When there are dashboards for almost everything, it can be hard to distinguish between the numbers that improve your bottom line and those that just distract.
When the days of retail ended, customers let go of the personalized experiences that defined shopping. With online shopping now a norm, the best brands are rediscovering how to bring this authenticity back online.
Where Ecommerce was once a game of optimization, online brands are increasingly recognizing the importance of providing personal experiences to their audiences that make them feel like a human rather than a number. In this article, a guide that will teach you how to use your data effectively, we dive into this trend, and highlight how data can help any merchant get there.
You will learn what the best brands are doing, including how:
- LIVELY flags and recaptures audiences who are “at-risk”
- Ruthie Grace uses data to develop winning ad creatives
- Proper Wild leverages fulfillment data to triple conversion rates
- What creatives your audience will love
- Who your traffic is – and what they want most
- How to connect deeply with your followers
- …and much more
The right data will guide your success. The wrong data can set you off course. Learn what the best merchants are leveraging to create businesses that last.
- Making Ad Creatives that Convert: See Ruthie Grace use data to develop winning ad creatives
- Sending the Right Message: See how customer data can be used to hit the highest intent audiences
- Identifying Loyalty – and Winning It: See LIVELY recapture audiences that they flag as “at-risk”
- Personalizing Landing Pages: See AI-driven personalization increase revenue by 20%
- Turning Returns to Product Development: See how LYM uses product feedback to improve their supply chain
- Optimizing and Scaling Fulfillment: See Proper Wild use fulfillment data to triple conversion rates
- Getting More than Just an Email: See BeautyBio use opt-in to develop deep customer profiles
- Cultivating Omnichannel Support: See how pre-sale support can yield 50% conversion rates
Table of contents
Ad Creatives – Shoelace: Making ad creatives that convert…using your data
Anybody can do targeting.
This may sound counterintuitive from a media buyer, but it’s true. Finding an engaged audience was once like shooting darts with a blindfold on. Today, it’s more akin to pushing a pin into a map: Very precise and almost always on target.
The days of targeting as a core competency are over. A lot of this can be attributed to Facebook’s algorithm becoming crazy smart. So says DTC thought-leader Savannah Sanchez:
The result is a paradigm shift. Where intuition once suggested that a poor-performing ad is the result of bad targeting, our testing has revealed that copy and creative has a significantly more profound impact on ad performance.
A new pain point is introduced for merchants. Unlike applying models to find the best targeting, choosing the right creative is a multivariate challenge. With so many variables at play, how do you decide what works best?
“Facebooks algorithm has levelled the playing field between advertisers. Anyone can enter the market and efficiently optimize.” – Savannah Sanchez
The power of creatives and copy: Targeting wasn’t the problem here. A simple change in the creatives used in this ad doubled performance.
A data-centric approach to creatives
Over the past year, Shoelace has been hard at work on developing a distinct methodology to help brands like Plants in a Box and iloveplum develop creatives that deeply resonate with their audiences. The result is a three step process:
- Establish a strong creative baseline
- Make iterative changes to build a knowledge base for creatives
- Refine results with targeted creatives
This system takes an iterative approach to refining creatives for Broad Audience targeting (audiences selected by Facebook’s algorithm), while leveraging fresh creatives in Interest-Based targeting (audiences manually selected by the media buyer) to drive conversions among more specific audiences.
Establish a strong creative baseline
This process begins with developing a baseline understanding of what creatives and copy work best for your entire audience. These creatives will then be targeted towards Broad Audiences – which is targeting that is automatically set by Facebook’s algorithm, based upon what it knows about your audience.
Leveraging their buyer personas, brands begin with a broad host of creatives that are designed to match what they currently know about their community. This knowledge includes:
- Matching formats that are similar to what the audience typically consumes. Ads that look native to an audiences feed perform best. We’ve seen brands that cater to younger audiences succeed with “Story” or “TikTok”- like formats, while those who cater to older ones perform best with traditional video or images.
- Matching who the audience follows and aspires to be. While brands often seek professionally-staged creatives, we’ve found that certain audiences engage more with less refined content, provided it’s consistent with what they typically consume on social channels.
- Matching how you and your audience communicate in other channels. We find that top performing ads are congruent with how a brand already communicates with its audience.
Matching Formats: Ads that resemble content found in an audiences feed tend to perform far better than their counterparts.
Make iterative changes to build a knowledge base for creatives
Those top-ten lists and how-tos that expunge the best “ad hacks” and “winning copy” are fool’s gold. There is no set format of creative, copy, or ad type that works best for every brand. You need to discover what works best for your specific community.
With a strong creative baseline in place, brands now take iterative steps to developing a deeper understanding of what creatives resonate best with their broad audience.
This can be done most efficiently and effectively by leveraging DCO (Dynamic Creative Optimization) campaigns to test variations of copy and creative – with each test extending for at least one week in duration and spending at least as much as the AOV (Average Order Value) of products in the ad set.
Some things to learn:
- Studio or lifestyle imagery?
- Neutral or flashy product photos?
- Flatlay shots or images featuring models?
- Emojis? If so, what ones work best?
- Punctuation and sentence case?
- Candid or formal tone?
- What’s the optimal ad type?
- Picture or video?
Following this approach allowed us to build a powerful playbook for boutique brand Ruthie Grace, featuring key insights that helped guide the brands ongoing creative shoots, as illustrated below:
- Winning ads perform at 25x losing ads
- Instant experience ads perform best
- Punctuation & stand-out emojis ideal
- Models with neutral outfits resonate more
Refine results with targeted creatives
So far, we’ve looked at making iterations on creatives and copy for the broader audience. The most successful brands build upon these creative baselines by identifying subgroups in their audience and leveraging focused creatives and copy to maximize performance among certain audience cohorts.
