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Real-Time Personalization: Why Understanding Consumer Behavior is the Secret to Crafting 1:1 Customer Experiences
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Real-Time Personalization: Why Understanding Consumer Behavior is the Secret to Crafting 1:1 Customer Experiences

real time personalization

The Disruptive Brands

The advent of the World Wide Web and the upsurge of ‘disruptive brands’ like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Visa, Ford, etc. changed the very way our lives functioned. These brands laid the foundation for ‘consumer convenience’ that we enjoy today from the safety of our homes even amidst a global pandemic. 

Today we say ‘Google it’ if we want to find answers for a query, making the brand a verb in itself. In 1958, Visa revolutionized the way consumers shopped – ‘spend credit instead of cash’. ‘Netflix and chill’ has become an activity in itself. Without Ford inventing the moving assembly line, we might all be walking to work today (or, not have cars sitting idly in our parking lots and garages in this pandemic!)

Are you beginning to see why we call these brands disruptive?

Let’s look at one particular inspiring brand that’s become a part of our lives:

In 1994, Amazon started as an online bookstore – a very niche beginning! Today, it retails everything a customer might need from retail products to OTT content  to an e-reader. 

How did Amazon transition to the major global company it is today?

A simple vision that Jeff Bezos believes in: “Our Vision is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”

No, aligning your brand to a customer is not ‘Customer-Centricity’ that is ‘Customer Orientation’.

What is the difference you ask?

If you are a ‘Customer-Centric’ brand, these are the things you focus on:

  • You truly understand your customers – dive deep into consumer behavioral psychology 
  • Proactive innovation around the analytical insights you derived by understanding behavioural psychology 
  • You have a laser focus on the end-to-end journey of your customer – across platforms, channels, and devices

Each customer is an individual with unique personality traits, mindsets, expectations, and preferences.Which obviously means a powerful 1:1 personalization strategy is the key. 

You know this! 

But how do you go about personalization and what is the behavioral science or – simply put – the logical reasoning behind this?

Let’s start!

Understand your customer’s persona by analyzing their behavioral patterns, shopping intents, purchase habits, and relevant demographic and geolocation data-points to create a unified customer view.


Along with understanding your customers comes a greater responsibility of tracking good quality and quantity of data. The better your understanding of your customers, your data quality will be richer and your AI-engine will empower you with a smarter performance.

Based on this, there can be broadly 4 customer personas:

  • The Focused Customer
  • The Cognizant Customer 
  • The Explorative Customer 
  • The Disinterested Customer

1.The Focused Customer

Persona: He/She has already decided to buy a specific product.

Action on website: Searches for the required product, clicks on one product, and heads straight towards checkout. 

The conversion journey is straightforward.

How can you personalize your website in real-time for this type of customer?

Data: Track real-time customer data like gender, geolocation, device, time of the day etc.  Map these with your database to find out if this customer is a first-time visitor or an existing customer.

Actionable Personalization: Customize your website home page and navigation flow:

  • Mapping the customer to your database, you can use website personalization to change dynamic website elements like the home page banner to include an existing customer’s name
  • Use real-time customer data like gender to show specific products and personalize the home page banner based on location, gender or time of the day

For instance: See how Nike recognized me as a female and personalized their home page in real-time to display a female donning Nike apparel as a visually prominent banner image.

home page personalization in real-time

For instance: Netflix recognizes a returning subscriber from India and dynamically personalizes their website to show the below banner

Dynamic Personalization

Why does this work? 

Salience Bias!

In layman terms, this principle states that our brain prefers to pay attention to elements that are prominent or that emotionally resonate with us. 

But having said that, it is important for you, as a marketer, to recognize the relevant salience bias attributes for your customer and your brand. That’s the only way to be truly ‘Customer-Centric’.

It becomes more relevant for Nike to recognize and use a customer’s gender over location to personalize their website home page; whereas it is more relevant for Netflix to recognize and use a customer’s location over gender. 

2.The Cognizant Customer

Persona: He/She will make an informed purchase by evaluating various aspects of the product. 

Action on website: Searches for a product, browses through various options available, and may hover over different items on a webpage for several minutes. Compares products based on price, product ratings, customer reviews etc. and then the customer decides to buy or drop-off.

Data: Capture the customer’s eyeball data (products both noticed and ignored), products searched for, viewed, added-to-cart, gender, geolocation, device type. If it is a repeat customer – historical purchases, offline purchases, responses to marketing campaigns, etc. 

Actionable Personalization: Show relevant product recommendations on your home page and marketing campaigns across channels

  • Using the customer’s past purchase data, abandoned cart data etc., you can personalize your home page to show relevant product recommendations
  • Recognize what your customer enters in the search tab, his/her past searches and use this valuable information to show contextual product recommendations, educate this customer, show what other customers looking for the same product are buying
  • If the customer drops off or abandons the cart, you can send personalized product recommendations over email; nudging him/her to complete the purchase

For instance:  See how Amazon understands that a customer might not know which product to buy, but recognizes that the customer needs a budget friendly semi-automatic machine – based on the search input. 

personalized product recommendations

For instance:  When a customer searches, he/she shows an intent to buy. Tap this! Send product recommendations via various channels.

product recommendations via various channels.

