Homepage Personalization Tips for First Time Web Customers

With the evolution of landing pages, direct links and comparison shopping websites, homepages are seeing less traffic than in previous years. However - don't count them out. The homepage still plays a valuable role in the customer experience. The research overwhelmingly says that customers want a personalized, 1:1 experience with the sites they visit. The homepage is no exception to this rule, and for people coming to your site for the first time, the homepage is your chance to make a good first impression that will last throughout the buying process.

Personalizing the homepage for these first-time visitors with accurate product recommendations is the way to do it. For first time visitors, it is important to make educated predictions based on information they provide before entering the site and also rely on some "wisdom of the crowds," i.e. trending and popular products. When a consumer first arrives on a site, provide that shopper with predictive product recommendations based on these best practices.

Best Practice: New and Notable

When new products arrive in the catalog and have instant popularity, update these products in real-time to keep customers engaged. By displaying these product recommendations (especially in the fashion or apparel vertical), consumers have proven to return more often to see the newest style and trends.

Best Practice: Customer Favorite

Shoppers love to see what other shoppers are viewing and purchasing. Make popular products available to shoppers the second they arrive on the site and dynamically update these products as preferences change. There are many reasons a product may become popular (or unpopular) and that status can change very quickly, so it's important to watch consumer's click patterns in real-time, then display the products that are trending globally.

Best Practice: Geo-Location Recommendations

A customer's geographic location can make a significant difference in the products that should be displayed and on the consumer's experience, overall. For instance, retailers who sell sporting goods can display apparel based on the individual's home team or activities related to the weather in that area.

Presenting first-time shoppers with a more personalized experience will reduce bounce rates, improve click-thrus and increase time on the site. As the customer spends more time, retailers can start to deliver product recommendations that are based on that individual's likes, dislikes and general site behavior. This first small step toward personalization can improve the entire shopping experience, engage first time consumers and start to build consumer loyalty and trust, which means a greater lifetime value and topline sales.

About the Author: Eric Tobias is president of iGoDigital, a leading provider of personalization and product recommendation tools that guide smarter retail for 8 of the 10 top online retailers and many of the world's most successful retail brands, including Amazon, Staples, Wal-Mart, P&G, OnlineShoes and Scholastic.