Ecommerce Personalization Strategy: A Stepwise Approach

At some point, personalization may seem like a good next step to level up CRO efforts. But companies—if and when personalization does make sense—often try to use algorithms immediately, relying on AI and machine learning to create personalized experiences. Many also get started with marketing tools that have data collection and AI built-in, resulting in […]

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At some point, personalization may seem like a good next step to level up CRO efforts. But companies—if and when personalization does make sense—often try to use algorithms immediately, relying on AI and machine learning to create personalized experiences.

Many also get started with marketing tools that have data collection and AI built-in, resulting in a fragmented experience for the customer and suboptimal results for the company.

Rhett Norton advises caution: “The tool-first strategy is one of the worst because it puts your strategy in the backseat while your tool drives you off a cliff.”

Indeed, personalization isn’t just about data and algorithms. To do it properly, you need:

  • Processes in place;
  • Enough people to create relevant content for all variants;
  • Systems that can serve the content, etc.

It requires a big investment to operationalize full-on personalization. And the larger the investment, the larger the risk.

Therefore, it makes no sense to start with all-out personalization (unless you’re desperately bored and have money to burn). As with A/B testing, you can start small and gradually build a more comprehensive program if your initial forays pan out.

Of course, if you show early results, it’s easier to win resources that can scale and automate your personalization. The incremental steps toward that level of personalization are similar to those for CRO: research, hypothesis, create test, run test, evaluate.

The focus of this article is to show, using a hypothetical example, a pragmatic way to move toward personalization. Doing so highlights the various stages of the process and what to expect in each; it also simplifies some aspects.

I’ve used this same approach at multiple ecommerce companies. It all starts with something you’re familiar with—segmentation.

Starting with segmentation

Let’s take a fictitious company, “The Garden Company,” which sells garden equipment ranging from a shovel to a lounge set. They have a large product portfolio and spend a lot of money on marketing. They’re also continuously optimizing their website with A/B tests.

For them, personalization may be a logical next step. Many things can be personalized, like which channels to target for which users, in what order, in what timeframe, with what content, which products, etc.

As Conductrics CEO Matt Gershoff writes:

The question is not can I personalize an experience—at this point there are a thousand different tools and ways to do so. So the simple act of creating an experience is not the goal, the goal is to do so in the way that generates the greatest ROI for my organization.

The question needs to be, “How do I discover the most valuable way to change the experience?”

In this hypothetical case, we’ll tackle a common user experience problem on big ecommerce sites—the findability of products.

Do the research to identify and prioritize potential segments

Just like when creating an A/B test, research identifies potentially valuable segments.

If you’re already doing CRO, a lot of consumer research and knowledge is already available. Everyone from product experts, buying departments, and analysts have data-backed hypotheses about the customer base.

Existing research plus internal conversations alone can help identify possible attributes for segmentation. The Garden Company, for example, has the following hypotheses:

  • Our customers could be classified as “garden loungers” or “active gardening hobbyists.”
  • Some customers are more discount sensitive than others.
  • Some customers prefer high-end brands and are willing to pay more for them.
patio furniture.

Looking for broad, data-backed divisions within your audience is different than immediately picking and personalizing to a single segment. Norton has seen the latter approach fail often:

The segment-first personalization method is dangerous because it limits the sample size too soon. Good personalization starts as broadly as possible, then hones in where value is discovered.

You should also prioritize which segments to target based on expected value and ease of implementation, something Ismaël Sow recommends:

Build a personalization roadmap where you list all segments and associated experiences you want to assign to them.

Then, give a score to each item on your list based on the size of the segment, the resources and time needed to build the relevant experience, and the magnitude of the uplift you anticipate from it.

Start with the ones that have the biggest impact and the lowest effort required.

A prioritization framework like PXL can help you organize your process.

Analyze the potential segments based on a little data

Check your proposed segments against some data. There’s no need for a full 360-view of the customer (which, let’s be honest, doesn’t really exist) to start this analysis. Customers’ purchase data and some analytics data should be sufficient.

The Garden Company uses their order data to do a cluster analysis on purchased product categories for the loungers vs. hobbyists segments. Surprisingly, it doesn’t show two clusters but three: loungers, decorative gardeners, and food gardeners.

Prepare to be surprised often, notes Andrew Anderson:

One of the things that takes the longest time to understand is that the things that you need to target on are never the things you think you need to target on. I have worked with over 100 different groups trying to do “personalization,” and I have not once had the initial targeting idea prove to even be valuable let alone the best option.

A cluster analysis on brands shows that, indeed, certain customers prefer high-end brands or cheaper options. To determine the discount segments, a percentage discount can be picked for the segments, or a set of bins could be used.

Hypothesized segments that don’t pan out in the data should be ignored.

Based on these results, The Garden Company will first test the loungers vs. decorative vs. food segment. To test this segment, users are classified based on their buying behavior and the products they view online. With this classification, an A/B test can be set up for one of the segments.

Create a test

To set up a segmentation test, choose a channel. The easiest option depends on the technology and tools in place. If your website is heavily cached, you may need a lot of developer help to deal with this—not ideal for a proof-of-concept.

