From product recommendations to triggered emails, personalization has been proven to improve engagement and conversion among online customers. Some surveys state that 59% of online marketers experience good ROI after personalizing their online sites.

Personalization has been around for a long time, but now ecommerce is leading the way in defining the next generation of customer experience with rich personalization. Technology has continued to enable more and greater innovations. Marketers are able to deliver one-on-one communications to customers based on real-time behavior, preferences and data. As the industry gets more sophisticated through the use of big data and real time access to information, the role of personalization will only get more important and impactful.

On January 30th, 2014, MITX hosted its third annual What’s Next e-Commerce Summit at Google in Cambridge. Evergage was a proud sponsor of the event. Industry expertsincluding retailers, ecommerce professionals and marketers were brought together in one room to share ideas in marketing innovation, technology, and customer experiences. The three hot topics were: examples of creating relevant customer experiences, personalization and mobile. I was fortunate to take part on a panel called “Data-Driven Personalization,” along with Elaine Boltz, SVP E-commerce of TJX, Andrea Black, Associate Director, Marketing of Joss & Main, and Vikalp Tandon, Content and CRM Lead of SapientNitro. We discussed the many ways in which businesses can track individuals through the customer journey and leverage the data to strategically serve up content tailored to them in an effort to influence the buying process.

An example is that your website should act as your very best consultative salesperson. If I walk into a local ski shop, within 30 seconds of me being there, the clerk will find out the following three things about me:

1.     Relationship with the company: Am I new or returning customer?

2.     Persona: Am I a skier or snowboarder? Beginner, intermediate or advanced?

3.     Intent: Buying today or just browsing?

Based on RPI, the salesperson will treat me differently. He or she will guide me in the right direction and help me achieve my goal. Now shouldn’t your website be doing the same thing? We are working with ecommerce companies to turn behavioral data and timing into a deep understanding of Relationship, Persona and Intent – and then giving them the ability to respond in real-time, right in the website experience with relevant personalization.

Let’s revisit the ski shop but this time online. The site instantly recognizes that I am a new visitor and that I have not purchased before. It identifies that I am a beginner skier by the fact that I just finished reading articles on how to ski. It understands my intent to buy a new jacket since I have spent 20 minutes and three visits in that category. Since I have not purchased but the interest is there, the site offers me a discount to buy. By recognizing my interest, they targeted me with a relevant offer at the right time, resulting in the purchase of a great jacket.

At Evergage, we believe that personalization for ecommerce sites is a must. Marketers think this is a grueling process and that they don’t have the time, but given the technology that exists it can be done without IT. Here are three simple steps to get you started:

1.     Invest in a technology – talk and work with real-time web personalization experts

2.     Make a map of your visitors’ behaviors – personas and intents

3.     Start with the top one or two that you want to target, then grow from there

On Blueport Commerce’s Blog, they noted three key takeaways from our panel:

1.     Data has a shelf life so act quickly

2.     Make a map of persona intent – if you know who you customers are and can understand their intentions, you can use that data to increase conversion

3.     Remove noise from the signals to help you make informed decisions

Look for our new whitepaper on RPI coming soon. You can watch the panel in action here on YouTube!