There are thousands, if not millions, of technologies available for direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce brands. Just check out Shopify’s App Store for a glimpse into some of the 6,000+ apps they currently have available.
This article was initially supposed to focus on the top technologies we believe DTC ecommerce retailers should incorporate into their business in order to increase sales. However, that plan quickly shifted once I started outlining the importance of creating a personalized experience for customers through technologies.
This could no longer be just one part of an entire post. The overwhelming amount of data and information that surfaced while researching the topic made it very clear the topic deserved its own post. And I’m pretty sure that by the time you reach the end of this post (even if you just skim over it as, let’s be honest, we all typically do at least at first), you’ll agree.
While we won’t be going into specific technologies, we will be covering why DTC ecommerce brands need to prioritize creating personalized experiences for their customers, how they can do it and some of the obstacles that exist as well as how brands can overcome the challenges created by those obstacles.
Why You Need to Prioritize Personalizing Customer Experiences
We know this is not a new concept. We’re not the geniuses who suddenly uncovered a pain point online retailers aren’t aware of, let’s just get that out of the way now. However, knowing it exists is not the same as knowing how to solve it. Nor does it mean brands know how important it can be to growing a brand and increasing sales.
Even though we are all aware of the pain point, we also all still experience it as a consumer on a regular basis. The generic pop up on websites we’ve shopped at before. Receiving the garden-variety emails where it’s clear you were dumped into an audience with a bunch of other people who, at some point in time, made a purchase from a retailer. No personalization whatsoever.
So what are the consequences of that kind of customer experience?
By no means does it mean you’re going to lose all your customers and never make a profit. However, it does mean you may be missing out on potential purchases from 78% of your audience. You could also be missing out on the opportunity to increase your current conversion rate.
TrustPilot found a brand’s online conversion rate can improve by 8% just by offering personalized experiences on their website. TrustPilot also found 74% of consumers surveyed get frustrated by content that isn’t relevant to their lives (we can also understand what that feels like can’t we?).
There are over 9.1 million online retailers in the world, 2.5 million of which are in the US. Your shoppers have options. If they have a poor experience on your site or receive a generic email that doesn’t reflect them as a person, they have plenty of other places they can visit. So how do you make your brand stand out and show customers how valuable they are?
How You Can Create a Personalized Experience for Your Shoppers
DTC ecommerce brands need to make sure every part of their customer’s journey (whether in-person, on the phone or online) is all about THE CUSTOMER. This is going to take some time and effort. Just like any relationship you have, whether it’s with a significant other, friend, family member, etc, you’ve got to put in the effort to make it work and make it last.
By combining data stored in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, marketing automation tools and transactional systems, you can get a pretty good idea of who your customers are. Digging into the data can unearth what they like, what they don’t like, how much they tend to spend, where they live, what language they speak, how they prefer to pay and so much more. The possibilities of what you can do with that information are virtually endless.
Let’s take your buyer’s location as an example. Anyone who’s lived in Southern California knows there is hardly ever, if ever, a need for a true winter coat. While locals might love the way they look and want one because it’s trendy in February, the need is not that high. However, your customer who lives in Michigan, where the wind chill is enough to make anyone want to stay indoors for three months, needs and WANTS a great winter coat.
So when you have extras of those great winter coats sitting in a warehouse or winter is coming to an end and you’re ready to bring in the spring and summer styles, why not start promoting discounts on your great winter coats to your Michigan customers? Use a catchy subject line about not packing away their winter clothes just yet, they’re missing next year’s most important piece. Tie in your knowledge of them and their experiences to get that sale.
You can also go even deeper into your data to make sure you don’t accidentally create a poor customer experience in an attempt to create a positive one. For example, you know your customer has purchased a certain style of jeans multiple times. Unfortunately, though, that particular style is going to be discontinued. You think it would be great to notify customers who have purchased this style about its future discontinuation so they can purchase some before it’s too late. And that IS a great idea! Unless you only have sizes XS and XXL available and you notify customers who always purchase a M. They get the email, they click on the link, and they find they’re size isn’t even available.
Just think of that experience, it’s cringe worthy! A customer being notified of a product they love being discontinued isn’t great news but they appreciate you telling them. However, you’ve not only told them too late but you just showcased how little you know about them. Even though you have all the data you need! Instead, make sure your team is taking that extra step to create a truly personalized experience.
Obstacles to Overcome When Creating Personalized Customer Experiences
This post wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t acknowledge that there are, unfortunately, obstacles to obtaining all the right data needed to create spectacular customer experiences. Telling you all these great things you can do with data you don’t have is, well, it’s just plain rude.
Let’s talk about tools needed to collect, store and utilize data. According to Forrester, 53% of digital experience delivery professionals they polled stated they lacked the right technology to personalize experiences. While technology is an investment, the ROI on investing in the right technology could be exponential (notice how we specific the RIGHT technology).
Make sure your team is taking the time to do their research and test out as many technologies as possible to ensure you’re investing in the right one for your needs and desired results. What kind of integrations do they offer? Can one tool fulfill multiple needs? Can multiple teams benefit from it? Identify your goals before setting out on any attempt to purchase tools for your team, otherwise you’ll end up right where you started. Just with less of a budget available.
Now to the biggest hurdle, actually GETTING the data you need without violating privacy laws. As more and more avenues pop up protecting consumer data, the more brands need to discover new ways to collect data. But don’t despair, there are plenty of ways you can collect the data you need (and sometimes they offer even better value than the old ways)!
Try incorporating a loyalty program. By offering discounts or birthday specials, you give shoppers a reason to want to hand over their information. If they get value from it they’ll be willing to provide things like gender, date of birth, location, etc.
Another option is to experiment with offering a newsletter subscription. Choose a cadence you can commit to (monthly, quarterly, etc.) and make sure you deliver quality content that is relevant to the audience receiving it. If you offer household goods, give spring cleaning tips when April rolls around. If you’re selling women’s clothing, highlight upcoming trends (that you just happen to offer, of course). Consumers are willing to provide their information in return for something they find valuable.
An added benefit of a newsletter subscription is that it offers the potential of a broader audience. Consumers who aren’t sure they’ll buy from a brand are less likely to sign up for a loyalty program. However, if they’ve made it to your site they more than likely have some interest in what you offer and, therefore, have an increased likelihood of finding a newsletter with related content of interest. You may even, at some point, be able to offer various newsletters on different topics. You can allow subscribers options of which topics they’d like to receive newsletters about, creating, yet another, personalized experience.
It’s time to get personal on your website. Everyone wants to feel seen and valued, even when they’re sitting at a computer shopping online. Watch our webinar to learn the best personalization strategies to increase customer engagement and jumpstart your DTC growth.