As we start the lead-up to Black Friday (Wait?! What?! Isn’t that like five months away!), we held a Product Recommendations Webinar – specifically goals, data, and best practices on an ecommerce site.
As usual, our panel of experts was not only fun to listen to but they shared practical information about recommendations and the personalization process. Our panel included:
Van Schlichting, Director of Strategy at Overdose
Carlos Barrero, Strategic Partner Manager, Technology at Klaviyo
Neil Lofgren, Principal Architect at Searchspring
We start each webinar by getting to know the audience and their goals. This audience had the most interest in understanding “personal product recommendations” which aligns perfectly with research we conducted late in 2021 – personalization and recommendations topped our survey.
Recommendations Webinar Sections:
- What are the goals we are trying to accomplish with recommendations
- Data to collect with recommendations
- Recommendations best practices.
There are many reasons to use recommendations. But before we simply set up the tactics, what are the goals we should achieve?
We talked about creating goals for cross-selling, upselling, average cart size, repeat purchases, lifetime value, average order value, engagement, and more.
That’s a lot. In fact, it is too much to get started.
The panel suggested we start with lifetime value. Nothing could be more important than understanding who your most valuable customers are. Plus, lifetime value is one of the ways you know marketing is working. Set your sights on a customer segment, market to them, and measure the outcomes. Is that segment buying more? Are they more valuable? Where is that segment along the buyer journey?
Next we turned our attention to the data collected by your site and the best way to use it in decision making and drive an improved shopper experience. At the most basic level, the data needed for quality recommendations is both transaction data from your shopping cart and shopper behavior data. Where are shoppers clicking? Where are they adding items to the cart? What are the pages they are visiting and how long do shoppers stay on those pages? These data points fuel the recommendations engine and help to guide shoppers on their journey of discovery.
Remember to also collect a few other metrics along the way, like how long shoppers stay on certain pages and even how much time a shopper spends with certain content. You may find hidden opportunities as you examine shopper behavior.
Recommendations Best Practices:
Look to supplement first-party data with zero-party data. How can you get to know your shoppers better? Can you interact with them by giving them polls or asking for more information that they will freely give? Building relationships in this way is critically important.
Connect data to a shopper persona. Shoppers have preferences and intent. As you begin marketing for the purposes of recommendations, build categories of shoppers to help shortcut communication and be more accurate in targeting. But remember that all shoppers are not alike. Personas are a great way to understand shoppers, but don’t forget to look at individual behaviors to understand how to make recommendations truly “sing.”
Serve recommendations in a variety of places on your site, including places you think shoppers might least expect it and most appreciate it. An example of this is a 404 page or zero-search results page (do you still have those? If so, I know a company that can help :-).
Recommendation page placement is important. Take the same care you do to merchandise collection pages with how you merchandise recommendations.
Don’t forget to use recommendations in places off site. This includes SMS and email communications. These distribution methods are incredibly powerful, so harness their power – especially with recommendations.
The most interesting thing to me as the moderator of these webinars is how often three key concepts for success repeat themselves:
Collecting and using transaction and behavior data to inform decisions
Success happens when merchants collaborate across the entire organization – IT, purchasing, marketing, customer success, etc. Everyone in the company owns the customer journey.
Remember that a human is on the other side of your transaction. While you need to interpret data points, do not forget that each data point represents a real person who is trying to communicate and accomplish a real activity.
Every webinar is interesting and has fantastic takeaways, but these three items are the universal truths of ecommerce. As we prepare for Black Friday, remember to give the people we are counting on us to help make occasions special amazing shopping experiences.
Watch the entire Product Recommendations Webinar and be sure to check out our Black Friday / Cyber Monday Content Hub to make sure you’re ready to #WinBlackFriday