One way this is commonly done is by performing a Conversion-Lift Test on Facebook
Conversion-Lift Creative Targeting
Some audiences within a funnel are more likely to convert than others. Often, we are able to optimize the creative experience by examining the performance of a stores funnel between certain customer cohorts and identifying underperforming segments that can be targeted with more focused creatives. On Facebook, a great way to do this is through Conversion-Lift testing.
Conversion-Lift in Action: An Underperforming Elderly Segment
When looking at this brands funnel, we noticed that while audiences between 55 to 64 years old performed well early in the funnel, CPAs increased by 59% once they Added to Cart. Picking up on a need to communicate to this audience differently, we implemented a successful targeted campaign that leveraged copy and creatives more applicable to senior audiences.
Creatives + copy best practices
- Creatives are most efficiently tested by leveraging DCOs to test variations of copy and creative – with each test extending for at least one week in duration and spending at least as much as the AOV of products in the ad set
- While iterating upon their work, brands should also keep an ear to industry trends to experiment with new formats. Recently, we’ve seen significant success with leveraging User Generated Content with some clients
- While it may defy intuition, our research has consistently shown that broad audience targeting outperforms other targeting methods – so be sure to put that extra media buying time into copy and creatives!
Ready for unforgettable ads? Shoelace helps fast-growing brands like Ruthie Grace, Atoms Shoes, and Plants in a Box scale their paid advertising. We charge no rates on ad spend, and deliver unbelievable results. Always.
Emails – Omnisend: How to make your email marketing feel personal
People don’t brag to others about their generic, everyday shopping experiences. They brag to others about the ones that are unique, personal— or dare I say, human.
For Ecommerce businesses, delivering a “human” experience may sound odd, but it shouldn’t. Think about the last time you went to an online store to find a product, only to receive one-sizefits- all marketing messages around something completely different.
There’s nothing enjoyable about this. A bragworthy experience provides customers with relevant information and allows them to navigate their own personal customer journey. Yet far too many Ecommerce retailers fail to deliver. Instead, they choose to deliver the generic, one-size-fits-all experience.
If your brand wants to stand out and allow others to brag about you, you need to use data to deliver that first-class experience. The good news is that it’s not difficult to do.
Using data and email marketing to deliver a human touch
There are countless ways to use data to create more relevant emails. To make it easy to execute, look to use data at key points of the customer journey, such as when acquiring new email subscribers, when a consumer browses your website, abandons a product, or after they make a purchase. Consumers not only have different needs at each of these points, but they are all shopping for different products and on different channels.
Let’s explore how to use data on a couple of these journey points.
New email subscribers and data collection
If your brand utilizes a pop-up to capture new email subscribers, great—but it can do so much more. Think through the customer journey and how consumers not only shop, but naturally interact, too.
Collecting the email address is just a single point of contact with no context. But we want context, and a pop-up form can provide that. One way to do this is by deploying a unique pop-up form on different categories of your website (e.g., www.xyz.com/womens/jackets) that, upon submission, tags the signup accordingly. This tag can be put to immediate use.
Think about a website that sells both warm and cold weather clothing. In the summertime, you might feel more comfortable with a one-size-fits-all welcome message, but what happens in the winter months when someone from New York is shopping for a new jacket while someone in Miami is shopping for a new swimsuit? Does it make sense to deliver the same experience to these two customers? Of course not.
While capturing the source of sign-up may sound like a simple piece of data, collecting it allows you the ability to send New York-dwelling Julie a welcome message (or series) highlighting new and stylish winter jackets, while Miamidwelling Mary can receive her swimsuit-themed message. These personalized messages can be achieved by collecting a single piece of data
While it may seem small, customizing messages like this can go a long way to creating a first impression that differentiates your brand from the others.
“Listen” to your new subscribers
Being human is to listen, and yes, you can listen to the way your customers interact with your emails. Their click activity inside your emails, any email, gives you an indication of their shopping intent. While sending a relevant welcome message is a great start, their subsequent activity builds upon your understanding of their journey.
For New York Julie, although she may have signed up on the jacket category of your site, she also clicked on the ‘dress’ link inside the welcome message—indicating her immediate interests. By listening to this click activity, retailers can continue to deliver a customized and relevant automated welcome series. For New York Julie, it makes sense to send a subsequent message centered on top-rated dresses. For Miami Mary, who’s shopping for swimsuits, she might receive a message featuring beach-going accessories.
No matter what the messaging, what’s most important is that the customer chooses the messaging most relevant to their personal journey. This becomes an experience worth bragging about.
That’s probably why we’ve seen click-based welcome messages receive greater than a 250% lift in both click and conversion rates, and also a nearly 8,000% lift in RPE compared to their original, one-size-fits-all welcome series message.
- +250% click & conversion rates
- +8,000% revenue per email (RPE)
Humans text and you should too
Sending relevant emails is a great start to providing a more human Ecommerce experience. But what’s more human than texting? People today interact via multiple channels of their choosing—and smartphones serve as the primary gateway.
As people become increasingly reliant on their phones, SMS is becoming a trusted and desired channel for consumers. Retailers should immediately begin collecting mobile numbers on pop-up forms along with email addresses— providing them with greater channel flexibility.
While email-only subscribers could still be treated with relevant click-based messaging, SMS subscribers could have text messages folded into their series. Text messages might be used to suggest new products (especially clickbased ones), serve as a touchpoint for those who don’t open a message, or be a last-chance reminder to use their new subscriber incentive.
