Developing a New Ecommerce Product? Here’s Why Personalization Should Be Part of Your Launch Strategy

Guest Author

Here’s a mantra for every ecommerce launch: “We sell to people.” That’s true whether you’re a B2C retailer of rehabbed fashions or a B2B digital storefront offering tech support services. Ultimately, a human makes the decision to buy from you.

It’s why personalization is so critical. Your buyer expects to be treated uniquely and as an individual and to interact directly with your business. An intriguing statistic backs this up: Buyers message ecommerce businesses a lot. They expect conversations with their suppliers. In fact, 61% of U.S. consumers messaged a business in the past three months.

What this means when you’re launching a product is that you don’t just give lip service to personalization as an abstract concept. Instead, you make human touchpoints a critical part of your ecommerce product launch strategy—from concept and design, throughout development, and finally during your launch marketing. One of the best ways to do this is by turning to current customer interactions and information.

People are at the center of trying, buying, using, and advocating for products. In today’s world of social sharing and customer sentiment, tapping into your customers and their experiences with you (and with your competitors) can give you an advantage in launching new products.

CM-Commerce founder Adii Pienaar talks about the best way to launch ecommerce products in this video.

Customers have opinions and nuanced preferences. Leverage their feedback and engagement with your business to shape your product’s direction and launch.

To help you with this personalization effort as you plan and launch your new product, we’ve outlined five actionable ways to ensure you infuse that human touch.

1. Identify your most engaged customers and funnel them into your product concept.

Customers who are fully engaged represent a 23% higher share of profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared with the average customer, according to Gallup research.

Additionally, your most engaged customers spend more with your business. For example, in the consumer electronics industry, engaged customers spend $373 per shopping trip, while disengaged customers spend $289.

Check past product reviews and look for the top 20 customers who provided in-depth, comprehensive, and helpful reviews—particularly where the discussion focused on product improvement.

The reviews should be used as the source of ideas for your new products. Then, move on to using the reviews’ authors to help inform your product development.

Drop, formerly Massdrop, often uses this approach of crowd-sourcing product design ideas for with its most engaged customers to develop music and electronics gear:

email image from Drop (formerly Massdrop). Headline says "You voted for it. Now it's here."

2. Interact with your most engaged customers during product ideation to improve product development and marketing.

Tap your engaged customers and ask for their initial feedback on your ideas. Show them sketches. Tell them the product’s benefits, and ask how the product would be helpful to them. Show them product packaging ideas, and ask for feedback on possible names.

By bringing engaged customers into your development phases, you can identify where and how to add personalization. You will have access, after all, to engaged users of your products.

By showing customers that their input is valuable, you also are ensuring future loyalty and involvement, which will be evident to prospective customers.

Wiivv, a maker insoles, did just that with a pre-order email offer to existing customers thanking them for their input on a new product, Paaww custom pet insoles:

email example from Wiivv "Introducing Paaww Custom Pet Insoles" with dog paws and a video

Additionally, engaged customer feedback can help you tailor your marketing and email campaigns to align with the topics, themes, and features of most interest to like customers. It also can help you identify personalized messaging based on your knowledge of your engaged customers: their business verticals, their sizes, their go-to-market needs, and specifics about their staffing.

Go deep and personal in your email campaigns. See our guide “The Power of Email Personalization to Reach Humans (Not Just Inboxes).

3. Send a beta version of your product to existing customers whose reviews and feedback have helped shape product development.

This is done in the spirit of gratitude: Their feedback helped you finesse and perfect your offering during product development. Giving them an early peek during a beta release says “thank you,” but it also gives you a chance to test product features with real-world users.

This is the route taken by Dropbox, which then used a follow-up email to solicit feedback to shape its final release:

Follow-up email example from Dropbox about using their product Dropbox Paper, inviting the recipient to take a survey

An additional idea: Surprise your customers with a small gesture to delight them, such as sending a personalized email with a link to the beta product or site.

4. Build in personalization by supporting social proof.

Once customers have had time to try your new product, ask them to provide a review. Even ask them to include some photos using your new product.

Social proof drives up conversions because people see other people like themselves using your product.

Across industries, the average uplift in conversion rates between visitors who see content created by customers and those who do not is 161%. It’s even larger for apparel (207%), health and beauty (203%), and food and beverage (203%), reports Search Engine Journal.

The product ratings and reviews tool in CM Commerce “have been especially great,” says Aron Schoenfeld, CEO of premium coffee seller Cafe Joe USA. “The team made it super easy for us to use this social proof in our emails, which means that our abandoned cart recovery rate is almost 12%. The reporting has also allowed us to figure out what products sell best, and customer reviews have helped us determine what our customers’ biggest obstacles and challenges are.”

Cafe Joe uses the reviews in most of its email, like this special offer message following an abandoned cart:

Email example from Cafe Joe with a product review and special discount

5. Use authentic product reviews on launch day and in your email marketing.

With authentic reviews available to you from your engaged customer focus group, you won’t need to hire a copywriter to create sales copy. Instead, on launch day, your website and your emails to prospects can tap those reviews.

This way, would-be customers can read honest-to-goodness product reviews written by existing customers who have tried your product and are able to offer experienced results firsthand. That immediacy makes your offering feel more personal by creating a touchpoint, a personal connection, between the reviewers and your prospective customers.

And because you’ve already built social proof for your product, the likelihood that someone will buy it increases. Displaying reviews can drive up conversion by as much as 270%, reports Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research in “How Online Reviews Influence Sales.” Since reviews drive purchase, you now have a chance, as well, to grow your engaged base.

Wrap up

Remember that mantra “We sell to people.” Start from that premise with each new product your ecommerce business launches.

From there, look to your existing customer base to bring human experience and personalization into your product—from conception and development to initial delivery and marketing.

Your team should consider your most engaged customers as an extension of its internal testing team—an avenue for obtaining feedback and knowledge that will let you further personalize features as you go.

Finally, let your engaged customers help you create social proof and real-world content for your marketing.

From welcome emails to re-engagement campaigns and beyond, we seamlessly integrate with your ecommerce platforms—Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce—so you’ll have all the features you need to exceed your goals. Learn more about emails with CM Commerce here.