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Ecommerce Personalization: the Complete Guide to Personalizing the Customer Journey


Before ecommerce became popular, shopping consisted of entering a large retailer or small business to discover and purchase products. Customers could easily talk to a sales associate to ask questions and get product recommendations. 

Now, the world of online shopping consists of multiple channels that influence buying behaviors. From emails to Instagram ads and even text messages, brands have the power to reach their target customers in more ways and at any moment. 

However, the ability to engage with customers everywhere becomes difficult when your competition has the same power. This is where personalization comes into play. 

Rather than guessing what customers will enjoy, there are tools available where you can learn a customer’s demographics, behaviors, attitudes, pain points and preferences. Using this data to engage with your customers ensures messages are extremely targeted and relevant to every individual, no matter what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re at. 

In this article, we’re going to talk about the importance of ecommerce personalization, how you can start collecting more customer data ethically and how to leverage that data to increase your engagement rates and revenue.

Here’s what we’ll be covering today:

What is personalization, and why is it important? 

Ecommerce personalization is about using data—such as browsing behavior, purchase history, demographic data and other personal data—to segment customers into specific groups with different needs and wants. For each segment, the goal is to share relevant, actionable and interesting content and products that enhance their shopping experience. 

This makes shopping with your brand more efficient, enjoyable and rewarding; it shows that you’ve paid attention to a customer’s preferences and reacted in a way that’s adding more value to them. This is how you want to start what will become a long-term relationship.

Personalization has become increasingly important to drive repeat purchases. It’s a broad term, but personalization can be anything from a relevant product recommendation on a tailored landing page to an email campaign that only shows specific content to a select group of customers. 

Graphic showing the different channels you can send a message to customers on

What are the benefits of personalizing your customer’s experiences? 

Customers are influenced by the various channels they spend time with. By the time they engage with a brand directly, they expect a personalized experience. Without personalizing the shopping experience, you’re telling customers that you haven’t been paying attention to their unique needs. 

There’s no denying customers prefer personalized experiences. Check out these ecommerce personalization stats:

  • 87% of U.S. customers are willing to have various details of their activity tracked in exchange for more personalized rewards and brand experiences.
  • 78% of U.S. internet users said that personally relevant content from brands or companies increases their purchase activity.
  • 33% of consumers ended their relationship with a company because the experience wasn’t personalized enough.
  • 74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized.
  • Lack of content relevancy generates 83% lower response rates in the average marketing campaign.

Personalization is a big part of why customers decide to stay loyal to a brand. Let’s break it down a bit more; here are some of the top reasons why personalization is important for customer retention

Personalization keeps your customers more engaged: When your customers are receiving personalized messages, they’re more likely to engage with it. If you keep personalizing those customers’ experiences, they’ll keep engaging and purchasing.

Personalization individualizes the online shopping experience: Sharing relevant products and content is important to individualize the shopping experience. When you interact with every prospect the same, it can come off as spammy and not personal at all.

Personalization builds brand advocates: Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the top ways to acquire new customers. Personalizing the shopping experience drives customers to become these loyal shoppers that share your brand with others.

Personalization creates 1:1 relationships that keep customers coming back: When you interact with customers in a personalized way, you’re building a one-on-one relationship, similar to the feeling of entering your favorite retail store to talk to an associate that’s helped you before.

How to learn more about your customers 

An A+ customer experience doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s possible for any brand that is data-driven! Businesses that have memorable customer experiences achieve it by finding ways to personalize every interaction a customer has with them. 

Personalization should occur at every stage of the buyer’s journey. From the moment a customer lands on your website to the messages you send to try and bring them back in the future, every experience has to be unique, targeted and personalized. This level of personalization starts with utilizing your customer data.

In order to start humanizing the customer journey, you’ll need to start collecting data with every new opt-in and customer to gather behavioral data, demographic data, attitudinal data and more. Below we will list a few tools and metrics you can use to ethically collect data about your customers.

1. Engage customers with an ecommerce quiz

Example images of BeautyBio's virtual consultation quiz

A Shop Quiz is an on-site tool that asks customers about their likes, dislikes, preferences and needs. With every question answered, the quiz calculates which products in your catalog are best-suited for that customer’s needs. At the end of the quiz, it recommends a product, bundle of products or content to help that specific customer. 

