How to create personalized user experiences for better engagement and retention

Eric Melchor


Partnerships & Evangelism


Eric Melchor
Eric Melchor

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Eric Melchor, head of Partnerships and Personalization Ambassador at OptiMonk.

In this episode, we discuss the increasing demand for personalized end-user experiences and best practices observed in the market by Eric.

We then dove into why focusing on pre-purchase experiences and insights is far more valuable for improving retention than focusing on churned customers.

As usual, I'm excited to hear what you think of this episode and if you have any feedback, I would love to hear from you.

Mentioned Resources




Transformational Experience of Eric Melchor’s career00:01:52
Evolution of OptiMonk00:03:23
Personalized experience is the new trend00:06:08
Start thinking Pre-purchase tactics00:07:48
Launching Personalization Bootcamps00:12:03
Enjoying Personalized Experience B2C and B2B Clients00:15:46
Improving Retention from the Right content00:20:09
Giving value that fits to the clients00:21:06


00:00:00 Andrew: Hey, it's Andrew, and today on the show we have Eric Melchor, head of Partnerships and Personalization ambassador at OptiMonk. In this episode, we discuss the increasing demand for personalized end user experiences and best practices observed in the market by Eric. We then dove into why focusing on pre-purchase experiences and insights is far more valuable for improving retention than focusing on churned customers. As usual, I'm excited to hear what you think of this episode, and if you have any feedback, I would love to hear from you. You can email me directly on Andrew at churn FM. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and enjoy the episode.

00:00:37 Intro: How do you build a habit for product? Don't just gun for revenue in the door.

00:00:44 Andrew: This is CHURN.FM, the podcast for subscription economy pros. Each week we hear how the world's fastest growing companies are tackling churn and using retention to fuel their growth.

00:00:56 VO: How do you build a habit forming product? We crossed over that magic threshold to negative churn. You need to invest in customer success. It always comes down to retention and engagement. Completely bootstrapped, profitable and growing.

00:01:10 Andrew: Strategies, tactics and ideas brought together to help your business thrive in the subscription economy. I'm your host, Andrew Michael, and here's today's episode.

00:01:20 Andrew: Hey, Eric, welcome to the show.

00:01:22 Eric: Hey, happy to be here, Andrew.

00:01:24 Andrew: For the listeners, Eric is the partnerships and personalization ambassador at OptiMonk, helping ecommerce brands improve their visitors' end to end experience and build customer lifetime value by helping them understand OptiMonk's website personalization capabilities. Prior to OptiMonk, Eric was the partnership's ambassador at Bonjoro, where we previously hosted their CEO, Matthew Barnett on the show. Eric has deep marketing and partnership experience, and it's great to have him on the show with us today. So my first question for you, Eric, is what has been the most transformational experience of your career to date?

00:01:58 Eric: Okay. Moving to Romania and getting into tech, specifically tech startups. I was in corporate America for all of my career, leading large teams, large budgets for Fortune 500 companies. And then when I moved to Europe a couple of years ago, I'd always been fascinated with startups, like watching Silicon Valley, and I've always just felt like, I know as a marketer, I want to be involved in all those aspects that they're doing to try to grow their business. And so I've been very fortunate to just be a part of a startup, a couple of different startups since I moved here, and it's been like a roller coaster. I had no idea marketers for startups did so much. I mean, they're practically like entrepreneurs themselves because of all the various things that they're responsible for. But it's been a lot of fun. That's been my biggest transformational thing in my career by far.

00:02:50 Andrew: Very nice. Yeah. And I could echo that sentiment as well. Like, coming previously as well, working at a large FMCG and marketing and everything's a lot more structured and focused. You have specific outcomes to meet with specific channels that you're going through, and everything is less creative from the aspect of trying new things. There's obviously a lot of creativity that goes marketing on that side, but it's just like... I like the way you positioned. It's like you're a local entrepreneur in your own rights when you're in marketing in a startup with the freedom, flexibility.

00:03:19 Eric: Yeah.

00:03:20 Andrew: So tell us a little bit about OptiMonk as well, just so we can get a little bit more additional context. What is it that you do?