But if the website runs a good merchandising tool (e.g., Bloomreach, Algolia, Magento) that allows for custom segments, it might be fairly easy. Email is often a good channel to start with as it does not suffer from caching issues, users logging out, and other events that make test analysis difficult.

At The Garden Company, the test is run on email, and a segmentation attribute is added to the classified users in their email platform. As there are limited resources for content creation, the email team is asked to create one additional email beyond their default newsletter: an email for loungers.

So, in the first test, 50% of loungers get the default newsletter and 50% the targeted version. It’s important to show the control to the target segment and the variation to the general audience. 

As Norton writes:

We want to see if the personalized experience is indeed better for the audience it was built for. The only way to prove that is to show that experience to other audiences, and to show the intended audience other experiences.

In our hypothetical case, the targeted version yields an impressive 15% more revenue for the loungers. With these numbers, the email team is immediately willing to test the other segments as well—and make more people available to create these emails.

With the additional resources, all segments are tested through emails, where three segments and three emails are fully combined to create a 3×3 test in the email. This way, The Garden Company gets a general sense of how the segments impact their email results.

Moving forward

After having learned which segments work in the chosen channel, there are three ways to move forward:

  1. Repeat the initial test in other channels. This is often the easiest step when the same users can be identified in another channel.
  2. Combine segments. Take this step when the content creators have extra time available to create more relevant content.
  3. Add trigger behavior. This is fairly easy when properly defined product attributes are available in the email platform.

All of these steps can add value, and the order in which these are performed isn’t fixed. Again, go with what’s easiest. 

1. Repeat the initial test in other channels.

As always, when a test has shown impact, take what works and scale up. Use the segments and simply test them in other channels. For example, The Garden Company could use the same classification and apply it to display advertising to learn whether it works there as well.

Another great option is to sort the product display on the website based on segments. As the emails have shown a good impact, it may suddenly be easier to get a group of developers to help build this feature.

best-selling garden products based on location.

2. Combine segments

When multiple segments have shown to work, a combination could make the experience for the customer more personal. Combinations of product category segments and brand segments could work together (e.g., loungers with a preference for high-end brands).

Combining segments does add complexity when it comes to creating content and managing tests. The number of variants grows fast. Just testing the brand and product category segments results in six user segments and six different emails.

Gershoff explains the challenge:

While targeting can be incredibly valuable, many in the industry haven’t fully grasped that targeting always leads to greater organizational complexity, and that greater complexity means greater costs. Complexity is the flipside to targeting.

At some point, having a scalable content hub or digital asset management becomes necessary to scale content creation together with personalization. When content can be easily reused and combined in multiple templates, content creation for personalisation becomes feasible.

digital content management system.

Many tools support it (e.g., Bynder, Nuxeo), but the tool is not the solution—it’s about the process of tagging and reusing content. This might require changing the way content is created by content teams.

All in all, segmentation starts to require more resources to set up and manage tests; you’ll need results to win those resources. 

3. Add trigger behavior.

Based on what you learned from segmentation, it might be worthwhile to take recent behavioral data into account. Loungers who start looking at a new BBQ should be targeted based on that product instead of the general lounger communication, which might be based on a product category.

high-end bbq.

With the combination of segments, reasonable assumptions can be made about what online browsing behavior is meaningful and what isn’t. If a lounger looks at four BBQs, of which two are premium brands and two cheaper brands, what should be the primary target?

It depends on the segment the user has for brands. If it is a premium brand user, target the user with premium brand BBQs and accessories. This targeting can, of course, be applied through multiple channels, as described earlier.

Making it more personal

Combining segments and applying these to multiple channels consistently with the addition of behavioral triggers is already pretty impressive. It might qualify as the point at which segmentation crosses over into personalization.

It can also be taken to the next level with truly personalized algorithms.

Start with adding personalized recommendations

With the segments as a base, you can set up a recommendation algorithm. At The Garden Company, they decide to add a set of recommended products based on what other people viewed within the same segment.

example of "customers also viewed" products displayed on website.

So, the decorative gardeners get a couple of more detailed recommendations in their segmented email. This small adjustment within a segment makes it easy to determine the additional value of these algorithms without the risk of weird recommendations—you know that the products are for a specific (and relevant) segment.

With each test, The Garden Company further improves the algorithms behind the recommendation and applies them to other channels and segments.

Start with orchestration

As the channels are now showing consistent content, you can begin to test which channel works best for each user. This can be done by reaching users who normally respond well to banners with retargeting banners (instead of, say, retargeting emails).

It’s an additional form of segmentation, applied at another level. This can be taken a step further by determining how long to wait before sending the follow-up email after showing a retargeting ad.

Going from segmentation to personalization

Soon, all the segments, triggers, channels, and orchestration become too complex to manage. Looking at the examples of The Garden Company, there might be three category segments, two brand segments, and perhaps five segments of discount sensitivity—30 segment combinations. 