Considering 90% of SMS messages are read within the first three minutes, it makes it the perfect channel for sending time-sensitive messages.
It’s important to note that consumers who opt-in to receiving SMS messages are stating their desire to be communicated with via that channel. And with the time-sensitive and high engagement nature of the messages, it’s easy to see why the average ROI for the SMS channel for Omnisend customers is 2755%.
- 2755% Average ROAS on SMS Channel, Omnisend
Personalize your entire marketing program
Personalizing welcome messages and combining channels are just the tip of the iceberg for Ecommerce businesses who want to increase sales. Smart online retailers can use any number of easy-to-use data to humanize the email and SMS customer experience. Other examples include:
- Using purchase data to deliver unique postpurchase messages to customers, such as differentiating messages for first-time and repeat customers.
- Offer unique cart abandonment messages based on the cart total or the abandoners’ purchase history, allowing you to more properly address any obstacles to conversion for that customer.
- Send browse or product abandonment messages—it’s the definition of the right message at the right time.
Omnisend’s report on how COVID-19 impacted email marketing showed that when consumers needed to shop they increasingly turned to the trusted marketing channels of brands, like email and SMS. For online DTC brands, maximizing consumer attention on a trusted channel is essential.
By listening to your customers and using data to deliver a more personalized, and human, experience, Ecommerce businesses can deliver a brag-worthy experience to both Julie and Mary— and that, in itself, is something worth bragging about.
Omnisend is a marketing automation platform built specifically for DTC Ecommerce businesses. With advanced automation workflows, customer segmentation features, a multitude of channels (email, SMS, push notifications, and more), and built-in integrations with major Ecommerce platforms, Omnisend enables marketers to increase sales, not workload.
Loyalty – LoyaltyLion: Get personal with a loyalty program
As a growing business, you have access to endless data points that create a coherent picture of your customers: their needs, their likes, and their dislikes. Used effectively, that data can help you to build personalized shopping experiences that make those customers feel recognized and valued.
A useful tactic, as:
- 65% of customers say they are motivated to be loyal by receiving offers tailored to their tastes
- And, personalized product recommendations incentivize 61% of customers to be loyal
But, working out exactly how to use this data effectively can be tricky. Often, you put time and effort into using store data to create campaigns and automations, but they end up feeling impersonal or falling flat. They just don’t quite connect with your customers on that emotional level they’re looking for.
So, how can you remedy this?
With a loyalty program, you can take your analytics a step further. You’ll get access to information, beyond simple demographics and purchasing behaviors, to create hyper-targeted campaigns that build lasting connections. This includes a customer’s birthday, their loyalty points balance, the kind of rewards they interact with, and how many successful referrals they’ve made. You can also easily segment your shoppers into three buckets – loyal, at-risk and churned.
In a nutshell, you’ll be able to demonstrate you know your customers and can give them what they really want.
Personalization is the gateway to greater engagement, so we’re going to show you how to dig into your loyalty program data to effectively target different types of customers. Then, we’ll share how to re-engage each of these segments with personalized, emotive messaging that keeps them on your side.
They readily engage with your messaging and communications – such as liking your social media posts or opening your newsletters – and will be active advocates of your brand. They might share pictures of their purchases online or recommend you to friends.
After developing a relationship with a brand, customer spend grows alongside trust. Eventually, loyal customers will spend 67% more than new ones. And, when it costs 5x more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, it’s easy to see why you should invest time and energy into this group. Reengage them right, and they’ll return to you time and time again.
One way to do this is to run member-only events through your loyalty program that encourage your best-loved customers to return and purchase again. In exchange, you’re giving them a special privilege that’s for their eyes only.
Health and wellness brand, Vitabiotics, runs several “Double Point” events throughout the year. These give their loyalty members an elevated shopping experience and the chance to earn more loyalty points. Edging them closer to much better deals and rewards as a result.
An at-risk customer is one who hasn’t purchased from you again within an expected timeframe. It’s not necessarily that they don’t like your brand anymore; it’s more likely that life got busy and the internet got noisy.
When they reach this point, it’s a good time to re-engage them and welcome them back into your brand world. Essentially, remind them why they purchased from you in the first place.
This can be as simple as sending a friendly loyalty email that offers them points, a gift, or a discount they weren’t expecting.
Or, you can use these emails to show them their current points balance, any rewards they have waiting for them to use and how far away they are from moving up a tier in your program or unlocking another reward. Automated loyalty emails have a 2.5X higher open rate than the industry average because they have personalized information inside. Evidence that they’re well worth doing.
Underwear brand LIVELY sends reminder emails that show “at-risk” customers the perks of their program that they might have overlooked. The email includes a number of customer reviews that act as social proof to draw customers back to spend. And, the gentle nudge shows shoppers that LIVELY cares about them and doesn’t want them to miss out on any perks or rewards.
A churned customer is someone who has never returned to shop with you a second time and has stopped engaging with your store anymore.
They may have churned to date, but there’s no reason to lose hope. Try re-engaging them with a “surprise and delight” campaign to win them back to your brand.
Use the loyalty data you have on them to remind them why they liked and trusted you to begin with. This could be an offer of double loyalty points for a purchase, a free gift for their birthday or, even, educational content around your product.
Farmacy Beauty sends churned customers a Happy Birthday email. This reminds them they’ve earned additional free points that they can redeem instantly for tasty rewards, rekindling that emotional connection that may have fizzled out.
The key takeaway: Sending personalized comms to your customers is key to creating long-lasting connections. A loyalty program levels-up your approach and lets you understand emotional drivers so you’re better equipped to encourage shoppers to come back for more.