00:03:26 Eric: Yeah, so OptiMonk started as a pop-up tool back in 2014 and then it evolved to a full ecommerce suite, various pop ups that you can use to try to retrieve abandoned cart visitors, but then also welcome repeat visitors or VIP visitors or even new customers to your website that you have no information about whatsoever. And then they realized that a lot of their customers wanted to have the powers like Amazon or Netflix or Etsy, right? But they just didn't have the means to have this big It support or hire all these engineers and developers or get that technology. But with the advance of technology, there now are platforms like OptiMonk that help you implement different personalization tactics and strategies on your website. So that way, when a customer is on your website, you can really, really deliver an engaging and enjoyable interaction with them in real time. So that's what we're doing now. We still have all the pop ups that allow you to increase conversions, increase your email subscription rates, and retrieve a cart abandoners. But now we're also giving marketers out there and brands, particularly small and mid-sized businesses, the tools that allow them to implement personalization on their website.

00:04:46 Andrew: Very cool. And I think definitely now more than ever, businesses are turning and considering how can we from the ecommerce perspective, I think, increase repeat purchases and increase the value, like customer lifetime value by retaining customers for longer. So typically on the show, we speak to B2B businesses, SaaS Software as a service. In this case, we're talking more like the ecommerce today and how you are able to bring back customers more effectively to increase lifetime value there.

00:05:12 Eric: Yeah... But some of our agencies told us that some of their clients are SaaS and BDB clients, and they were using OptiMonk and we were surprised. We're like, really? Why are they using us? I mean, we're mostly for ecommerce and there's a couple of cool features that they use us for and I'll share those examples in the show. But the stuff that I'll share with you today, I think it can be applied to almost any sort of business out there because at the end of the day, you want to do business with other people and not necessarily brands. And so when you can implement different tactics that feel like to the visitor that they're trying to understand me. Yeah, it's a brand. Maybe it's a big brand, but they're really going out of their way to provide education, provide value, and take me to the part of the website that's most valuable to me. I appreciate that. Regardless if you're B2C, B2C, or B2B, that's what we're trying to give the tools to marketers so they can do that.

00:06:06 Andrew: Nice. And I think these sorts of personalized experiences are almost becoming like an expectation in the markets. Like, five years ago, they were like, it was totally wow experience. But slowly now, with the advancements all around us, I think customers are becoming more and more demanding of the end user experiences that they experience themselves. And it no longer means, like, just building a really good experience is enough anymore. Back in the day, you could just build software and that was enough. And then you need to focus on creating great experiences. And now it feels like people really want this personalized aspect to everything they do, so definitely sounds like an interesting space.

00:06:40 Eric: Yeah. The crazy thing, I feel like most of us don't even know it's happening. Like, on Spotify, I probably hear half the music I listen to are based on recommendations that they're playing, based on my listening choices, and they know what I like. And. Same thing with Netflix. I think half the shows I watch on Netflix now are those that have been recommendations. You may like this, and it's because of my past behavior. And so if you think about retail, like, if you have your retail brand, then you have the opportunity now to recommend products based on the activity and the behavior of people visiting your site. Previously, you probably couldn't do that unless you were a big brand and had a big budget and the capability of doing that. But with OptiMonk and some other platforms out there now that's really designed for marketers where no coding is necessary. You don't really have to have an extensive IT system. You can actually implement some of those same tactics that some of the bigger brands like Amazon and Netflix are doing. So I know this for your listeners. You guys mostly talk about churn, right? How to reduce churn. That's kind of the main topic, right?

00:07:46 Andrew: Yeah, absolutely.

00:07:47 Eric: So when I think most people think of churn, they think of the post purchase experience. But I like for people to just pause for a second and take a step back and think, well, what if we look at churn in terms of the prepurchase experience before somebody actually makes a payment? I mean, when it comes to ecommerce, 98 of people do not buy on your website. Now, many of those people are just not ready. But a lot of people are ready. They start filling out your subscription form, your checkout form, and then they leave. Okay, why did they leave? We called them abandoned carts, but many people leave because there just wasn't enough information that they needed that would have motivated them to complete the checkout on your website. And so we have, for example, one client they're called Flip, they're a telecommunications client, and they wanted to know why so many people were starting to complete the form, their subscription form, but then leaving the website. And so by using our platform, within 30 minutes, they used a plug and play template that matched their brand colors and it matched the style and design of their website. They were able to implement a little customer questionnaire. And so it wasn't for everybody. It didn't interrupt the shopping experience or the journey, but it was specifically for those people that started filling out a form that entered their address but didn't complete it. And when they were ready to leave the website, there was a little pop up that appeared and it just asked them some basic questions like, oh, you were not able to find what you were looking for. Can you please tell us what was missing? And within a couple of days, they had more than 300 respondents that really gave them valuable information, simple information that they could have included and that they did start including on their web site. So when you think about churn, instead of just looking at the post purchase experience, start thinking prepurchase. How can I get those people that are ready to commit, but they just left. Let me find out why. So I want to find out how can I get those insights and by implementing a questionnaire when people are trying to fill out the form but don't, that's one of the best things that you can do.

