Personalizing your website can be a game-changer for small businesses. It allows you to create a customized experience for every visitor, boosting engagement and conversions. With personalized content, recommendations, and offers based on your visitors’ interests, you’ll be able to stand out from your competitors and build a strong brand reputation. Eric Melchor of OptiMonk helps us level-up our customer experience and loyalty!
Rich: After overseeing online marketing programs for Fortune 500 companies in Texas, my guest today moved to Romania. He not only changed countries, he changed his focus. Working in SaaS, or software as a service, stemming from his obsession with building and strengthening relationships. He now provides guidance on how to personalize online shopping experiences for small and mid-size businesses at OptiMonk.
Today we’re going to be talking about the value of website personalization for your website with Eric Melchor. Eric, welcome to the program.
Eric: Hey, thanks so much, Rich. Pleasure to be here.
Rich: So first off, what are we talking about when we say ‘personalization’?
Eric: Yeah. When I tell people that OptiMonk is a personalization platform, their first response is, “Oh, do you mean putting the first name inside the email?” And I’m like, no, it’s a little bit more than that. And it’s a number of things, Rich. Personalization, in my opinion, is just about creating a unique customer journey in real time while the person is on your website. So that way you’re capturing interest when it matters most. Because as human beings, when we’re interested in something, we’re really interested in the real time.
We clicked on an ad, we saw a product or service, we’re really interested in it, but then that interest fades over time. And what website personalization is, is to capture as much of that interest as possible in real time when they first discover your brand or service.
Rich: Okay. Now, for someone who’s listening and may run a small website, maybe they’re thinking, yeah, I can see how that would work for the Amazons of the world, but I have a very small website, a small business. I don’t have much of a budget or the know-how to create this. What would you say to this person?
Eric: Yeah. First, I would ask what is the monthly number of visitors to your website? Because if it is small, and if it is less than 5,000 visitors per month, then you do not need a website personalization tool. You simply don’t. You can get by on asking one simple question, which is, “Did you find what you were looking for today?” And then also another great question that you can ask after somebody makes a purchase on your website is simply asking them, or if they didn’t make a purchase, simply asking them, “What prevented you from making a purchase today?” You can get a tremendous amount of insight from those two simple questions. And you don’t need a fancy personalization platform.
Now, if you have more than 5,000 visitors, then there’s a number of things that you can do. But before you try to implement every tactic out there, it helps to know a little bit about what your goals are, and then also go through a personalization checklist, because every website is different.
And so personalization is going to be different for every website. Because if you’re not getting any international visitors, then there’s no need to try to implement personalization tactics for your international visitors because you’re just not getting any. If your cart abandonment is higher than 60%, which is really good because the best brands have a cart abandonment rate somewhere between 50% and 60%, then you don’t really need to implement any personalization tactics to try to reduce that cart abandonment rate down. If you’re not collecting SMS phone numbers, then you don’t need to implement personalization tactics to try to get somebody’s SMS phone number.
So what I recommend is go through a checklist, answer various questions, and then based on the responses you know what to tackle first, what’s the low hanging fruit. You can find such a personalization checklist, we have free workshops that we conduct and we give out these checklists. It’s really just a Google sheet, but it’s more of a strategic guide on where you should focus on to implement such tactics.
Rich: We’ll make sure that we have a link to those in the show notes. But what are a couple three of the personalization checklist items that you think are good for a wide range of different types of companies?
Eric: I think if you’re running Facebook ads or Google paid ads and you want to try to get a better return on investment, one of the things I recommend is that you align the copy on your ad with the headline on that landing page where the ad is going to. Because some brands have different value propositions and they make the mistake of sending all their traffic from all their various ads to one landing page, and it has the same value proposition regardless of what the ad said. So that’s a very easy tactic that you can do. You don’t need to create multiple landing pages. We have what we call dynamic content, and the headline of the landing page can change based on whatever your value proposition is for the ad. So that’s one thing that you can do if you’re running paid media.
Another thing that you can do if you have a lot of sales or a spike in sales and different holiday shopping seasons, maybe Valentine’s Day, maybe the Super Bowl, maybe Christmas.
