We, as online retailers, constantly develop new ways to earn our visitors’ trust. We work on convincing designs, building community, collecting social proof and everything in between. In other words, we do everything we can to gain trust for our brand in hopes that it will pay off. But maybe we’re looking in the wrong place. What if instead of putting a high focus on generating traffic we started playing the retention game and personalization. Conversion rates are cheaper to optimize than traffic and besides, all of this is pointless if everyone bails.
There’s an easy method that could make your site even more persuasive and increase conversion rates through the use of personalized campaigns. And yes, plenty of ways to test them.
To set up personalized campaigns and landing pages you can use data like purchase history, on-site activity and social interests. In my experience, online retailers that use this method can expect at least 10–15% uplift in conversions. The most basic way you see this is retargeting through ads on Facebook or once you return to a retail site, you’ll be greeted with some images of what you looked at last time. Personally, this happens to me on travel sites. If I search for something on Expedia just to check prices and don’t decide to buy, you can bet that when I log in again (even two months later), my last search will auto-populate in the search fields. Just in case I’m still interested in that trip to the Philippines.
This shouldn’t surprise you. After all, wouldn’t a family man see a car in a more favorable light if its ad was about the safety features instead of the off-road capabilities? There is a reason why we don’t see dirty cars in dealerships, even though they would be of the same value!
Step 1. Shake Hands With Your Visitors to Understand Them
Before you can personalize your website you need to understand who your visitors are and where they are coming from. Google Analytics is a comprehensive tool that provides an overview of the age, gender and interest categories of your users.
If you’d like to understand your audience on a deeper level and find out what influences their decisions, encourage visitors to log in with their social media profiles to your site. Studies show that around half of the users prefer SSOs. Plus, they are willing to share personal information with you if they trust your brand. This is such a common approach that 90% of Internet users have come across and are familiar with social sign ins. Users favor this process of account creation because it’s streamlined and eliminates the need for yet another password to be created and remembered. Facebook remains the strongest player in the social sign in world, which comes as no surprise because we, as customers, can’t count the number of times websites have prompted us to log in through Facebook!
The key is to get extra permissions!
As a business owner, Facebook Login is great. It lets you collect information about the interests, education and other attributes of your visitors too. Armed with this data, you can determine more precisely which groups to target. On top of this, using Single Sign-On with a social analytics tool can enrich your database and help create accurate personas! Imagine how much more effective your campaigns would be if you no longer had to speculate how the preference for nail polish color varies from 22 year old Jane to 53 year old Mary – if you’re in the nail polish business, that is.
You’re able to get extra permissions for information collection, but you need to apply for them. You can find various tips on how to make sure you get the extra permissions., but in my experience, you check the “Personalizes in-app content or experiences” box and a very detailed explanation along with a screen to record a video will appear. More examples can found here, but here is one that worked before:
- Login with Facebook to the “Coco and Etoile Dating App.”
- Accept the “user_likes” permission.
- Access your “XY App” profile. Click the three lines in the upper left-hand corner. Click the “profile” tab.
- Within the profile view, scroll down to see the interests section. These interests display the Facebook “user_likes” permission.
Pro tip: Explain in the video, why you want to use a permission.
Step 2. Personalize Your Ads and Sites
After you set up Analytics and the Social Logins, you will have a much better picture about your best customers and can use this data to get personal.
Create campaigns and landing pages for each target groups. It will be very likely that they will outperform any one-size-fits-all solution. After all, does it make sense to advertise a scuba diving vacation to someone who can’t swim?
Don’t worry, there’s no need to guess how effective they are. You can measure them precisely—especially if you pay attention to two important things.
- The goals and conversion funnel of each campaign should be the same.
- Ads and landing pages should have similar structure.
Step 3. Find Out What People Are Doing on Your Site
With the right setup, Google Analytics can show you how specified target groups respond to your campaigns.
