icon-groupAnonymity on the internet is substantially less than it was 15 years ago. Yet retailers are still challenged when trying to provide the ideal experience to customers. On an e-commerce site, it is helpful to think of users in three categories: unknown or new users about whom you know nothing, known users about whom you know something and named users about whom you know the most. How you tailor interactions with these different types of users is the challenge.

The majority of your web visitors are typically unknown. This means they are  a first time visitor who doesn’t bounce off of your site, and clicks on something or hovers for a period of time providing you with some amount of information such as search terms used, click path, dwell times or regional IP address. This is enough data to deliver some level of personalization on their next visit.

When that visitor returns, you add to your knowledge of them the data left by their second visit and they become a known user. While they don’t yet have a name or user ID, they have definitely clicked on products, categories or landing pages. Automated marketing systems track this information so that you can assign this user to a segment or category as well as to personalize on a product level.

The named user has usually made a purchase, created an account, started a wish list or signed up for a newsletter. The amount of information you have depends upon the length of their purchase history as well as the information you require customers to provide  upon entry to your site or upon purchase. Named users are usually a much smaller segment of your population, but a segment that you will want to speak to consistently and personally from product recommendations, to shopping cart personalization to email messages tailored to them. This will deepen your relationship and drive shopper loyalty to your brand.

It is possible to personalize to all types of customer from the known to unknown.  As you move from the implicit data revealed by tracking user behavior to the explicit data gathered by transaction history, it’s possible to deliver a personalized shopping experience based on your shopper’s interests. It is this combination of the implicit and explicit that gives you the power to get closer to the one to one contextual personalization that retailers all want to deliver.