Data-Driven Visitor Segmentation Strategies for E-Commerce Personalize Online Experience

You’re probably already segmenting web visitors in some way, but have you ever considered all the actions that customers take on your website beyond what you usually focus on:

  • What products or site areas are visitors hovering their cursor over? How long are visitors spending on particular product pages and what percent are they viewing?
  • Are there missed opportunities for advanced segmentation based on email interactions?
  • Are you combining segments to create even more targeted marketing opportunities?
  • If you’ve never thought beyond basic customer lists, now is the time!

Read on this article to get you thinking outside the box when it comes to segmentation.

Data-Driven Visitor Segmentation Strategies for E-Commerce Personalize Online Experience.
Data-Driven Visitor Segmentation Strategies for E-Commerce Personalize Online Experience. Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Content Summary

First Impressions
Building Blocks for Segment Profiles
Using Data to Create Relevant Marketing
Use Data and Make Marketing Relevant
Use Pop-Ups to Create a Relevant Welcome Series That Converts
Continue the Journey Alongside the Customer
The Journey to Relevant Marketing Continues
Make Marketing Relevant
Reinforce offsite channels

Visitor segmentation is one of the best ways to increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. At its core, visitor segmentation is when marketers group site visitors into segments based on broad characteristics. But in this day and age, that’s not enough. Businesses need to take it a step further by combining data and automation into actionable insights to personalize your visitor’s online experience from the very start.

In this article, we’ll cover how to leverage onsite interactional data with powerful segmentation strategies to create targeted email marketing campaigns (and beyond) designed to engage and convert. Let’s check it out.

First Impressions

It all starts when a shopper lands on your website for the first time and begins their experience with your brand. As they navigate your website, they leave behind a data trail that helps you understand more about them and craft a relevant, personalized buyer persona.

One of the most effective ways you can collect helpful information about first-time visitors is through welcome promotions. This is the first step in creating a relevant welcome series that converts.

There are several ways to optimize the welcome engagement through the type of information you collect. This depends on the channels you use, types of products you sell, and for those who are advanced, data specifically geared towards getting visitors to self-select into established personas and/or segments.

Take the welcome offer below. It requests the general contact information typically found in new visitor promotions but takes it a step further by asking the visitor what type of athlete they are. For this sports retailer, this helps them immediately target new subscribers with products aimed at their preferred workout type. You wouldn’t send a soccer player an email about the latest basketball shoes, right? Instant personalization.

By letting visitors self-select into established groups, you can quickly begin implementing automated campaigns.

Consider what information would be helpful to know when creating more relevant messaging for new subscribers and figure out how to collect it. Hidden fields can be used for traffic source, campaign attribution, geo-location, and more. Signup data can include interest indicators like the sports shop example above. Now you’ve got a more complete picture of each visitor that extends beyond just a name and email address for more relevant targeting and messaging right from the start.

You’ll need to implement these individualized experiences across channels for a genuinely personal omnichannel experience, engaging shoppers where they want to interact with your brand. For many, their preferred channel is SMS, a powerful and growing supplemental tool to more established channels like email.

This means the contact information you’re asking for in welcome promotions should be for the channel your audience wants to hear from you on. From there, you’ll be able to target them with custom experiences and content that deepens their relationship with your brand, adding in other channels as they move through their journey, ultimately ending in a purchase.

Now that we’ve begun to collect information from visitors, it’s time to create the segments and micro-segments you’ll focus on building.

Building Blocks for Segment Profiles

What goes into your larger buying segments and refined micro-segments is the result not only of customer data but also your business’s marketing goals and resources.

There are the basic segments that every retailer has: new visitors, repeat customers, abandoned carts, and perpetual window shoppers. But these broad groups paint only the most simplistic picture of consumers, creating a fraction of the customized experience that shoppers increasingly expect. You’ll need to take a more granular look, combining basic demographic and interaction data with more information like:

  • Purchase Behavior
  • Location
  • Offsite Campaign Engagement
  • Current & Past Searches
  • Strategic
  • Opt-In Data
  • Cart Contents
  • Device Type
  • AOV
  • Current & Past Browsing Behavior

Let’s take a look at some segment templates that can get you started with a more in-depth visitor segmentation strategy plus strategies to appeal to their needs.

