06th Nov, 2023

Personalize the e-Commerce Experience Using Session Data and Generative AI

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In the years since the browser companies began retiring third-party cookies in response to privacy concerns, brands have been looking for alternative ways to personalize the e-commerce experience. We have previously discussed using first and zero-party data collected directly from your customers to create personalized campaigns. In this post, we want to talk about session data.

To do that, I sat down with my colleague Taylor Holmes, Persado Vice President of Business Solutions, to understand how session data can drive campaign performance through stronger personalization, and how we at Persado use it. The following is a summary of our conversation, edited for clarity.

What is session data?

A “session” is a visit or series of visits to your brand’s website within a defined period of time. Google Analytics, for example, sets a session time as 30 minutes by default. Therefore, if a customer visits your site, leaves, and then returns at minute 21, the two visits are one session. 

Session data is the information about the session and what a visitor did during it. It may include (depending on your site’s settings):

  • The visitor’s device and browser type
  • Time of the session
  • Length of active browsing during the session
  • Number of pages/products viewed during the session
  • Different categories of products viewed during the session
  • Number of products added to the shopping cart and which ones
  • Dollar value of the products in the shopping cart

What are the advantages of using session data?

Session data is easy to grab and it’s already there in the browsers. That makes it very fast for companies like Persado to work with brands and use it to personalize digital experiences. Plus there aren’t time-consuming data pipelines to be set up. Brands can start with it and then later hook in other sources of customer data. Those include data from a customer data platform, newsletter subscriptions, and loyalty programs, if they have one.

And remember, session data is anonymous by default so the fears of our coming cookie-less future don’t apply! Though the data individually and collectively still provides key insights about customers and their priorities (more on that below), the customer’s identity is not part of it. This can be a benefit for privacy. One exception is when a web visitor signs into their account at the beginning of the session. If the customer does sign in, a brand can associate the session data with the customer. They may also choose not to. Even if they don’t, brands can leverage session data alone to deliver better personalization.

While session data is often associated with retail e-commerce, it’s an increasingly valuable tool to enhance the online experience across industries. These include financial services, travel, insurance, and other sectors. 

How do brands use session data to gain value?

Information from the web session can allow brands to deliver more personalized and relevant experiences. Information about what products the customer viewed, for example, can inform complementary product recommendations. We’ve all seen those in the form of “people who bought this also bought that” banners on your web screen, “how to style this” pop-ups, and “purchase by midnight for 10% off” offers.

Products are not the only relevant data point in session data. Device type and time of day may seem like less important pieces of information. For certain customers, however, they can speak to their mindset when shopping. As a theoretical example, compare a mid-day visitor on a mobile phone using Safari and browsing the wireless headphone products on your site, with an 8 p.m. desktop visitor using Microsoft Edge. The device and timing for the midday visitor suggests a lunch break or on-the-go context, which may mean they’re rushing. The desktop visitor is likely at home and doing more leisurely research. Those different circumstances invite a different marketing appeal.

Regardless of the customer context, brands using session data are able to bring real-time personalization into their digital experience. Unlike traditional static audience segments based on age, geography, or gender, etc., session data changes as customer behavior evolves. A long-time customer will have a personalized digital experience even as their needs and behavior changes.

Why combine session data with Generative AI?

As the above examples suggest, session data can provide marketers with insights to deliver more personalized experiences. Yet many marketers lack the bandwidth to take advantage of those opportunities. There are often not enough creatives in their organization to draft different messages to appeal to different customers in different situations.

With Generative AI, however, marketers have the potential to create more messages at scale. When informed by session data, those messages can appeal to the specific needs and circumstances of a given customer.

How Persado leverages session data in its Motivation AI platform

Persado Dynamic Motivation is an enterprise Generative AI solution that specifically leverages session data to deliver a personalized message for a given customer based on their session attributes. It produces language designed to drive high campaign engagement and conversions, especially in the online shopping cart. This is a critical last step in the customer journey where the industry average abandonment rate is more than 70%. Persado leverages insights from 10+ years of customer interactions to generate language that motivates customers to engage and act, producing business results.

We start by generating a content library that the brand fully approves, so marketing teams still have control over their language and brand voice. Persado creates up to 10 different versions of a message to populate the library. For example, it could be ten versions of the shopping cart page, a typically under prioritized target for personalization. For the first few hours after going live with a campaign, each version is evenly and randomly presented to visitors. The algorithm learns from those impressions which combinations of session data attributes and messages are associated with specific actions. These can include conversion, adding additional products for purchase, or even cart abandonment.

Seeing these patterns allows the Persado AI to deliver the version of the message with the greatest potential to drive conversion for a given visitor. We do this at a global scale.

For that theoretical customer who visits a brand website looking for wireless earbuds on their mobile phone, the brand may learn that the message emphasizing urgency and fast delivery drives more conversions. In contrast, a message emphasizing product dependability may motivate the night-time visitor on their desktop.

Getting the message right makes all the difference in campaign impact. Persado data shows that Dynamic Motivation drives between 3-5% higher conversion in the online shopping cart.

Does using session data prevent brands from using other forms of data to personalize e-commerce experiences?

Leveraging session data with Generative AI is an easy way to personalize the e-commerce experience. Many Persado customers find that it is fast and easy to start, with quick time to value. They do not have to stop there, however.

For example, Persado customers that also utilize the Snowflake Data Cloud can integrate zero and first-party data easily into Persado Dynamic Motivation to determine if additional customer attributes increase customer conversions. Likewise, brands that leverage Namogoo and its customer journey orchestration technology can deliver more relevant customer journeys that drive conversion.

In the world of marketing, increased personalization is universally desired. Yet it is also universally challenging to achieve while protecting customer privacy and working within the limits of your organization’s data maturity. Using session data with Generative AI gives brands an easy, fast, and high-value approach to improve the e-commerce customer experience…and help you get ahead as we await the inevitable cookie-less times!

Request a risk-free trial of Dynamic Motivation today and see how session data and Generative AI drive ROI in just weeks by bringing personalized messaging to the online cart.

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