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Crucial Steps to Converting Browsers into Buyers

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Crucial Steps to Converting Browsers into Buyers

There’s something comforting and enjoyable about creating a routine where people know you, whether that’s a favorite coffee shop or place to walk or a local beer store where they call your dog by name.

Many businesses can create this personalized shopping experience to convert more browsers into buyers. But, it can be tough to do that online where you can’t look into a customer’s eyes or easily ask what they need as they browse digital shelves. Still, we regularly hear about the need for eCommerce personalization.

To tackle that opportunity, let’s define personalization, the best way to start implementing it, and methods to optimize your efforts.

Defining “personalization” in eCommerce

Personalization and customization can feel like the same thing, but some important distinctions exist. Breaking these out makes it easier to understand personalization and how it can apply in eCommerce operations.

For your website and sales efforts, personalization uses data and customer insights to craft a specific shopping experience for every customer. These efforts may include showing relevant products, serving recommendations, and adjusting content based on the customer’s past behavior.

Companies may also try personalizing service levels or selecting specific pop-ups and overlays based on customer status. 

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Customization, on the other hand, generally refers to customer-driven choices. These range from the obvious (selection or sorting by size, color, price, etc.) to detailed efforts specific to the individual (a customer chooses not to see certain types of products). When you think of customization as something helmed by the customer, you’ll start identifying ways to use their selections to craft personalized experiences.

How personalization creates a better shopping experience

To create a personalized shopping experience, eCommerce businesses need to invest in audience research. By understanding your customers and what they want, you can create an individualized experience that will convert browsers into buyers.

You’ll want to create as complete a picture of the shopper as possible. Ask core experience questions, including:

  • What are their needs that you can and can’t address? 
  • What are their wants or things that tip them over the edge to make a purchase? 
  • What motivates them to make this purchase at this time?
  • Why should they choose you to meet their specific needs and wants?

Once you understand your customers well, you can start creating a shopping experience tailored to them. Take learning about their immediate needs and wants. I

t’s easier to suggest the right products when you know what they’ve recently viewed or what ad they clicked on to get to your site. You’re building based on their tastes and refining suggestions based on what gets that second purchase.

Understanding why someone values your brand can also help you create personalized discounts or special deals that gain shoppers. If you’re known for customer service, you might leverage this for an ad tagline: “World-class customer service meets free shipping on every order over $20.”

It’s more than just a deal; it’s one couched in the language you know they appreciate. Tying it back to shipping and order support also reinforces your brand as one that cares about the customer.

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Finally, it is important to ensure the customer feels valued and appreciated. Thank them for their business and promptly take care of any issues they may have. Creating a positive relationship with your customers ensures they keep returning for more.

3 steps to take to get started with personalization 

To get started with personalization, businesses need to take three steps: collecting data, analyzing data, and implementing personalization.

1. Collect data 

The first step is to collect data about your customers. This could include information such as their demographics, location, what devices they use, what pages they visit on your site, and what products they are interested in. There are a number of ways businesses can collect this data, such as through website cookies, surveys, and customer loyalty programs.

2. Analyze data 

Once you have collected data about your customers, it is important to analyze it to understand their needs and preferences. This will help you determine how to best personalize their shopping experience. Several tools are available to help with this analysis, such as analytics software and customer segmentation tools.

3. Implement personalization 

The final step is to implement personalization into your eCommerce store. This could include creating a personalized homepage, recommending similar products, using data to segment customers into different groups, or offering discounts. By personalizing the shopping experience, businesses can increase conversion rates and average order value.

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The top 5 ways to personalize the shopping experience

Personalization can be an incredibly complex experience or a simpler operation based on your tech stack and the amount of data you use. To get started, there are some core efforts to implement that can start with minimal, current-session data and then move to longer-term tracking and utilization.

1. Use data to recommend products

One of the most effective ways to personalize the shopping experience is to use data to recommend products. This could include data from past purchases, browsing history, and social media activity.