00:09:52 Andrew: Yeah, I think definitely, like, we talk about this a lot on the show. When it comes to churn and retention, probably the worst place to start is focusing on those that have just churned and the reasons for that, really, there's so many other steps before that that lead up to the end results. Churn is the outcome and not really there's so many different inputs and influences. And like you say, it could be forms that they're filling in. It can be the marketing messaging, not meeting the product promise that gets delivered. There's so many different reasons it's great to be looking to there is. You said something earlier, though, as well, and it just reminded me of my experience, actually, about Spotify and then the music you get recommended. And I think one of the things with these recommendations, they're amazing when they work and then they're terrible when they don't. And I recall, like, an experience as well with myself. Like, Spotify was my go to app and I think this is like where qualitative and quantitative data need to be mixed and work better together. But I loved it until my little son

was born and then I felt like a piece of me just was lost in that moment because my Spotify players just went to this great place to discover new music and listen to the music I enjoyed to a bunch of Cocomelon tunes. My listening behavior probably looked like I increased my usage of Spotify because I was listening to it more odd hours of the night and actually trying to get a toddler to sleep.

00:11:03 Eric: I have the same problem because I have a five-year-old and a three-year-old and my three-year-old listens to these nursery rhymes in Romanian. And so I found the songs on Spotify and like her favorite ones I liked. And then whenever I just randomly go on Spotify and just say, play my favorite, like, songs, some of those songs will randomly come up and she's not even in the apartment and I'm just like listening to her nursery rhyme. So I know exactly how you feel.

00:11:31 Andrew: Yeah, but I think in your context as well, that's less likely to happen. This is like a more social app that involves the family as well, around and stuff, whereas your product sounds a lot more from B2B focus or B2C. It's their computer, they're doing the shopping experience. So I was interested as well. Like your role itself at Optimal partnerships and personalization ambassador, what is it that you actually and I think just listening today, I have a really good idea already.

00:11:59 Eric: Well, I'm pretty excited about it because we are launching personalization boot camps. And so when you think of website personalization, people are a little bit confused like, "where do I start?" "What exactly is that?"  And it's kind of like Google Analytics. You can turn it on, but just because you turn it on, it doesn't mean you're going to get value from it. Unless you really know how to navigate Google Analytics, for example, and create the reports that are most valuable to you, you're not going to know how to implement personalization, where it's going to make positive impact for your business. And so these boot camps, I'm going to basically hold your hand, take you step by step and educate you: "What is personalization? What are the various tactics that you can do? Where should you start?" We actually provide a checklist that shows the more than 30 different tactics that you can implement personalization. And we give you during that workshop, we ask you some basic questions. For example, "Are you collecting both SMS and email information?" If so, here's something that you could consider and here's how to do it. Are more than 5% of your visitors coming from a specific channel? If so, then great. You should consider welcoming those visitors with a personalized message because you know they're coming from a specific website, or maybe Instagram for example, it's less than 20% of your visitors, repeat visitors. And we show you how to go into Google Analytics, where to pull that information. Okay, then this is something that you should consider. And so we ask you these questions and you have to really kind of think about it and focus. But it's a good exercise because depending on your answers, we actually rank them by the Rice Score, by the reach and impact and the effort it's going to take to implement these various tactics and what the expected outcome is going to be. And so after you go through this exercise, you have a good idea where's the low hanging fruit? What should I start tackling first? And then after I get those, what other personalization tactics should I consider? So these boot camps, they're going to be free run every two weeks. They'll be 90 minutes. I'll be hosting them. So that's one of the things that I'll be doing, or I am doing at OptiMonk, since you asked. Another thing that we're doing is we're launching the Art of Personalization Podcasts. And so I'm going to have various experts on the show. I mean, what better way to learn about Personalization and what some of the other companies that are implementing best practices doing by then having experts right, listening to experts. And so we'll be launching that in March. And then the other thing that we're doing is we're pretty busy here. We're launching ecommerce revolution. It's the first business reality show for ecommerce. And so we're inviting a handful of ecommerce brands that are doing between $1 million and $10 million annual ARR and annual revenue. And we're inviting them and for three months, they'll have access to top ecommerce experts and personalization experts. We'll work with them and implement some of the best, true and tried personalization tactics. And our goal is to really help scale their business, grow their business. We're going to do this for free over a three-month period. And so that show is going to be called Ecommerce Revolution. So we're pretty excited about that as well.

