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Know Your Customer: How (and Why) to Get to Know Your Anonymous Shoppers

Aerial view of people crossing a zebra crossing in Tokyo, Japan for understanding anonymous shoppers.

Sure, we all claim to be data driven and aspire to build lasting customer relationships. In reality, most marketers are falling far short. eCommerce marketers spend most of our time and effort reacting to a very small set – about 1% – of our customers, and nearly no time actively getting to know our customers. Do we really know your customers if we are engaging with this tiny slice of shoppers? Clearly, no. Let’s dig into why we’ve been so easily distracted by the 1%, and how to change that.

‘Carpe Abandonment’ Seizing the top 1%

An abandoned shopping cart may be the strongest signal of intent a shopper provides. Marketers have long since reacted to this event and automated abandoned cart (and browse) email messages, and more recently SMS (or better yet MMS) messages. And rightfully so, as abandonment messages are massively productive, with revenue per send values more than 26 times what a standard promotional message provides. However, reachable audiences for abandonment messages are small: less than 1% of overall visits are from known abandoners. While abandoned cart messages are a must for marketers, let’s not pretend that checking the box on this basic program is anywhere close to knowing your customers. We’ll need to cast a much wider net than that.

So, beyond simply reacting to abandonment events, where else can we poke to actually get to know our shoppers? It turns out that your site is teeming with potential.

Get Into the Unknown

You don’t know most of your visitors. 80% of all your site visitors are anonymous. All told, this group makes up 84% of all visits. By a landslide, the amount of unknown shoppers carries site traffic. But don’t let that discourage you. A closer look reveals that there is some very encouraging news  — you know more about the unknown than you might think.

Not all anonymous shoppers are the same. You are probably already analyzing acquisition sources on your buyers to optimize your traffic mix. More directly though, you can look at the shopper’s specific engagement with you to learn more. Engagement history helps us further segment our anonymous shoppers into two groups; those making a single visit, and those making multiple visits to your site:

  • One-time anonymous: 69% of site visitors that account for 55% of all of your visits
  • Returning anonymous: 11% of site visitors that account for 29% of all of your visits.

The returning anonymous shopper group jumps off the page. These are shoppers that have visited multiple times, and are clearly consuming a LOT of your content. In fact, this group accounts for 35% of product detail page views. These shoppers are making an effort to get to know your brand. Now, it’s time to get to know them.

A Reason for a Relationship

The advantage with returning shoppers: you can recognize them when they visit you. 

The problem with returning shoppers: you can recognize them (only) when they visit you.

(Or you can chase them around the web by retargeting them wherever they go. That’s a topic for another discussion.)

So, to turn this recognition into a relationship with the shopper, you need to give them a reason to identify themselves to you. You need their permission, and a chance to reach out to them. Besides your standard welcome modal that collects email and SMS, here are three terrific tactics to collect an email address or mobile number and reach out to your shoppers.

  1. Fitters and finders are a great way to introduce new-to-you shoppers to your brand. Taking a guided selling approach assists shoppers to find what they are looking for, and provides you with some incredible preference data and a way to reach out to shoppers. Some great examples include Mizzen+Main’s Shirt FinderMaggie Sottero’s Wedding Dress Quiz, and Helix Sleep’s Mattress Quiz. Ready to set your quiz up for data collection success? Here’s how.
  2. Save this search: shoppers that search on your site know what they are looking for. These are surgical shoppers. Beyond the current site visit, provide shoppers with a reminder of recent searches, or an easy way to re-run results by saving their search and sending it to their email address. 
  3. Personalize! Leading with personalization is a terrific way to encourage customers to subscribe. When considering your returning anonymous, you have the benefit of browse history. Use the browse history to share personalized product recommendations and make the case for why the shopper should identify themself.

Start the Relationship with Relevance

Once the hard work is done and you know your shopper, it’s time to prove that you were listening and you care: be relevant. Your first outreach is a canvas for showing your shopper that you know her.  Put the data to work; products viewed, categories shoppers, site searches, use all of that activity data to engage your shopper. The first outreach should include product recommendations, recently viewed items, or better yet, both. By putting their prior browsing data to work, you show that you do in fact know your shoppers, and set a good example for why the shopper will be thrilled to hear from you again, and again. 

If you really want to know your customers, get into the unknown: your returning anonymous shoppers. By getting to know these shoppers, you are covering far more of your shoppers than you were by just reacting to abandonment events, and creating a relationship built on relevance.

* Data sourced from the shopping activity of more than 300 million shoppers, anonymized and aggregated by Zaius.

This article originally appeared in the Zaius blog and has been published here with permission.

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