By understanding what customers have bought in the past, businesses can make recommendations for similar or complementary products. This helps customers find what they’re looking for more easily and allows businesses to upsell and cross-sell effectively.

2. Create a personalized homepage

Another way to personalize the shopping experience is to create a personalized homepage. This could include features such as recommended products, recently viewed items, and even a custom welcome message.

By creating a personalized homepage, businesses can make sure that each customer feels valued and that they can easily find what they’re looking for — reinforcing your brand identity as helpful and in-the-know.

Consider tying homepages to traffic and referral sources so that someone looking at your Instagram account hits a page filled with both products and the videos you create. It’s an easy way to start the fruitful process of understanding customer behavior across channels.

3. Use data to create targeted marketing campaigns

Another effective way to personalize the shopping experience is to use data to create targeted marketing campaigns. This involves using customer data to segment customers into different groups and then creating marketing messages that are tailored to each group. This could include offering discounts or special promotions to specific groups of customers. 

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Don’t neglect small lifts here. Greet customers directly by name. Adjust messages based on user region. Adapt to local events and other broader experiences that keep your content from feeling too general, even if it isn’t hyper-personalized.

4. Use data to segment your email list

You can also personalize the shopping experience by segmenting your email list. This involves grouping customers together based on their interests, demographics, or purchase history. Most email marketing tools track detailed customer information you can leverage.

For example, monitoring when customers last visited allows you to email people about how “it’s been a while”. 

By segmenting your email list, you can send more targeted and relevant messages to each group of customers. This can lead to higher open and click-through rates, as well as increased sales and revenue.

5. Personalized product pages by creating variants

The final way to personalize the shopping experience is to use data to create a personalized product page. Or, at least create a page that feels catered to the individual based on broader context and information.

When you can get very detailed, this involves using customer data such as purchase history and browsing behavior to recommend similar or complementary products. You’ll need a dynamic site that can adapt to their history and habits in real-time.

If you don’t have a robust site, consider building blocks for each section of your landing pages or product pages for each SKU. Then, you can create groupings that feel customized because the pre-existing blocks you use match what people see in broader marketing campaigns. As you get more sophisticated, these blocks can then be what you dynamically insert into different elements as the customer shops around your site.

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By creating a personalized product page, businesses can enhance conversion rates and have a better chance for higher order values because of the relevance of up-sell and cross-sell promotions.

The benefits of personalization for businesses

There are many benefits of personalization for businesses. By creating a personalized shopping experience, businesses can increase conversion rates, average order value, and customer loyalty.

Conversion rates improve because customers are more likely to buy from a store that recognizes them and offers products they are interested in. If you’re marketing to the same people, small efforts like using someone’s first name in an email can increase conversion rates.

Companies that personalize offers also tend to see average order values increase in multiple ways. These incentives help push people to make more impulse purchases and reach higher overall orders — a benefit you can compound when making traditional online offers like free shipping on orders of a certain value.

Finally, studies also show that personalization can improve customer loyalty. Studies have found that more than half of people are open to receiving personalized experiences, and 72% who get these end up spending more or buying more often. This is because customers feel appreciated and valued when they are recognized and offered products they look at or follow.

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Overall, personalization is a powerful tool that can help businesses improve conversion rates, average order value, and customer loyalty. When used correctly, it can be a key driver of success for eCommerce businesses.

Create an experience you’d enjoy

When it comes to personalizing the shopping experience, businesses must take a few steps to ensure they are doing it correctly.

First and foremost, they need to collect data about their customers so they can understand their needs and preferences. Once they have this data, they need to analyze it to determine how best to personalize the shopping experience for each customer.

Then, they need to implement personalization into their eCommerce store, which could include creating a personalized homepage, recommending similar products, using data to segment customers into different groups, or offering discounts. 

The final piece, however, is reviewing the effort and ensuring that it adds value to the shopping experience. Ask if it is something you’d enjoy or if the elements and personalization get in the way. You don’t want to be overly burdensome or overly creepy. The aim is to show people what they want to see without them feeling like you’re crunching a lot of data behind the scenes.


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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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