The questions you ask customers throughout the quiz tell you valuable information. You can learn so much about different groups of customers, such as their age, concerns, lifestyle, habits and contact information for you to use when creating campaigns on Facebook Messenger, email, SMS or ads. This data collection is the key to building personalized customer journeys.

2. Interact with chatbots and Facebook Messenger marketing 

Facebook Messenger sample conversations with Mavi Jeans and Marco Marco Underwear

Known for creating human-like interactions between businesses and customers, chatbots are artificial intelligence (AI) software that can create conversations with users through messaging applications like Facebook Messenger, SMS, or telephone.

With Facebook Messenger, you can build engaging conversations and flows that tell you more about customers. Encourage back-and-forth conversations where you can ask customers questions, share blogs and video content, and offer customer support to find pain points with your products or services. 

Some brands build product recommendation quizzes directly in Messenger to collect customer profile data. You can also send cart and browse abandonment reminders, post-purchase follow-ups, Sponsored Messenger ads and more. All of this helps you learn more valuable information about your customers. 

3. Pay attention to how customers interact on your website

The way customers interact on your website can tell you a lot about them. In fact, customers create as many as 40 data points in one visit. Make sure you have an analytics software set up where you can see what customers click on and the journey they take. You can take this one step further by placing pixels on your site. This is so you can use cookies to track user behavior and retarget those customers later with paid social ads. 

4. Use pop-ups to attract customers 

Sample pop-up

When optimized for your website, pop-ups are not intrusive to customers. Rather, they provide a path to something actionable. If you personalize them by location, CTA text and URL, language and relevant products, you’ll see a higher conversion rate.

There are two main pop-ups every brand should be using (and that we’ve seen perform really well for merchants): a welcome pop-up and an exit intent pop-up.

Exit intent: An automatically triggered pop-up to catch a visitor’s attention when they indicate they’re about to leave the website.

Welcome pop-up: A pop-up that’s triggered after a customer spends a specific amount of time on your website or lands on a specific page.

These pop-ups have been successful for Live Love Gameday, converting over 29,000 new subscribers in just 30 days. 

5. Check out a customer’s purchase history 

Checking a customer’s purchase history is always a good place to start when trying to understand their product preferences. If they’ve bought it before, it’s likely that it’s something they’re interested in again! See if there are any trends, patterns or identifying information that you can use to understand that customer better.

The type of data you can collect

After setting up your data-collection tools, the next step is to simply start engaging with customers on a variety of channels to collect buyer profile data. Here is what you’ll learn about customers:

Demographic data includes age, gender, location or the source from which they discovered your brand.

Engagement data tells you how a customer is interacting with your business and the touchpoints they take. For example, you can segment customers by their quiz drop-off rate or the products they click on. 

Attitudinal data is what customers think about your business. Are they satisfied? This information can be collected by using the Shop Quiz to create a post-purchase survey

Qualitative data is what tells you about a customer’s preferences, pain points and motivations. This type of data shows you how your customers feel about your products and what the most popular solutions are. 

Descriptive data includes customer lifestyle habits and behaviors, family details, career details or any other information that helps you understand their habits and intents. 

How to leverage your buyer profile data to personalize every touchpoint

It’s important to realize that not every customer is the same. Without knowing who your customers are, personalizing their journey is difficult. 

What are buyer profiles?

A buyer profile is a based on data and is not a fictional representation of a customer (like a buyer persona is). Collecting data about a customer’s likes, dislikes, preferences, needs and more gives you a full profile about who that customer is and what they may need from your business. 

How do you organize buyer profiles?

Segment each buyer profile into a group of other like-minded people. Retarget campaigns and build lookalike audiences to target similar buyer personas. Include opt-ins during the quiz to pair buyer profile data to identifying information like an email, SMS or Facebook Messenger opt-in to target your marketing. 

How do you use buyer profiles for personalization? 

Once you’ve collected your buyer profile data and segmented customers into groups, the next step is to actually use that data in your marketing strategy. Below, we will share a few ways you can actually personalize your customer’s experiences using the data you’ve collected from them.