To do this, you’ll need to add parameters to the URLs of the landing pages used in your campaigns. This will inform Analytics if someone clicks your link. Google has set this up to be step-by-step, so even if you’re new to the game it’ll be easy to figure out. Navigate to Analytics’ URL builder (or click that link) and you’ll see the image below. From there just entering your URL and campaign source and you’re good to go.
Next, you’ll need to set up the goals you would like to measure – you can choose anything from specific page views, screens per session, time on site, most popular screens etc. If you do this properly, Analytics will not only inform you about the number of campaign conversions, but it also break down the steps site visitors take before they reach your final goal. To do this, you just need to paste the URLs leading to each stage. Log into Google Analytics and select the “Admin” tab. In the “View” column, click “Goals” then click “+ New Goal” or “Import from Gallery”. From here you can create a goal from a template (easiest for new users), make a custom goal or create a “Smart Goal” (this is only available if your account meets the prerequisites).
If you’re interested in measuring the clicks on certain items inside a page it’s possible, but a bit more complicated. For this, you’ll need to enable event tracking, which is a technique used to understand the effects of your social logins. This requires adding code to your website so Google is able to the track actions on specific pages. There are different types of event tracking such as outbound link and form tracking as well as non-interaction events. The image below displays the standard code input.
Step 4. Refine and Retarget
Imagine if you could have an infinite number of campaigns for an infinite number of target groups. Well, this is possible with Analytics!
Analytics lets you create personalized landing pages based on the source of your traffic, the location of your visitors, their favorite brands, and so on. If you want to go one step further, you can also test different variations of each of these campaigns by setting up Content Experiments. This feature allows you to compare different web page performances by using a random sample of your visitors. Google lets you personalize the cases by setting goals you’d like to test as well as specifying how much of your website’s traffic should be involved.
Say you own a car washing business and you offer washes, waxes and vacuums. You’ve set up an AdWords campaign to boost business and set up a landing page that explains what your business offers. Since this is your main page, you want to be sure it’s optimized for your users – what better way to find out than testing a few options. You decide to make two additional versions of this site – you keep the original, add a purchase link to the next and then play with the placement of the descriptions of your services. Once you launch this test, visitors will be randomly dispersed among the three pages so you can test which is the most effective and make that the campaign’s landing page.
It’s also possible to add monetary value to the conversions you track. When you’re setting up your goals, you’ll have the option of assigning a monetary value to each conversion so that whenever the measurable action is completed, the amounts will be recorded, added together and displayed in your report under “Goal Value”.
If you decide to use this feature, it’s useful to think about how often someone who completes the specified action becomes a customer. If you have a 20% conversion rate on those who sign up for a newsletter and your average transaction is $100, then you would assign $20. If the signup only converts 5% of the time, then $5 would be more accurate.
If you run and measure several tailor-made campaigns, you’ll be able to answer important questions like these:
- Which are the most effective marketing channels?
- Where to advertise for certain target groups?
- How to communicate with different segments?
This way you can find out who your most active visitors are. Analyze their likes and interests from their social media profiles. Upload their email lists to Facebook Ads and Google AdWords to find similar people to them with retargeting!
So is this all really worth it?
Marketers at Lexus certainly think so! A few months ago, they created 1,000 customized videos for a campaign – all based on social interests.
In the end, the company saw a 300% increase in the efficiency of their social advertising. Just imagine if they had built the database with Facebook Login and applied Step 4. I’m sure the astonishing result would be even higher!
Website personalization seems to be so valuable that entire companies are built to help you do this. My journey at SpringTab focuses on providing a service that automatically customizes webpages based on users’ social media data. Just like the Lexus campaign, I love playing with data and look at “likes” and other interactions from social media profiles. I recommend capturing and using these data once a user logs into a site through their Facebook account. Services like SpringTab seamlessly personalizes websites and retargeting in order to speak to the visitor. This certainly seems like the way of the future because why waste time trying to sell meat to a vegetarian if you know he’s not interested?
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.