00:15:14 Andrew: Very interesting. I think in the context of B2B, we collect a lot of data about our users and it's probably one of the most biggest missed opportunities when it comes to leveraging that data. So I think in personalization is a great way. I think most star startups will ask you several questions about your role and what is the use case and just trying to learn and understand themselves, like how people are using the products or services. But we really don't take advantage enough of that in the actual experience that we deliver to our users. So I'm interested, from the B2C perspective, what are some of the most interesting use cases you've seen for Personalization that even shocked you or wowed you when you first saw them?

00:15:52 Eric: Well, some of them are just so basic, I mean, so simple. So, for example, if you're a B2C, and let's say it's near a holiday where, you know, a lot of people go and they buy gifts for other people like Valentine's Day just coming up. And so if you don't know anything about those visitors that's coming to your website, something very basic that you can do is just have a little welcome message that says, "Hey, welcome. Are you shopping for yourself or for someone else?" And if they select "I'm shopping for someone else", you can say, fantastic, here are our most popular giftable items this season. And you can display maybe three or four items, or you can just take them to the page on your website that features these gift items that are very popular that season. So what you've done there is that you've taken their hand, taken them to the part of the website that's most valuable for them and you've just really made it a very enjoyable experience. I mean, get rid of those O Tactics where you show a pop up and that says, give me your email information, I'll give you a 10% discount. No, think long term, think differently. Think about how can I give value towards this person and make this shopping experience enjoyable? And so that's a very simple example of what a B2C company can do to make that experience enjoyable.

00:17:07 Andrew: Yeah, and I think the same thing can be applied as well in a B2B context, too. We do a lot of research when it comes to understanding our users and the various use cases and jobs to be done. And actually being able to create a more tailored experience to the website, I think, is definitely going to be the next evolution of absolutely understand immediately is this product for them and how it can be used? So a lot of products and services, they may serve SMB's Medium Enterprises and they may be different roles there's, different functionality. If  you're a marketer, if you're a product manager, you can use the products and services in different ways. So in this case, as you mentioned, asking one or two quick questions at the start can actually really cater that experience to your needs and to what you need. It's almost like a step before onboarding, like how you can improve the product or service for them, but it's actually how can you improve the marketing to them to start.

00:18:00 Eric: Absolutely. We have a B2B client and they ask a few questions. So when a person gets there, they have a message that appears and it says, "Hi there. We want to help you get the most out of this visit. Let us know more about your challenges. What's the best description of your company? Are you an ecommerce business, an agency? Are you into lead generation or other?" And then it has like, next question. And the next question is like, "Well, what's your main challenge right now? Is it AD Costs are going up and I need to fix my business model? Is it my team is moving slow and I need to advance the way things are happening." And so by asking these questions and better understanding who the visitor is, at the end of the questions, they're able to say, great, here are some stories or articles that I think you'll really find interesting, or here are some case studies that you will find interesting because you work at an agency and this is your problem. So that's how some B to B companies are using OptiMonk and making that experience just more valuable for people who are coming to their website.

00:18:59 Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. I see like even in my conservative startup called Avrio. And what essentially we do is we help teams conduct user research more effectively and to be able to share that. And one of the things is we have various use cases like user interview, transcription and Analysis is one of those where we have a landing page and there's different roles that come to us. So you have Product Managers, Product Designers, we even get students, we have some Psychologists and Reporters themselves all trying to analyze using interviews and then get something out of it at the end. And each one of these, they have various interests in different features that are more important to them. They have different pricing plans that are going to be more effective with them and convert better and definitely see how this can really evolve to be something very powerful. Whereas you're on the site, "I'm a Product Manager looking to use a research in my company" and then automatically the web page reorganizes itself to present the most important features relevant to your role. Specific use cases, some nice case studies from people that match the experience. And really then it becomes a lot more personalized experience for you off the back of it.

00:20:03 Eric: Yeah. And in the long run, that's just going to improve retention because you're delivering the right content that matters to them if they know, "Oh, this article really pertains to me. It's going to be higher open rates, higher engagement rates." And when they do become a customer, they made the choice knowing that, "Yeah, you're the right service for me, you're the right company for me." And so that just going to definitely reduce churn in the long run as well.