Another simple tactic that you can do is have a welcome message and just simply ask, “Are you shopping for yourself or for somebody else?” And if the person responds by saying, “I’m shopping for someone else”, then you can say, “Fantastic, here are our most giftable items this season.” And take them to the part of the website that’s most valuable for them, so they’re not wasting time trying to navigate your website, trying to find gifts for somebody else. You basically hold their hand and say, let me lead you to the part of the website that you’re really interested in, here’s our most giftable products this season. That is a very simple thing that you can do, especially if you have a lot of spikes in sales during seasonality.
And so another one off the top of my head is international. The global e-commerce in 2022 hit about five and a half trillion. According to Shopify, that’s projected to go up another 23% over the next two or three years. And so if you want to capitalize in international visitors, a simple thing that you could do is have a welcome message that basically is based on their location. You could say if they’re coming from Germany, for example, “Hi, welcome from Germany”, and then add any other information in that welcome message. If you ship to the location, you could say, “We ship to Germany.” If you’re able to show the prices in Euro, you can say, “All of our prices are in Euro.” If those prices include taxes, you could say, “And they include taxes.” And if you have any sort of or shipping thresholds, you can include that as well, free orders or free shipping above 50 Euro spend, or something like that.
That right there is reassurance for any international visitors that lets them know they ship to my location. I can shop in my own currency, and taxes are included in the price. It is a great reassurance for anybody that’s coming globally to your website.
Rich: Okay. So from what you’ve said so far it sounds like – and I want to ask you a question in a minute about OptiMonk – but it sounds like there’s obviously some dynamic, scalable things that OptiMonk can do. But even if I just own a small website, there are things that I can do either by maybe setting up unique landing pages for each one of my Facebook or Google ads so I continue that customization message or having some script on the backend that sniffs out where somebody’s coming from. So I can give a message about where they’re coming from and maybe how we ship or don’t ship to that area of the world.
And then even something as simple as, are you shopping for yourself or a friend? Originally, I wouldn’t have thought that’s necessarily personalization, but what you’re saying is we’re allowing that customer to personalize their website experience, we’re to almost empower them and that’s going to make the sale easier, that’s going to improve the customer journey, correct?
Eric: That’s correct. It’s about putting their needs first. And so you can create different experiences for new visitors, for returning visitors. So you can remind returning visitors if they were browsing certain products, here’s the products that you were browsing at last time. That’s a different experience for that segment. If you have VIP customers and you’ve had them tagged, then you can create a different experience for those VIP customers. Maybe you give them a sneak peek at the items that are coming out next season, or just give them a different experience.
So yeah, it’s about creating a different journey for each type of different segment and other things. Rich, I’m trying to think other things that you can do, even if you don’t have a personalization platform. Let me give you a couple of other ones.
Most brands out there are trying to grow their email list, right? A simple thing that you can do is if you’re showing a popup trying to get the email address as soon as somebody lands on your website, stop it. Maybe it works a little bit. Maybe you’re getting like a 2% or 3% conversion rate. But for somebody who’s not familiar with your brand, you’re basically trying to pull information from them without giving them any sort of valuable information first. And it’s crappy, right? And even if they do submit their email, they’re probably not opening that email once you do send it to them.
So something that you can do is try an exit intent pop up. Meaning still try to get their email address but do it when somebody’s leaving your website. Or if you don’t want to do that, another little tactic that you can do is if you’re offering a coupon code, put the month in front of the coupon code. So maybe the coupon code is 10 discount or something like that. If you put the current month before that, March 10 discount, it actually has a much higher conversion rate than just some generic coupon identity. The month before the coupon code. I know it sounds crazy.
Rich: No, it makes absolutely sense. Because all of a sudden, it’s scarcity. And it’s like, if I don’t use it this month, it’s going to disappear.
Eric: Exactly. That is a little thing that you can manually do every month. If you had a tool like a personalization platform like OptiMonk, you can have that dynamically changed every month automatically. But that’s a little thing that you can do that works.