Combined with all the channel segments and orchestration steps, the set of rules is becoming quite complex. The advantage is that—with all the tests—a lot of data is generated (e.g., which user responds to what content, channel, order, and timeframe).

Further, as content is segmented, many marketing efforts are classified in one or more of the segments (e.g., decorative garden, premium brand, discount email user). The combination of all this data and classifications for content makes it ideal for machine learning.

Conclusion

The last stage—AI-driven personalization— isn’t one that could have been reached without taking the preceding steps.

What applies to each step also applies to machine learning: Start small and keep learning what works. Machine Learning is just another tool to keep adding impact to all the segments and learnings picked up along the way.

Read more about personalization strategy—and cautionary tales—here:

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We Estimated the Effect COVID-19 Has Had on E-Commerce Traffic

Our models show the e-commerce traffic industries experienced in 2020 compared to an estimate of what they would have seen in absence of a pandemic.

The post We Estimated the Effect COVID-19 Has Had on E-Commerce Traffic appeared first on Monetate.

As the economic effects of COVID-19 continue to unfold, the data science team at Monetate analyzed how our clients have been impacted by changing consumer behaviors. At Monetate, we deliver data-driven, personalized customer experiences to the e-commerce websites of medium-to-large-sized businesses across a wide variety of industries.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how e-commerce traffic has changed for particular industries over the last two months as public awareness of COVID-19 increased.

To accurately estimate the independent effect of COVID-19, we modeled our clients’ weekly page views, accounting for general trends and seasonal patterns in their site traffic, and included Google search popularity data to quantitatively estimate how COVID-19 awareness approached its saturation point in the general public.

Web Traffic Changes by Industry Vertical

Our modeling allows us to produce statistically significant estimates of the precise effect COVID-19 has had on our clients’ web traffic. As we would expect, the effects varied by industry. Some industries have been impacted more than others, some not at all, and some have even seen an increase in web traffic that can be attributed to the pandemic.

The hardest-hit industries come as no surprise: social distancing behavior has had a significant effect on travel and event service companies. Booking sites (grouped under travel services above), road-side assistance services (same), vacation cruises, ticketing services, and resorts and hotels (grouped under lodging, in pea green) have all experienced a 16-21 percent drop in traffic. Even luggage and bridal retailers saw fewer visitors with an estimated loss of 13-15 percent.


Note: Noticeably absent for our list of industries affected by COVID-19 are apparel and fashion. Although we are beginning to see signs that these industries will be affected by the economic impact of COVID-19, at this point it is too soon to state with confidence what extent the early effect we’re seeing is directly attributable to COVID-19, rather than simply natural variation in the data. As the economic strain continues to be felt around the country, we’ll be monitoring the situation closely and look forward to sharing updated results about the apparel and fashion industry as we have them.


The following graphs show the web traffic these industries experienced in 2020 (red line), along with an estimate of what they would have seen in absence of a pandemic (the dashed blue line), and we also include the prior year’s data for reference (the pink line).

The first week of March was clearly the inflection point in the United States. On February 29th, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency. Just under two weeks later, President Trump extended this state of emergency nation-wide. During this period, Americans began to realize the gravity of the situation and changed their consumption behavior to reflect their increased concern about large gatherings and travel.

Our web traffic models allow us to estimate what the level of traffic for these industries would have been in February and March of 2020 without the effect of COVID-19 influencing consumer behavior. More precisely, for each client we fit a linear model that includes terms for significant monthly effects as well as a term for public concern about COVID-19, represented by the popularity of Google searches for “coronavirus.” Errors in this model are represented as a “SARMA process (Seasonal Autoregressive Moving Average), which accounts for periodic, lag, and spike effects in the time series. Fitting such a model results in an estimate of the independent effect that COVID-19 has had on traffic.

By subtracting this effect out of the time series of true page views, we estimate what the page views would have been without the impact of COVID-19. 


As we can see in the plot of average effects above (titled Industries Impacted by COVID-19), some retailers actually experienced a surge in traffic related to COVID-19. We estimate COVID-19 led to a 13 to 15 percent increase in traffic for some retailers in both faith and firearms industries. With students home from school and more people working remotely, home office and children’s arts/crafts supply retailers saw a significant increase in traffic as well, with an estimated percent change of 17 and 28 respectively.

e-commerce traffic COVID-19

People are also looking to fitness equipment retailers to help them beef up their home gyms. And as the market fluctuates, many are seeking out personal investment resources to stay informed and manage their finances. There was also a very large increase in traffic to retailers of vegetable seeds and gardening tools and supplies. These e-commerce sites saw an average increase in traffic of around 45 percent.

Whether your company has been impacted positively or negatively by the COVID-19 event, there are a variety of ways to optimize your customers’ experience in a data-enriched manner to mitigate the impact of falling demand, or better handle the influx of new visitors to your site. By weaving this data into your onsite experience, you can better act on a customer’s intent, providing better-optimized experiences for optimal engagement and higher conversion during these oscillating times.

The post We Estimated the Effect COVID-19 Has Had on E-Commerce Traffic appeared first on Monetate.

