Setting the stage for gender-personalized customer experience

Personalization has been an industry buzzword for quite some time now. However, to those in the analytics community, it's clear that there's still a long way to go before we reach the real thing.

While giants like Facebook and Google know a lot about their user base and can provide their visitors with a personalized experience, the average online business has very little insight into its visitors. They know where they've come from and where they've been on previous occasions, but even with heavy cross-referencing and analysis - the identification of a visitor's interests or habits remain a pretty loose guessing game.

Men Buy, Women Shop

One of the key details online retail businesses would like to know about their visitors is whether they are male or female. Why? Because we assume men and women have different means and methods for processing information, and as a result, they require different conditions for successful online conversion.

But while we can’t analyze visitors' behavior based on the knowledge of their gender, we can take a more ‘top-down’ approach and analyze how visitors shop in the men’s section of the website compared to how visitors shop in the women’s section.

Sporting Goods: Men think Brand. Women think Cost/Benefit

Our team of analysts at ClickTale recently analyzed the product listing page for a well-known sporting goods and apparel company (sorry - we can't release the name!), whose main selling advantages are their advanced sporting technologies and their very strong brand name and recognition.

The sorting options that were most popular in the men’s section were the ‘Featured Products’, ‘Newest’ and ‘Highest Rated’ sorting options, reflecting a very product and brand-oriented approach. It's clear that visitors in the men's section wanted to purchase the newest and best sports shoes – and several pairs of them, each for its designated sport. These visitors would take pride in wearing the most advanced shoes, and would probably wear them in a number of circumstances: to work, to events, for the next basketball game.

The contrast in the women's section was stark: visitors in the Women’s Section made no use of any technology filters and instead, resorted to the ‘Price: Low to High’ sorting option, showing that they were most concerned with the cost/benefit decision making process. Another trend here: visitors in the women's section tended to purchase only a single  pair of shoes – most likely to be worn for only a single, designated purpose: running. The brand, technology, and manufacturing information were not a consideration for the visitors in the women's section.

Tissot sorting options

Setting the Stage for Personalization! 

Of course, the online behavior of men and women as we've outlined above is very specific to the nature of the sporting goods industry. In fact, we found that women and men behave in different ways depending on the type of online business.

On insurance websites for example, where a 'considered purchase' rather than impulse purchase is required, men operate more on a cost/benefit analysis, while women read more for recommendations, product information and security.

Even without knowing which gender your visitors are, a business can still do much to optimize their online customer experience for gender. Ensure the filtering and sorting tools on your different pages are prioritized and adjusted for gender:

- Where brand-oriented customers shop (for sporting goods it's mostly men!), emphasize the ‘newest’ and ‘featured’ sorting options.

- Where cost/benefit consideration are a priority (as it is for women in sporting goods websites!) make the price filters and sorting options more accessible and easy to use.

Applying the 'top-down' approach described above allows us to truly understand our visitors' behavior on the site and will most likely refute any preconceptions we have about gender perception. Optimizing the site according to men's and women's preferences will take us one step closer towards the next level: real personalization!

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