Rich: Absolutely. So let’s talk a little bit about OptiMonk and these personalization platforms. So if I have an e-commerce store, and it does sound like this is more for e-commerce stores than it would be for lead gen sites, but I’m sure that some of these tactics can work in both places. What are some of the things that a personalization platform can do that maybe I couldn’t do right out of the box with my current site or my Shopify site or what have you?
Eric: One of the things is trying to increase your average order value or upselling. And so if you have different products and that’s a big focus for you, increasing your AOV, we make it very easy to do that. And so if somebody’s been on the product page, maybe they’ve been on their 30 seconds and they haven’t done anything, then you can show a little side message that says, “Maybe you’re also interested in these products.” If you sell blenders for example, you can show smoothies or smoothie recipes that they may be interested in. So that’s a very easy way that you can increase your average order value.
Same thing for shipping thresholds. So you can say, oh, just spend $14 more dollars and shipping is free, and that can easily be added within our platform.
Rich: And maybe even suggest products that are $14 or more that would actually push them over that threshold, too.
Eric: Absolutely. Absolutely. So increasing AOV and upselling, that’s something that can be easily done. A lot of brands come to us and they’re trying to show consistent offers throughout their website, and they’re having to create custom HTML code and put that code on various pages. With OptiMonk, it’s very simple to show an offer consistently on every page or the pages that you indicate all over your website. So it could be on your homepage, maybe on a product page, maybe an affiliate landing page. And that’s something else that you can do pretty easily.
Rich: All right. Now ever since iOS14 came out, there’s a lot more talk around privacy issues, a lot more conversation around it’s harder to get data from our site visitors. So many people have cookie shutoff or privacy settings. How do we balance our visitor’s desire for privacy, with our desire to personalize our experience? And what shortcomings do we have to deal with because we don’t have as much data at our fingertips that we used to?
Eric: Yeah. So right now the way OptiMonk works, it’s mostly based on the browser. And so if you’re using Google Chrome, we could probably, if you’re not deleting cookies, we could remember you for up to about a year on average. The worst browser for us in terms of where we’re not going to recognize you, is probably Safari. And maybe about seven days that we’re going to be able to recognize the cookie on you.
But for the most part, consumers want personalization. If you look at studies by major research firms like Epsilon, their studies show that up to 80% of consumers want personalization if it’s relevant. And I think that’s the key word, Rich, ‘if it’s relevant’. It’s why so many of us love Netflix. Because based on our viewing history, they’re able to recommend good programs that we would probably like. And for the most part, they’re not that bad if we do choose to watch them.
And so when you take a platform like OptiMonk, we’re trying to give SMBs the same superhuman powers that Amazon’s been operating at. And by the way, I saw this recently, Rich, where I think it was about 30% of the products purchased on Amazon are actually Amazon recommended products that you see when you’re shopping and putting something in your cart or whatever, 30%, right? That is a very high number, right? Recommended products that you probably had no intention of shopping for. And so based on trust, based on this is a brand that knows who I am, they know my shopping behavior and they’re probably going to recommend something I like. We’re trying to give the same powers to SMBs.
If you are selling something, if you’re e-commerce and you’re selling shoes, and a person was browsing specific shoes. Then very easily if they go to another page, you can show a little popup that says, “Oh, by the way, if you like those products you were looking at, you may like these as well.” And so that’s really our intent is to give SMBs the same kind of superhuman powers that Amazon has.
Rich: Yeah, obviously sometimes an e-commerce store might be a one-off. Other times it’s more like Amazon, where we go back over and over again. And you bring up an interesting point with Netflix. There are certain businesses that we really do trust our data with. And that may be a strange way of saying it, but we’re just expecting that they know who we are and they’re going to make recommendations based on what we’ve done in the past. Things like that.
But then there are other stores that we might be new to, and I think this is where a lot of small businesses come from, right? Because nobody knows who we are. We have a small customer base and a lot of people coming to us never heard of us. You mentioned don’t use the popup when you get right to the website.
Do you have any other tips that are ways to slowly build up trust? Because I think trust takes a little while to build up. So are there other things you see out there that are working that can help a small business e-commerce store start to get people to feel more comfortable about sharing more and more of their information so that we can do a better job to serve them?
