Optimizing the Ecommerce Customer Journey With AI-Driven Personalization
5 Minute Read
Over the past decade, personalization shifted from a nice-to-have for businesses to a must-have, and there is plenty of data to back it up. A 2021 McKinsey & Company survey found 78% of consumers prefer brands that personalize the experience and are willing to make repeat purchases with them. More and more, data shows that personalization is a key component of creating exceptional customer experiences that deliver.
Consumers expect and demand personalization on more than just the basics, too. These days, personalization must go beyond getting customers' names right, having data ready on support calls, and tailoring special offers. Forrester's Customer Experience Benchmark Survey found that 75% of brands are putting significant investment into personalization efforts that are focused on convenience and authentic connections, so it’s time to keep up with the competition. Forming genuine customer relationships through custom interactions is the best way to do that today.
In today's environment, where customers are demanding increased customization, a fumble can be costly. Even something as simple as attaching a customer’s name to an email that isn’t relevant can contribute to lost trust in your brand. According to Twilio's 2022 State of Personalization Report, as many as 62% of consumers will change brands after a failed or non-personalized experience.
Although it's obviously important, many businesses still lack personalization. If your business is in a similar situation, here's what you're missing out on.
Benefits of Personalization in Ecommerce
One of personalization’s most significant benefits is the data gained while getting there. That critical insight will provide a deep, nuanced understanding of your customers. The information you collect during the research and implementation process helps with real-time decision-making using the most recent data. As you continue gathering real-time behavioral data, AI-led data collection enables hyper-personalization by giving you custom touchpoints for users depending on where they are in their journey. It also frees up your time to focus on making your CX creative, unique, and inclusive.
Without personalization, brands risk inconsistency across channels, especially as digital touchpoints continue to expand. Unoptimized marketing will struggle to deliver a return on investment (ROI) or conversion because of bounces and abandonment.
A study from Adobe found 10% of your customer base spends 300% more than your average customer. Fewer repeat shoppers mean a loss of revenue per shopper, leading to overall revenue loss as people struggle to convert. Flat or decreasing profitability causes margins to narrow against the rising business costs.
Without customer personalization, brands like yours can’t connect customers with solutions. You also miss the opportunity to make customers feel “seen,” which plays a key role in the modern consumer's purchasing decisions. When today’s customers feel acknowledged and unique, their loyalty grows, and they’re willing to spend more. Customers who feel invisible or, worse, like the brand doesn’t care won’t become customers at all.
So, why do businesses risk it? We have identified three leading causes of a lack of personalization.
1. Manual Effort
The most significant barrier to customer experience (CX) is the effort it takes — having the right analytics, finding a story in the data, and jumping on the right opportunity. Siloed tech stacks make it even harder to piece together data from multiple sources and find the complete story. Validation, implementation, and experimentation are often heavier lifts than many organizations can handle, especially right out of the gate. Not to mention that six in seven A/B tests fail, which means testing is time-consuming (for humans, anyway). Generative AI tools are flooding into the market to help speed up experimentation and save wasted effort. For example, Evolv’s text-to-design technology instantly creates visual web page changes from a text description without design or dev support.
2. Weak Ecommerce Personalization Strategy
CX requires skills from journey design thinking and data modeling to implementation and measurement. Not all companies have access to skilled resources, which hinders personalization plans. We must understand different inputs and micro behaviors and learn what to personalize, test, and iterate on. All of these efforts require onboarding experienced labor or upskilling existing employees.
3. Myopic Mindset
Companies don't always have the resources to start CX when getting underway, which means it often gets left behind. When CX is not core to the brand, companies face increased internal resistance to adoption. Because strategy is so critical to personalization success, brands need to be forward-thinking from the start or get on board ASAP.
The Benefits of Artificial Intelligence
Humans and AI are natural complements of each other. While we excel at creativity and strategy, AI far surpasses us when it comes to data and decision-making. Gartner estimates organizations using AI across marking functions will shift 75% of staff operations from production to strategic tasks. Emphasizing human-in-the-loop generative AI gives us the best of both worlds — the duality between automation and human interaction.
Most websites and marketing appeal to a general audience, which is why they largely look the same to consumers. The reality is that buyers are on a unique journey with behavioral nuances that too often go unnoticed or unattended to in digital spaces. AI will help us return to brick-and-mortar cues, exploring micro-decisions across touchpoints at scale. This helps us humanize digital and peel back unnecessary layers from the CX that are damaging to the core desired outcome.
AI provides four significant benefits you can leverage right now.
1. Raise Engagement With Hyper-Personalization
AI is quickly transforming the e-commerce industry by automatically making decisions about experiments that resonate with unique segments of your audience. This can lead to progressively better experiences over time to drive more value, and a much larger scale and faster pace than would even be possible with a human.
2. Save Time and Money
Many businesses reduce their marketing budgets during a downturn to save money and focus on core operations. This is a challenge for digital marketers, who must work with reduced budgets and fewer resources to achieve their goals. Because of how much clarity it provides about what is working and what isn’t, AI is a powerful tool for maximizing your ROI/ROAS. More than that, less strain on teammates and internal resources means you maximize time spent on tactics and strategy with your team while AI (and Evolv) does the heavy lifting.
3. Stand Out From the Crowd
The pandemic made a permanent impact on consumer behaviors, which impacted e-commerce. Brick-and-mortar shoppers had to change their behaviors and embrace online and digital shopping experiences. This pattern shift made competition fiercer and more prominent, meaning the brands with the best CX are winning out. It also shifted customer preferences and the demand for convenience. The more we understand how consumers want to engage with brands, the more tailored the conversations become. Want one-click payment options? Want more channels than phone and email to communicate? We can better understand friction points, identify high-volume channels, and double down on the most convenient options to continue evolving to customer demands. AI enables predictive analysis to pull you ahead of the competition and get your message heard.
4. Discover and Adapt to Your Customer
Economic downturns also lead to changes in consumer behavior, as people become more cautious with their spending and more selective about the products and services they purchase. This makes it more difficult for digital marketers to predict and understand consumer behavior and effectively tailor their campaigns and messages. AI will automate the learning process and gather data about your customers at every step, allowing you to understand and adapt to behavioral changes quickly and easily.
Your Evolving Future
AI-led personalization is the future of digital marketing. If you're already behind the curve, Evolv AI is here to help. We use AI to automatically discover, personalize, and serve progressively better journeys by continuously adapting to live user behavior.
Stay ahead of the competition with Evolv AI, using hyper-personal messaging that predicts customer behavior at every digital touchpoint. When the reward means increased engagement and retention while setting your brand apart from the pack, you can’t afford to wait.
Want to see how your team can benefit from AI? Book a 20-minute demo today.
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