Once you make it personal with a loyalty program, you’ll see an uptick in customer lifetime value and will be able to give your customers that one-to-one experience they’re craving.
LoyaltyLion is a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform that powers ecommerce growth. A loyalty program is about more than points and rewards, it is about unlocking real insights to increase customer lifetime value. With LoyaltyLion, you can build a better understanding of what drives longer-lasting customer relationships, and use those insights to connect and accelerate your existing marketing efforts. Proven to increase retention and spend, LoyaltyLion is trusted by thousands of fast-growth ecommerce merchants worldwide.
Customer Service – Gorgias: A data driven, human approach to omnichannel support
Welcome! Here we’ll explain how to utilize the customer info you’re gathering to build more meaningful connections with your audience and drive conversations on those ROA’s as well as boost retention with your customers.
By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll have a better understanding of how to provide a world-class customer experience fuelled by data-driven decisions and customer personalization.
For the sake of this guide, we’ll suppose you’re already running an omnichannel customer service campaign. As such, there’s a good chance your customer support team has information flying at them at what seems like every direction.
A veteran customer service rep may talk to the same customer several times a week but via different communication modes. For instance, one day, the customer in question might ping your company an email. Then later that same day, they telephone your customer service helpline, wishing to discuss the same query. However, their situation may have evolved since they initially emailed…and your customer service rep needs to catch up (and fast!).
The bottom line: Keeping up with everchanging customer queries is a headache.
This is why adopting a holistic approach to customer communication and (data gathering) is imperative.
By ‘holistic’ we mean, using software that consolidates all the customer information you have coming in – regardless of which comms channel they use.
Trust us, your support agents will thank you when you furnish them with a platform that empowers them to view your customer’s full customer service history… from the convenience of one place.
From email to social media comments to live chat, SMS messaging, and phone calls – with helpdesk software like Gorgias, you can view the entire customer conversation (even if it’s occurring across different channels) from one screen.
Needless to say, this provides a seamless consumer service experience. Mostly, because customers don’t have to repeat their query several times to different agents because the rep has all the info they need from the get-go.
Not only that, but a holistic approach to customer service better positions you to transform your customer care campaigns into high-converting sales tactics. A study we did based on an average of pre-sale support tickets (customers who have not purchased within the last 30 days) showed that almost 50% converted which drove about $23,000 of support when answered within 2 minutes.
When you can consolidate your omnichannel customer service operation, it’s way easier to do the following:
- Run customer support audits to pinpoint areas of the customer journey that need improving
- Personalize your customer service interactions to meet the exact needs of the recipient
- Create and maintain rich customer profiles – these are an incredibly valuable resource for marketing, sales, and customer support teams alike.
- Create coupons, replace and cancel orders, and perform other actions from the convenience of one centralized dashboard
…just to name a few.
While we’re on the subject of consolidating data, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of integrating your customer helpdesk software with other aspects of your business.
It’s also import to integrate across all your channels. The Shopify ecosystem is a great example of unlocking access to numerous data points across various apps. Gorgias integrates with over 30 apps so take a peak inside to see what you can uncover.
For instance, when you connect your customer loyalty apps, like LoyaltyLion (Gorgias integration coming soon), with your customer service software, you can automatically notify customers (via email, SMS, Facebook Messenger, etc.) when they’re entitled to a reward.
Let’s look at a more specific example:
Let’s say you’re running a loyalty points system for Shopify customers using the Loyalty Lion app. You can use the points information to drive them back to your website and offer them a way to purchase. See the example below:
The next image shows how this integration is set up on the back-end. As you can see, the variables are changeable with any customer data allowing you to still keep it personalized while also driving efficiency. No more copying & pasting when you can pull it all in front of you! These kinds of personalized interactions are fantastic for retaining your current customers and enhancing the overall consumer experience – win-win!
The key takeaway: Harnessing the power integrations makes personalizing your customer interactions a breeze.
With that in mind, below are some of Gorgias’s other popular add-ons (and the data points they send over to your helpdesk):
- Shopify: The integration with this eCommerce giant sends over your customer profiles and orders. So, in the event a Shopify customer contacts you, your reps will know exactly what they bought and when. This add-on also enables you to edit Shopify orders from inside Gorgias’s dashboard with just a click.
- Instagram: You can reply to comments on your Instagram posts inside of Gorgias – so when you’re not answering customer queries, you can stay up to date with social activity!
- Facebook: Like Instagram’s integration, you can reply to comments on your Facebook posts and ads.
- Recart: Here, you can keep an eye on your Recart conversations from the convenience of your helpdesk.
- ShopMessage: You can reply to Facebook messages in real-time and manage your Facebook Messenger bot conversations from inside Gorgias.
- Slack: Here, you can post notifications on Slack when tickets are created or updated.
- Omnisend: You can segment your customers in Omnisend based on customer feedback and tags pulled from Gorgias.
With the right helpdesk solution, you’re much better positioned to oversee all the moving pieces of your business from the convenience of one dashboard.
Another key component is understanding your customer support center and how it functions as a whole. How quickly are you responding? What times do you have the most responses? The nice thing about helpdesks is that this information is at the tip of your hands when you’ve implemented it.
In the below example, we see the tickets responded to over a specific time period and can view them by channel, agent, or tag. A tag is something that allows you to classify a ticket. These functions allow you to see how fast (or slow) you might be responding and what types of tickets you are seeing the most volume with.
Another piece of the big picture is your heat map. You might have a customer support team in place, but are they working the right hours? Below you can identify on which days and times you receive the highest volume of tickets.
