The Art of Personalization - Understanding your online visitors
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times: "It’s the Era of Information and the Digital Revolution". "We are living in a constantly connected and fast-changing digital world". That goes without saying, no need to state the obvious, right?
But here’s the important question: are you, as an online business in the ticketing industry, really aware of the insatiable information-seeking web-surfers you are facing? Just now, there are millions of users browsing the web simultaneously, with access to all sorts of information. Anywhere, anytime.
Today’s online customer is smart, well-informed, empowered and has very little time for you. When I say very little, I mean they are very likely to leave your webpage within the first 10-20 seconds. That’s how long you have to capture their attention. Not to mention the fierce competition, with around 9-10 new web pages being born per minute.
If the sea is full of fish, the internet is a deep and vast ocean full of websites. And I’m sure you’d rather be a big fat shark than a minnow.
But do you have what it takes to stand out and succeed in such a highly competitive environment?
Let me answer that: if you are not paying attention to your online visitor’s behavior, you probably don’t. It’s as straightforward as that. If you don’t understand how your users behave, what they expect from you, what their buying habits are, how you make them feel… you can’t improve your user experience, and in an environment as competitive as this, it can really make the difference between winning a sale or not.
Remember users are human beings with highly variable behaviors, which is why you cannot capture them fully with an all-inclusive and generic message. If your product and message are for everyone, it won’t hit home with your ideal customer, and they’ll go elsewhere searching for what the need.
Therefore, to gain several minutes of your visitor’s attention and make them not only stay, but ultimately also take action, you need to have a clear and targeted value proposition. If you really want to make an impact and avoid them bouncing away, you need to personalize their online experience to meet their needs.
By understanding your online visitors’ behavior you will be able to improve customer experience because you’ll know which content is really relevant for them and will make the maximum impact, while helping them throughout their buying decision journey!
Have you ever invested in marketing campaigns that were not making any difference? Spent weeks (or even months) building and tweaking your website just to find out that you were not getting any results out from it? If you feel like you’ve been flushing your money down the toilet it’s probably time to say goodbye to universal marketing practices with such a generic approach. You can’t be all things to all people. That type of strategy just won’t cut it anymore.
I mean, would you approach everyone coming into your store equally? Would you give the same information, offers, suggestions or treatment to an 18-year-old teenage boy than to an elderly couple? Most certainly not, so don’t do it online either. Stop wasting time, money and resources. Instead, start personalizing the experience according to your different audiences or be ready to miss opportunities that your competitors won’t let slip. Being able to spot your potential customers’ individual desires and needs, as well as responding to them in a personalized way will enable you to be one step ahead.
BUT HOW EXACTLY CAN YOU DO THAT?
Well, in case you didn’t know already, all personalization should start with good segmenting. And for good segmenting you need… information! (We are in the Era of Information after all!). The more you have, the better. But gathering lots of data won’t help your business in any way unless you really know how to connect the dots and use it in your favor.
I’m sure you’ve heard of “segmentation” before. Probably one of the most overused words in marketing. Marketers use it for planning, targeting, messaging and personalization.
Through the method of rule-based segmentation you create a list of prospects based on specific variables and criteria, but this, in comparison to other ways to tackle personalization, has significant limitations. You risk pinning a lot of your customers into one segment. There could be more than a million people on that segment, and you end up treating everybody within that segment the same. Just to name an example, “Peter” and “Sara”, despite both being in the same “luxury good buyers” segment have nothing in common except the few variables you took into account (let’s say, age, income, area where they live, etc.). The first one hardly ever buys anything online, has a very flexible schedule, doesn’t trust online transactions… whereas Sara is a frequent online buyer, has a busy schedule and therefore, likes saving time (and money!) that way, uses different payment methods, is tech savvy… etc.
Sure, having “Woman, 25 years old, single, +100.000 income, lives in an urban area” gives you an idea of who your product is serving, but doesn’t tell you Sara becomes a bargain seeker when buying online. Wouldn’t it be way better to get some insight into her buying behaviors?
Her attitude, her beliefs, what motivates her purchases, what drives her behavior, what are her ultimate goals when buying and much more?
Then ditch old-school segmentation and expand your horizons by conducting data-driven segmentation. The rules will still be there, but they will be dynamic, and this way you’ll be able to rely on much more data than a person would ever be able to analyze. Do not just rely on your gut feelings and assumptions. Be smart. Be like Convious. Listen to your data and it will show you the way!
Users are continuously browsing through the infinite sources of online information, and even though it makes the game highly competitive, don’t forget that their activity is also leaving behind a valuable track of data that you could use in your favor to get a powerful advantage.
So in order to create great data-driven personalization, why not start using your own actual data? It’s free!
However, data-driven personalization in user experience is not an easy process and you need the right tools and knowledge if you really want to succeed at it. At Convious we use AI and predictive analytics to generate personalized and targeted messages, making them relevant to the specific user and therefore, creating greater impact. By delivering data-driven content based on users’ preferences, past interactions, and engagement with other digital content we enable you to target them in a much more efficient way, increasing your conversion rates. And everything from your own website!
