an online business is based on the bond between the visitors’ needs and the website’s value proposition (product, offer, price…). Your website should be your best sales asset, with carefully catered messages and offers – for the right person, at the right place and at the right time. Both visitors’ needs and the website value proposition can be partly customised.
To adapt to visitors’ needs, you can choose the type of traffic you want through targeted acquisition campaigns, SEO funnel strategy and advertising campaigns – but the power you have is limited and you’ll have to make the most of your traffic.
The second choice is to tailor the user’s on-site experience to match your traffic needs. Visitors coming from different traffic channels and belonging to different segments will not share the same knowledge of your business and offers, so it is important to give them adequate information and a user experience that will move them further down the funnel.
The goal is to find a happy medium between the off-site traffic acquisition optimization and the on-site experience. And that’s what optimization and personalization is about: segmenting the traffic you already have and providing the best and most relevant user experience to each traffic segment, while supporting business goals and thus improving conversion rate.
Where Testing and Personalization Meet
Personalization and A/B testing are two of the most popular conversion rate optimization tools (reminder: what is an A/B test?). But while A/B testing softwares are used for verification of changes made on a website, marketing campaigns or emails, personalization is focused on targeting a visitor with dynamic content, depending on the user’s segment.
With testing you’re comparing the performances of variations on the same kind of traffic, where global peak can hide local ones because segments react differently.When you study analytics data in more detail, results can lead you to discover the specific behaviour of each segment that can differ substantially from the average behavior.
Above: The variation records a 4% average conversion rate whereas the original is only 3%. However, this good overall performance hides a decrease when you focus on returning visitors data.
Profitable and ROI focused
Make the most out of the testing efforts and investment
Keep in mind that testing is short term activity (3-week duration on average), while personalization is a long-term marketing activity. The testing phase delivers results that need to be exploited. Some changes sometimes need to be implemented on your code, directly into the server, often when the changes are huge (i.e. complete redesign of a page), because they will address all visitors, no matter which segment.
But for most tests regarding small changes, personalization allows you to make the changes visible to specific segments without requiring extra costs for development.AB Tasty’s Wysiwyg (What You See Is What You Get) tool is therefore cost efficient. Changes are directly made by marketing teams and do not require more than a few clicks, especially if they were already set up for a test. To this end, AB Tasty provides its consumers with a unique library of templates to create advanced personalization in one click.
As explained previously, good global results may hide low performance for some segments – and this is an unnecessary loss. For instance, free shipping for everybody increases the overall conversion rate, but it is only useful to offer it to people who are on the verge of making a purchase. The offer for free shipping will help them make a final decision and confirm the purchase, but will not hasten the decision-making process for the rest of the traffic. Therefore, there is no need to give this offer/message to everybody. Showing a message only to the accurate visitors is a cost-efficiency which every marketer should aim at.
And the reverse is also true: you can benefit from the bad results as well as from the good. Sometimes bad global results hide good results in segments because the population chosen for the test was too large – refining the test results can reveal interesting segments and areas for improvement.
Ensure off-site and on-site consistency to maximise the return on investment on traffic acquisition.
Personalizing the user-experience of targeted groups and increasing involvement by displaying the expected messages means less lost traffic acquisition (i.e. visitors who bounced). The consistency between off-site (search, ads, emailing…) and on-site experience is crucial to give the visitor what he/she is looking for. For example, an off-site ad for sunglasses targeted on the weather leads to a website showing a dynamic message on-site “The sun shines today!”. You can dynamically change the content to match the PPC ad copy, so the visitor will see exactly what was advertised and what encouraged the click. There is nothing less efficient than advertising something and not offering it on the website.
Traffic acquisition is essential but expensive: Optimising the experience delivered on-site and retaining visitors then becomes a highly profitable activity.
How To Build A Segmentation Strategy?
How to start with personalization? Basics would include identifying your most important segments and then beginning to target them with personalized content. At first, you can think of common and efficient segments such as new and returning visitors, visitor devices or location… This is a good way to start but you will quickly reach the limits.
First of all, segments are closely linked to industry and company positioning. There is no other better practice to segment the traffic than knowing your customers. Obviously, you should focus your efforts on the most valuable segments.
Refining test results and all the available analytics data is then a way of revealing new segments based on their interaction with your website. Keep in mind that the segmentation can be based on three kinds of data: about the pages (products, category, careers…), about the visitor behaviour (clicked links, cart value…), or about the context (weather, hour of the day, geolocation…).
Nowadays, tools overflow with data you already have and that need to be exploited to refine results: Tag Management System DataLayers, Data Management Platform… in addition to the already really detailed targeting interface of your testing software.
What Elements to Personalize?
Once you define your valuable segments you need to start thinking about the element you should personalize. This choice obviously depends on your goal, which must be consistent with the segment you identified. The goal for testing may be primary (sales, extra-turnover, average cart…) or secondary (time spent, page views, number of products added to the cart…). Not all the visitors are on your website to make a purchase or sign up for your service – but since they are here, you can focus on personalizing micro conversions and move them through the purchase funnel in this way.
This methodology will ensure results. Depending on the goal, here are two examples of what kind of marketing messages you can push.
Counter cart abandonment by creating urgency
If the visitors fear missing a bargain, they will probably be more likely to complete their order. A simple way to create urgency is to add a dynamic countdown on the product page and every step of the funnel. This multipage personalization is easy to create using AB Tasty’s countdown plugin: it doesn’t require any extra development costs, especially if the countdown is based on context and only added for a period like sales. One of our clients, Carrefour, added a countdown during Black Friday to create urgency. You can read the entire case to understand how they did it.
Making money out of “tourists” by showing ads
In spite of all the efforts made to acquire traffic, some visitors are not willing at all to buy on your website but click your search ads. They are looking for information, want to buy the product in a nearby store and you don’t have one… Despite already paying for them, there is no way to make them buy. This is an unavoidable loss but you can think of ways to make money out of them to refund your initial costs, like displaying ads. To target these visitors, you can for example estimate the average number of visits between acquisition and sale and show ads to all the visitors whose number of visits is way higher.
Personalization is one of the best ways to fully benefit from testing and traffic acquisition efforts. It gives you a global view of all long term (loyalty, reputation…) and short term (sales, immediate profit) goals. The goal of the personalization is to carefully cater messages and offers – to the right person, at the right place and at the right time. But you have to be careful – in the age of personalization, consumers feel concerned about their privacy, and personalization can sometimes be too intrusive. One ought to bear in mind that personalization should be perceived as something useful to the visitor in simplifying the decision-making process, rather than harass the consumer with messages such as “You’re pregnant, how about buying a baby seat?”. This is why finding the right balance between personalization and privacy is also very important.