Knowledge is power – and with that, you can personalize your content, customer interactions, and brand messaging to ensure you provide the best possible customer experience. You’ll be amazed at the effect this has on customer satisfaction, and consequently, your bottom line.
Ready to level up your customer service game?
As we bring this eBook to a close, it’s important to remember two things. To enhance the quality of your customer service campaigns, you need to:
- Adopt a holistic approach to omnichannel customer support
- Utilize integrations to provide a seamless experience for both your customer service team and customers.
So, if you’re on the fence about whether a customer helpdesk solution for you, why not try them for free? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Good luck!
Personalization – LimeSpot: Creating consumer-centric experiences with AI personalization
Whether it be Netflix, grocery delivery or Instagram, digital experiences are increasingly personalized, and consumers have been normalized to that experience. Marketplaces have similarly trained consumers on their buying experiences, with expectations that a brand will understand their preferences and desires to surface the right content and provide an experience in which the consumer feels known.
Most customer journeys have acquisition touch points, prior to arriving on the site. Consumers may have interacted with the brand’s social media content, email campaigns, and/or Google Shopping listings. These customers may be inspired to browse or they may be buying with a specific intent.
And those expectations are not limited to the website:
Personalization, once limited mainly to targeted offers, now extends to the entire customer experience. This means that customers want personalization throughout their interactions with a retailer-with multiple, personalized touchpoint that enable them to allocate their time and money according to their preferences. In the best personalized experiences ….customers receive offers that are targeted not just at customers like them, with brands targeting at the segment level with broad-based offers, but at them as individuals, with products, offers and communications that are uniquely relevant to them. – McKinsey & Company, April 2020
To get the full value of the customer experience, it’s crucial to understand their previous behavior on other channels. LimeSpot’s integrations with Google Shopping and leading Email Solution Providers (ESPs) enable retailers to target audiences with the right products at that first interaction and leverage that information through to the site to drive best in class personalization. This ensures that merchants can reach customers at the right step with the right offer, providing a smarter and unified customer journey across their website, Google Shopping and email. All this data humanizes the online shopping experiences thereby benefiting both the customer and the business.
As a brand, the goal should be to leverage maximum data to create an optimal discovery experience, helping customers unearth desired products or relevant inspiration, driving ultimately to higher cart conversion and more sales. That’s where understanding consumer behavior and adjusting for time of day, location, inferred demographics and the like can be used for personalization even on that initial home page experience. This data provides information about what the customer needs and informs brands on what type of information to feed the customer based on their unique requirements.
Sophisticated AI personalization is no longer reserved for the household names like Amazon, Facebook, and Walmart. LimeSpot’s AI has changed the playing field for individual brands by providing marketplace level intelligence to retailers on Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce, through a proprietary global market model that dynamically applies learnings from billions of customer interactions.
The more transactions and attributes the AI can analyze, the more accurate it is in predicting which product a shopper is most likely to buy.
Staffing challenges are a major impediment to personalization efforts. In fact, 74% of marketing leaders report they struggle to scale their personalization efforts. – Gartner Market Survey, 2019
Machine learning, natural language processing, predictive analytics and other AI driven algorithms allow retailers to leverage the trove of catalog, product, and behavioral data available, identifying relevant signals. This enables individual retailers to humanize experiences across various channels and buying stages by accurately reading and acting on behavioral data. Traditional curation is both less efficient and highly time intensive. According to Gartner, nearly 3 out of every 4 marketing leaders struggle to scale to meet the personalization challenges.
To optimize learning the system should understand not only site behavior but also product relationships, shopper demographics, trend analysis, and personas. Data on how customers interacted with personalized experiences is then fed back into the system, creating a continuous learning cycle that optimizes experiences on an on-going basis.
LimeSpot customers fully utilizing AI driven personalization regularly see >20% increase in revenue and 2-5x increase in conversion.
Behavioral based segmentation forms the foundation of personalization and is one of the most crucial steps to humanizing customer experiences from the home page, to product pages and the cart, regardless of where the customer is in their shopping journey. LimeSpot’s sophisticated AI does the heavy lifting of complex data analysis enabling brands to understand series of interactions across the funnel, from initial interaction to purchase, and find where the value is in order to focus their efforts accordingly.
With advanced customer segmentation, brands are able to target shoppers based on audience segments such as high spenders, frequent shirt buyers, and inferred personas like demographics and interests. In addition, brands are able to create dynamic audience segments which are criteria-based, targeting user behaviors like views, add to cart, time spent, number of purchases made, overall spend, and more. Retailers can drive personalized content to pre-defined customer segments across the site ensuring more effective engagement at every interaction.
You’re not behind your competitors; you’re behind customers-behind their expectations. – Brendan Witcher, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester
Using A/B testing experiences for ongoing optimization
While AI can identify the right products to put in front of the customer when, each brand’s site experience and customer base is unique. This is where A/B testing becomes a useful tool in identifying the highest value experiences. Using A/B and multivariate testing, marketers can quickly and easily determine the placement types and on page locations that drive the highest conversion.
A/B and multivariate testing involves setting up two or more different experiences for customers, and directing percentages of traffic towards the treatments. Some customers land on Experience A, while others go to Experience B, C, or D. Each experience would be different in one or more ways – placement, titles, or algorithms. This allows retailers to isolate the differences and learn which version of the variant receives optimal results. A/B testing is a simple process if retailers have the right tools in place and it’s a fundamental way to incorporate additional human behavior drivers.
Doing nothing is not an option
Personalization is no longer a nice to have; it’s a key requirement for all retailers large and small. And it’s critical to find a solution that will provide the best experience for consumers at every point in the customer journey. Doing so not only increases the likelihood that they’ll buy, it also makes them feel known, increasing the likelihood that they’ll return.