Segment Name: New Visitor

Description: Visitors coming to your site for the first time

Targeting Strategy: Yes, this is a basic segment but for these visitors–this is, for the most part, their only defining trait so far. You’ll want to use a welcome promotion to turn first-time anonymous traffic into a known quantity. After they are opt-in you can start a profile based on the URL opted in on, location, and their contact info. More compelling website attributes can be:

  • Traffic Source: Depending on how these visitors came to your site, they’ll have different levels of knowledge. Organic search traffic may have little to no idea who you are, while social media sources may have had their interest piqued by something specific–tailor your messaging accordingly.
  • Desktop v. Mobile: For mobile visitors, you can use a welcome promotion to collect phone numbers for two-click texting opt-ins. This streamlines their subscription process, reducing barriers, and optimizing their mobile experience.

Segment Name: VIP Shoppers

Description: Loyal customers who spend more than your AOV by X%

Targeting Strategy: These are your most valuable customers, you have a long history and know-how to appeal to them. Use that knowledge to create automated campaigns on their preferred channel (Email, SMS, Push, etc.) that include loyalty program messaging and tout the VIP benefits they’ve earned. Let them know how close they are to moving up a benefit tier or when known events like birthdays or anniversaries occur.

Segment Name: Coupon Clippers

Description: Repeat buyers who only purchase with a coupon code

Targeting Strategy: Customers with a history of purchasing only when offered a coupon. Appeal to them with targeted discounts with limited-time offers to drive action and close the sale. The key is to use unique coupons so you aren’t losing margins with site-wide sales.

Segment Name: Window Shoppers

Description: Repeat website visitor but has never completed a purchase.

Targeting Strategy: These perpetual browsers return frequently to your site to click through pages and yet have never committed. Leverage FOMO with limited time offers social proof and quantity-focused messaging. If they don’t purchase now, they may not get to. Another type of window shopper is just a hesitant consumer who will respond to targeted information like return policies and satisfaction ratings.

Segment Name: Gifter

Description: Customers who made only one purchase. These are especially common around the holidays or special events.

Targeting Strategy: Gifters are especially common around the December holidays but are found throughout the year as well for special events. For these one-time purchasers, use automated campaigns starting one-month before their purchase date with related product content to catch their eye and make gift-buying easy.

Segment Name: Researchers

Description: Visitors who spend lots of time exploring product or category pages.

Targeting Strategy: Website visitors who spend long periods on your website, either on specific product pages or categories. They’ll comb through reviews, product specs, etc. over several visits. Target this segment with detail-specific messaging offsite to drive traffic and supply more information. Depending on your industry, influencer marketing and other more interactive forms of content may be extremely effective.

Segment Name: Distant Buyers

Description: Customers who have made multiple purchases but not within the last 3 months.

Targeting Strategy: These are customers who haven’t been back in a few months and need to be reactivated. A new arrivals campaign centered around their purchase category can spark interest and renewed loyalty.

Segment Name: Repeat Abandoners

Description: Visitors who may or may not have made purchases but regularly leave items in their cart.

Targeting Strategy: These may or may not be customers, but they are serial cart abandoners. Find your most highly abandoned URLs and run targeted exit offers on them to close sales and potentially reveal the underlying reason. Combine this with reminder campaigns to drive these shoppers back to your website and onsite messaging of their cart contents.

Segment Name: Small orders

Description: Customers who convert often but at a consistently low order value.

Targeting Strategy: A high-converting segment but one with a consistently below-average order value is revenue growth waiting to happen. Target these customers with onsite product recommendations and automated campaigns after orders with complementary products.

These are just a few examples of dialed-in consumer segments that can be targeted using a variety of on and offsite campaigns. More complex segmentation strategies could break these segments into micro-segments with specific conditions like discount tier triggers, single product shoppers, search terms, purchase intention, etc. The key is to prioritize a few segments that represent the biggest opportunity value to test and revise. Demonstrating a deeper understanding of your website visitors improves the customer’s experience with your brand while getting you a step closer towards uncovering opportunities for revenue growth.