Best Practices for Emergency Notification Content

I think it’s fair to say that the past few weeks have been interesting and, in some cases, pretty difficult. Like so many of you, we’ve been keeping our global community in our hearts as we’ve seen the rapid spread and impact of COVID-19 in many places around the world. Whenever our collective community faces… Read More

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I think it’s fair to say that the past few weeks have been interesting and, in some cases, pretty difficult. Like so many of you, we’ve been keeping our global community in our hearts as we’ve seen the rapid spread and impact of COVID-19 in many places around the world. Whenever our collective community faces a hardship, especially with such uncertainty, I am more aware of and appreciative for how information is shared.  Working within the DMO space, I love helping our clients brainstorm ways to share their unique travel experiences, as well as recommend best practices for ethical content. But I also find a great deal of meaning in the content that isn’t always the most exciting but provides vital information to the people who need it most. 

As we’ve had a number of our customers recently use Bound content to share the latest updates about COVID-19, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide general information and best practice recommendations to all our customers about using Bound content for emergency or other notification alerts.

Recommendations for content type:

Banners remain some of our favorite pieces of content for their diverse ability to directly provide information to audiences.  This is especially true for emergency notifications, given that information can be provided in a calm, straightforward way when imagery may not be appropriate.  Banners are one of our least intrusive forms of content and work well on both Mobile and Desktop, which makes them a great form to use for any type of notification.

Recommendations for content placement:

While your Homepage is typically a great starting place for sharing information with your audiences, it’s worth taking a thoughtful look at where notification content could be most appropriately visible.  One factor may be which audiences will best benefit from this information. Recently, we’ve seen customers tailor their informational content to Trip Planning sections in addition to main landing pages, as this is especially relevant for out of market visitors.  Main landing pages could be a beneficial place to highlight this information. As with all content, you can always expand this content throughout the site as it becomes appropriate.

Recommendations for content limitations:

Similar to being thoughtful about where we serve our content, we want to be thoughtful about how often to show this content.  While we may initially want to show this information multiple times per session, we know it is a fine line between providing appropriate information and overwhelming visitors with content they are not interested in or engaging with.  We recommend setting a limit on your notification content so that a visitor can become aware of this notification but is not greeted with the same content multiple times in one visit.  One option would also be to exclude visitors who have already visited the destination URL to ensure your content is shown to the most relevant audience.

Recommendations for audiences:

Speaking of audiences, I love that emergency notifications highlight the absolute effectiveness and purpose of personalization: providing the best information to the right audience. We’ve seen this with our customer’s previous notification content for Hurricane recovery efforts in providing the in-market audience with relevant local resources, as well as the out-of-market audiences with guidance on how they can best support recovery efforts. Tailoring your content to your audiences is a sure way to increase engagement and connect your visitors with the best information possible. 

 

We encourage you to keep these recommendations in mind when planning notifications of any kind to your audiences, and know that your Bound CSMs are always here to answer questions or talk through what content is most appropriate for your destination.  

To those communities affected by COVID-19, tornadoes and other loss, please know that you are in our hearts, and we are with you in solidarity.  

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20 Common Questions We’re Answering in 2020

Working with so many different destinations gives us unique insight into trends across the travel space.  As we have entered a new decade, marketers are starting to question whether long-standing website tactics and measurements are still effective.  We often get questions not only on personalization, but what other DMOs are doing and tracking on their… Read More

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Working with so many different destinations gives us unique insight into trends across the travel space.  As we have entered a new decade, marketers are starting to question whether long-standing website tactics and measurements are still effective.  We often get questions not only on personalization, but what other DMOs are doing and tracking on their website in general. 

Some of the most common questions we get:

  • Are my website engagement metrics still on par with my DMO peers?
  • What are new strategies to keep ad visitors on site?
  • Do we have as much mobile traffic as other DMOs?
  • Is anybody else still focused on eNewsletter signup?
  • Are other DMOs seeing drops in engagement year over year?
  • What are common ways to show how personalization impacts KPIs?
  • How can I make the most of my media spend?
  • What click through rate should I expect for a homepage hero?
  • Is embedded or overlay content more successful?
  • Is click through rate the best indicator of success?
  • When should I use A/B tests?
  • What type of visitors should I target with personalization? 
  • What type of visitor groups respond best to personalization?
  • Should I focus on groups that already have higher website engagement?
  • How can I identify areas of interest for visitors as soon as they enter the website?
  • Are other DMOs restricting ad visitor personalization to individual landing pages?
  • When should I use a modal versus a fly-in?
  • Where on the screen should I position fly-in content?
  • Should I target visitors on mobile devices or stick to desktop?
  • How frequently should I measure performance?

If you find yourself pondering similar questions, good news!  We’re excited to announce that this month we’ll be sharing our 2020 State of Personalization report, answering these questions and more!  Watch your inbox in the next few weeks for the report, or if you would like to schedule a personal briefing on our findings and strategy recommendations, contact us today. 

The post 20 Common Questions We’re Answering in 2020 appeared first on Bound.