LimeSpot is an AI driven personalization platform proven to optimize customer discovery, reduce merchandising overhead and increase revenue for merchants. We are able to showcase highly relevant products and deliver higher conversions than competitors because we leverage the largest independent AI data set of over 100 billion signals combining product data, consumer behavior, and trend analysis. The result is deeper engagement, higher AOV, and increased revenue. LimeSpot is a market leader in personalization technology trusted by thousands of leading ecommerce merchants worldwide. We attribute our success to our best in class technology, company expertise, results driven approach, and consistent customer centricity.
LimeSpot is available on Shopify, Shopify+, BigCommerce and Woo Commerce.
Data Collection – Octane AI: The power of ecommerce quizzes to collect buyer profile data with every opt-in
Logistics might not seem like the most obvious place to start when evaluating the customer journey. Too often there’s waste in the supply chain, and people don’t look at it with the same level of scrutiny that they do at the top of the funnel.
When collecting opt-ins through tools like pop ups or forms, the standard for Ecommerce brands has always been to collect a customer’s name and email address. Although it’s great to grow your email marketing list, these opt-ins don’t tell you anything unique about those customers.
In order to humanize the experiences customers have with your brand, it’s important to collect customer profile data from the moment they optin to your marketing automation. Why? Because without identifying data about a customer’s likes, dislikes, preferences and pain points, you aren’t able to personalize the messages you send.
If your business is interested in discovering more about every individual that visits your website, it’s time to introduce yourself to Ecommerce quizzes. Not only can you ask customers personalized questions, you can also increase opt-ins for email, Facebook Messenger and SMS automation at the same time.
In this chapter, we’ll be discussing how you can grow your marketing list using Ecommerce quizzes and how to collect important customer data from every opt-in. We’ll explain the kind of data you can collect and how to increase customer engagement and revenue through advanced personalization technology.
Use Shoppable Quizzes for email, Facebook Messenger, and SMS opt-ins
A Shoppable Quiz brings the in-store retail experience to Ecommerce stores, and humanizes the way customers search for products through a virtual consultation. Using a quiz, businesses can ask a series of questions to collect detailed information, match customers with a buyer profile, and recommend relevant products using extremely targeted and personalized messaging.
Quizzes are one of the most powerful tools for increasing opt-ins. This is because interactive content drives more engagement from website visitors than static content. For example, Bariatric Fusion launched a quiz on their website, and within just five days, Bariatric Fusion had collected more emails than it had in 30 days with a pop-up to the same audience.
There are a variety of ways a merchant can include an opt-in section in a quiz. For example, some brands will have an opt-in page where customers have to provide an email in order to receive their quiz results. Other brands will use the opt-in section to offer an incentive to encourage opt-ins and product purchases.
In order to maximize your quiz’s success, you’ll want to ensure you’re following best practices. The better your quiz is, the more likely people will start and finish it, so you can collect many more opt-ins and buyer profile data when people are fully engaged.
Best practices for quiz creation
- Make your quiz fun and engaging by including images, GIFS, explainer screens, and unique language.
- For most cases, don’t make a quiz super complex or long to avoid people dropping off.
- Use incentives on opt-in pages and make them optional to prevent people from dropping off.
- Personalize your quiz as much as you can and ensure every part is on brand.
Rather than grow just your marketing list, quizzes allow you to grow your segments of buyer profiles based on the data you have about each customer. To explain, if you have a list of opted-in customers paired with identifying data, you’ll have a much more powerful segment of customers to engage with because you’ll know what kind of messaging resonates with them the best.
As an example, BeautyBio’s virtual consultation asks customers what their skin is like, what age they are, what their skin concerns are, if they prefer a morning or night routine, and how quick they want their routine to be. Based on this, not only do they recommend the right products, but they’ve also learned how many of their customers are concerned about breakouts, wrinkles, skin sensitivity, uneven skin tone and enlarged pores. They could sync this data to Klaviyo, and set up an email campaign to share value-added content and product recommendations to every type of concern.
This type of personal data is behind every humanized Ecommerce experience.
This information is going to tell you so much more about your customers and help you realize that not every customer is the same. Instead of re-marketing to customers based on page views and guesswork, merchants can start to implement the known information they have about customers that took a quiz to properly target every campaign using the right messaging.
Power the rest of your marketing from one touchpoint
Now that you’ve learned how to grow your marketing list and build buyer profiles with a Shoppable Quiz, the next step is using your newly discovered customer data to create humanized and personal Ecommerce experiences.
One way you can use your data is to track custom Facebook pixel events for quiz answers and product recommendations. Even if the customer doesn’t finish the quiz, you can personalize the retargeting ads. As an example, if a customer is shopping for bikes and they say they’re looking for a commuter bike, you can create Facebook Ads targeted to that customer and show commuter bikes in the creative.
The truth is, 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them. From one Shoppable Quiz touchpoint, your brand is equipped with customer profile data that brings the best of the brick-and-mortar humanized shopping experience online for the first time ever.
The types of quizzes you can create
Shoppable Quizzes are beneficial for every industry, including food and beverage, fashion and apparel, home goods, health and wellness, travel, entertainment and even niche brands. Here are a few examples of quizzes you can build to increase conversions:
- Recommend products: Ask customers a series of questions about their likes and dislikes, preferences, challenges and desired solutions to recommend accurate products.
- Size finder: Help customers find the right size for shirts, pants, bathing suits and more at your store with quiz questions.
- Post-purchase survey: Invite customers to complete a survey about their experience shopping at your store and your products for detailed feedback.
