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Online marketing expert Mike Quinn makes a case for why retailers need to use customer data to drive conversion

Online marketing expert Mike Quinn makes a case for why retailers need to use customer data to drive conversion


One of the biggest challenges for retailers today is understanding how best to optimise their e-commerce sites to drive sales. Get this wrong, says Mike Quinn, Adobe product marketing manager, and you run the risk of delivering irrelevant content to your shoppers, wasting valuable web real estate and at worse, missing out on sales opportunities.


“Surprisingly, given how business-critical this issue is, the general trend in retail is that decisions such as what product is displayed where, or which line is promoted on the homepage, are made in the boardroom and normally based around ‘gut feel’, feedback from a relatively small focus group of consumers or which product manager has pushed the hardest,” Quinn said.


Getting real customer feedback


“This is a real concern: despite the best of intentions, the people making these decisions are not the individual, potential customer. Given the huge audience on the web and the variety of people visiting a site, there’s no way a retailer can deliver content that is relevant to everyone by approaching it in this way.”


He said there is a whole treasure trove of non-personally identifiable information (PII) data on people visiting a site that a retailer can use to deliver relevant content. “This could be insights, such as whether the customer is a new or returning visitor, what they’ve done on the site on previous visits, what products they’ve previously shown a high or low level interest in, what campaigns they’ve been exposed to and so on,” Quinn explained. “Depending on the individual, the retailer can then serve a bespoke experience of their site.


“This means that, say you’re an airline, you can geographically target the consumer with relevant flights, or based on screen resolution; or a consumer goods retailer may want to display a mobile products page for example. The more relevant the page the visitor lands on the more likely they are to convert the sale. The level of detail retailers can drill down into is phenomenal – from the time of day, day of the week, frequency of visits or where they were directed from, such as from a search engine, via an affiliate or by bookmark.”


Technology really comes into its own


But Quinn added that this wealth of information cannot be managed manually in real time by web analysts. This is where technology has really come into its own: playing a core role in providing businesses with key insights and understanding about customer behaviour that is so beneficial to them.


“One of the most exciting developments we’re focusing on at Adobe is what we call ‘test and target,’” he said. “This enables retailers to run real time multivariate tests around subjects such as site behaviour, environment, timings and where the customer was directed from. Retailers can then use this data to provide the most compelling and relevant content for different audiences and get the best possible ROI [return on investment].”


For example, the ‘test and target’ may show that a relaxing picture placed on a page may convert more sales in the evening and weekend than a more business looking page, however on a weekday the opposite may be true. “This allows brands to ‘push the winner’ – in other words, promote the page or product that is most likely to convert a sale in the relevant circumstances based on the variables mentioned,” he said.


Quinn concluded: “In a rapidly evolving online world, where visitors have an increasing number of choices, it’s more important than ever for retailers to embrace the tools available to them to keep customers engaged and convert clicks into sales.”