Using Data to Create Relevant Marketing

Use Data and Make Marketing Relevant

The customer experience has been evolving over the past several years, and shoppers have grown weary of the same-old-same-old marketing attempts. According to Epsilon, 63% of consumers agree that personalization is now a standard service expected from brands and retailers.

Frankly put, batch-and-blast messaging is no longer good enough. Even so, many retailers are struggling to find ways to create more relevant marketing.

As consumers increasingly look to connect with brands through the channel of their choosing—whether that’s email, SMS, Facebook Messenger, push notifications, or all of them—it is up to retailers to find solutions to provide more relevant marketing in an easy-to-implement way where customers want it.

To best do this, retailers need to evaluate the shoppers’ experience from the earliest starting point and find ways to optimize the journey at each step. This is where data and automation intersect.

As we talked about earlier, onsite promotions are one of the best ways to collect information, behavior, and other data points from your visitors. The true potential of your pop-ups is up to you, by making sure you’re asking for information that helps create a forward-thinking welcome series.

Welcome messages are commonly some of the most read messages sent from a retailer’s email program. Based on the retailer, open rates can average anywhere from 50-80%. With customer attention being bombarded with so many emails, finding ways to stand out can be the difference between securing a sale or not.

As covered earlier in chapter one, make sure you’re collecting information in your pop-ups that can be put to immediate use in your emails to help you stand out from your competitors.

Here’s an example of how to do this with sign-up data. Let’s say you are a fashion & apparel retailer who sells both menswear and womenswear. Including a field on the pop-up asking for their gender would allow you to trigger a welcome series designed to engage that specific shopper.

Knowing the subscriber is female, you can send a welcome series that features a female hero image, verbiage that most resonates with females, recommend female-specific products, and that even includes a custom navigation bar.

Message two, three, and beyond can all vary based on that same piece of information. Message two could center around top-rated female products, Instagram influencer-approved fashion trends, new seasonal fashion trends, or accessories, to name a few.

On the other side, think about how you could change this messaging for your male visitors. Maybe they are more interested in graphic tees, dress shirts, or sports shorts, and care less about Instagram influencers.

In addition to product-specific messaging, you can also highlight the value-adds that may matter to individual customer segments. Female customers may care more about return and exchange policies whereas your male customers may care more about the speed of shipping. By capturing key pieces of information you can easily create and automate more relevant messages that differentiate your brand from competitors.

Customized welcome messages such as these have seen increased opens, click, and conversion rates, as well as up to a nearly 8,000% increase in revenue per email (RPE) over generic welcome series messages. A little relevance goes a long way.

Continue the Journey Alongside the Customer

Email is just one aspect of the new subscriber journey. Forward-thinking retailers are collecting mobile numbers to grow their SMS marketing database—and for a good reason. The average ROI for the SMS channel for Omnisend customers is 2,755%.

SMS is a natural communication channel in today’s world, but from a brand perspective, it is important to understand how consumers use it. SMS is best used as a complementary tool to email, not a replacement for it.

Eighty-three-percent of Gen Z, which is now the largest generational cohort in the US, expects to maintain or increase their email usage over the next several years. SMS is a natural channel for them—combining the two increases the messages’ effectiveness. Campaigns with three or more channels are experiencing 17.3% higher click-through rates and a 287% higher purchase rate.

Consider how an SMS message can enhance an already relevant welcome series. If you include a promotional discount in the welcome message and the shopper hasn’t converted after the series has completed, reminding them of the offer via SMS before expiration can create a sense of urgency that pushes them over the edge. And unlike email marketing, 90% of SMS messages are read within the first three minutes, making it the perfect channel for sending time-sensitive messages that can capture a sale.

The Journey to Relevant Marketing Continues

Now, you may have a welcome series that contains not only relevant content but also has an SMS strategy layered into it. But that doesn’t mean your goal of delivering relevant marketing is done. Savvy retailers will assess each stop along the customer journey to find opportunities to automate more relevant messages.