Treat Yo Self: Bound Celebrates “Plan A Solo Vacation Day”

Here at Bound, it’s fair to say that we’re pretty obsessed with travel – we can’t get enough of working with DMOs to ensure their web visitors have the personalized information they need to plan the best trip possible.  But this also comes with its own challenges, mainly that we’re constantly daydreaming about our next… Read More

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Here at Bound, it’s fair to say that we’re pretty obsessed with travel – we can’t get enough of working with DMOs to ensure their web visitors have the personalized information they need to plan the best trip possible.  But this also comes with its own challenges, mainly that we’re constantly daydreaming about our next vacations.  In honor of “Plan A Solo Vacation Day” on March 1st, we’re excited to share our own solo vacations, both ones we’ve already enjoyed and those we’re still planning!

Cameron: Seattle, Washington

As much as Cameron enjoys solo trips to the PNW, he also enjoys trips with his fiancé!

I reached out to a close friend who moved to Washington that I hadn’t seen in years. Conversation led to his plans to plan a weekend in Seattle to watch San Antonio FC’s (Football Club re: Soccer) first televised game and catch a Seattle Sounders game. Sounded like an incredibly fun weekend and he mentioned if I had the money and the time I should try to come up and join them in Seattle. This was the first trip I would ever plan solely by myself and I was terrified. I didn’t know where to look for flights or how to book lodging or even really what steps were necessary to get to Seattle. I reached out to friends who I knew traveled often for advice and researched hard online for what to expect. This knowledge really helped calm me down and the trip was a truly enjoyable experience, basically a 3-day adult sleepover in Seattle. We spent an entire day in the Museum of Pop Culture, which is an incredible place I cannot recommend highly enough. We roamed through local urban breweries in preparation for the Sounders game in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. The entire experience was wonderful and being 100% responsible for my travel plans taught me the #1 rule of all travel, especially solo travel: Don’t Panic.

Jared: Month long road trip from San Francisco to NYC

Jared staring out longingly at the beautiful scenery on his trip.

I didn’t enjoy my job or living in Indianapolis, so I resigned and decided to check out SF as it was on my list of places to live and ended up road tripping for a month. I only stayed in hotels 3 nights out of the month, one of which was a Motel 1 in Albuquerque run by vampires, lost my debit card in Arkansas, won $700 playing roulette in Tunica, and couldn’t decide if I should buy a churro or a kitten from a vendor selling both on the subway in NYC to celebrate my 25th birthday. Austin wasn’t even on my radar but friends and random people in San Diego, Phoenix, and Moab said I had to check it out. I ended up moving and stayed for almost 10 years before moving to San Diego to be closer to family.

Jessica: Austin, Texas

Jessica also treated herself to some new shades for her solo vacation – she was super excited.

I had been working in the DC area for a few years when the opportunity to relocate to Austin came up. I had never been to Texas and wanted to check it out before making a decision. I had an upcoming family vacation to Vegas, so I extended my time off by a few days to then head over to Austin by myself. I arrived in Austin in August in the blazing heat, which honestly I was okay with because I hate being cold and DC had been having a lot of dreary, rainy days. My main questions when I landed were centered around food, shopping, and was it easier to navigate than DC. I spent two days making my way from one corner of the sprawling city to another, checking out shopping areas, eating at whatever random spot I found, and driving all the main roads. I loved how Austin didn’t feel like a big city, and despite doing no research beforehand every single place I stopped to eat was delicious. There were gorgeous views and I could not get enough of the warmth, spending several hours either at the pool or chilling at a porch bar. I left Austin happy, refreshed, and ready to move. In retrospect though I would do more pre-trip planning for my next solo vacation, as I somehow managed to miss all the restaurants that are now my Austin favorites.

Ali: Reykjavik, Iceland

So cold, but so so happy at one of South Iceland’s bazillion waterfalls.

I visited Iceland several years ago with a good friend and it was truly as magical as I had been told. I’ve been daydreaming about a return trip from the moment I left! We spent the week exploring the truly epic scenery of black sand beaches, swimming pools tucked into mountains and icy glaciers – there was something intimately peaceful about how small the landscape made you feel. We enjoyed adventuring hiking trails with instructions such as, “if you feel like you’re going to the wrong way, then you’re actually going the right way.” But my favorite moments may have been enjoying Reykjavik as a local might: spending time reading in coffee shops, digging through treasures at a city-wide flea market, wandering through the many book stores and main library (at the time, Iceland had the most authors per capita and most books read per capita!) and enjoying a live jazz quartet at Harpa, the gorgeous concert hall with views of both mountains and ocean. If I plan a solo trip, I imagine my itinerary would be much the same – my hardest choice would be agonizing over just how many books to pack with me!

Adriana: Bali, Indonesia

Adriana can’t WAIT to insert herself into all things Bali.

Full disclosure, I haven’t been on a solo vacation yet. In the past, I’ve preferred traveling with small groups or with just one other person so I can enjoy the experience with others. That said, I absolutely see the appeal and am considering adding a solo vacation to my yearly bucket list. One trip I’ve wanted to take for a while is to Bali, Indonesia. It seems to have a little of everything- beaches, great food, cultural hot spots, and friendly people. I would probably try to stay for a week or two and visit a few temples between beach excursions. Plus, as someone who eats mostly vegetarian, the growing number of veggie-friendly options is definitely a plus!