Why does this work? 

Information – is the key!

Educating the customer empowers your customer with a sense of control. Based on the data, he/she can still make the decision that is most suited to him/her personally.

You know why Alexa is a hit? 

It taps into every human’s desire to be heard, understood, and to stay in control. 

For Instance: Based on a customer’s previous search history, you can recommend best-selling products in that category. 

recommend best-selling products based on search history

Why does this work? 


Understand that this ‘Cognizant Customer’ might not know what is the best product, but by showing best-selling or trending products in the relevant category, you can tap into the subtle behavioral economics theory of  “Relativity”. This states that humans don’t know what is best until we compare it with something similar/popular.

3.The Explorative Customer

Persona: He/She is leisurely shopping. 

Action on website: The customer might flit between multiple pages and several product categories, might purchase or might drop-off.

Data: Gather and leverage the customer’s eyeball data, products searched for, viewed, added-to-cart, gender, geolocation, device type etc.

(Psst…I have a personal bias to this persona of customers because it opens up so many opportunities to cross-sell, upsell, improve CLTV, etc.!)

Actionable Personalization: Show personalized product/category recommendations on your homepage and as app push notifications

  • Use demographic data like gender available to you and reorder your category page to suit a particular customer
  • Use the past purchase data you have – to create personalized virtual storefronts, with products across categories shown
  • Personalize the homepage banner to show relevant products across categories with encouraging discounts or coupon codes
  • Send product recommendations on email or trigger relevant exit intent popups/web messages banners with actionable CTAs or a personalized app push notification

For instance: Amazon created a virtual storefront for me with cross-category recommendations.

virtual storefront with cross-category recommendations.

For instance: While a customer is leisurely browsing, on the homepage, Amazon decides to   show product recommendations across categories – based on past search data.

product recommendations across categories - based on past search data.

For instance: Leesa Mattress shows the customer personalized exit intent popups/web messages based on that particular session’s search data.

popups/web messages based on that particular session’s search data.

For instance: If a customer has dropped-off without transacting, don’t fret! Send them personalized product recommendations on emails or via app push notifications.

personalized product recommendations on emails or via app push notifications.

Why does this work? 

Tap on the human need to feel significant and heard!

Validate your customer’s choice and desires – let them know that you see and understand them and that your message to them, or conversation with them, isn’t just a shot in the dark. It’s about something you thought would be relevant to them individually –  build your credibility! 

Another major pain-point for this type of customer is discovering the right product. So step in and solve that problem for him/her. 

4.The Disinterested Customer

Persona: He/She will leave your website quickly or abandon their cart.

Action on website: Visits your website, fills a few steps in a form then drops off, adds a product and then abandons it, browses but does not transact etc.

Don’t forget that this category of customer is very crucial! Studying their behavior on your website will help you uncover your website flaws and gaps in the overall customer experience you haven’t yet addressed. 

For instance: As a brand put in that extra effort to understand your customer, especially the ones who have decided to abandon your website quickly.

understanding customer behavior through feedback questions.

Have the courage to be disliked! 

Data: Focus on the customer’s eyeball data – to find the exact website frame at which he/she dropped off, products searched for in the past, products viewed, added-to-cart etc.

Actionable Personalization: Show personalized popups to increase user retention 

  • Based on their session search behavior, send personalized app push notifications with deals or email with ‘Just for you coupons’
  • Show personalized exit intent popups/web messages to urge them to transact
  • When a customer fills a form, it signals intent. Use this data they provide there and personalize your home page banner the next time the customer lands on your website. Urge him/her to continue with what they abandoned 

For instance: Observe how this food delivery app, urges a customer to order with relevant food recommendations based on past searches and coupled with a personalized coupon code

 food delivery app sends recommendations based on past searches, coupled with a personalized coupon code

For instance: Observe how Amazon is urging a customer to transact by sending personalized product recommendations

ersonalized product recommendations

For instance: Observe how this consulting brand has understood the exact pain-points of its customers and why they might drop off. 

 consulting brand has understood the exact pain-points of its customers

Why does this work?

Customers become dormant because of several reasons.

We have narrowed down the reasons to 2 broad categories:

  • Loss of Motivation
  • Hindered Ability 

For instance:

  • Loss of Motivation: Your customers don’t understand how the shipping/delivery costs are calculated. They lose the motivation to transact and wander off someplace else
  • Hindered Ability: A customer clicked on a social media ad for perfumes and landed on your website to only see a generic website home page banner with no word about the perfume advertised in plain sight. This hinders their purchase

The Ultimate path to Nirvana – Customer Centricity 

Remember that your customers are individual humans. Unique personalities. With their own set of needs, wants, expectations, preferences, and attitudes. They are naturally the happiest when they are recognized, valued as individuals, when they feel safe, and in control of their own experiences. 

Consumer behaviour + AI-led Personalization = Customer Retention 

Get inspired by a brand which achieved this ultimate nirvana!

Also remember:

Once your customers have experienced personalized customer experiences consistently, they won’t settle for anything less! 

Unlock unmatched customer experiences,
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