- Personalize a sales pitch: Ask customers key questions about their likes, hobbies and preferences to be able to personalize a sales message.
- Gift finder: Help customers find a gift for a person, special event or holiday with questions about who and what they’re shopping for.
- Character identification: Ask customers fun questions about their personality to match them with a character. Recommend products based on their match.
- Educational and fun: Use a quiz to educate new customers about what your brand does, sells or supports. Make learning about your business fun and engaging.
All these types of quizzes may be the first touchpoint for many of your customers, and it equips your business with the information needed to leverage important customer profile data for every next stage of the buyer’s journey and ensure every following interaction is personalized and humanized.
Ready to boost your conversions with a Shoppable Quiz? Octane AI is an all-in-one-platform for engaging quizzes, data collection, and personalized Facebook Messenger and SMS automation. We’ve helped brands increase opt-ins by 16X and boost their AOV by 28%. If you’re looking for similar results, come chat with us!
Fulfillment – ShipBob: Leveraging Logistics and Shipping Data to Improve the Customer Experience
Logistics might not seem like the most obvious place to start when evaluating the customer journey. Too often there’s waste in the supply chain, and people don’t look at it with the same level of scrutiny that they do at the top of the funnel.
Logistics can make or break your customer experience, from delivering orders on time to having enough inventory available.
Let’s jump into how logistics data can help brands make better decisions when it comes to improving the customer experience and planning marketing campaigns.
Reducing costs and speeding up deliveries
One of the easiest ways to increase conversion rates is to offer free and fast shipping. While shipping can be expensive, data can help you reduce transit times and costs.
- Distributing your inventory can reduce shipping costs by 25%.
- Distributing your inventory can bring 13% cost savings to your bottom line.
It starts with taking a data-driven approach to choosing a fulfillment center location. You can do this by analyzing the shipping destinations of your customers to identify patterns in common zip codes.
You’ll likely find your customers are scattered. If you’re only shipping from one fulfillment center, you may be shipping from one side of the country to the other.
“We want the customer experience of purchasing on our website to be similar to Amazon Prime. This is possible with ShipBob, without inflating the shipping cost to an insane level. To do this, we strategically place products around the country. We are storing inventory in three of ShipBob’s fulfillment centers: Moreno Valley, California; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Dallas, Texas. These locations map out nicely with our customer base as we have a large group in the South and also get coverage on the West Coast and in the Midwest.” – Tim Fink, Co-Founder of EnduroSport
Shipping carriers use shipping zones to measure the distance a package travels for domestic shipments in the US. The point of origin is always Zone 1, but the destination zone will depend on how far away it is, with Zone 1 being very close and Zone 8 being the farthest away. The higher the zone, the more expensive the shipping cost.
The closer you keep inventory to your customers, the more you can reduce your average shipping zones, transit times, and costs. It may even be cost-effective to utilize multiple fulfillment centers in different geographic areas if your order volume warrants it.
In the maps below, you can see the impact that the use of 3 fulfillment centers has on shipping zones as compared to 1 fulfillment center. By shipping each order from the location closest to the customer, the use of 3 fulfillment centers has eliminated shipping to Zones 7 and 8 completely, which translates to a much lower average shipping cost and transit time.
Similarly, looking at actual shipping carrier data can help you understand carrier performance to cut out certain services or carriers that aren’t meeting expectations or able to keep up, especially during peak season. For example, the chart below shows FedEx Ground’s average transit time throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even if you don’t cut ties with a specific carrier, you can arm your customers with this data to help them understand that potential shipping delays are outside of your control. Being proactive is very important, and you should include information on carrier delays on your website, the order confirmation page, your confirmation email, and other customer touchpoints. Customers will be understanding as long as you are upfront and keep them in the loop.
Similarly, pay attention to what’s resonating with customers at checkout. If you find most of your customers are choosing a certain delivery method, utilize that in your marketing. It’s important to note that this may change over time. Yet one method of lowering cart abandonment that’s always consistent is offering free shipping — this lever has even tripled conversion rates for some brands.
- Offering free shipping on all orders can increase conversion rates by 3x
- Free 2-day shipping can increase your average order value by 97%
- Free 2-day shipping can reduce your cart abandonment rate by 18%
Forecasting inventory and managing SKU velocity
To deliver orders fast and inexpensively, you need to have inventory in stock. Tracking inventory velocity over time involves being able to monitor best-sellers and stay ahead of production — even as demand changes.
You’ll need to:
- Set reorder points for each SKU, especially those with a high inventory turnover rate, so that you can get more inventory in time to prevent stockouts.
- Calculate lead times, freight transit times, warehouse receiving times, and other factors that could add to the timeline.
- Monitor slow-moving products carefully and potentially deplete supply in a flash sale, or risk over-spending on storage.
How ShipBob shares fulfillment data with its merchants
When you outsource fulfillment to ShipBob, we don’t just store your inventory and fulfill orders — we provide best-in-class technology, integrations, and data.
ShipBob’s free analytics tool provides insights that can be used to improve the customer experience. Get answers to the questions below at a glance.
- Which orders can’t be fulfilled because of inadequate stock levels?
- How much inventory do I currently have on hand at each fulfillment center?
- How many days do I have left until a SKU will be out of stock?
- By when do I need to reorder inventory for each product?
- How often is each product sold across channels?
- If I run a promotion on my site, how will this affect my available inventory levels?
Shipping performance and preferences:
- Which shipping methods do my customers choose most often?
- What is the average cart value and cost by shipping method?
- How long does it take my orders to be delivered by shipping method?
- Which orders haven’t been delivered yet?
