Five Steps to Achieving Personalization in Online Business
Personalization in the context of e-commerce is creating or designing a product that primarily focuses on the customer’s needs as opposed to generic market demands. This ensures that whenever the customer comes to your site, they only find what is relevant to them without having to browse through hundreds of “un-needed” season sales and discounts. This model is highly effective, as a study conducted by eConsultancy, global marketing research firm confirmed that 94% of companies sampled agreed that personalization is critical to current and future success. This data is largely supported by Gartner, a global IT Research company whose study predicted that by 2018, B2B companies with effective personalization on their e-commerce sites will outsell by 30% their competitors without the same level of personalization. This sets the record straight for any e-Entrepreneur.
But while everyone has the fact sheet well tucked in their cloud storage, a lot of e-commerce players do not know how to create or achieve personalization. Here are a few tested and tried pointers by Africa’s #1 Booking Website, Jovago.com, one of the ventures by Africa Internet Group.
Create Valuable On-site Content
While most buyers will come to your site for the sole purpose of making a purchase or securing a bargain, it’s important to display captivating, engaging and useful information which will definitely lead to site visitors spending more time on your business page. Ensure that your site is easy on the eye, and appealing to the buyer i.e. if your site deals with hotel accommodation, then it makes no sense to post articles or allow ads on veterinary products! Similarly, a jumbled or crowded site depicts an unorganized seller and you cannot blame the visitor for making such assumptions.
Tailor Products around Specific Customer Needs, Not Generic Market Demands
As Nafisa Fazal – Head of Marketing for Jovago.com advises, companies should find effective and non-intrusive ways of collecting internal data to help them establish current trends and buying habits of their customers, “that way you shall only offer the customer what they need at the particular moment, thus boost conversion. This means that your welcome note, sales pitch and offers should take three different perspectives; new customers, return customers, and loyal customers” she explains. While the new customer maybe a passers-by, you want them to leave with a good experience that will compel them to make a return. On the same note, give a reason for the regular and returning customer to create referrals and good recommendation and reward the loyal customer for their faith in your brand.
Keep Your Customers Updated and Involved:
Information is power. Just like you would with your offline, brick and mortar shoppers, keep your customers updated. Whether through periodic newsletters or personalized mails, it’s important for the customer to feel that they are part of your business. Also, do not shy away from sending out your growth reports, acquisition, new trends etc. as this will help greatly in their future purchases. Apart from the company data, indulge the customer in the launch of new products and action plan. Ask them to share their thoughts on the new look website (regular and loyal customers), and submit insights on their experience or what they would like you to improve on.
Invasion of Privacy vs Getting Personal: Get a Grip on Target’s Online History
It’s very annoying to get a list of offers on blast mail from products you have zero interest in, worse still is when the sender seems to know your details; from your ‘other names’ to the name of your kindergarten teacher! While buyers have no problem submitting information that will be used to help the company serve them better; getting too personal is deemed as intrusive and will put off any buyer. It’s always easier to sell to a person when you have an idea of where they stand in the market cycle, for instance Jumia.co.ke captures their first time buyers by offering a Ksh. 500 discount voucher on the very first purchase, “this has been a major catch to ensure customers come back.” cited Parinaz Firozi, MD, Jumia Kenya
Keep Tabs on your Buyers Current Status
While demo graphs, statistics and case studies are great methods of capturing market data, focusing on a buyer’s current need is the key to personalization. For instance, while folks of a younger age bracket may be seen to prefer living in a certain location or vacationing in only star-rated hotels, keep in mind that there are chances they might be shopping for gifts to their friends and family! A fifty year old man who only vacations in 3 star beach resorts may enter a random search on Jovago.com for his grandchild’s backpacking holiday, yet as a regular traveler with the site, it’s very tempting to create a 3 star hotel search result every time he logs onto the site. You can counter this behavioral changes by creating on-site messaging services such as LiveChat to ensure that a customer is attended at the time of need, or when they are in the buying mood as opposed to receiving outdated emails in their inbox.Engage Your Customer on Social Media
The greatest advantage of engaging your customers on social media is that it is both real time and has far-reaching-effect. This not only encourages personal interactions but also boosts confidence in the company; it’s the human side of your online business. Maximize your presence through sharing inspiring content, run promotional campaigns and respond to customers individually as opposed to leaving or posting generic public notices.
Aptly put, personalization is serving the customer what the customer really needs. It’s vital for online business – deemed as faceless at the onset of the e-commerce wave, as it helps to create a likeable face for the brand. This, as illustrated in the pointers can only be achieved by designing customer-centered products rather than falling for the temptations of seller-centered demands. Integrating a working business model with an effective personalization strategy will in no doubt achieve this.
Jovago.com is an online hotel booking service with offices in Lagos (Nigeria), Nairobi (Kenya), Dakar (Senegal) founded by Africa Internet Holding and has MTN and Millicom as investors. Jovago.com, Africa’s No.1 booking portal, facilitates the booking process for its users to provide them with the best hotel booking experience with fast, transparent and easy-to-use services. Jovago.com has over 20,000 local hotel listings across Africa and over 200,000 hotels around the world.