This is a guest article from Ian Roderick, Communications Manager for email marketing software provider Newsletter2Go.
The goal should be to make every email relevant to everyone who receives it.
You’re not going to fool anyone by sending mass email blasts to your entire list. Emails that aren’t relevant will be deleted without being opened. And if you do it too often, your contacts will start unsubscribing from your newsletter entirely.
The key is to get relevant content to the right people at the right time.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already intuitively doing this by segmenting your contacts into lists, and sending separate emails to the different lists with different content, products, or offers.
The Future of Email Marketing
But the next big step in email marketing is coming onto the market, and will start being available to more and more small businesses and marketers.
I’m talking about automated product recommendation technology made specifically for email marketers.
Based on certain parameters – which products a customer has viewed, purchased, or what other customers have viewed and purchased – a product recommendation is automatically generated.
Big brands like Amazon have been doing this for a while already, but they use their own propriety recommendation engine, which aren’t available to the rest of us.
As the technology has developed, a number of recommendation engines technologies have come onto the market for small and medium sized businesses – those without the resources to develop their own technology.
In the email marketing world, this is really exciting. Why? Because in theory, you’ll be able to send every single one of your contacts a totally unique email.
The email marketing provider builds a recommendation technology into our software. This means you import contacts, create newsletters, and send them as normal – with the added option of including automatically generated product recommendations within the email.
The contact lists, the sending infrastructure – all that’s the same. The only change is that recipients receive a custom, targeted email recommendation.
How it Works in Email Marketing
Basically, the way it will work is this. A product recommendation engine will be embedded on your website. It will track user behavior – which products they’ve been looking at, which they’ve put in their shopping cart, which they’ve previously bought – and hold on to that data.
The newsletters that you send will all contain a product recommendation block. When the contact opens the email, the recommendation technology will fill that block with a custom recommendation based on that user’s behavior on your website.
Think about that. You’ve created one newsletter, but all of your 10,000 subscribers see a different one. The power of your communication has grown by orders of magnitude.
Leverage Product Recommendations to Send Better Emails
Use automated product recommendation engines to send effective newsletters that increase engagement and drive sales:
Shopping Cart Abandons – According to Nosto, around 70% of shopping carts are abandoned prior to checkout. This is frustrating, but also represents an opportunity.
You know your users are interested in the product, they just haven’t made that last step yet. Step in with an automated email including the products they’ve left in their carts, as well as a few releated products that they might be interested in.
Post-order follow-ups – Turn one-time purchasers into people who come back again and again. Send emails a day or two after they’ve ordered or had their package delivered with products that other people, who’ve bought that product, have also bought.
We miss you – use the browsing history to remind them of the products that they’ve looked at, and get them back onto your site.
Welcome emails – Use unique identifying information from customers or new registrants to send products that are likely to be interesting for them.
What To Watch Out For When Using Recommendation Technology
That being said, there are some things that you should keep in mind.
- Smaller shops will find it more difficult to generate great recommendations because there are fewer data points. Consider using browsing history instead of purchase history.
- The same products might be generated over and over again. If you don’t have a huge product selection, make sure that you leave enough time in between product newsletters
- Because the recommendations are generated at the moment the email is opened, your platform needs to have enough server bandwidth to handle the requests instantaneously. Slow loading emails, or improperly loaded emails, will end up straight in the trash bin
- Don’t embed product images in emails – this looks like spam and will be flagged
- Don’t include product recommendations as attachments
- Don’t make recommendations for gimmicky financial services or offers, as these will look spammy and won’t be delivered
- Make sure the text in your email matches the product that you’re describing
Automated product recommendation technology is a powerful tool for E-commerce platforms, and for email marketers. It’s never been easier to send relevant, useful products that are more likely to generate opens, clicks, and sales.
But like with any technology, there are challenges and potentially unforeseen limitations.
Over at Newsletter2Go, we’re working hard on seamlessly integrating a product recommendation technology into our email marketing software. We’ve entered testing phase and are really excited to start rolling it out.
I hope you found this article helpful and informative. Good luck, and happy emailing!