 

We hope you’re inspired to plan your own solo vacation – wherever this year takes you, we hope it will be fun, safe and a time to treat yo self! We’d love to chat with you more if you have any recommendations for solo trip planning or questions about how to personalize for solo travelers.

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A Deep Dive into Behavioral Targeting

Let’s imagine you’re a personalization marketer and thanks to Bound you’ve really been flexing your marketing chops. You’ve successfully set up targeting for all your geographic markets. You’re speaking to your Fly Markets and Drive Markets. You’re even personalizing to that one city in Germany that keeps reading your blog posts (Hello, Frankfurt!). You know… Read More

The post A Deep Dive into Behavioral Targeting appeared first on Bound.

Let’s imagine you’re a personalization marketer and thanks to Bound you’ve really been flexing your marketing chops. You’ve successfully set up targeting for all your geographic markets. You’re speaking to your Fly Markets and Drive Markets. You’re even personalizing to that one city in Germany that keeps reading your blog posts (Hello, Frankfurt!). You know exactly who to speak to on your website and how to speak to them. 

And that’s fantastic! Geographic targeting is a great way to personalize to your website visitors because it’s relatively easy to enable and can be highly effective. But, geographic targeting is also like hanging out in the shallow end of an Olympic-size pool. You’re going to have a good time in that shallow end, but there’s an entire pool of other opportunities to explore! And that next deeper level of segmentation is Behavioral Targeting. 

Behavioral Targeting is essentially speaking to a visitor based on their interactions with your site. Instead of targeting broadly based on a visitor’s location in the world, you’re instead targeting based on what pages they are visiting or how many times they have visited the site. It’s an expansive way to categorize audiences so it may seem daunting at first. But, with the help of your trusty personalization expert, you can easily add behavioral targeting to your personalization toolbelt. 

So, get your swim caps and floaties on, we’re diving into our favorite ways to target your on-site visitors based on behavior!

Current URL

We’ll start with segmenting based on the page a visitor is on. Targeting based on a visitor’s current URL is a natural next step after personalizing based on Geographic location. This type of segmentation involves targeting a visitor when they are on a specific URL (i.e. the homepage) or when that visitor is on a page within a set of URLs (i.e. the visitor is currently on a page that contains /blog). Often times, this brand of behavioral segmentation is dismissed as being too simplistic, but in practice, it can be highly effective.

For Example:

Imagine you have an especially tantalizing blog written about a new outdoor park in town. This would be a perfect piece of content to get in front of everyone interested in the Adventure or Outdoors area of your website. Ah-Ha! Let’s set up a fly-in to serve to every person currently on your site’s ‘Outdoors’ page to make all visitors interested in that subject aware of this wonderful resource in your city! 

Previous URL

Similar to the above targeting strategy, you can also set up personalization based on pages that a visitor has been to in the past. If a visitor returns repeatedly to a specific page or set of pages, that’s a pretty clear indication that they are interested in content of a specific nature. The most strategic personalization would be to show them related content or to offer a conversion point related to their engagement with those interest based pages once they have left those pages.

For Example:

If a visitor has gone to the dining pages on your site 2+ times they are either A) hungry or B) a ‘foodie’ (or both!) . If you’d like them to digest (pun!) the food and drink content on site without interference, you may not want to target them on a food focused page. However, if they leave the food focused area of the site and you have more related content, like a restaurant deal or a special Dining Guide, it would be fantastic practice to target them on other pages with content you know they will find interesting. Bring on that creative cuisine content!

Number of Visits 

We’ve written a blog post or two on how to speak to your repeat visitors. That’s because speaking to repeat visitors is a super effective way to target people you know are interested in your destination. Repeat visitors have seen your site and virtually said, “I should visit this site again!” What a compliment- They like you, they really like you! The trick to getting those repeat visitors to come back for more is figuring out how to show new content to keep those visitors engaged.

For Example:

Within the realm of targeting repeat visitors, there’s a ton of strategic possibilities. One of my favorite ways to target repeat visitors is to set up a waterfall system of targeting based on what visit a person is on (i.e. first, second, third, fiftieth visit??). In practice, this could look as simple as targeting a ‘first-time visitor’ with a Fly-In that promotes the Visitor Guide conversion. Then on a visitor’s 2nd visit, serving a fly-in that promotes a eNewsletter conversion. On a 3rd visit, you could serve a fly-in asking for a survey completion. This gives a repeat visitor something new to do every time they engage with your site and will keep those visitors coming back for more. Of course, this is not limited to conversion centric fly-ins. You could similarly target a repeat visitor with new blog posts or perhaps send them straight to an events page. The strategy will be dependent on your visitors and dependent on your site. 

