When talking about the ecommerce experience, we hear it again and again: The fewer the clicks, the better. Why? Fewer clicks means less friction and time spent browsing on the user end—meaning it’s less likely that the customer will bounce, or drop off. Makes sense, right?
Well, not always.
One of the big exceptions to the rule is the ecommerce quiz. Here, ecommerce sites ask their customers a series of questions in order to get to know them on a deeper level and offer more effective, more personalized product recommendations.
It may sound counterintuitive at first that adding more clicks results in more customer engagement and conversions—but Ben Parr, co-founder and president of Octane AI, says that when you look at the numbers, it makes complete sense. “The more questions you ask, the deeper the quiz goes,” he says.
In other words, those extra clicks help build a relationship—and in ecommerce, the customer relationship is everything. It helps the customer learn something about themself and the brand, helping them get closer to the products they’re looking for. And it helps the merchant learn key takeaways about the customer, which they can then use to personalize not only their product recommendations, but also everything from their design to their content.
Recently, we got the chance to sit down with Ben to dig deep into conversational commerce, or humanized commerce, and the power of the product recommendation ecommerce quiz. We discussed examples of how different brands have used their quizzes to meet their customers where they are, pivoting their approach to acquisition, and broke down how ecommerce marketers can offer personalized product suggestions across the customer journey.
The changing commerce landscape
To understand why personalization is so crucial in ecommerce, let’s take a step back and look at the brick and mortar shopping experience.
When you walk into a store, there’s a human element to the shopping experience: the concierge. A salesperson will greet you, ask questions about your preferences, and provide guidance on products. This gives you confidence in your purchase, but it also provides an opportunity to build a relationship with the retailer through that conversation.
Many ecommerce customers, says Ben, don’t know what they want, and are looking for guidance. In fact, a significant percentage of shoppers were doing the majority or all of their purchasing in brick and mortar stores until the last year due to the pandemic, when the ecommerce audience skyrocketed.
“The vast majority of people, this is the first time they’ve ever done ecommerce really. And so they’re looking for that equivalent experience. You need to deliver that for them, that humanized, suggestion, that concierge.”Ben Parr, Co-Founder & President of Octane AI
There really hasn’t been an equivalent to this human element in ecommerce, says Ben, until conversational commerce.
What is conversational commerce?
Conversational commerce is an ecommerce approach where social interaction tools like chatbots, live representatives, and voice technology are used to sell products and services. With conversational commerce, customers can have a back-and-forth exchange with your brand over a messaging app, SMS, or a quiz.
“Most commerce online is typically a one-way kind of thing,” says Ben. But with conversational commerce—which Ben prefers to call humanized commerce—there’s a back-and-forth that builds a relationship with the brand.
“No one wants to be sold to all the time. No one wants to be seen as a transaction. People are humans. They want to have relationships; They want to build relationships.”Ben Parr, Co-Founder and President of Octane AI
Those brand relationships not only fill a customer need—they also benefit the ecommerce business. They boost ecommerce sales and foster customer engagement and brand loyalty—especially with subscriptions, which are relationship-based by nature—and eventually, create communities full of advocates for your products.
Building customer relationships with an ecommerce quiz
Ecommerce quizzes and interactive content
So, how do you create the ecommerce equivalent of the concierge in the brick and mortar store? That’s where the product recommendation quiz comes in.
Just like the salesperson in your local shop, a quiz will ask your website visitors questions about their preferences, helping them learn more about what they’re looking for and giving them guidance and confidence around their purchase.
But it doesn’t stop there. All the while, your brand is gathering buyer profile data for that customer, which you can then use to provide personalized product suggestions tailored to that individual. You can even remove products from a customer’s suggestions if they have a certain allergy or dislike a particular flavor, or send a personalized follow-up message on Facebook about the products the customer purchased.
“These [feel like] small and simple things, but it actually shows a deep level of relationship building and personalization,” says Ben.
The buyer profile: the ultimate personalization tool
We know that the buyer profile is a crucial tool in personalized commerce. But what exactly is a buyer profile, and how is it different from a buyer persona?
The buyer profile, explains Ben, is the information that you have on an individual customer. This is filled with key information on their past purchase history that helps predict future behavior, and can be fleshed out with any additional data points you want to bring in.
This where the quiz format becomes essential: By asking the right questions, you can build more thoughtful, in-depth buyer profiles for your customers. This translates to more personalized communication and more targeted product recommendations.