00:20:25 Andrew: Absolutely. Nice. So we talked a little bit then about a couple of use cases for the product or service. I have a question that I ask almost every guest that joins the show interested to ask you as well. Let's imagine a hypothetical scenario that you join a new company, channel retention is not doing well at all at this company and the CEO comes in and says, "Hey Eric, we need to do something fast. We have 90 days, you're in charge. Turn it around." The catch is you're not going to tell me. I'm going to go speak to customers or I'm going to collect feedback and then start there. You're just going to take a tactic that you've seen work at a previous company and apply that blindly at this company hoping that it works. What would be your quick short-term fix?

00:21:06 Eric: Yeah, well, I've got two, so I would probably take what your best customers are. Maybe these are your largest customers or best customers, and I would just send them handwritten notes, appreciating them, showing them that I appreciate their business, thanking them and letting them know that, hey, here's my phone number, anytime you want to chat, here I am. That's the first thing I would think of. And then the second thing is send a personal video. And so Bonjorno is fantastic for that. You can also use other tools out there. But a personal video for me, in my opinion, is the second-best thing to meeting somebody in person. Because when a person receives a personalized video, they're saying, "Wow, this person took time out of their day to record this message and send it to me." And it's much more meaningful than an email, right, an automated email or just even a regular email. And so it's very easily if you send 32-second personal video, you could easily send two 3400 people personal videos over the span of a week or two. So handwritten notes and personal videos would be the things I would focus on.

00:22:11 Andrew: Yeah, I love that because I think it is sort of a trick question in itself. Like there's not much you can do to impact within 90 days retention. There's so many different inputs, but this really makes the whole transaction a lot more personal and builds a lot more trust between your customers and ultimately helps you build a stronger relationship with them. Because I think when it's just a transaction action, it's just software, that's one thing. But when you put a face behind the business, and you can actually start to form some form of a connection between your customers, I can imagine that being extremely powerful. What's one thing that you know today about general attention that you wish you knew when you got started with your career?

00:22:51 Eric: I wish I would have been more knowledgeable at the Churn Rates. And when I got started in my career as a marketer, never was really concerned about that. It was something that was never really stressed to me as well. My whole focus was always in sales or leads as a Digital Marketer. It wasn't until later on that I realized, Oh My God, if you can make some tweaks and improve customer lifetime value and loyalty that results in less retention, you actually save a lot of customers and revenue going out the door. And I wish I would have learned that early on in my career because if I did, I wouldn't just be thinking of the onboarding or the top of the funnel. I'd be thinking of the end-to-end customer journey, like trying to imagine what it's like being in a customer's shoes post checkout. So I didn't really start becoming curious and knowledgeable about that until later in my career.

00:23:48 Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's also, like, something from experience, but then also from the times. I think things have changed a lot recently in the current market and the conditions, and a lot more companies are paying serious attention to retention, and I think it'll just become more and more of a talking point amongst businesses of like, "How do we maximize LTV?" How can we increase customer lifetime value?" Because it's getting more and more expensive to acquire customers, a lot more difficult people, a lot more frugal. So we need to be making sure that we're taking care of the customers we do have so we're run up on time, but is there any sort of final thoughts you want to leave the listeners with today? Anything you like to share before we drop off?

00:24:26 Eric: Yeah, no, just a reminder, personalization bootcamp. You can go to OPTIMONK.COM/BOOTCAMP. So if you want to learn more, I highly recommend that you take this free course. You can hear me, chat with you, answer any questions that you may have and get that free checklist that we have. It actually shows all the different tactics that you can implement and it helps rank them, so that way you have some guidance, you have a roadmap to follow.

00:24:50 Andrew: Very cool. We'll definitely make sure to leave anything, any resources mentioned today in the show notes, so you can check that out there as well. And yeah, thanks again for joining, Eric. It was great getting to chat to you today.

00:25:00 Eric: Pleasure to be here, Andrew.

00:25:02 Andrew: Cheers.

00:25:09 Andrew: And that's a wrap for the show today with me, Andrew Michael. I really hope you enjoyed it and you're able to pull out something valuable for your business to keep up to date with CHURN.FM and be notified about new episodes, blog posts and more. Subscribe to our mailing list by visiting CHURN.FM. Also, don't forget to subscribe to our show on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you have any feedback, good or bad, I would love to hear from you and you can provide your blunt, direct feedback by sending it to Lastly, but most importantly, if you enjoyed this episode, please share it and leave a review as it really helps get the word out and grow the community. Thanks again for listening. See you again next week.


Eric Melchor
Eric Melchor

The show

My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.

In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros working in product, marketing, customer success, support, and operations roles across different stages of company growth, who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.


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