Goal Completions

A visitor comes to your site and after a few minutes browsing, decides to download a Visitor Guide. Woo-hoo! Start the Parade! Throw the confetti! But now what? Do you want that visitor to leave the site? Chances are you want to keep them around. And you may even have more conversions that you’d like them to complete. Targeting based on Goal Completions allows you to lead a visitor down a predetermined nurture path, consistently giving that visitor a new asset to download or a new form to fill out. This is when targeting based on goal completions truly enters your segmentation strategy. 

For Example:

If a person has downloaded your visitor guide, you may segment them into a group of visitors that has already converted on that specific goal. With this information you can assume that this visitor is highly engaged, after all, they just downloaded something from your site! In theory, that visitor would be a fantastic person to serve an eNewsletter prompt. Since they’ve already converted on the Visitor Guide, you want to push them further down your nurture path and personalize content to them which promotes the next step on their journey into your website. 

The 4 Behavioral Targeting strategies listed above skim the surface of potential ways to speak to your online audiences but in this Olympic pool of personalization, there’s even more you can do! If you want to keep swimming deeper and deeper, reach out to a member of the Bound team or your designated swim instructor (CSM) to learn more! 

The post A Deep Dive into Behavioral Targeting appeared first on Bound.

How Seattle Southside RTA Increased Visitor Guide Conversions

One of the most common challenges for a destination is accurately capturing a visitor’s intent to visit and ensuring that a personalized experience leads to both clicks and goal conversions. Visitor Guides, often referred to as Travel Planners, are an essential way to track intent to visit.   Like many other destinations, Seattle Southside Regional Tourism… Read More

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One of the most common challenges for a destination is accurately capturing a visitor’s intent to visit and ensuring that a personalized experience leads to both clicks and goal conversions. Visitor Guides, often referred to as Travel Planners, are an essential way to track intent to visit.  

Like many other destinations, Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority’s Travel Planner requests remain a critical goal in tracking website engagement.  In Fall 2019, the Seattle Southside RTA team saw a decrease in their Travel Planner request conversions, both year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter. Furthermore, the team found that the gap between their Targeted and Default audience increased, highlighting that this goal had become a more challenging conversion point for audiences.

With the intent of increasing Travel Planner conversions, the Seattle Southside RTA team decided to refresh their content with a seasonal focus on their imagery.  They first created two versions of Travel Planner content, both with gorgeous Fall scenery highlighting the region’s colorful season.  

Launching the content as an A/B test, the Seattle Southside RTA team was amazed at the increased engagement.  Within the first few weeks, this new content saw an 8% increase in Click Through Rates (CTRs) over their regular Travel Planner content.  Better yet, the team saw a 15% increase in Travel Planner conversions within the first month of the new content running.

Encouraged by this initial response, the team continued to run the seasonal content until the last few weeks of the year.  Quarter over quarter, the team saw a 26% increase in conversions, with a year-over-year increase of 43%!  Using the new Goal Dashboard, the Seattle Southside RTA team was able to further breakdown the conversion rate for each of the new content pieces allowing them to see that the new content pieces not only had higher CTRs, but also much higher conversion rates vs their original content. The team found a 79% increase in conversions for their Desktop content, as well as a 63% increase for their Mobile content.

Inspired by the results of their A/B test, Seattle Southside RTA plans on launching more tests for goal related content with seasonal imagery.  Knowing that the new Goal Dashboard allows for a deeper level of insight into their testing, the Seattle Southside RTA team is better equipped to deepen their visitor’s personalization journey to increase goal conversions and engagement.

Congratulations to Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority for a job well done!

 

Interested in increasing your conversions?  Personalization can help you get there.  We’d love to chat with you more about making it happen!

 

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Old vs New: How Repeat Visitors Impact Your Metrics and 3 Strategies to Increase Engagement

New, new, new. New year, new website, new goals… the focus on new never ends. T&T marketers know that the majority of their website visitors are new users and tend to focus their personalization strategies around engaging these new visitors. But what about your return visitors? Do you know how your return visitor traffic stacks… Read More

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New, new, new. New year, new website, new goals… the focus on new never ends. T&T marketers know that the majority of their website visitors are new users and tend to focus their personalization strategies around engaging these new visitors. But what about your return visitors? Do you know how your return visitor traffic stacks up compared to other destinations?

Working in the DMO space gives us unique insight. Return visitors can make up anywhere from  6-30% of sessions for destination websites. While return visitors commonly have slightly higher performance on pages per session and visit duration, they tend to have a higher bounce rate than new visitors.

It makes sense to prioritize strategies for new visitors, but if almost a quarter of your website traffic is returning visitors, it’s also important to plan the best possible website experience for these repeat visitors. 

Here are 3 questions to keep in mind when thinking about your repeat visitor traffic and some best practices to keep this audience engaged.

How Frequently Are You Showing Overlay Content?

We’ve discussed the ethics of “pop-ups” before, but this is of utmost importance when considering your repeat traffic. If you are only setting daily or weekly limits on your pop-up content, your returning traffic is likely being repeatedly disrupted by that same old content. 