You can also pick and choose the most important messages to deliver to your customers. Rather than inundating them with emails for every sale and new offering in your product catalog, which is only going to overwhelm them and push them away from purchasing, you can send them the one sale you predict will be most relevant to them based on the information they’ve provided. This results in a better, more humanized ecommerce customer experience.
Building a buyer persona, meanwhile, is a content marketing strategy that creates a semi-fictionalized painting of your overall customer group based on patterns in your individual customers. This is what Octane AI’s Shop Quiz tool works with to help brands build product matching quizzes, rather than having to create them from scratch.
The quiz software asks your brand a series of questions to collect information on your shoppers, then matches them with a buyer persona that they use to help you effectively recommend the products through targeted, personalized messaging. Ultimately, this helps drive ecommerce sales and marketing opt-ins.
Building an effective quiz
“Ask [customers] the questions that you’ve been wanting to ask forever. What are you interested in? Who are you shopping for? They want to tell you.”Ben Parr, Co-Founder & President of Octane AI
How ecommerce retailers use a quiz, says Ben, really depends on their brand, industry, and vertical. Some brands might need to ask more questions than others to get an accurate sense of customers’ preferences—for example, a company selling houseplants might need to collect more in-depth data on factors like lighting in the shopper’s house, any pets they own, the amount of care they’re provide their plants, etc.
Other businesses might only need a single quiz question to assess a customer’s preferences. If you’re unsure about the ideal type of quiz for your customer base, you can also A/B test different quiz lengths to see how shoppers engage and respond to each.
Depending on your audience and offerings, you might choose to create quizzes that function as size finders or gift finders. Or, you can offer a product bundle based on your customers’ results—for example, suggesting different products for both an AM and PM skincare routine, which can then be turned into a subscription so the customer has it whenever they need it.
Because the “ideal quiz” for your brand is so dependent on your customers, the key here is listening to your audience and adjusting your approach based on the new information you learn.
The importance of educational content
Brands can also use product recommendation quizzes to assess the experience level of their customers. Doe Lashes, a Korean false eyelash company, learned through their product finder quiz that most of their customers are first-time buyers. This helped them alter their approach to their content, and they invested in more educational content to help those customers feel more confident using their products.
Before customers even add an item to their cart, they can easily access educational information about the products. Right on the product detail pages, Doe Lashes provides how-to videos for wearing their eyelashes, along with FAQs. Brands can also place additional information on the quiz results page after learning more about the specific customer.
“A lot of people, they need to build that relationship with the brand before they subscribe,” says Ben. “Education is non-sales-y, but it’s providing real value to the customer and building a relationship.”
Another example is Rooted, a houseplant company who identified a customer need for additional information about plant care. The Rooted Plantopedia app provides just that, offering users a library of care information and support for houseplants.
The buyer journey: from landing page to checkout
To sum up the power of quizzes in the ecommerce customer journey, let’s walk through an example of what the end-to-end experience might look like for a shopper with a skincare brand:
First, the potential customer comes to your site. They see your product offerings, but they aren’t sure what they want to buy—so they click the “Take our skincare quiz” call-to-action on your landing page.
From there, your quiz asks a series of questions to build a profile of the customer and their needs. To offer the best product suggestions, you might ask questions about their skin type, their age range, their budget, or the time they’re willing to devote to a routine. All the while, you’re building that relationship—they’re learning more about you and your offerings, and you’re learning more about them and what they need.
Once they’ve completed the quiz, they’re taken to the results page, which might show a single product, product category, or a curated set of products. They add items to their shopping cart, often spending more than they would have without the quiz.
But, says Ben, the journey doesn’t end there. Now, because you’ve taken the time to collect that valuable customer data, you can send personalized follow-ups. They might be as simple as a Facebook message with shipping information or an order receipt, or they might be more elaborate, like a blog post educating them on how to use the eye cream they bought as part of a nightly routine.
The insights you glean from these quizzes not only create a better customer experience, but also inform your marketing campaigns and product focus. For example, skincare company Beauty Bio learned through their quizzes that a specific vertical—people worried about fine lines and wrinkles—were spending a lot more and had a lot more concerns than the company realized. Because they discovered this audience and its receptiveness to certain types of products, they’re now able to develop new products or campaigns specifically tailored to their needs.
The bottom line? Insights are everything—and the ecommerce quiz is an ideal tool to get them.
“The insights are actually probably more important even than the conversions,” says Ben.
Check out the full interview with Ben Parr, as well as conversations with other industry experts, on our Hit Subscribe podcast.