by Adam Sutton
, Senior Reporter
"One-to-one personalization" is one of the many buzzwords of e-retail. E-commerce sites want to customize marketing so thoroughly so every visitor receives a unique and targeted experience.
Brandon Proctor, VP Marketing, Build.com, is working toward that ideal. He says an incremental approach makes the most sense.
"I am a firm believer that it is a lot easier to increase 1,000 things by 1% than it is to increase one thing by 1,000%," he said.
Build.com works hard to improve its conversion rate. Itís the number-two home improvement e-retailer in North America, even though competitors have more than ten-times its site traffic, Proctor said.
Hereís one way Build.com increased conversion rates by up to 6% for traffic from its biggest affiliate partners.
Step #1. Find a gap in the experience
Build.comís affiliate traffic is driven primarily by coupons, Proctor said. The team works with a number of couponing sites to help attract more traffic and sales.
Shoppers who use coupon or promo codes often follow this path:
- Shopper begins the checkout process at Build.com
- Sees the "promo code" box
- Leaves the site to search for a code
- Finds one on a coupon website
- Clicks "copy to clipboard"
- Then, they are automatically routed to Build.comís homepage
The trouble begins at step five when people click "copy to clipboard," Proctor said.
"To a lot of people, that doesnít mean anything," he explained. "They donít actually understand what just happened. They donít understand the concept of using CTRL-v or [Command-v] to paste this information."
Instead, some shoppers are confused after returning to Build.com. This creates a gap in the shopping experience, Proctor said, which provides an opportunity to increase the conversion rate.
Step #2. Fill the gap
Instead of leaving shoppers to figure out the next step, Build.com wanted to make them feel like they were on the right path.
"If somebody is going through this, you want to make sure they are clearly continuing on the purchase process," Proctor said.
The team planned to target these visitors with a custom banner when they arrived on the site. Build.com only did this for visitors arriving from its top affiliate partners, who constitute about 60% of the siteís affiliate traffic.
Step #3. Track referring URLs
The team identified its affiliate traffic by tracking the URLs referring shoppers to its site. By analyzing the URLs, the team can detect:
- Referring site
- Coupon code or affiliate ID copied by the shopper
- Corresponding discount or offer
"We parse all of that stuff to make sure that we know exactly whatís going on," Proctor said.
The team can use this information to determine the best message to deliver to continue the shopping experience.
Step #4. Display a custom banner
When visitors return to Build.com, they first see an overlay ad
with the following information:
- Welcome message mentioning the referring site
- Emphasis of the discount or offer the shopper is using
- Reminder of the code
A similar banner
follows the shopper throughout the website
for the duration of the visit. This approach is also used on other websites the company owns, such as FaucetDirect.com. This makes it easier for shoppers to reference the code, and it reinforces the discount offer.
"This ensures they donít have to actually go to another tab and open something else up. It just follows them through the process," Proctor said.
Step #5. Continue the evolution
Home improvement is an intimidating market for consumers, Proctor said. His team wants to make its shopping experience as pain-free as possible by personalizing it on an individual level. The campaign described above is a small part of that evolution.
"Itís an evolution, not a revolution," Proctor said. "Our goal is to [separate shoppers] into different unique segments and continue to do that until we have got to a one-to-one relationship."
Build.com creates its personalization solutions in-house. Itís striving to learn more about its customers combining data from its Web analytics, purchase history and other areas into a central data mart. The team plans to mine this warehouse for insights that can power its personalization.
For example, if the team discovered customers who buy Product A have a 75% chance of buying Product B within the next 30 days, it can use that information to personalize the experience. The site can show Product B to these customers so they donít have to dig for it.
"I look at it as the thoughtless shopping experience," Proctor said. "Our ultimate goal is to make sure this is so simple and so easy that people donít even have to think about it."
- Overlay ad for promo code
- Promo code banner on homepage
- Promo code banner following the shopper
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