Remember everyone is constantly being bombarded through different channels with marketing messages. You’ve probably experienced it too. If you have, you’d probably agree with me that most of them are usually irrelevant and that the overall feeling is negative and overwhelming. But now, imagine you’re browsing the internet and you suddenly come across a product offer that perfectly matches what you were looking for. For sure, you will be more tempted to take action, interact and engage in this second scenario than in the first one, to the point that it might even have the power to reshape your decision-making process.
The magic of predictive analytics and data-driven segmentation does just that. By using AI and machine learning, it takes a look into multiple variables, such as your past consumption patterns or user-content interactions for example, and analyzes the gathered information to convert it into valuable insights of what you are interested in and what benefits or features you are looking for in a certain product or service.
If you manage to read into all of this data the right way, you will be able not only to predict and understand your online visitors’ behavior, but also group and identify their different pain-points, needs, concerns, expectations, challenges, and motivations, creating different segments that you will be able to approach in a tailored way, which will ultimately lead to higher engagement.
Nonetheless, this takes a lot of your valuable time and it’s not easy. Instead, you can have the system or the “machine” connect the variables that are relevant and group up the segments for you in the smartest and quickest way.
One way or the other, once you’ve recognized your different segments you can go one step further and create buyer personas by picturing the consumer in your target segment and going into further detail about why they act the way they do and what are the motivations behind their purchase. The more buyer personas you create and the more specific and close to the real user they are, the more in-depth knowledge you’ll have over your user and the better you’ll satisfy his needs and desires.
But wait, WHAT is exactly a buyer persona?
Buyer personas are fictional representations or archetypes of individuals that help us internalize the ideal customer we are trying to attract and relate to them as real humans. When creating a buyer persona you are picturing your “best customer” in the target segment, and trying to gain more insight into their habits, attitudes, behaviors, and challenges they are facing, not to manipulate them, but to provide them with higher value. In order to do so, you’ll need to gather a big deal of information and introduce many different variables to deepen your understanding of their behavior.
For instance, here at Convious we’ve conducted a research that gathered a wide sample of respondents and by doing so, we found out what people expect when buying tickets online, what they are skeptical or afraid of, what bothers them most along the process, what are their best experiences when buying online, or what words do they use most to describe their (positive and negative) online buying experiences.
Thanks to these findings we can improve our offered solution, for example by reducing the anxiety of the value receivers and increasing their feeling of success and satisfaction during the purchase process.
Care to try it out yourself?
Then let me guide you briefly through the must-follow steps when creating a detailed buyer persona:
Solid buyer personas are built based on market research as well as insights you gather from your actual customers and sales team (through surveys, interviews and so on). Depending on the size of your business you could create a few buyer personas or up to 20 and more. However, if you are new to this type of insight into buying behaviors, you might want to start small.
This said, let’s dive right into it:
HOW TO CREATE A DETAILED BUYER PERSONA IN 5 STEPS:
#1 Identify what information you need to create your buyer personas: Think of the questions you are going to ask to receive the information you need. Some of these could be questions like:
- What technological devices do you use the most on a regular basis?
- When and where do you usually access the site?
- What of these features is most important to you when buying online?
- How much do you agree with the following statements? (Likert scale)
- What benefits do you look for in the online buying process VS. offline?
Remember to use targeted and relevant questions to your specific product/service. Your personas will only be as good as the research conducted!
#2 Establish which method you’ll use to research buyer personas and to get the information that answers the questions from the previous step: There are multiple methods you can use to conduct your investigation, such as a survey, open-ended questions, categorizing qualitative data, counting frequency, interviewing users (not only satisfied users but also the unhappy ones! These are in fact, the ones that will usually give you the most valuable info) as well as the sales team (they face the client and understand the potential problems and challenges they have), field research etc.
The list is long. Just make sure you pick the method that best adjusts to your information goals.
After having conducted a survey with this purpose at Convious, we suggest that you follow the following tips during your investigation if you want to maximize your reach:
Make clear you are not trying to sell anything. Explain that you are just gathering information to improve the experience that your product/service offers them.
Make it easy for them. I think we’ve emphasized enough in this post that people don’t have time for you. They are already too busy with their own lives, don’t forget that. So be flexible. If you’re going to interview them you should be giving many different options, and using easy tools to schedule these. If you’re conducting a survey make sure it’s not too long and that it contains the essential questions to reach your objectives.
Collect all the information in one place. It’ll make it easier to detect trends and similarities in the answers. To make it easier you can use tools such as Google Analytics, Google Docs, Excel, Trello or Evernote, just to mention a few.
Use incentives: People don’t usually give you anything if they’re not getting anything in exchange. That’s why it's a common practice to give out a couple tickets to a certain venue, or Amazon gift cards, for example, to increase the number of respondents.
#3 Conduct research, gather information, and note down the most frequent responses in the buyer persona’s development sheet.
Your buyer persona development sheet should include:
1) A name and a photo (By doing this you’re making this fictional person more real and relatable
2) Demographic information (age, gender, marital status, income…)
3) Psychographic information (lifestyle, values, personality...)
