Personalization for B2C companies - ideas & use cases

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B2C personalization often suffers from a lack of relevance. Here are some ideas on how to personalize for consumers in an appealing way.

Compared to personalization in B2B marketing, it is generally easier to find good use cases for personalization in a B2C context. The downside is that it can get creepy, annoying, and irrelevant very quickly. Especially eCommerce sites are at risk to “over-personalize” because of faulty automation processes, false assumptions, and oversimplification of data.

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Personalization techniques in B2C marketing

Audience segmentation is the starting point for all your personalization efforts. Based on the most commonly used personalization techniques, let’s see how to delight consumers with relevant messaging.

Contextual segmentation

Just to give you an idea:

  • Time: Whether you have an app, a blog, a restaurant, or an agency — you’ll notice that people interact differently with your business based on time and weekday. I’ll give more in-depth example in the next section of this article.
  • Returning vs. new visitor: Obviously, new visitors need more guidance. Also, special newbie deals might help convert them into loyal customers. With returning visitors, you’ll want to take into account how they previously interacted with your website.
  • Referral source: You’ve probably experienced this yourself; You’re looking for a solution to a problem and click on an ad that seems to be the answer, but you get referred to a generic page with no solution in sight. Very frustrating, so you leave. You leave because the landing page didn’t mirror the message that originally caught your attention. Then again, when a page aligns it’s messaging with your original intent, you’re much more likely to convert. This personalization technique is called symmetric messaging. Guaranteed to work.
  • Device: Device type greatly influences how we interact with a website and what we’re actually trying to achieve. I won’t get into detail, there’s more than enough research about the topic but make sure to keep a close eye on bounce rate and conversions based on device-type.
  • Mood: This one is not easy to implement but you can look at success stories such as Spotify and Netflix and take note. For example, Spotify adjusts the users suggested playlists not only based on what they have listened to prior but also based on the day, time and weather but through a mood lens. Ever noticed how those “Rainy Sundays” vs. “Sun is Shining!” playlists never show up next to each other?

Contextual segmentation example: Weather

Now, I’m not talking about seasonal offers. It’s more about adjusting your offer based on the current weather at the location of your viewer. A typical example of this could be showing rain jackets when it’s rainy. I know, this is pretty cliche, but it works. The current weather influences peoples’ shopping behavior.

What are some less cliche examples?

  • I have a friend who works as an Affiliate Marketer specialized in event promotion. He discovered that weather greatly influences last-minute buyers, so every morning he reorganized the events on his website to match the weather predictions. On sunny days, he pushed festivals and when it was raining, he positioned indoor events more prominently on the page. At first, this required a lot of manual work but by adding weather tags to the events, he could automate the process and increase conversions by 8%.
  • I love cafés and I was at a very nice one recently where I enjoyed an iced coffee on a hot summer day. I was rather surprised when I got the bill and the total was less than I had expected, 20% less, to be exact. Turns out, they offer a discount on iced coffee when the temperature rises above 25° Celsius. They even promote this on their website showing a little pop-up message on hot summer days (which are admittedly rare, here in Amsterdam). I asked the waitress about it and she believes they are in fact selling more iced coffee on these days, especially to the regular customers. Of course, one could argue that the restaurant business is generally doing better when the weather is nice but I still believe that weather-based discounts are a very neat idea to attract more customers!

Contextual segmentation example: Time

Peoples’ moods are like a rollercoaster throughout the day and the week.

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Use case

  • Let’s circle back to the online ticket shop example. Most events take place on the weekend and people tend to buy their tickets rather late, so ticket shops see an increase in conversions from Thursday onward. However, event organizers are known for their impatience, so they are willing to give discounts to fill their seats with early birds. Then again, the profit margins for event promoters are thin, especially on discounted tickets, so we decided to be smart about this. Using Unless, we placed a discount coupon on the website that was only visible during the first half of the week, after Wednesday, we showed the regular ticket price. This resulted in an increase in sales in the first half of the week but also came at a cost — sales went down from Thursday onward. In total, due to higher profit margins, it still payed off.

Demographic segmentation

This is a very wide playing field and I can’t even name all the options.

Gender, age, occupation, location — everything goes. Which option will work, strongly depends on your business, audience, and marketing strategy. Just remember not to overdo it. Don’t stalk the 16-year-old girls who love your product. It might land you in jail.

Behavioral Segmentation

With behavioral segmentation we look at data about usage, usage frequency, stages of the customer journey, loyalty, and purchase patterns.

For this type of segmentation, you’ll need a user-focused analytics tool (e.g. Mixpanel, Amplitude, Kissmetrics,…) and it doesn’t hurt to have an affinity for data. If you own an eCommerce site the analytics features integrated with your eCommerce software will make your job much easier.

Cohorts will become your best friend, they’ll help you discover behavioral patterns that you can amplify or optimize through personalization. I’m not going to go into details here. All of the mentioned tools offer great knowledge base articles that will help you wrap your head around the topic.

b2c analytics Wow. Much color. Such fancy. Many lines.

Final note

In B2C marketing, personalization typically focuses on call-to-actions, design, and adding nuggets of information for hyper-personalization. Generally, the possibilities are endless; use your creativity! Always make sure to check for three aspects:

  • Does this improve conversions?
  • Does this help my customer achieve their goal?
  • Could this be considered intrusive?