Eric: Absolutely. If you have a visitor who hasn’t clicked on anything. Maybe they got to your homepage, but they haven’t taken any action and they’ve been on your homepage for I don’t know, 20 or 30 seconds. Then one thing that you can do is try to start engaging with them. Show them a message by asking a question, asking what their pain points are. So if you’re a health and wellness site, for example, and you focus on products that help you lose weight, gain muscle, sleep better, and you don’t know where this visitor came from, and they haven’t taken any action. Why not show a little message that just says, “Hey, we want you to get the most out of this website visit, so can you tell us what you’re interested in? Is it to lose weight, gain muscle, sleep better?” And then depending on their answer, then you know what contents are served next. So if they chose gain muscle, you can say, fantastic. Here’s our most popular articles on how to gain muscle. And by the way, here’s our top selling products on how to gain muscle and keep it.
So that’s just a great way of trying to say, “Hey, can I help you?” Just like you would in a real retail store. A salesperson comes to you and says, “Can I help you?” And if they say, “Yeah, I’m looking for this.” Fantastic. Let me take you to that part of the store where you’re interested in. And that’s what we can do online as well. I call them ‘micro engagements’, and there’s different turns for them, conversational messaging.
Another popular term is ‘zero party data’. Because essentially once they make that answer, then you know who they are, you can tag them, and if they subscribe to your website and you’re using a platform like Klaviyo that we have a really good integration with, then you can segment them and know to tell Klaviyo these people are interested in gaining muscle. And then that way if they subscribe to your newsletter, then you automatically put them in your email marketing campaign in Klaviyo or some of the other CRMs that we’re integrated with, and you know which email marketing content to serve them up.
Rich: Excellent. Eric, do you have any tips around how do we measure the ROI of these personalization steps? Like even if we have a platform that helps us with it, there’s a certain amount of time, money, and energy that goes into this. So what should we be looking for in our analytics or our bottom line, our Shopify reports, what have you, that are going to start to tell us yes, this is where you’re changing the game for your business?
Eric: Absolutely. We say A/B test everything. So if you are trying to test different headlines on a landing page or a homepage or even a product page, A/B test it. And so within the platform you’ll be able to see the control versus test group. And we also provide you instructions so that you can see the results in Google Analytics. We show you how to set that up so you can add OptiMonk inside GA. And so you can see the results not just in the OptiMonk platform, but also in Google Analytics.
But the key thing is, if you’re familiar with Google, Optimizly or any other A/B testing tools out there, OptiMonk is the same. You have the ability to do A/B testing across a wide array of experiments.
Rich: Awesome. Because it always sounds like all these things are going to work, but it really is important for us to take a look at the metrics and find out which one’s working, and continually A/B split test so that we’re always getting better results than the time before.
Eric: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah.
Rich: This has been great. Eric, if people want to learn more about you or learn more about OptiMonk, where can we send them?
Eric: Optimonk.com/bootcamp. Every two weeks I host a free personalization bootcamp and I show you the process that we go through when we work with the brands who are using OptiMonk, how we implement personalization strategies.
We also provide the free personalization worksheet that you can get access to. To me, that is more than it is. Just once you start using that you know what the low hanging fruits are, and you know what you can start tackling to identify opportunities for personalization that are going to lower your cart abandonment rate. They’re going to increase conversions, they’re going to increase your email subscription rate, and also improve your average order value.
Rich: Awesome. This has been fantastic, Eric. I appreciate you coming by and giving us these tips on website personalization. And thanks for your expertise.
Eric: Hey, thank you Rich.
Eric Melchor helps eCommerce businesses improve their websites and marketing by gaining loyalty and creating customization for customers through personalization. Check out his free bootcamp and checklists to learn his secrets.
As President of flyte new media and founder of the Agents of Change, Rich Brooks brings over 25 years of expertise to the table. A web design and digital marketing agency based in Portland, Maine, flyte helps small businesses grow online. His passion for helping these small businesses led him to write The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing, a comprehensive guide on digital marketing strategies.