1. Improve retargeting 

Retarget your buyer profile segments with paid ads that offer more specific and personalized product offerings and messaging. Create lookalike audiences in Facebook Ads Manager based on the data you collect. Here’s an example of a personalized customer journey flow based on Octane AI’s Shop Quiz and Facebook Messenger tools. This flow shows how you can take the data you collect from engaging with a customer with a Shop Quiz to send personalized recommendations and discount opportunities on email, SMS or Messenger.

Sample customer journey flow from a customer taking a quiz to receiving a product recommendation email

2. Tailor your website experiences

Whether its pop-ups or product upsells, you can leverage your buyer profile data to personalize the website experience for your customers. You can create a “recommended products” section on your homepage that shows products you know are relevant to each visitor–just like Sephora does in the above image. Or, create unique pop-up that offer exclusive opt-in content. Target each pop-up to specific website pages. For example, each product collection could have its own unique pop-up relevant to the collection. 

Tip: make sure to A/B test your pop-up copy, design and incentive (between percentage and dollars off) to maximize your conversion rate.

3. Prospect more profitable audiences

If you find a certain group of customers have a higher conversion rate or average order value, prospecting similar audiences can mean a better return on your advertising investment. 

Focus brand messaging: By knowing who your customers are and where they spend their money, you can position your products and brand better towards them. 

4. Educate with value-added content to build brand credibility 

Screenshot of the cover of Bailey's CBD blog article about CBD for dogs

If you learn you have a group of customers with oily skin, create content to educate them about treating oily skin and the products to help. This includes blog posts, videos and infographics. For example, Bailey’s CBD uses a quiz to discover their audience’s knowledge-level about CBD products for pets. After recommending products in the quiz results page, they also share blog content to educate those customers.

5. Onboard new customers individually 

Using your buyer profile data, send new customers a personalized welcome series on Facebook Messenger or email. Make sure the messages are tailored to the specific information you’ve gathered, and ensure customers continuously find value in each part of the nurture series. 

Send 4-5 emails three days a part to nurture your new customers. The first message should be to introduce yourself and your brand, letting customers know what they can expect from you. In the following campaign messages, share relevant content or product offerings based on the information from your buyer profile segments.  

6. Discover new audiences

Example of an email from Doe Lashes inviting customers to take their quiz

You could discover a new segment of customers you didn’t know was shopping at your store. For example, Doe Lashes invited customers to take their “Find your lash” quiz. After, they discovered a buyer segment that had never worn false lashes before. After identifying these customers, they could create educational material to support them with using lashes for the first time.

Do you want to see the full strategy Doe Lashes used to increased their email opt-ins by 3X and drive more revenue with a Shop Quiz? You can read the full case study here:

Read Case Study

These are just a few ways you can leverage customer profile data to create personalized ecommerce experiences. Keep in mind, this level of personalization increases customer retention because it provides a one-of-a-kind experience that shows each customer you’re listening to their individual needs. 

When customers feel like you’ve taken the time to learn who they are, they’ll continue to shop with your brand just for the unique and simplified shopping experience.


Phew! That was a lot of info. But do you see why ecommerce personalization is so important? Not only does it help you boost sales, but it also keeps customers coming back again and again. Before you jump off this page, here’s a quick summary of what you just learned:

  • Ecommerce personalization is about using data to share relevant, actionable and interesting content and products that enhance the shopping experience. 
  • Personalization is a big part of why customers decide to stay loyal to a brand.
  • You’ll need to start collecting data with every new opt-in and customer to gather behavioral data, demographic data, attitudinal data and more. 
  • Buyer profiles are taking a customer’s likes, dislikes, preferences, needs and organizing those customers into like-minded groups.
  • Once you’ve collected your buyer profile data and segmented customers into groups, the next step is to actually use that data to tailor your customer’s experiences with personalization.

Are you ready to start offering personalized experiences for your customers? Good luck!

The Personalization Playbook for Ecommerce Marketers

Fuel human experiences. Create data-driven buyer profiles. Increase opt-ins, AOV and more. Read our guide on ecommerce personalization for brands in any industry!

Download now

Special thanks to our friends at OctaneAI for their insights on this topic.
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