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RichRelevance

Placement Best Practices

Optimizing your personalization is a process that starts with the initial implementation and continues throughout the life of your site. A core component of personalization optimization is the placements themselves.

For each point in the shopping funnel displaying personalized content, merchants should consider the number of personalization placements present-their location, design and merchandising objectives. These dimensions drive the visibility of placements and shopper engagement with recommendations and personalized content.

Best Practice

While some merchants choose to insert placements on more pages than others, typical Relevance Cloud implementations use real estate on several standard page types. The benefit of this approach is consistency in user experience as the shopper navigates deep within the conversion funnel from any location on the site.  The highest priority pages for integration, which typically deliver the best performance, are:

  • Item Page
  • Search Results Page
  • Add-to-Cart Page (where applicable)
  • Cart Page
  • Category Page

Other pages which merchants have experienced high levels of incremental benefit include:

  • Search No Results Page
  • Out of Stock Page
  • Home Page
  • Purchase Complete Page
  • Error Page

While there is no single formula for success and some sites will deviate from observed trends, having personalized content displaying on at least the primary page types is perhaps the most basic integration concept that consistently yields positive results.

Multivariant Testing

Relevance Cloud Multivariate Testing (MVT) feature is a self-service tool that allows you to test changes made against live customer traffic, and measure their impact on your site’s key performance indicators (e.g. revenue per session, average order value and conversion rate). Because e-commerce sites differ across many dimensions-design, product catalog, shopper demographic, etc.-this is a valuable tool for validating and refining best practice suggestions for your specific site.

Contact your RichRelevance team for more information on how to use MVT.

Item/Out of Stock Page

Objectives

  1. Present shopper with similar or higher-priced substitutes.
  2. Offer accessory options.
  3. Provide an alternative navigation path.
  4. Reduce bounce from external search.

Configuration

  • 2-4 placements.
  • One horizontal and one vertical placement above-the-fold, using Similar Items strategies to support discovery, and potentially, Cross-Sell strategies.
  • Placement at the bottom of the page for displaying recently viewed items or accessories.Merchants with multiple business units may be required to isolate categories such that products from other categories are not recommended when viewing the item page. In this case, although such isolation can negatively impact overall recommendation sales, merchandising controls may be required to keep recommendations ‘in-category’.
  • Dynamically injected placement at top of page for traffic referred by search.

Leave some locations available for manual merchandising.

Search Results

Objectives

  1. Present the shopper with options appropriate to the search term/results displayed
  2. Provide an alternative navigation path

Configuration

  • 1-2 placements.
  • Strategies should be limited to Search Optimization and Similar Items strategies that target the top item returned in the search results.
  • Some clients have a great deal of success instrumenting a placement above the search results that recommends items directly associated with the search term.

Placement displayed at the bottom of the page, using User-Specific strategies (based on view/search/purchase history) to encourage the customer away from abandonment.

Add to Cart

Objectives

  1. Increase basket size through accessories and cross-sells.

Configuration

  • Dependent on whether the page is interstitial or not.
    • If interstitial, 1 cross-sell oriented horizontal placement at the bottom.
    • If non-interstitial, 2 horizontal placements, with one above-the fold that includes Cross-Sell strategies and another at the bottom that includes User-Specific strategies.

A Quick View component is often incorporated to avoid disrupting the add to cart process.

Cart

Objectives

  1. Cross-sell/accessorize items in the cart.

Configuration

  • 2 placements, with one above-the-fold.
  • Typically, all placements are horizontal.
  • Strategies should support accessorizing, cross-selling or be user-specific.

A Quick View component is often incorporated to avoid disrupting the cart process.

Category

Objectives

  1. Present the shopper with a category entry point, showing top sellers and new items.
  2. Introduce growing areas of the product catalog.
  3. Provide an alternate navigation path.

Configuration

  • 2-3 placements, with at least one above-the-fold
  • Use above-the-fold placement(s) to display category-based cross-sell and top-sellers, rating & reviews recommendations.
  • Placement displayed at the bottom of the page, using User-Specific strategies (based on view/purchase history) to encourage the customer away from abandonment.
  • Merchants with multiple business units may be required to isolate categories such that products from other categories are not recommended when viewing the item page. In this case, although such isolation can negatively impact overall recommendation sales, merchandising controls may be required to keep recommendations ‘in-category’.

Dynamically injected placement at top of page for traffic referred by a search engine.

Search No Results

Objectives

  1. Present the shopper with options appropriate to the search term used
  2. To provide the shopper with an alternative to the back button.

Configuration

  • 1-2 placements, with at least one above-the-fold.

Strategies should be User-Specific and/or Top Sellers.

Home Page

Objectives

  1. Remind the customer of their item page view history
  2. Present items related to their view, search or purchase history
  3. Promote product and categories with micro-trend qualities
  4. Provide customers a single-click path to product pages

Configuration

  • 1-2 placements, with at least one above-the-fold.
  • Strategies are typically a mix of Top Sellers, Ratings & Reviews and User-Specific strategies (used more for sites with a high proportion of return shoppers).

The most effective user experience on the home page is typically one that calls on the individual shopper’s history.

Purchase Complete Page

Objectives

  1. Support accessorizing and Cross-Selling, not similar items to those just purchased.

Configuration

  • 1-2 placements, with at least one above-the-fold.

All placements should be oriented towards Cross-Selling.

Error Page

Objectives

  1. To provide the shopper with an alternative to the back button.

Configuration

  • 1-2 placements, with at least one above-the-fold.

Strategies should be User-Specific and/or Top Sellers.

Strategy Messaging

Rather than employing static, vague messaging such as “May we suggest” or “You may also like,” each recommendation, by default, reflects a clear and transparent message, so that customers understand why something is being recommended (“People who bought this digital camera also bought…”). The customer trusts the recommendation because it relates to his or her individual needs and behaviors, while at the same time, the merchant accomplishes specific business objectives. While not all messages apply to each page type, recommendation messages can be customized to better suit your retail vertical, site language, or your unique customer base.

By default, some strategy messages include a dynamic element that is replaced at run-time with the appropriate product or category name. In cases where products or category names are particularly long, this can make the message appear long and ‘wordy’. This is often not an issue with horizontal placements, which generally have more space available for strategy messages, however the effect of longer messages is more apparent with vertical placements where the strategy message needs to wrap multiple times given the limited space available.

Layout Design

While basic recommendation design can draw from your site’s existing headers, menu styles and font type, keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to have customers notice and engage with recommendations.

With regard to the formatting of the placement layout itself, we recommend that the layout is designed to stand out on the page, with bold headings and/or a border around the placement.  Particularly on the category, search or other product listing pages, it is important to differentiate between the standard product lists and the dynamic/personalized recommendations. The aim is to highlight the recommendations and educate the visitor to recognize these placements for what they are with a consistent brand/formatting across the site.

Specialized Layouts

While most layouts render the same information on a placement; strategy message, product names, images, prices and ratings, certain strategies provide additional information which is not displayed unless the layout design specifically caters for this. Two examples are percentage layouts and hinted layouts.

Percentage Layouts

Some strategies return percentage values to further emphasize the strategy message and provide the shopper with an insight on other peoples’ activities using absolute values. These percentages are injected into hidden placeholders within the layout and are only rendered if supported by the strategy, so it’s worth considering their inclusion in all layouts.

Hinted Layouts

Hinted layouts aim to present recommendations on the basis of a product hint, which can either be the product currently being viewed or an item from your history. Because the first product in such a recommendation has a special function, hinted layouts should emphasize this product graphically using an additional border or background color.