4) Job and professional experience level
5) How a normal day in his/her life looks like
6) What are his/her pain points and how your product/service can help fix them
7) What he/she values most. What are his/her goals
8) Where does he/she search for information
9) What type of experience he/she looks for in a product/service like yours
10) Most frequent objections to your product/service
. . .
#5 Create a buyer persona profile sheet: Once you’ve gathered all of the above information, it’s time to create a detailed buyer persona profile. Each development sheet should enable you to create a different buyer persona profile. Here’s a simple outline of how your buyer persona’s sheet could look like (however, this is just an example, you can tweak it and adapt it as much as you like):
A few best practice tips to keep in mind:
- Keep it realistic: Despite it being a fictional archetype of a person, you have to be specific in order to make it more human and real, but careful, don’t be too specific, or only one or two people will fit in this buyer persona. You have to find the right balance.
- Don’t fall into stereotypes. This is exactly what you are trying to avoid.
- Tell the buyer persona’s story: Your job is not only to present a list of its characteristics, but to give detailed representation of who she/he is as a person.
- Focus on the motivation behind the behavior and not so much on the behavior itself. It’s more important to understand the reason behind a person acting a certain way than describing the action. Focus on WHY they are using a certain tool, HOW and WHERE they search for specific information, or HOW they achieve a certain objective. After all, a buyer persona is intended to offer insight into buying behaviors, so you should be looking for the motivations on how and why they make buying decisions.
Now, let’s say you’ve followed these steps closely and that you’ve created a few killer buyer personas. Congratulations! You’ve spent lots of time and effort in designing and conducting your research, analyzing the data, profiling your personas… and what now?
How are these useful for your business? What do you get out of it?
If you’ve asked the right questions to the right people and organized the information you have collected accordingly, many areas of your business could benefit from this increased knowledge of your consumers' behavior. Personas can help not only marketing and sales but also product development and services. Having a deep understanding of your users is critical to anything related to customer acquisition and retention.
Not convinced yet? Let me be more specific.
Creating buyer personas can help you:
- Understand your customers buying journey, and organize your marketing efforts accordingly to suit each stage.
- Improve your products and services, by identifying customers’ pain points, needs and wants.
- Attract the right potential leads. Buyer personas normally result in quality leads that are more sales-ready, because you are reaching out to people by taking advantage of the information you know they want.
- Copywriters can ensure that site content is appropriate for the specific audience.
- Identify where your customers spend most of their online-time to know where to reach out, communicate, and promote your message best.
- Create personalized successful marketing campaigns. Creating marketing campaigns blindly can lead to one specific message directed to many different target markets, and therefore, lack of effectiveness. If you want to create personalized marketing campaigns, first you have to know who you’re personalizing for. You need to define your audience. And that’s where creating buyer personas comes in handy. They are the cornerstone of any successful marketing campaign.
Just take a look at this wonderful example of a successful personalized marketing campaign, where this company optimized its homepage by creating unique experiences for each of their different audiences. The result? Great increase in engagement (+1.5%) and conversion (+117%)!
Or this other one conducted by IBERIA airlines, where they personalized their advertising banners with the data given by their users. What if the advertising you see when you are browsing is not only adapted to your tastes, but to those of your friends, partner, family...? That’s exactly what IBERIA did. Taking advantage of the Christmas holiday season, and using a video and simple fill-in form, they created a landing campaign where people introduced not only their e-mail but also their friends’ and family members’ e-mails to allow IBERIA to show them personalized banners with their desired holiday destination.
A bit too much? Maybe, but still smart, and the results, once again, where incredible, giving them a crazy amount of qualified leads. If you want to learn more about how to generate leads with online advertising this related post on the topic might be of your interest.
These are just some examples of the wide range of personalization opportunities that data-driven insights to user behavior and development of buyer personas can offer. As complex as it may seem at first, it all comes down to creating meaningful and relevant stories and value for your online visitors at any stage of their buying journey.
So, in conclusion: Don’t assume, track!
And once you track and recognize what’s behind your users’ behavior, don’t just stop there. REACT! How? With specific and personalized engagement and conversion strategies.
However, you don’t have to do this all on your own. We get it. Engagement is hard. Let us take care of it. We’ve got just the right tools. We track users’ interactions and behaviors, identify patterns, and react with real-time and personalized engagement and optimization strategies increasing your chances of conversion. Sounds good? Take a look at our free demo to find out more about how our smart tools can help you #SellMoreDirect!
And remember, engagement is a crucial part of sales, so if you want to learn more about “engagement”, “data-driven” and “personalization” we invite you to read this post about how data can help you create personalized website experiences and win more customers, or this other one on how personalization can help you boost your online sales!
If you liked this post, why not share your experiences or thoughts on data-driven segmentation and user experience personalization in the comment section below? We’d love to hear your view on it!
Convious, the leading eCommerce platform for the experience economy, launched this week their Mobile Food Ordering solution. With Convious’ Mobile Food Ordering technology, visitors can now.