Back to basics: Why personalization?

By Ian Nadeau on January 9, 2023

Ecommerce is in a state of flux — adapting business strategies to handle the possibility of an economic recession. This alone is a major concern for digital brands, however, it’s not the only bridge to gap for a successful 2023 as the COVID pandemic more than doubled the number of ecommerce sites. With consumers tightening their wallets and a growing list of competitors, how can ecommerce brands come out on top? The short answer: Personalization. 

Personalization requires leveraging analytics and delivering individual experiences in real-time. This means understanding who the visitor is, why they’re on your site, and how to get them to their intended destination. Brands that are able to synthesize this data and deploy tailored site visits see a 10%-15% revenue lift. While the effort of implementing personalization is worth the results, execution is becoming increasingly difficult due to less third-party data and unpredictable consumer behavior. 

A Vanson Bourne survey of 100 U.S. ecommerce decision makers found that 93% of them agree that ecommerce personalization will become more difficult when third-party cookies are phased out. Further, respondents said that over 15% of their ecommerce budget is going towards solving third-party deprecation.

The solution for personalization needs to be innovative to deal with unprecedented shifts in consumer behavior. According to a McKinsey study, 75% of consumers tried a new shopping behavior in the last 18 months, and more than 80% of those intend to continue with new behaviors.

How are ecommerce brands responding to the challenges of personalization? 

Personalization begins with insights based on the customer data that the business collects through various channels. The deeper the customer knowledge the more powerful the personalization — provided the right solution is in place.

There are five traditional approaches to personalization: Digital commerce platform, communication channel, product affiliation, localization, and recommendations. And spoiler…an effective new approach.

Digital commerce platform 

A digital commerce platform allows the user to tailor their experience through the setting of preferences. This could be saving payment information to streamline checkout on future purchases, adding clothing sizes for better recommendations, or following specific social media pages for a relevant feed. 

Communication channel

Brands can enable the visitor to specify their preferred channel of communication (e.g., email or text). This makes outreach efforts feel less intrusive and more welcome as the messaging meets the consumer on their terms.

Product affiliation

Businesses are partnering with affiliates to share their products and services through various channels such as social platforms, blogs, and podcasts.

Affiliates typically have audiences that fit similar profiles, allowing brands to choose those with the followers most likely to respond to their marketing efforts.  


Understanding where the user is located can help provide better personalization in the form of the right currency, sizes, and products — for example, some items may only be available domestically.


When a visitor clicks on a product page or adds something to their cart, brands can recommend products that are similar or supplementary (such as You May Also Like or People Who Bought This Also Bought). Adding recommendations can enhance the customer experience as they are likely relevant to what that consumer is shopping for in that moment. 

In-session marketing: The newest approach to personalization

All five of the above approaches are effective, yet even their combined efforts take a backseat to the newest method of personalization: in-session marketing. In-session marketing (ISM) uses real-time analytics to monitor every user on your digital properties and observe micro-behaviors through clickstream data. These micro-behaviors fuel the artificial intelligence and machine learning that empower ISM to drive conversions with tailored experiences built on algorithmic models.

Marketers are worried about the decline in third-party data. By focusing on clickstream data, ISM lets ecommerce brands effectively action based on in-the-moment activity — providing more relevant customer journeys when compared to those using historical, CRM, and third-party data. 

In-session marketing also solves for the erratic behavior of today’s consumer — focusing only on what’s happening in the moment.

As customers interact with a site, a narrative around their intent begins to develop. Are they planning to purchase or are they just looking? Are there other products they could be interested in based on the pages they’re visiting? In-session marketing creates the peak personalized experience by simulating a conversation between the consumer and the brand, where consumer intent gets a relevant response.

The Vanson Bourne study asked the 100 participants about the value of in-session marketing — for the purpose of the survey, ‘in-session marketing’ is defined as an AI algorithm that targets online consumers in real-time with personalized, relevant content without the need for third-party data.

  • 97% agree that in-session marketing can be a cost-effective strategy when added to traditional marketing methods if implemented correctly
  • 98% agree that in-session marketing can provide a more timely personalized experience than traditional marketing strategies

Learn more about Session AI’s in-session marketing platform and how the personalization it unlocks has helped create millions in incremental revenue for leading ecommerce brands.

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