Logistics and cost reduction opportunities:
- Which items are not generating sales and incurring storage fees?
- How much money would I save on shipping if I changed the fulfillment location my inventory is in?
- What would my shipping costs be if I went from one fulfillment center to two (or two to three, and so on)?
ShipBob’s algorithm automatically routes each order to the fulfillment center with available inventory that’s closest to the customer.
As shown below, ShipBob’s technology helps check in real-time if shipping methods like ShipBob’s 2-Day Express are available to the destination zip code entered at checkout, and if the fulfillment center is stocked with the ordered items. The 2-Day Express option wouldn’t show up if the destination is outside the zones of coverage where the inventory is stored, or if the inventory is depleted.
“It’s paramount for people to feel confident that they will receive their products in the shortest amount of time possible. We’d hate to see our customers go somewhere else because we don’t offer 2- day shipping, so during our third holiday season with ShipBob, we used their 2-Day Express program.” – Francesca Cavallo, Co-Author of Rebel Girls
Ready to up your logistics game? ShipBob is a technology-enabled logistics company that provides a global ecommerce fulfillment solution for over 3,500 brands by distributing inventory across ten facilities in North America and Europe to optimize for the fastest and most cost efficient delivery.
Returns – loop: The most valuable feedback for your business comes when customers return a product
It’s pretty well impossible for anyone to look at their own business objectively. We hold too many biases, and know all the internal discussions that lead to the decisions that were made. Your customers don’t have all that context and that makes them the best source of feedback you have, especially if the customer is returning something.
When a customer is returning a product, they’re a wealth of information on how you can improve your business. The product that they received did not meet their expectations or they ended up with a different variation of the product they wanted. But how did they end up there? Asking during the return process gives you the insight you need to prevent the next customer from ending up in the same situation.
“Return reasons are the negative brand interactions you need to hear to actually improve and move your business forward.” – John Maddelone (Baseballism)
When someone doesn’t have the product they want in their hands they feel vulnerable. That emotionally charged feeling causes people to be much more honest with their feedback. Think about the last time you felt wronged or let down by a brand, I bet you had no problems sharing your feedback.
How to change your customer experience with return reasons
How do you write the best product descriptions, take the best photos, and ensure that your marketing and logistics are living up to customer expectations? You get the customer to tell you.
Your site and entire customer experience is designed to be memorable and effective at driving a sale, but if those sales are continually being sent back via returns, you need to adjust.
The following pages expose the most common return reasons you will collect, and how you can use each to create a better customer experience.
For every one person who shares a piece of feedback, there are 8 people that felt the same way but said nothing at all.
Return reason #1: Item didn’t fit
Sizing is by far the most common reason for a customer to issue a return. Knowing the most common sizing issues your customers run into allows you to build the best experiences and mitigate potential future returns.
- 52 of returns are sizing related, here’s how you can adjust
As an example. You generally need to size down in a pair of boots but not with Tecovas. They have collected enough information on how their products are sized to tell you to grab your normal shoe size. If in doubt, grab the same size you would be in heels.
Each time a customer returns and selects size as the reason you can zero in on the issue. Of course you can ask if the item was too big or small, but you can also collect more nuanced information like tightness, length, width, etc. That additional information can help you adjust all of your sizing guides to minimize returns and help customers get into the right size the first time.
Return reason #2: Item wasn’t what I expected
The second most common reason for a return is that the photography and/or the description did not accurately represent the product that was delivered. This is exactly what Love Your Melon discovered when they began collecting return reasons with Loop.
- 22% of returns are because the product didn’t match your description
Customers began pointing out that the colors they were receiving were not matching what they had seen on the LYM website. This prompted them to review product photography and implement new color-balancing procedures. Combine that with additional “lifestyle” photos on the product detail page and customers were getting a much more accurate representation of what the products looked like.
Return reasons allow you to discover issues with how your products are represented, especially if an open comment box allows customers to provide more detail about the issues they saw. This type of insight is exactly what LYM needed to build the best product catalog possible.
Figuring out the rest
There are a host of other return reasons you will collect that allow you to make improvements across the entire customer experience.
Return reasons can help you identify poor manufacturing materials, marketing misalignments, logistical issues, and even problems with upstream partners.
Giving customers a way to submit feedback is not only beneficial to you, but it also gives them a real voice to change how you operate.
“Collecting return reasons gives our customers a voice, and lets us make improvements throughout our supply chain.” – Charlie Carlisle (Love Your Melon)
How to collect the return reasons you need more effectively
The biggest challenge for brands when collecting feedback is striking the balance between making it simple, while collecting enough details to draw conclusions from. You don’t want to force feedback, but you do want to strongly encourage it. Getting the right balance of quality and quantity is all in how you ask for it.
You need to make giving feedback easy by asking for it in steps. We always recommend breaking it down into three simple steps.
- Ask for an initial return reason
- Ask a situational follow up
- Provide an optional comment box
Customers see asking for feedback during the return process as a very reasonable request. They are more than happy to complete it for you, as long as you don’t make it time consuming or complicated. Here is what those questions could look like in practice:
- This item was too small (multiple choice option)
- The item felt tight (multiple choice option)
- The fit felt very restrictive in my shoulders. I was barely able to move. (comment box)
Set your questions and options by product type
If you are an apparel brand, chances are you are selling a multitude of product types. Having one set of questions just won’t cut it. Create different questions for each product type so that all return reasons lead to meaningful changes.
Want to learn more? Loop is the returns app for scaling Shopify brands. We make returns effortless for your team and an amazing experience for your customers. Automate returns and turn more refunds into revenue retaining exchanges.