How to Impact the Path to Purchase with Predictive Analytics

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As an online retailer, you often have to act as a palm reader to gain a better understanding of how you can improve the shopping experience on your site. What are customers going to want to be greeted with? What products would you recommend for them to purchase next time? Would they appreciate an upsell? All of these different factors can certainly improve the shopping experience, but they have to be delivered appropriately.

Paving the perfect path to purchase can be a daunting task, mainly because most of your shoppers are strangers. You don’t know them on a personal level, you just know that they are on your site, and they are obviously interested in something that you carry. If you had a better understanding of what they enjoy and where they come from, you could help tailor the customer experience and help them reach the checkout screen. Not all shoppers will make it to this final, ideal destination on your site, but there are definitely ways you can help increase the odds.

Like a Crystal Ball

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Predictive analytics provides you with the ability to look to the past for answers. To put it in a physical setting, imagine having episodic flashbacks similar to Raven Symone’s. Only instead of seeing the future, you can get a glimpse of the past, and be able to fix any mistakes that may have led to that shopper leaving your site.

It’s important to know your shoppers’ tendencies. Where did they come from? What did they want last time? For returning customers, you can absolutely leverage this information to improve the overall shopping experience on the path to purchase on your site. Predictive analytics improves with historical shopper data, but specific shopper data is not a necessity for predictive analytics.

Predictive analytics can go beyond returning customers, and improve the experience for all kinds of shoppers. The secret to success with predictive analytics lies in a small, but powerful word: tags. Managing tags on your site can show you how customers are beginning their experience on your site. Adwords and Google Analytics tags are just two examples of this.

Place Customers at the Correct Starting Point

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To put it in an empirical setting, if someone visits your site from a paid ad on Google, your Adwords tag will fire and indicate that a shopper came from an ad. This information can help you layout a clear path for them to follow tailored to what keyword they searched for to spur the ad.

You can provide different landing pages according to the keyword that was searched. Make sure the proper landing page is set up within the ad to present exactly what they’re looking for, simplifying the search process. Basically, you’re going to want to direct consumers to what they were searching for in the first place. Nothing is more frustrating than being directed to a landing page that doesn’t offer what you’re looking for. Make sure your site entices the shopper the same way the ad did.

Use Predictive Analytics to Provide Social Proof

Social media is one of the most beneficial ways to get your brand name out there, and it helps improve loyalty. You can plan your shopper’s path to purchase from your brand’s social media account. It’s also a great source of traffic to your store. You can tailor your experience according to your shopper’s social data. If they traveled to your site from a certain posting on your account, you can direct them to exactly what they’re looking for and predict what they’re going to purchase.

Predictive analytics can also simplify the entire path to purchase. Remembering historical orders to recommend products can improve your average order value and help you predict what your shoppers will be interested in purchasing in the future. It can also remember payment info, streamlining the entire checkout process. If you know that a customer visited from a social site, you know they would value social proof in reviews.

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Use hashtags to discover tweets that can be featured on a specific product’s page. This can help convince a shopper who was previously unsure about making a purchase. Another way to incorporate social into the purchasing process is by providing a number of likes for a certain product directly from Facebook. The reassurance that real people enjoy the product in question can also aid in the purchase decision process.

The path to purchase can be a bumpy one, full of possible twists and turns that can throw off many shoppers. However, by leveraging historical data and predictive analytics, you can smooth out the process. By getting a solid read of who your customers are and where they come from, you can drastically improve the shopping experience on your site. It’s like you’re running a psychic shop, and instead of using mere speculation you’re using concrete data to make informed decisions.

Contributing Writer: Brian Smyth

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Arie Shpanya

Arie is the COO, Executive Chairman, and Co-Founder of Wiser, a dynamic pricing and merchandising engine for online retailers and brands. He has extensive experience in business development with a focus on eCommerce (eBay and Amazon), and is a guest blogger on Econsultancy, VentureBeat, and more.