6 Ways Ecommerce Sites can Benefit from AI in Digital Marketing
| July 28th 2023
Love it or feel apprehensive about it, Artificial Intelligence is making serious waves in the world of digital marketing. But the question online retailers are asking is, are there any specific benefits of AI in ecommerce? There are indeed, and they are precisely what we’ll be exploring in this post.
It’s difficult these days not to get into a conversation about Artificial Intelligence, especially if you’re in business, and even more so if you’ve got a digital marketing strategy on the go.
AI is making waves in the world of sales, marketing and customer service, by cutting down the time needed to carry out repetitive tasks. And when it’s used to save time and free up staff to focus more on what matters to customers and clients, it can actually be a very powerful ally. And that’s something that businesses of all types and in all industries – including online retailers – are quickly starting to discover.
Many online businesses are already realising the benefits of AI in ecommerce. And that’s because the technology has the power to target new customers and generate leads, retain existing customers, create personalised shopping experiences, and use valuable data to its maximum potential.
Here are just a few ways using AI in ecommerce can prove seriously advantageous, especially when used side by side with an ecommerce SEO campaign…
1. Personalising the customer experience
Consumers love a personalised experience. In fact, 66% of customers actually expect brands to understand their individual needs. And they feel special when they’re given personalised recommendations. It’s like having a personal shopper… a real ‘Harrods’ experience.
But there are challenges in manually creating personalised customer experiences that work on an individual level. And this is where Artificial Intelligence comes in.
AI has the power to analyse the data collected every time a customer visits or transacts with an ecommerce website, using it to generate personalised recommendations based on search and shopping patterns and habits. It can also look at other shoppers with similar habits, and recommend products that match their purchase history.
AI can be used to track visitor behaviour onsite. It can also be incorporated into a chatbot or virtual assistant that actually ‘speaks’ to customers during their visit and asks them what they’re looking for and why, so it can help point them towards recommended products, or help pages.
Personalisation like this can boost trust and loyalty. And both of those can drive sales.
2. Targeted marketing
One of the core benefits of AI in ecommerce has to be its ability to make targeted marketing strategies a whole lot easier.
Getting the right message to the right people at the right time is vital if you’re going to trump your ecommerce competitors. But this level of targeting can be wily to master.
The good news is that AI is here to simplify the process of segmenting audiences, and it can hone in on a whole host of demographics. From past browsing or buying behaviours, to lifestyle and pain points, all of this hugely valuable data can be used to target ad campaigns and marketing strategies across an array of channels. And it doesn’t stop there.
AI can also predict which channels individuals will most likely use, allowing you to make your content and adverts more engaging and relevant.
Abandoned baskets can also be followed up using AI, which will automate messages reminding the customer to check out, maybe even adding an incentive to do so in a set timeframe.
3. Enhanced customer loyalty
There’s a whole lot more profit to be made in selling to customers you’ve already got, than to ones you’re yet to get.
Loyal customers are a valuable asset. They often spend more than new customers, and act as a valuable ally by recommending friends, family and followers.
One of the benefits of AI in ecommerce is that you can use it to boost customer retention and promote brand loyalty in a number of ways.
As well as sharing personalised product recommendations based on past purchases, and timely reminders to restock on regularly purchased items, AI can pick up on seasonal trends and consumer buying habits, making customised suggestions on new products that may spark interest for the customer.
4. Making search smart (“searchandising”)
The search box on an ecommerce website is a much-used tool. Customers often want to go straight to the product they’re looking for, and these are the very customers that are most likely to make a purchase, compared to ‘window shoppers’ who are simply browsing around. But finding the actual item you’re looking for? Well it’s not always as easy as it would appear.
Enter AI smart search. Also known as ‘searchandising’, or ‘search merchandising’, this involves customising and organising search results so that they fit a set of rules or criteria. The ultimate goal here is to drive ecommerce conversions and sales.
The process combines merchandising techniques with online search processes. You’ll know you’re using smart search when you start typing into the search box, and you see a list of suggestions or an autocomplete prompt. Smart search also encompasses recommended product listings and recent searches to help shoppers find what they’re looking for more easily.
5. Automated marketing and customer support
These days, consumers expect to be able to go shopping whenever the mood takes them, making 24/7 ecommerce availability an absolute must. And that’s where automating certain processes so things still tick over out of hours can be so beneficial.
There are countless repetitive tasks that can be streamlined by using AI in ecommerce.
In terms of marketing, all sorts of processes can be automated using AI, such as:
- Featuring new arrivals across multiple channels
- Showcasing special offers, multi-buys and end of line clearance deals
- Displaying related products and recommended accessories or add-ons
The technology can also be used to recognise returning customers and make them feel valued with a special loyalty discount, as well as identifying first-time visitors and presenting them with an enticing introductory offer.
Customer service AI chatbots or virtual assistants can also be put in place to answer routine queries and point customers in the right direction to products or help pages.
All of these automations have the power to free up staff, allowing them increased time to focus on more complicated requests and customer-facing tasks.
Remarketing strategies can be very powerful. According to Spiralytics, retargeted users are more likely to convert by 70%.
Using AI in ecommerce makes it possible to identify an individual customer’s behavioural patterns based on their most viewed or purchased items, and sales generated.
This data can then be used to attract them back at a later date, either to re-purchase a regularly bought item, to check out the latest new arrivals, or to consider something complementary to what they bought on their last visit.
AI in ecommerce – a few words of warning
At Figment, we’ve embraced the Artificial Intelligence revolution, but only to the extent where we’re making use of AI to automate repetitive tasks and streamline everyday processes. The good news is that it’s freeing up our SEO specialists, technical experts and strategists to focus on more complex tasks, and on delivering better value to our clients.
With this in mind, we felt it important to add a few words of warning to our suggestions for using AI in ecommerce…
Run spot checks… you probably wouldn’t let a new apprentice loose on your customers without checking their work and making sure they are meeting your strict service parameters.
The same should go for AI. Automating processes such as targeted marketing is all very well and time-saving, but if you get it wrong, it could be very costly, not to mention damaging for your brand reputation. AI is a highly ingenious technology. But it is by no means fool proof.
So be sure to regularly check the suggestions it’s making from the data it’s crunching, and apply the human touch to make sure you are sending the right message to the right customer at the right time.
Avoid over-automating… if you’re using chatbots or virtual assistants on your ecommerce website, always make sure your customers can access a human any time they need to. Or at least, if they’re shopping out of hours, allow them to book a callback or request a reply for the next day.
It can be frustrating when you can’t get the help you need and you find yourself going round in automated circles, feeling as though you’re not valued enough for human assistance. Never let AI make you become a faceless organisation, because that seems to be one of the biggest AI-related fears amongst consumers.
Looking for a forward-thinking ecommerce SEO partner?
If you’re looking to make sure your ecommerce website appears above your competitors in the search results, talk to Figment.
Our specialist expertise and vast experience in SEO for ecommerce websites has netted success for numerous online retailers. And our knowledge of how to make the best use of AI in ecommerce has allowed us to significantly optimise results for our clients.
To discuss your ecommerce SEO vision, please get in touch with our team.