Best Practice: Serve unique content only once a month at minimum, and if possible, consider showing even less frequently, like every six months or once a year. If there is specific content repeat visitors should see multiple times, set up fresh versions of the content instead of short frequency limits. This prevents content fatigue and also helps the new content stand out from what they saw on their last visit.

Where Are Your Repeat Visitors Located?

Geo-targeting is always a solid strategy and shouldn’t be overlooked for repeat visitors. Because your repeat audience is smaller, breaking out individual markets creates very tiny visitor groups, but consider separating your local audience from drive or fly regions. The reasons a local visitor frequents your website are quite different from someone who would be potentially flying in. Additionally, while repeat visitors are prime candidates for hotel/places to stay offer content, someone already in the area likely isn’t interested in these deals.

Best Practice: Take advantage of geo-targeting to create in market, drive market, and fly market repeat visitor groups. You can then serve content to these visitors that’s more likely to be of interest, such as hotel deals for out of market visitors and activity deals or upcoming events to local visitors.

Where Are Your Repeat Visitors Entering the Site?

Identifying where repeat visitors are landing can help you determine if it’s a page that typically has fresh content, or if they’re potentially seeing the same thing over and over again. The homepage is still the most common landing page for repeat visitors, and having been there before these visitors are less likely to scroll down the page. 

Best Practice: If you aren’t currently updating your hero content on a regular basis, consider targeting repeat visitors with fresh content or at minimum, new imagery. To combat fatigue, plan to update repeat visitor content more frequently than your other visitors. Alternatively, consider setting up your hero based on exclusions so that repeat visitors who have already been to the destination page are served new content. 

By keeping these best practices in mind, you can use personalization to make your returning visitors feel like they’re getting a new experience not once, but every time they come to your website.

If you’re interested in discussing other ways to engage your returning visitor traffic, contact us today!

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[Forrester Webinar] To Be Customer Obsessed, You Must Be Data Led

How many of your business decisions are based on opinions? This was the provocative question asked by Forrester analyst Brendan Witcher on our recent webinar about data and personalization in 2020. In case you missed it, Brendan provided a deep-dive into the roadblocks that stop so many companies from getting customer engagement right, and he…

The post [Forrester Webinar] To Be Customer Obsessed, You Must Be Data Led appeared first on Monetate.

How many of your business decisions are based on opinions? This was the provocative question asked by Forrester analyst Brendan Witcher on our recent webinar about data and personalization in 2020. In case you missed it, Brendan provided a deep-dive into the roadblocks that stop so many companies from getting customer engagement right, and he delivered great advice for how to remove as many of those roadblocks as possible this year.

For anyone who follows Forrester, customer obsession has been a major theme for several years. Brendan described the problem with blind customer obsession: it can lead brands to make decisions that they think will help customers — but they don’t actually know. Of course, this data challenge also impacts a brand’s ability to deliver relevant experiences at every stage of the customer journey, AKA personalization. 

How to Start Building a Data-Led Organization 

Sophisticated brands use data across every element of customer-obsessed marketing to move away from acting based on uninformed opinions. Brendan finds that brands fall into four buckets: Data averse, data aware, data driven, and data-led. He advises that brands determine where they sit today and make small and large changes to start including data-driven insights, testing and optimization across their organization.

Companies like Amazon, Sephora, and Stitch Fix are data-led across three major elements of their company operations: systems of insight, systems of engagement, and systems of automation. In other words, these companies use data during planning and measurement, across marketing and communications, and across their business operations. No process or campaign is too small to avoid scrutiny to improve using data.

Stitch Fix uses every bit of customer behavior and feedback to fine tune their subscription service, delivering ever more relevant clothes to their customers. Not only to make customers happy, but also to lower their shipping returns costs. Sephora combines engaging apps and loyalty programs with in-store technologies that store and remember customer preferences. Not only because it makes customers loyal, but because it increases sales efficiency.

Brendan noted that 73% of consumers surveyed prefer to do business with companies that use their information to make experiences more efficient. Being customer obsessed isn’t just about creating beautiful or memorable experiences, it’s also about speed and efficiency, and data plays a big role. Yet companies surveyed by Forrester say that they currently make poor use of their internal data. There is opportunity to improve across the board.

Personalization is a great example. Personalization should not be thought of as a tactic, but a business strategy that drives tactics across the organization. Brands should work to use insights to create a 360-degree view of the customer, understanding their demographics, purchase history, location, intent, and more. These data elements can be combined using advanced analytics to drive insights, create more effective and efficient experiences and to measure results and improve in a virtuous cycle. 

This year is a great time to commit to becoming data-led. Brendan advises brands to look across their culture, organization, technology and metrics for the roadblocks that stop data from playing a bigger role and for opportunities to add data and insights. Now’s the time to identify the gaps and take off the blinders that keep people in their organizational silos (83% of companies have them, by the way!). With data, brands don’t have to hope that they surprise and delight, they can focus on getting customers what they want and succeeding as a result.

Looking for next-generation personalization strategies? Download our best practices guide for building a more personalized customer journey over the holiday season.

Leila Wolford is the sales development lead for North America at Kibo.

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