Website Personalization and its Affect on Consumer Engagement

Posted in: Marketing, Search Engine Optimization & Marketing, Mobile Optimization

Personalized recommended website expierence per shopper


Unengaged online shoppers have an attention span of somewhere between 4-10 seconds. This means retailers need to detect and ensure that their customers are getting the content they are most interested in when the website first loads. This is accomplished in a number of ways, from previous visitor history, their targeted customer persona, and their previous customer history, augmented by current market trends. Today we will be looking at the concept of adjusting page content based on previous history. In later posts we will look at merging that history with current trends. So how do we develop an accurate customer history? Well first off, using 3rd party services like Google Analytics generally won’t help. It’s not that their analytical power is not beneficial, but in the realm of personalization we are looking at each shopper as an individual more so than as a collective whole. The best and most effective way of doing this is by assigning a cookie to the consumer when they first interact with the website, and then updating the information associated with that cookie. There are then two methods for adding data to this collection. The first is just updating the cookie value itself and appending the most recent data to the end. The other, and more overall beneficial method is to store the data in your chosen platform where it can be retrieved and analyzed at will.

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Personalizing web experiences can:
  • Build strong customer relationships
  • Increase sales & customer engagement
  • Expand the life of customer relationships

Generally, customers will engage with a product 5-7 times prior to making a purchase. Although, it is important to note that not all these engagements will occur inside your specific website. Many times these will happen on 3rd party websites, such as blogs or product review websites where the consumer believes they are receiving unbiased information. Because of this, it is important to also track which website referred a customer in the beginning of a sales cycle through to the final sales conversion. This will also allow us to provide featured products to the visitor on their first visit based off of previous customer trends. Then, once the sale takes place, we record the customer’s unique identifier to the user account, if they haven’t logged in prior to this, and record the order id so we can correlate products. Why? With this information, we can draw correlations between what additional items a person purchases along with the primary item. What kind of information besides product do we store? This will vary depending on your end goals, but as a good rule of thumb we want to record locations the visitor went within the website, categories visited, child categories, and products visited. We want to record the time the visitor spent on each page, and we want to know what page the visitor was last on prior to leaving the website. Now that we have an idea of what kind of information we want to record, how do we begin integrating this into a personalized website? Let’s fall back to the beginning of this post where we talk about unengaged user attention span of 4-10 seconds. So we have less than 10 seconds to engage a customer to ensure that the featured products are those they have an interest in. We pull products from categories they visited previously, or if they visited a product we display that to specific product and those like it, to push them back into the sales cycle. It is important to note that we want to ensure that if a user clicks through any of these personally targeted products that we flag this interaction in our data. This gives us a good base on which to build further personalization around. So this is a start. We will cover this concept in greater detail in later posts but I want to get your mind around something. This information does not stop being useful the moment the customer leaves the website. If in the course of tracking a visitor they subscribe or enter a user account, we can then begin sending target event-driven emails to them specifically geared to their viewing preference. We can then track how and if they forward that email further into their social circle. Remember, making a sale is not about luck, it is about tenacity.