Consider, for instance, the shopper who explores your website but only goes as far as putting a product inside of their shopping cart. They have shown interest in your products but were not compelled to make a purchase. This is the type of customer that needs relevant messaging to guide them forward, but far too often, the default is generic batch-and-blast messages.

Retailers can automate product-specific messages to would-be shoppers based on what they were viewing. If a would-be customer was browsing suits and left they could be sent an email featuring top-rated suits and information value-adds, such as customer reviews and return policies. These messages are relevant and timely and can be very effective in driving them down the path to purchase.

Using other interactional data, retailers can create extended automated product abandonment workflows for those who aren’t quite ready to purchase. This gives them full control to create personalized, multichannel messages in the product abandonment workflow.

Using segmentation data to deliver more relevant messages to potential customers is only one part of the journey. For consumers, the brand experience begins after the purchase. Creating a more personalized post-purchase experience can mean the difference between a one-time shopper and a brand advocate—a fact too many companies overlook.

This post-purchase experience starts the moment they complete their order, and it happens with two distinct—yet simultaneous—approaches: the transactional and relational.

The transactional stage consists of order-related messages, such as order and shipping confirmation messages. Retailers can enhance this experience by keeping them updated on their order through their preferred channels—building trust in the brand.

In the relational phase, retailers can nurture the relationship with their customers. Instead of sending the next batch-promotional campaign to a recent customer, retailers could send a message thanking them for their order.

Then follow it up with other non-traditional messages featuring alternative ways to engage with the brand:

  • Asking them to share photos of their products on social media
  • Including more personalized promotional emails with product recommendations
  • Adding in a complimentary SMS message for those who opted in

Retailers who want to create great customer experience will think about how these messaging strategies would change for first-time customers versus repeat customers. With first-time customers, retailers may want to focus more on the brand story and making sure customers have all of the tools necessary to feel comfortable with their purchase—eventually leading them toward a repeat purchase.

Repeat customers may not need the same brand introductions and hand-holding. Instead, the messaging could focus on the fact they are, in fact, repeat customers. These messages could feature loyalty point information, more robust cross-sells, VIP discounts, and include “sharable” messaging that helps them become brand advocates.

The possibilities are limitless. Post-purchase messages like these have proven to be some of the most high-converting messages sent from retailers’ email programs—with some messages generating RPE increases 1,700% greater than promotional messages.

Make Marketing Relevant

Today’s consumers are in control of their shopping experience, and they are the ones choosing where they prefer to interact with brands. They are quick to tune out messaging that does not relate to them or meet their needs. The retailers who will thrive in the new consumer world are the ones who listen and respond accordingly.

Luckily, gone are the days where a team of data scientists is needed to use information in a meaningful way. All the data you need to send the right message at the right time via the right channel is at your fingertips. Make sure you’re prepared to meet your customers’ expectations.

Reinforce offsite channels

After creating these segmented offsite campaigns, you’ll need to create an onsite experience to reinforce it. This is the key to deepening customers’ relationship with your brand and creating an environment optimized for conversions.

UTM parameters are the best way to continue a segment’s experience from an email once they’ve clicked through to your site. Depending on the segment and wherein their customer journey they are, this can mean a variety of things. Driving traffic to relevant pages or content, reflecting email messaging onsite, relevant product page cross-sells, and more are all examples of continuing a segmented experience across touchpoints.

This continuity improves their overall website experience, helping your personalized messages resonate within each segment. The more consistent you can be with your brand’s messaging, the more trustworthy and authentic you will be perceived.

Your onsite experience is where shoppers will make their ultimate purchase decision. Make sure that your marketing funnel is optimized and keeps visitors focused on what you want them to do: convert.

Visitor segmentation is the foundation of creating a relevant brand experience, a system for how you’ll communicate with audiences who are fundamentally different and provides context for their data.

From thorough data collection, a well thought out approach to target segments, and finally, automated personalized messages — it’s no small task to scale effective segmentation. However, the work is worth the time investment.

Fine-tune your data collection and segmentation and you’ll uncover a new understanding of your most valuable visitors, how to target their motivation, and ultimately, guide them to convert again and again.

Source: Justuno