Data and Your Website
The last 15 years have been very exciting in the beauty and luxury space, where brands have gone from competing with each other to competing with retailers and now are competing for customers’ time and attention. With this evolving trend, the way brands interact with their customers has changed drastically, and the motivation to innovate is at its peak. This innovation is coming in various areas like virtual try-on applications, personalized product recommendation tools, quiz-based recommendation tools, the use of AI, and machine learning to help find the right products, and more. The key is to collect c u s tome r data, then turn it into knowledge to drive engaging, relevant, and personalized customer experience.
Market places (e.g., Amazon, TMall, Rakuten, etc.) and retailers (e.g., Macy’s, Nordstrom, etc.) have done wonders for selling products for brands, but they do not share any customer data with them which is not ideal for brands aspiring to be customer-centric. In a 2016 report, IBM Marketing Cloud noted that 90 percent of the data in the world was created in the last two years, and the rate of data creation will only accelerate. How can brands take advantage of all this data? This is where having a direct to consumer channel becomes key, a channel like your Brand Website.
Looking at your website as a commerce channel only would be a major faux pas. It is your portal to customer knowledge! The customer data that you collect on your website can help drive marketing and communication strategies, product development, forecasting, media allocation decisions, etc.
The key is to collect customer data, then turn it into knowledge to drive engaging, relevant, and personalized customer experience
This data can come from your web analytics tool (i.e., Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Clicky, Clicktale), site optimization tool if you have one (e.g. SessionCam, Heap, ContentSquare), purchase behavior from the sales on your site, customer services tools (i.e. live chat, chatbots) and so on.
Here are some of the customer insights that you can get from the browsing, interaction, and purchase data on your site:
• How they browse the site? Where are they clicking?
• What is their journey? Home page to the category to the product, via on-site search, coming directly from a search engine to a product page, etc.
• What pages are they spending most of their time on?
• How is content performing? Are people spending time on videos, tutorials before making a purchase?
• What products are they searching? What kind of search results is driving sales vs. abandons?
• At what point of their journey did they abandon their cart?
• What products are on their wish list? What are their communication preferences, interests?
• What devices are they browsing or shopping on (desktop, mobile tablets)?
• What are they purchasing? Product combinations, sets, single items.
• What motivates them, free shipping, discounts, gifts with purchase, etc.?
• What kind of campaigns do they respond to best? Is the customer purchasing only after receiving an email campaign? Are they responding to site-wide promotion?
• Replenishment cycles, for beauty customers, how often are they buying the same product, e.g. moisturizer, cleanser.
• Are they cross-category shoppers or stick to the same product line?
• Do they share their purchases on social media? Are they recommending products to friends via the web?
• How many customers are using live chat vs. FAQs vs. chatbots?
This list can go on but let me highlight some of the ways these insights can be used to influence the customer experience and the brand/customer relationship.
With all this information, you can start personalizing the channels where your customer is interacting with your brand directly like the website, app, or even in your brick and mortar stores. The personalization can come in the form of product recommendations, personalized content, guided selling, site navigation, product sorting, and search (including the no results page).
In addition to the above, the communication to the customer can be specific to their preferences, likes, and dislikes. Whether you are sending a ship/order confirmation email, back in stock notification, birthday/anniversary message, an abandoned cart recovery note, a WeChat registration message you can create an opportunity to cross-sell, upsell and highlight customer centricity by including product recommendations and/or a piece of content that will resonate with them.
The interaction and behavioral statistics will provide data points to start optimizing the customer experience on your brand website. You will be able to identify pain points in the checkout funnel, page load times, unreported bugs, ineffective content (e.g., images, text, and videos), checkout forms, etc. to be able to redesign and create a frictionless path to purchase.
You can measure how some of the third-party integrations you have on your website are performing by looking at purchase behavior and data. For example, if you have a provider for ratings/reviews, you can check to see how many buyers are looking at reviews before making a purchase. Depending on this information, you can choose to continue to invest in getting buyers to write more post-purchase reviews. Similarly, if User Generated Content (UGC) is showing value based on the buying patterns of your customers, it will be a worthwhile investment.
I have only touched the surface of what is possible using the data you collect on your website. The main takeaway here is to build good customer knowledge to drive better customer experience.