Getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time is key to marketing and sales success. But how much control does the online retailer have over that equation?
The answer to that question has to do with the fundamental difference between targeting and personalization when it comes to ecommerce marketing.
What is targeting and how is it done?
The term targeting refers to the business’s efforts to identify and segment their customers by demographic or psychographic points. By effectively separating their market this way, they are in a better position to provide targeted marketing messages, promotions, and other sales- and engagement-related content that is likely to appeal to that particular segment of people.
For example, an online store should have very clear methods in place to separate male and female customers and speak to them differently. They should do the same if the customers coming to their website are teens or middle-aged, new or return customers, and based on how they arrived at the site.
In its most basic form this can be accomplished with well thought out website navigation. For instance, dividing an online clothing store into Boy’s, Girl’s, Men’s, and Women’s sections provides instant segmentation based on who the visitor is. But the real value of targeting to online retailers comes in how visitors get to your site and what you establish as the first impression when they get there.
Pay-per-click (PPC) ads, Google Product ads, and other similar advertising options offer an excellent opportunity to laser-target specific audience segments and bring them to your site. If you create an effective landing page or offer that is just as targeted to that segment, your chances of boosting conversion and revenue are much higher.
For example, by targeting a particular Google ad to men aged 35-55 who live in Minnesota, you can be fairly sure that a landing page announcing an incredible deal on men’s brand name fleece-lined winter jackets will convert pretty well. Far better than a link to your home page where that same man will need to dig down six layers to find that same offer.
What is product personalization and how is it done?
Personalization for ecommerce stores picks up on the site where targeting leaves off. While it’s not easy to adjust site content based on specific targeting segments once the visitor is there, it is possible to further personalize the shopping experience for visitors who have already provided some clues as to what they’re personally interested in.
One method that many online retailers have found to be extremely effective is installing a recommendation engine on their site. This software constantly takes in information about the visitor as he or she navigates the site. Based on where they click, how they engage, and where they spend their time, the engine will present personalized product recommendations that are most likely to appeal to that individual.
These recommendations can be combined with targeting information and data from previous visits by the same individual to further tailor what products or offers are suggested.
For example, a site visitor who previously purchased a pair of designer boots and is now hunting around the site looking at a dozen different types of sweaters can receive a recommendation to check out a designer brand sweater that is currently on sale. Based on their past purchase and current behavior, there’s a good chance they’ll appreciate that recommendation.
Using targeting and personalization together
So, in a nutshell, targeting is driven by the retailer and personalization is driven by the visitor. Both are powerful tools in the hands of an online retailer, and should be considered indispensable.
The most effective online stores will take advantage of both targeting and personalization to enhance their customers’ shopping experience, improve engagement, and boost sales by ensuring the right person gets the right message at the right time.
If you’d like more information, dowload this guide to discover how personalization can work for your ecommerce store.